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Prof Otto Heinrich Volk

TODAY IN KIMBERLEY’S HISTORY – 11 JANUARY

UPDATED: 11/01/2019

11 January 1905, Two books signed by Florence Nightingale donated to Library.
11 January 1916, 24 recently planted trees destroyed on Main Rd Beaconsfield.
11 January 1965, Body of five-year-old girl recovered from Otto’s Kopje mine.

DID YOU KNOW

On 26 June 1940, the arrested Germans were brought from the Klein Danzig internment camp in Windhoek, South West Africa (now Namibia) to Andalusia camp in South Africa. At the end of 1940, 1 220 Germans were interned there. Further internment camps were established in Baviaanspoort and Koffiefontein. Most of the interned Germans were only released in 1946.

During World War II there were three Internment Camps in the region, one at Ganspan and two at Andalusia. Internees were mostly German speaking residents of South West Africa (now Namibia). At Andalusia at least 2 000 internees lived in the camp and at least 30 lie buried in the local cemetery. 180 South African internees lived at Ganspan, and an escape tunnel is still in existence.

Nine of the internees escaped through the tunnel that was dug by hand. It is said that digging only took place while music was played in the music room. Floor boards were lifted and the tunnel dug with a mace scoop. Air was sent to the diggers in the tunnel with balloons tied to a rope. With the same rope sand was transported back in buckets to the music room where it was emptied under the wooden floor. The tunnel was 57 steps long and was ready on 11 October 1941.

Johan Wilhelm Heinrich Giess aka Willi Giess (21 February 1910 Frankfurt-am-Main – 28 September 2000 Swakopmund) is noted for having started an official herbarium at Windhoek, his extensive collection of Namibian plants and generally furthering botanical knowledge of the territory.

Giess arrived in South West Africa with his parents on 4 February 1926 and was drawn into farming by being one of the first students to attend the Agricultural College of Neudamm near Windhoek. From 1931-33 he was employed by the Animal Breeding Institute at the University of Halle where he specialised in karakul breeding. On his return to South West Africa, he managed a karakul farm and later bought his own farm in 1937 at Dornfontein Süd.

With the outbreak of the Second World War he and other Germans were interned in South Africa at a camp called Andalusia, now known as Jan Kempdorp. During his internment he studied botany with Prof. Otto Heinrich Volk, who had arranged classes for scholars in the camp. The tuition they received in the various sciences was of sufficient quality to be recognised after the war as being of university standard.

As an ancillary activity Volk taught the students practical botany, assembling a herbarium from plants growing within the confines of the camp. The students also produced a booklet, a key to the genera of grasses, entitled “Bestimmungschlüssel für Südwest-Afrikanische Grasgattungen”, illustrated with engravings on pieces of wood and typeset with lead from toothpaste tubes. Some of the type and engravings are on display at the Swakopmund Museum.

Immediately after his release, Giess was employed as plant collector at the University of Stellenbosch. His botanical training during the war had not been forgotten, and in 1953 he was offered the post of curator at the national herbarium in Windhoek.

German botanist Otto Heinrich Volk was born near Heidelberg, in the village of Richen, where his father was a pastor. After studying natural science at Munich, Vienna, and Heidelberg, he graduated with a doctorate and was appointed in 1930 to the University of Würzburg.

During his early career, succulents and other plants from arid areas were his main interest and in 1937 he went to Namibia to carry out research. At the start of hostilities in Europe, he was rounded up with other German nationals in the region and spent the duration of the war in an internment camp at Andalusia. There he and other interned scholars established a camp university by offering courses in languages and science to fellow internees. The education they provided was of such high quality that, after the war, examination certificates from Andalusia were recognised in Germany as being of university standard.

Pictured is Professor Volk as well as a security fence at Andalusia.

UPDATED: 11/01/2018

11 January 1905, Two books signed by Florence Nightingale donated to Library.
11 January 1916, 24 recently planted trees destroyed on Main Rd Beaconsfield.
11 January 1965, Body of five-year-old girl recovered from Otto’s Kopje mine.

DID YOU KNOW

The affluent suburb of Monument Heights is where the Kimberley Golf Club (KGC) had its humble beginnings in 1890. The very first clubhouse was a disused laundry and in 1901 a new clubhouse was built near the Honoured Dead Memorial, at what is now the MOTH Centre.

The pioneers of golf in Kimberley were David Skirving (first club captain) and Stephen Stokes (honorary secretary) who approached John Blades Currey of the London and South African Exploration Company to ask for land for this purpose. The company owned most of the property in the area and Currey gladly conceded that the links be constructed between the Halfway House and the race course (opposite the Diamond Pavilion).

