Escape Pretoria with Gold

Did the Krugerrands follow route?

Tales of long-lost treasure are consistently mysterious, intriguing, and enticing. Discovering a fortune in abandoned gold appears to be lucrative, to say, all that has to be done is follow the clues to wealth. Yet, the small important details tend to have trouble budging a seeker's naivety given the stakes. One such mystery, worth an approximated two-hundred and fifty million in gold coins and bullion, draws treasure hunters around the world year after year. The discovery of the Krugerrand fortune promises both wealth and prestige, but finding it has proved to be more difficult than first perceived.

In 1880, the British Empire challenged South Africa's Transvaal Republic for control over the territory. Under the command of President Paul Kruger, the Green State managed to fend off attacks, to the point British Prime Minister William Gladstone settled in armistice. The cost of war provided little in return for Gladstone to justify sending more men and supplies necessary to overturn the republic. Six years later, however, a massive gold field discovered in Witwatersrand gave the British Empire a new reason to pursue occupation of Transvaal. This time, however, thousands of British immigrants flocked to Witwatersrand seeking gold, and eventually out-numbered the native population. Aligned with the gold hunters is a growing military military presence on the Transvaal border. The combination of immigrants and militia became concerning to the Transvaal Republic.

President Paul Kruger
President Kruger

President Paul Kruger issued an ultimatum to the British stating that if they were to invade in attempt to seize the wealth of Pretoria, every gold coin and bar would be escorted away from the area and hidden from the British. In 1900, Kruger fled as he claimed, taking the gold with him on wagons in fear of the oncoming attack. Historians researching the event have determined Pretoria's gold was divided into three loads, each traveling on a five-hundred and fifty kilometer route to further evade the British. It's assumed that one of the wagons went through the town of Ermelo and was buried by the British to keep it hidden to be picked up later. Kruger traveled to Europe on a Royal Netherlands Navy cruiser sent by Queen Wilhelmina.

An infamous ship, the HNLMS Gelderland, picked up Kruger from Maputo (Lourenco Marques), now the capital of Mozambique, to make port in Marseille, France near the end of 1900, and then later in 1901 to Indonesia; by way of the Arabian Sea. A cargo manifest for the 1900 Gelderland voyage may shed light on part of the mystery here. Except. If Kruger indeed brought the wealth of Pretoria gold to Europe, it's likely this would be kept secret. Gelderland traveled to the Dutch East Indies after dropping Kruger in France according to records. Did the Krugerrand gold follow route, being the very reason why it hasn't been found? Or was the treasure secretly split once again and funneled into the East Indies growing infrastructure? The records indicate Kruger stayed in briefly in Germany, Netherlands, and Switzerland after arriving in France. He attempted to gain assistance from governments to help Pretoria rise above British invasions, but each of the countries elected to not get involved. Statements regarding Kruger's last dealings even suggesting he might have offered gold as evidence of wealth to be had in Transvaal.