Ecclesiastes confirms that there is a time for everything. When wandering through the cemetery, we become aware of the people who fought in the struggle. They are the pillars on which we have build the future. Many died triumphantly and others just died. Heidelberg’s founder, Ueckermann’s obelisk tombstone has unveiled by his sons and can be found here.
The grave of the Rev van Warmelo can be seen here. He was the reverend of the people of the ZAR. The fulfilment of greater vision for the church divided his family. He refused twice callings from the Reformed church and would they not forgive him for it. Even the street named after him was subsequently changed to Jordaan Street. It is the last street to cross Fenter Street on your way to the cemetery.
In the Heroes Acre, 3 officers and 5 burghers were reburied on 17 October 1903. One of these officers was Heidelberg’s own General JC Spruyt, after whom Spruyt Street was named. As prisoners of war and during the midnight hours he jumped from a moving train in the Karoo to escape from his imprisonment and back into war again during the 2nd War of Independence. At the reburial his aide-de-camp, Jurie Human, rode on Spruyt’s horse following his coffin. Eight generals, of which Generals Christiaan de Wet, Louis Botha and Jan Smuts delivered speeches during the reburial service. Salmon van As was one of those that came to their final resting place. Captain Miers whom he shot was already waiting for him.
This struggle was not confined locally. Baron Horst von Zeppelin, a family member of the German designer of the Hindenburg was also buried here. He died on 23 October 1899 in a battle at Elandslaagte where he fought on the side of the Boers.
Many graves are marked for “King and Empire.” Look around and find some Scottish, Irish and Canadians, a true international experience. The well-known anecdote about the two graves of W. Woodward, buried on the same date, 8 August 1900, keeps life interesting. Allegedly he was fatally wounded and was left on a farm in the vicinity. After pressure from his family to seek for his remains, the British forces re-visited the farm. They could only find farm workers who couldn’t speak English well. A tamed baboon raised on this farm was christened “Bones”. It also just died. When the British arrived on the farm to fetch the body of Woodward, they asked for “the bones”. The “Bones” they were given was that of the tame baboon which they inadvertently buried in the first grave. After the war the farmer returned to his farm and found the realremains of Woodward. This incident was reported and corrected. The real Woodward was buried in the second grave. We have no idea what future excavation could reveal. Maybe in future it will turn Darwin’s evolution theory on its head. Man’s origin is not from apes, but some might change more into apes after death. Or are we doing what they did, by fetching the baboon behind the mountain.
Up and above these light moments, the most tragic is the children buried in unmarked graves. A monument was also erected here in memory of children who died in the Heidelberg Concentration Camp. There are 408 names of children younger than 15 and 91 older than 15, listed. Dr A.G Visser refers to them in his poem:
“By die monument:
Rus in vrede, tere bloeisels,
Offers van die storm
Want uit weke moedertrane
Is die steen gevorm.”
The grave of the beloved Dr A. G Visser is also there. He experienced life struggles and knew sorrow. In spite of the fact of being a doctor, he lost his wife Lettie, after complications with the birth of their youngest child.
We look at all the graves in astonishment, of what they achieved or contributed. It can be simply summarized by applying the epitaph on Lettie’s grave to all around: Thank God for you.