Source materials about South African antisemitism during World War II are scattered throughout various archives and libraries in the Republic of South Africa.
The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) in downtown Johannesburg is an excellent starting point for specialized research on this topic. This umbrella association of Jewish organizations in South Africa maintains its own archive with collections about various aspects of South African Jewry. In particular there are flyers, pamphlets, and collections of newspaper clippings concerning the problem of antisemitism. There is also statistical material about the Jewish population of South Africa and its composition based on countries of origin. The materials of the SAJBD have been used extensively in Gustav Saron and Louis Hotz, ed., The Jews in South Africa (Cape Town, 1956); Saron was chairman of SAJBD for many years. The SAJBD collection is also intensively evaluated in the 1980 study by Gideon Shimoni, Jews and Zionism: The South African Experience, 1910-1967 (Cape Town, 1980).
A vast number of private, unpublished papers by prominent South Africans are in the Bloermfonteiner Institute for Contemporary History. Of particular interest for the study of South African antisemitism are the papers of the Greyshirt leader Louis Weichardt, the diplomat Erich Louw, and Oswald Pirow, who served several terms as minister. The quantity and quality of these collections are extremely uneven and at times disappointing. This is especially true of Pirow, whose modest private papers deposited in Bloemfontein are not proportionate to his actual political importance during the 1930s. Nevertheless, the Bloermfonteiner Institute probably owns the most complete set of the newspaper Die Nuwe Orde (The New Order), in which, starting in late 1945, Pirow disseminated his fascist and other ideas.
The Jagger Library of the University of Cape Town holds the papers of Harry G. Lawrence, who served as Minister of the Interior and Minister of justice in the wartime cabinet of Smuts. Lawrence's papers include substantial quantities of interesting documents about Nazi activities in the Union of South Africa during World War II as well as about native antisernitic movements.
Recently, the extensive records of the former United Party have become accessible for research in the University of South Africa at Pretoria (UNISA). This collection, although not yet completely cataloged and thus without a comprehensive archival inventory, is nevertheless usable for the subject of antisemitism, since partial guides identify relevant subject files.
The United Party, at least during the war years (but also even after its electoral defeat in 1948), had its own information service whose main task was to gather material about nationalist politicians. But the Ossewabrandwag movement was also under surveillance. The United Party files about antisemitism also contain another interesting report from April 1943 on the attitude of the powerful Nederduitsch Gereformeerde Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church) about the "Jewish Problem in South Africa" that supplements the report reproduced here. In this report, the Dutch Reformed Church accuses Jewish South Africans of pro-communist inclinations and demands a quota system for the admission of Jews in every country in the world. The Jews admitted by quota would merely be tolerated "guests" in their host country and would have to renounce any use of power and restrict themselves to the practice of their religion, (Pretoria, UNISA, United Party Archives, Division of Information subject file: antisemitism, "The Dutch Reformed Church and Antisemitism," p. 4).
There are also small quantities of material in the papers of General Hertzog, the former prime minister, deposited in the State Archive, Pretoria. Further, the voluminous literary estate of General Smuts, former prime minister, is also located in the State Archive, Pretoria. The Smuts papers have already been edited, and there is an essay about Smut's relationship to Zionism by Gideon Shimoni, "J. C. Smuts and Zionism," Jewish Social Studies (Fall 1977): 269-98.
1. Pretoria, University of South Africa (UNISA), United Party Archive, Division of Information, subject file: Anti-Sernitism, "Report on a Survey of Anti-Sernitism in South Africa" [hereafter cited as Report].
2. The archival location of the Report leads to this conclusion.
3. Report, p. 1.
4. Report, p. 1.
5. Report, p. 2.
6. Report, p. 3.
7. Ian D. MacCrone, Race Attitudes in South Africa (New York, 1937).
8. Report, p. 1.
9. This discussion of antisemitism in South Africa is only possible, however, within the context of the country's political development in general. Concerning antisemitism, I have been guided by the work of Gideon Shimoni, Jews and Zionism: The South African Experience, 1910-1967 (Cape Town, 1980).
