Northern Transvaal Branch - Monthly Presentations 2023

One of the benefits of GSSA membership is the opportunity to attend a monthly talk by a knowledgeable speaker. The Northern Transvaal branch is renowned for the quality, professionalism, and relevance of its presentations on a myriad of genealogy related topics. Navigate to the presentation video, text or slide set. Each presentation is in the language of the topic. For a summary of each presentation, see below. 

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 2023-04-15  Adrian de Villiers  Generational conservation: using our buildings and objects through time 
 2023-03-11  Sam Basch  Vier vlieëniers van Suid-Afrika – hul besondere aandeel in die Tweede Wêreldoorlog  ✘
 2023-02-11  Alta du Buson Roux  Help! Ek is Anders!
 2023  Gauteng-North Branch - Monthly Presentations
 2022  Northern Transvaal Branch - Monthly Presentations 
 2021  Northern Transvaal Branch - Monthly Presentations
 Northern Transvaal Branch - Monthly Presentations

General Conservation: Our Buildings and Objects through Time

Adrian de VilliersAdrian de Villiers, 15 April 2023

Adrian gave an overview of the conservation of buildings over the past 2000 years. He began by explaining conservation, using the Pantheon in Rome as an example. It was built around 20 BC by Agrippa as a temple for the gods. After that it was changed and later changed again. After a fire it was practically rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian. Much later it was converted into a church, and even later (early seventeenth century to the nineteenth century) two bell towers were added. These were later removed.

Over the centuries, different schools of thought have been followed regarding conservation. Today, attempts are made to stay as closely as possible to the original and to use original elements. The structure of the Acropolis, for example, was stabilised in the early 1900s by using cement and steel. Currently, work is being done on the structure and the cement and steel must be removed.

There are different ideas/schools of thought on reconstruction/restoration. Adrian illustrated one of the ideas by showing photographs of the restoration of Tulbagh after the earthquake of 1969 where there are clear examples of over-restoration.

He discussed the theory of conservation and restoration and the theories advocated by various theorists such as George Gilbert Scott, Camillo Borito and Alois Riegl. In 1964 the Charter of Venice was published and in 1979 the Burra Charter in Australia, which deal with restoration and conservation.

Adrian also showed the architectural plans of the Union Buildings and photographs of the beautiful sandstone.

The Union Buildings have been nominated to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Adrian concluded by saying that one should never stop caring, touching, cleaning and preserving.

Four Pilots from South Africa

Sam BaschSam Basch, 11 March 2023
Sam told the story of four South Africans' participation in the escape from Stalag Luft III during the Second World War, 24/25 March 1944. Stalag Luft III held Western Allied air force personnel captive.
The escape was filmed as a box office hit titled The Great Escape where the facts were distorted to appeal to America.
Seventy-six prisoners escaped of which only three got away. The others were captured and 50 were murdered by the SS.
The camp was built on sandy soil to make digging tunnels impossible. Major Roger Bushnell, a South African by birth, came up with the plan. Initially three tunnels, Tom, Dick and Harry were dug. The roles of the South Africans were discussed as well as where and how they were captured.
The talk was richly illustrated with photographs and drawings.



Help! I'm Different! (If you did not fit in a box a century ago)

Alta du Buson Roux Alta du Buson Roux, 11 February 2023

Alta's starting point was her great grandmother, Lettie Roux, who had 14 children of which 14 died young. How does one deal with the death of so many of your children?

Later on she was called "Crazy Let". Without any emotional help, empathy and assistance, she just had to get up every day, often with a pregnant body, and just go on.

This is the thread running through the talk - people who needed mental and physical care in a time it was unavailable. Society did not understand and did not have the expertise to help. Another member of the family had 10 children within 10 years and lost them all to syphilis. There was no help, no counselling and the minister just said; "It is God's will". He was neither capable nor trained to help people in such dire situations.

Orphans were often left to their own devices, people with dementia were usually declared insane. There were only a few institutions, poorly managed, where hygiene left much to be desired. People were admitted to remove them from society and not to treat them and improve their condition.

Centuries ago, it was believed that illness was a punishment for sin and therefore treatment was futile. Priests had to exorcise demons - depression was seen as black bile in the body and all sorts of methods were used to get rid of the bile. Later, shock techniques, lobotomy and other terrifying methods were used.

Alta mentioned a number of conditions for which inhumane methods have been used as treatment.

Only in the last 50 years has there been research of mention, improved diagnosis and a better understanding of conditions related to depression. Institutions that look after people have improved a lot and the people are treated with human dignity.