A committee was formed even before the first meeting was held in the Queens Hotel, with Currey serving as president of the club until he left Kimberley. The fairways and greens were not as lush as those at St Andrews, but served the purpose. The fairways were cleared of bushes and the greens were actually browns, consisting of sand. Later the greens became “blues” as washed kimberlite gravel was utilized.

It was decided early on that juniors would play at half price and women were allowed to play free of charge, but were not allowed to play on Wednesdays, Saturdays or match days.

In 1892 Kimberley hosted the South African and International Exhibition and KGC was encouraged to organise a golf championship which included players from across the country. In 1897 Cecil John Rhodes presented a trophy to the club and the annual competition for the Rhodes Challenge continues to this day.

Grass was never an option because of the climate and scarcity of water, until it was decided in 1912 to plant patches of grass on the course, but it was only in selected areas that the grass was to be seen.

In 1907 it became clear that the KGC needed a larger clubhouse, £650 had been pledged by members and £350 by De Beers. Daniel W. Greatbatch designed the structure free of charge and the contractors were Harris and Sanderson who completed the task for the price of £963. It was officially opened by C.E. Nind on 1 January 1908 and consisted of a large hall, ladies room, tearoom, lavatory, store room, professionals work room, kitchen and caretakers living room.

PT-Aerial_Photograph_showing_Honoured_Dead_Memorial-1932

Aerial Photograph of Kimberley in 1932 showing area around the Honoured Dead Memorial

The Women’s Golf Club was also founded in 1908 and they had their own nine-hole course which linked up to the bottom end of the regular course. In October 1920, the Women’s Golf Club amalgamated with the KGC and formed the Women’s section.

After the game of dominoes was introduced, it became very popular and eventually went hand in hand with golf. Players would spend the day on the links and the evening at the Queen’s Hotel to play dominoes. It was said that “a golfer’s invitation to join a four ball rested to a large extent on that golfer’s ability to play dominoes”. It became so popular that an extra room was added to the clubhouse to accommodate players.

The KGC in 1951 began looking at the idea of establishing a golf course with grass-covered fairways and greens. The clubhouse on the new 220 acre site was designed by Cliff Timlin and work on the course began in 1958. The course was designed by golf architect Robert Grimsdell, a Delville Wood survivor.

The last competition was played on the old course on 10 April 1960 before the club officially moved to the current course.

(Story from the Noordkaap Koerant, with a few additions).

Aerial photograph of 1932 shows the original Kimberley golf course club house and the 1st and 18th holes, as well as the area surrounding the Honoured Dead Memorial. One can see the new Bishop’s Hostel as well as the old Bishop’s Hostel directly behind it.

Nothing has been found yet on this day in Kimberley’s history. Assuredly there is something….research continues.

DID YOU KNOW

From a Siege of Kimberley Diary kept by Winifred Heberden, the wife of Dr GA “Jack” Heberden.

Jan 11th 1900. I went to the inspection of the gun at the ‘Stone Crusher Fort’, riding on Jack’s steady old charger, as the climb up was rather steep. This gun, being placed on such a high Debris Heap, commands a wide range of country looking towards Felstead’s Farm, Dronfield, Intermediate Station and the Waterworks. We saw through a telescope the Boer Laager of tents and wagons between Dronfield and the Intermediate. Cape Police are in charge of the gun we inspected.

We returned through the old Mounted Camp ground and saw the improvements in drainage and gravelling they are making for the reception of the troops again. Afterwards we went on to De Beers‘ Workshops to look at the big gun being made under Mr Labram’s directions.

They were boring it at the time, and as it slowly revolved in a horizontal position one could see what a big fellow he is. The length is about 10 foot, and the weight of the shells about 28.5 lbs. Next week it is to be finished. The carriage for it is made of iron also. The calibre of the gun is 4.1 inches. Between 30 and 40 men are engaged on it, and it will cost between £800 and £1000, which includes the extra wages to the men.

Close by the Workshops is the Cold Storage place, recently finished and capable of taking quite 500 carcasses. It will also be useful for storing frozen meat after communication by rail is opened up. There is a reserve of meat already in store in case anything happens to the last of our live-stock.

Jan 12th 1900. Our Relief Column is still at Modder River and have occasional skirmishes with the enemy. We suppose they are waiting for Lord Roberts and reinforcements – so possess our souls in patience still.

We hear today that poor little Kuruman has had to surrender after a whole day’s fighting against the Boers, who had returned after being beaten before, with a big gun, and the weak defences of the place were unable to withstand a bombardment. Captain Bates, the ‘Jameson Raid’ man, who cut the wires and fences then, was taken prisoner; and also our old friend Mr Hilliard, the Magistrate, amongst them. The fight took place on New Year’s Day, and is one of the pluckiest incidents of this part of the country.

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt

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