10. Ibid., p. 97.
11. Ibid., p. 104.
12. Act. No. 8; Government Notice No. 545 (Pretoria, 1930).
13. Shimoni, Jews and Zionism, p. 97.
14. Ibid., pp. 98-99.
15. Taffy Adler, "Lithuania's Diaspora: The Johannesburg Jewish Workers' Club, 1928-1943," Journal of South African Studies 6 (1979): 70-92, esp. n. 9 on p. 7. See also A. A. Dubb, "Retrospect and Prospect in the Growth of the Jewish Community in the Republic of South Africa," in Papers in Jewish Demography, ed. U. 0. Schmelz and others (Jerusalem, 1973), p. 107.
16. Thus Adler, "Lithuania's Diaspora."
17. Shimoni, Jews and Zionism, p. 379, n. 2. See also statistics in E. Bradlow, "Immigration into the Union 1910-1948: Policies and Attitudes," Ph.D. diss., University of Cape Town, 1978, pp. 245-46.
18. Monica Wilson and Leonard Thompson, eds., The Oxford History of South Africa, Vol. 2: South Africa 1870-1966 (Oxford, 1971), pp. 30-32.
19. J.F.W. Grosskopf, member of the Carnegie Commission, defined a "poor white" as follows: "A person who has become dependent to such an extent, whether from mental, moral, economic or physical causes, that he is unfit, without help from others, to find proper means of livelihood for himself or to procure it directly or indirectly for his children.- Cited in T.R.H. Davenport, South Africa: A Modem History, 2nd ed. (Johannesburg, 1984), p. 225.
20. Ulrich Kroll, Die internationale Buren-Agitation 1899-1902: Haltung der Offentlichkeit und Agitation zugunsten der Buren in Deutschland, Frankreich und den Niederlanden wahrend des Burenkrieges (Munster, 1973), p. 26. See also Andrzej J. Kaminski, Konzentrationslager 1896 bis heute: Eine Analyse (Stuttgart, 1982), p. 35.
21. Munich, 1940.
22. Friedrich Freksa, Ohm Kruger: Sein Leben im Kampf gegen England (n.p., 1941); Peter Hagen, Buren-Tragodie: Ohm Krugers letzte Reise (Prague, 1940); and Werner Schmidt-Pretoria, Ein Prasident: Der Roman Paul Krugers (Berlin, 1942).
23. Floors A. van Jaarsveld, "Die Kruger-figuur in die Tweede Wereldoorlog," in idem, Paul Kruger: Simbool van 'n Volk (Roodepoort, 1982), p. 109.
24. Kaminski, Konzentrationslager, p. 37.
25. See above, note 23.
26. A leading representative of this group of historians was van Jaarsveld, who already on 25 May 1951 had written about the Nazi misuse of Kruger in the South African family periodical Die Huisgenoot. His article has been republished as " 'Ohm Kruger' misbruik deut Nazi-Duitsland, " in idem, Paul Kruger, pp. 115- 25.
27. See ibid., p. 124.
28. For a critical survey of this "traditional" interpretation, see Floors A. van Jaarsveld, Omstrede Suid-Afrikaansa verlede: Geskiedenisideologie en die historiese skulduraagstuk (Johannesburg, 1984), pp. 8-32.
29. For a critical survey of several works from this "revisionist" school, see van Jaarsveld, Omstrede Suid-Afrikaansa verlede, pp. 88-96.
30. For a brief survey on the origins of the "poor white" problem, see Davenport, South Africa, p. 225.
31. Estimates of the Carnegie Commission. See Willem A. de Klerk, The Puritans in Africa: A History of Afrikanerdom (Harmondsworth, 1976), p. 112.
32. Shimoni, Jews and Zionism, p. 104.
34. Adler, "Lithuania's Diaspora," pp. 73-74.
35. Shimoni, Jews and Zionism, p. 103.
36. Report, p. 7.
37. Shimoni, Jews and Zionism, p. 104.
38. Ibid., p. 105.
39. Ibid., pp. 104-05.
40. Ibid., p. 102.
41. Cited ibid., p. 100.
42. Wilson and Thompson, eds., Oxford History 2: 32.
43. The standard work on this topic is Tennyson Dunbar Moodie, The Rise of Afrikanerdom: Power, Apartheid and the Afrikaner Civil Religion (Berkeley' 1975). See also Dan O'Meara, Volkskapitalisme: Class, Capital and Ideology in the Development of Afrikaner Nationalism, 1934-1943 (Johannesburg, 1983), esp. pp. 67-77.
