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trudelwagen

The German Settler exhibit highlights aspects of the history of the settlers who immigrated to this area in the 19th century. Their cultural traditions, the influence of the First and Second World wars, land dispossession and contemporary identity formation are also tackled. The display includes a trudelwagen (blockwagon). The above is an image of a trudelwagen during the 1908 Jubilee Celebrations in King William's Town. The wagon was driven by Alwine Salzwedel (pictured on the left with her back to the photographer) and her cattle. Why Alwine and her animals were selected for this honorary position is unfortunately not clear.  

Between 1857 and 1859, 4 518 German immigrants settled in the Eastern Cape. The first group, the military settlers, consisted of mostly German mercenaries recruited to fight in the Crimean War as the British German Legion. The war ended while they were still in training in England and large numbers were persuaded to emigrate to Southern Africa.

 The soldiers proved to be poor farmers. Many volunteered for service in India following the Indian Mutiny in 1858 and some deserted their designated posts. In 1864, when their terms of enlistment had expired, only 386 were left.

A second group, consisting of 1 600 German civilians, largely of peasant and working class origin, were brought to South Africa in 1858-1859. They settled largely in the same areas as the military settlers. They overcame various hardships to establish themselves as a force in the socio-economy and culture of the Border region.