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Artworks

While travelling through the Free State, Emily Hobhouse witnessed a mother sitting with her dying child at the Springfontein train station. She translated this tragic scene to the sculptor Anton van Wouw who took it as inspiration for the sculpture at the base of the monument. The sculpture is of two women, a mother holding her dying child on her lap and another women behind her, staring into the distance.

Sculpture at the base of the National Women's Memorial

Sculpture at the base of the National Women’s Memorial. Photo: Vida van Schalkwyk

The sculpture later became synonymous with the struggle of women and children in the concentration camps. It also echoed President M.T. Steyn’s original motivation to dedicate the monument to the women and children who suffered so greatly from the three year war.

At the foot of the monument, the following words are inscribed in Dutch:

AAN ONZE

HELDINNEN

EN LIEVE KINDEREN

“UW WIL GESCHIEDE”

“Dit Nationaal Monument is opgericht ter nagedachtenis aan de 26,370 vrouwen en kinderen die in de concetratiekampen zyn omgekom en aan de andere vrouwen en kinderen die elders tengevolge van den oorlog 1899 – 1902 zyn bezweken.”

Engraving at the base of the National Womens' Memorial

Engraving at the base of the National Womens’ Memorial. Photo: Lisa Smets

Sculptures

Moving sculptures preserve memorable scenes from the Anglo-Boer War for future generations.

Die Afskeid (1986). Sculptor: Danie de Jager. Photo: Lisa Smets

Die Afskeid (1986). Sculptor: Danie de Jager. Photo: Lisa Smets

Die Afskeid (1986)

The unforgettable “Afskeid” by Danie de Jager greets visitors to the National Women’s Memorial. A Boer soldier bids his wife and child farewell after being called to war against Great Britain. The statue was cast in Italy and was unveiled by General Magnus Malan, Minister of Defense.

Meant as one of five statues on the grounds of the National Women’s Memorial in Bloemfontein to portray the Anglo-Boer War, this statue is the second of three out of the planned group of five (Afskeid, Banneling, Bittereinder, Die Familie, and Die Agterryer) that realised. The sandstone pedestal was erected by the Boltstone firm. Significant controversy surrounded the erection of the statue in the South African media and several distinguished individuals and institutions contributed to the debate. Funds for the statue was raised by the Council of Organisations for Military Veterans, the National Women’s Memorial Commission, the South African Council of War Memorials and the Burgergedenktekenkommittee.

Die Banneling (1983). Sculptor: Danie de Jager. Photo: Lisa Smets

Die Banneling (1983). Sculptor: Danie de Jager. Photo: Lisa Smets

Die Banneling (1983)

Die Banneling, also by artist Danie de Jager, was created following a suggestion made by Advocate C.R. Swart that prisoners of war with graves in other countries should also be commemorated at the National Women’s Memorial. Die Banneling was the first of the three statues out of the planned group of five that realised. The statue was made possible with the contributions made by the Burgergedenktekenkommittee as well as General Mining Union Corporation Ltd.

Surrounding the base of the statue a bronze plate displays the names of those who died in concentration camps and ships outside South Africa.

 

Die Bittereinder (1994). Sculptor: Danie de Jager. Photo: Lisa Smets

Die Bittereinder (1994). Sculptor: Danie de Jager. Photo: Lisa Smets

Die Bittereinder (1994)

Die Bittereinder portrays a patriot and soldier on a battered horse nearing the end of the Anglo-Boer War. This sculpture is also by artist Danie de Jager.

Ox-wagon tracks

A distance from the National Women’s Memorial is a cement block with ox-wagon tracks imprinted during the symbolic Great Trek of 1938. To commemorate the Great Trek of 100 years earlier (1838), a collection of parties travelled through the land by ox-wagon in the same manner as their forefathers did. This act played a significant role in reuniting the Afrikaner nation.

Bittereinder entrance

Architect Hennie van der Walt was requested to design a fitted entrance for the National Women’s Memorial after the terrain plan was completed in 1974.

Entrance to the National Women's Memorial. Architect: Hennie van der Walt. Photo: Lisa Smets

Entrance to the National Women’s Memorial. Architect: Hennie van der Walt. Photo: Lisa Smets

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