44. I am currently completing my Ph.D. diss. at the University of Bielefeld on the relationship between the Union of South Africa and Nazi Germany, 1933-1945.
45. The Afrikaans-Nasionale Studentebond, some of whose members later held important positions in politics and business, was particularly active along these lines during the 1930s.
46. See the basic work by H. G. Stoker, Die Stryd om die Ordes (Potchefstroom, 1941).
47. See the Greyshirt brochure, "Die Plan en die Man" (Cape Town, 1933). v48. F. J. van Heerden, "Nasionalsosialisme as faktor in die Suid-Afrikaanse politiek," Ph.D. diss., University of the Orange Free State in Bloemfontein, 1972, p. 44. The Neo-Nazi paper Nation Europa, which has appeared in Coburg, West Germany, since 1951, published as late as 1964 a brief two-page biography of Louis Weichardt on his seventieth birthday without even mentioning his antisernitism: Karl Frey, "Ein deutsches Leben fur Sudafrika," Nation Europa 14, no. 8 (1964): 63-64. On Nation Europa, see Rechtstradikalismus: Randerscheinung oder Renaissance?, ed. Wolfgang Benz (Frankfurt, 1980), p. 246 and passim.
49. Shimoni, Jews and Zionism, p. 110.
50. Proof concerning close collaboration between representatives of the German Reich and members of the Greyshirts is extremely rare. The files of the Nazi party in Windhoek (Namibia), which were confiscated there by the South African police in 1934, include occasional references that the local Nazi party representative, Weigel, viewed a closer collaboration with the Greyshirts as desirable. Excerpts from these files concerning this fact circulated in 1937 as leaflets in South Africa. See, for example, The Truth about the Greyshirts (Johannesburg: League against War and Fascism, 1937).
51. In brief, this was the basic thrust of the reports about domestic developments sent home by the German embassy in Pretoria.
52. Even now, in 1987, a certain Terblanche leads a radical-right Afrikaner group in the Republic of South Africa.
53. See South African Jewish Board of Deputies, eds., The Anti-Jewish Movements in South Africa: The Need for Action (Johannesburg, 1936), pp. 4-5. Rudman only assumed control of the Boerenasie in the 1940s. He composed his leaflet partly in German. In 1985 the Institute for Contemporary History in Bloemfontein was arranging Rudman's extensive Nachlafs so that it can become accessible for research. Several of Rudman's primitive and rabid publications in German can be found in Bloemfontein, Institute for Contemporary History, Collection PV 29, Louis Weichardt.
54. See Adler, "Lithuania's Diaspora."
55. Ibid., p. 75.
56. Hans van Rensburg, who later became the Ossewabrandwag leader, was initially cautious with such arguments but dropped all restraints vis-a-vis Jews toward the end of World War II. See, for example, his speeches of 16 Apr. 1937 to the Afrikaans-Nasionale Studentebond in Stellenbosch, published in Wapenskou (May 1937): 5 and 11, and of 13 Nov. 1943 in the white working class district Pretoria-West, published in Die Vooraand van ons volkseie sosialisme, ed. Ossewabrandwag (Johannesburg, n.d. [19441), pp. 14-22.
57. UNISA, United Party Archives, Division of Information, subject file: Anti- Sernitism, "Nationalists and the Jews," n.d. [ca. 19421, p. 1.
58. Statistics in Shimoni, Jews and Zionism, p. 116.
59. Cited ibid., p. 113.
60. Ibid., p. 119.
61. Cited ibid., p. 123. This quotation can also be found in "Nationalists and the Jews" (see above, n. 49). The correspondence about negotiations between the Purified and the Greyshirts was in part published in the press at that time.
62. Shimoni, Jews and Zionism, p. 120.
63. D. W. Kruger, The Making of a Nation: A History of the Union of South Africa, 1910-1961 (Johannesburg, 1969), p. 181.
64. Cited in Shimoni, Jews and Zionism, p. 121.
65. Ibid., p. 123.
66. Statistics and extrapolation from ibid., p. 126.
70. See the programmatic speech by Daniel F. Malan in Stellenbosch on 24 Mar. 1941, published in Die Burger (25 Mar. 1941).
71. Pirow had met Hitler in 1933 and 1938.
72. See Pirow's Nuwe Orde vir Suid-Afrika (Pretoria, 1942). But in the issue of 19 Sept. 1946 of the periodical Die Nuwe Orde, edited by him since the end of World War 11, Pirow listed those who in his opinion had been primarily responsible for causing the war: The Jew, Churchill, Attlee and the Labor Party, Roosevelt, the British press, certain British economic interests, and members of the British military establishment. Pirow died in 1959.
73. See above, n. 62.
74. See van Rensburg's Their Paths Crossed Mine: Memoirs of the CommandantGeneral of the Ossewabrandwag (Johannesburg, 1956), pp. 106-11.
75. Daniel F. Malan in the South African parliament; other estimates tended to be lower. See O'Meara, Volkskapitalisme, p. 127.
76. See the German translation of van Rensburg, Der weisse Sundenbock: Erinnerungen an die antienglische Widerstandsbewegung (Gottingen, 1964), p. 159.
77. The German consulate in neutral Portuguese Mozambique (Lourenco Marques/Maputo) and the German shortwave station in Zeesen near Berlin, which broadcast in Afrikaans, played an important role.
78. See above, n. 48 (speech of 13 Nov. 1943).
79. See above, n. 62.
80. Report, p. 4.
81. Davenport, South Africa, pp. 238-54.
82. Die Vooraand van ons volkseie sosialisme, pp. 14-22; Some Facts about the Ossewabrandwag (n.p., 1944).
83. Terms used in a confidential report of the military intelligence service: Durban, University of Natal, Killie Campbell Africana. Library, Collection Ernest Gideon Malherbe, files: Department of Defence, Army Education, ca. Aug. 1942: E. G. Malherbe, "Col. Malherbe's Notes Written at the Request of General Smuts on General Attitude of South African Soldiers to Current Affairs (Lieut. Olivier's Memo)."
Anonymous, Report on a Survey of Antisemitism, late 1944/early 1945; 31 pages typed in English.
Source: UNISA, Pretoria, United Party Archive, Division of Information, subject file: antisernitism.
Editors' notes to the text of the report. Spelling has been Americanized. Page numbers in brackets refer to original pages.
REPORT ON A SURVEY OF ANTISEMITISM
IN SOUTH AFRICA
This survey had a twofold objective: a) to assess the nature and extent of antisernitism in South Africa and b) to gauge the reaction of liberals to antisernitism.
The survey was conducted under the auspices of the Department of Psychology of the Witwatersrand University, and in planning it the investigator had the benefit of the advice of Professor I. D. MacCrone of the Department of Psychology and Professor J. L. Gray of the Department of Social Studies.
The following institutional sectors of South African society were chosenthe universities, the press, trade unions, the army, the church, and the political sector. In each sector a number of key informants were selected men and women who were strategically situated, in the sense that they had their fingers on the pulse of public opinion in the circles with which they were associated. Among the informants were both English and Afrikaansspeaking persons, antisemites as well as liberals.
The investigator then proceeded to interview the informants. There were some doubts at the outset as to whether the informants would speak freely to an interviewer who was Jewish. But these doubts were soon dissipated. The cooperation extended by informants exceeded all anticipations. Of the 112 men and women approached for interviews, only two did not grant the interviews requested. There were some informants who were more reserved than others, but on the whole they spoke frankly and freely. This applied to antisemites as well as liberals.
[page 21 The interviewer had in mind certain key questions on which he required information, but the interview itself was never allowed to develop into a rigid interrogation. It took the form of an informal chat, and the questions upon which specific information was required were slipped in as the conversation developed.
The informants were assured that their opinions would remain anonymous. No notes were taken during the interview. But when it was completed, the investigator drew up a brief memorandum incorporating the essential information. The name of the informant was not attached to such memorandum and precautions were taken that his identity should not emerge.
The average length of an interview was an hour. With a number of informants it lasted much longer; with others less than that period. From a number of informants requests came for the investigator to act as an informant to them on the Jewish issue. (They were particularly interested in a previous investigation he had carried out on the reaction of Jews to antisernitism.) To this request the interviewer acceded. He then met his informants a second, a third , even a fourth and fifth time. With a number of such informants, indeed, a relationship of friendship and mutual confidence was established, and they did everything in their power to assist the investigation.
A systematic survey was made of four of the sectors-the universities (Witwatersrand and Pretoria), the press, the trade unions, and the army. In the university sector, professors and lecturers were interviewed; in the press sector, newspaper editors and other journalists; in the trade unions, trade union leaders; in the army sector, mainly education officers. The survey in the political sector was not fully completed-the informants were mainly United Party parliamentarians and organizers. Time also did not allow for a [page 31 full survey of the church; a number of informants in the other sectors reported on the position in the churches, but only three ministers were interviewed. Apart from the informants drawn from the institutional sectors, a few key businessmen were interviewed. There were also a few informants chosen because of their intimate contact with public opinion trends but who cannot be assigned to any particular sector.
The informants were asked, in the first instance, to give their views about trends in their own sector, but were also used as windows on the South African scene as a whole. Thus, for example, there were informants in the universities, the press, and the trade unions who were associated with political activities and were able to report on them.
A geographical limitation had to be imposed. The informants, with only a few exceptions, were drawn from Johannesburg and Pretoria.
The survey lasted from the beginning of April to the second half of August 1944.
The report submitted is based on interviews with 110 informants. It would be wrong in any such survey to indicate trends with any attempt at numerical exactitude. It is better to speak of majority and minority views. The terms majority and minority are also only used when the information obtained makes it very clear where the balance of opinion lies.
Almost every sentence in the report should be prefaced by the statement, "It is the view of the informants that , , , It would make the report too cumbersome if this procedure was adopted, but the reader of the report should bear in mind throughout that what is stated, in general and categorical terms, represents a summing-up of the views of the informants, many of whom have had access to special sources of information. The merit of this [page 41 survey, indeed, lies in the fact that it represents not just one opinion but more than a hundred opinions.
B. The Nature and Extent of Antisemitism
The very great majority of informants point to a sharp increase in the overt antisemititism of the English-speaking population within the last few years. This increase is reported to be particularly noticeable in business and professional circles. As one informant put it, "Previously you heard occasional anti-Jewish remarks; now it is a tirade." English and Afrikaansspeaking informants, antisemites as well as liberals, are equally aware of this growth of antisernitism in English-speaking circles. A considered view presented by several informants is as follows: There has always been a certain amount of social antisernitism in English-speaking circles. But now, under the stress of wartime frustrations, it has become more vocal and extensive. The Jew is again being used as the popular scapegoat.
A number of informants failed to distinguish between pretexts and causes of Jew- hatred and quoted as causes what are known to be pretexts.
That this antisernitism is extensive, the survey leaves no doubt. How intensive it is is more difficult to gauge. Its political implications win be considered later.
The informants were not in agreement about the position in Afrikaansspeaking circles. A number pointed to a slight increase; others said it was more or less static; still others stated that there had been a slight decline in the amount of antisernitism. What emerges clearly is that there has not been in recent years any sharp increase comparable to what has taken place in English-speaking circles. Whatever increase may have taken place seems to have been in the towns rather than in the platteland. [page 51 In the view of the informants, what policies in relation to Jews are favored in the various political groups in Afrikanerdom?
a) The Ossewa Brandwag and New Order stand for what is termed a drastic radical solution of the Jewish problem. Jews who have entered since 1933 or thereabouts are to be repatriated; Jews who have entered in previous years are to be regarded as foreign nationals. The percentage or quota system for commerce and the professions is also favored.
b) In Nationalist Party circles the emphasis is on the percentage system. The number of new entrants into the professions and the issuance of new trading licenses will be restricted in terms of the policy favored by this group. Their attitude toward Jews already in commerce or the professions is not clear; in respect of such Jews the details of the application of the percentage system have not been fully elaborated. There were informants who pointed out that the sudden extrusion of Jews from commerce and the professions would dislocate the country's economy.
c) The Afrikaner Party contains the moderates in the opposition camp. They are presently "sitting on the fence"; they have not committed themselves on the Jewish issue. They express a desire to avoid discriminatory action, but they are perturbed by what they call the "dominance" of the Jew in the professions and commerce, and they are inclined to support the percentage system as the only -solution."
All the opposition groups are opposed to further immigration of Jews. Such immigration does not also seem to be viewed with favor in circles outside the opposition. But it was clear from the survey that even in opposition circles immigration is not the issue which is presently agitating their minds. The [page 61 percentage system for commerce and the professions has been placed in the foreground.
The argument put forward repeatedly by Afrikaans-speaking informants who support the above viewpoint ran as follows: We Afrikaners pioneered this country. We faced all the difficulties this entailed. And then the English and the Jews came to this country. They have entrenched themselves in business and the professions. And now the Afrikaner who comes late to those occupations finds himself at a disadvantage. The informants then proceeded to express their support of the percentage system which some of them admit they will have to apply eventually to the English as well.
d) United Party and Labour Groups: This element is the least antisemitic. The United Party Afrikaner feels that his leaders are opposed to antisernitism and that the ideals of the Party are for racial cooperation. But a certain amount of antisernitic propaganda has seeped in here as well.
There is a qualitative difference between the antisernitism of the English and Afrikaans-speaking sections. The latter are more open and vocal about it. It is not deep-rooted in them; it is a political injection. Indeed, many informants stressed that antisernitism in South Africa has only become widespread in the years after 1933. Under the influence of political propaganda the Afrikaner views the Jews as a "problem," but he gets on well with individual Jews. His antisernitism has not the "snobbish" quality of the social antisernitism of the English-speaking antisemite. Among the informants were Nationalists and an Ossewa Brandwag leader who frankly confessed that they had no personal grievances against Jews and that they hold their Jewish
friends in high esteem. There was frequent reference by informants to Nationalist leaders who are not "antisemites at heart."
[page 71 The analysis of antisernitism in Afrikaans-speaking circles show it to be a political doctrine which nowadays is built round an economic base.
The religious tradition still plays an important part in the older Afrikaner's outlook on the Jew; the belief is still widespread that the Jews are God's chosen people. But this belief is present to a much lesser extent among the younger generation. And their view of the Jew is less tolerant.
The picture of the Jew in Afrikaner circles in the opposition camps is the stereotype of the commercial money-grabbing Jew-a stereotype fostered by the press. The presentation of the Jew in Afrikaans literature is also on the whole unfavorable. The survey showed that there was hardly any desire in opposition circles for a fuller picture of the Jew.
There is no sympathy in Afrikaner circles in the opposition camps with the Jewish tragedy in Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe. The stories of persecution of Jews are not believed; they are regarded as atrocity propaganda and were invariably compared to stories current during the AngloBoer war. Among certain Afrikaners outside the opposition camp there is such sympathy; but for most of them, too, it is something remote.
What were the main objections expressed against Jews? The following is a brief list of such objections as were heard with any degree of frequency (a number of informants described them as "causes" of antisernitism): undue proportions in commerce and professions; Jewish immigration; profiteering; black market offenses; don't enlist in sufficient numbers; take the base jobs in the army; loud and ostentatious; lavish display of wealth; refugees are obtaining trading licenses; are apart and different; buy up the land; dominate [page 81 the Labour Party; most communists are Jews; Jewish communists agitate among natives; Jews are out to control everything; Jews too much to the fore in politics; are all pro-war and turned the scales in the debate in September 1939; side with the English and are pro-Empire; friendship for Afrikaners opportunistic; take no interest in Afrikaans culture.