Pride in “Rooi Lussies”(red tabs), branded “Rooi Luisies” (Red Lice) by some.

WW2 South African propaganda poster, promoting the ‘Red Oath’ and the special volunteer epaulette flash worn by all who took the oath and volunteered for service during World War 2.

This poster is designed to swing opinion in the Afrikaans community where the wearing of the red flash was seen as an oath to the British and viewed by some as betrayal. In these sections of the Afrikaans community they where called ‘Rooi Luisies’ (Red Lice) instead of ‘Rooi Lussies” (Red Tabs), as a means of degrading those who volunteered.

The Red Oath was devised by the Union government to legally allow South African Forces to serve in the war.

Able Seaman “Just Nuisance”

In 1939 the British Royal Navy did the unthinkable… Strange but true, they enlisted a South African dog who then went on to win the hearts and minds of sailors on two continents and become a legend.

Able Seaman ‘Just Nuisance’ is one very famous South African, and as he was an enlisted rating he received rank, pay, rations and duties – the same privileges as any other rating with the rank of ‘Able Seaman’ (AB).  This is how he got there.

He was a Great Dane who between 1939 and 1944 served at HMS Afrikander, a Royal Navy shore establishment in Simon’s Town, South Africa. He died in 1944 at the age of seven years and was buried with full military honours.

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Although the exact date of Just Nuisance’s birth is not known, it is usually stated that he was born on 1 April 1937 in Rondebosch, a suburb of Cape Town. He was sold to Benjamin Chaney, who later moved to Simon’s Town to run the United Services Institute (USI). Just Nuisance quickly became popular with the patrons of the institute and in particular the ratings, who would feed him snacks and take him for walks. He began to follow them back to the naval base and dockyards, where he would lie on the decks of ships that were moored at the wharf. His preferred resting place was the top of the gangplank. Since he was a large dog even for a Great Dane (he was almost 2 metres (6.6 ft) tall when standing on his hind legs), he presented a sizeable obstacle for those trying to board or disembark and he became affectionately known as Nuisance.

Nuisance was allowed to roam freely and, following the sailors, he began to take day trips by train as far afield as Cape Town, 22 miles (35 km) away. Despite the seamen’s attempts to conceal him, the conductors would put him off the trains as soon as he was discovered. This did not cause the dog any difficulty, as he would wait for the next train, or walk to another station, where he would board the next train that came along. Amused travellers would occasionally offer to pay his fare but officials of the State-owned railway company (South African Railways and Harbours) eventually warned Chaney that Nuisance would have to be put down unless he was prevented from boarding the trains or had his fares paid.

The news that Nuisance was in danger of being put down spurred many of the sailors and locals to write to the Navy, pleading for something to be done. Although somebody offered to buy him a season ticket, naval command instead decided to enlist him by the book. As a member of the armed forces, he would be entitled to free rail travel, so the fare-dodging would no longer be a problem. It proved to be an excellent idea. For the next few years he would be a morale booster for the troops serving in World War II.

He was enlisted on 25 August 1939. His surname was entered as “Nuisance” and, rather than leaving the forename blank, he was given the moniker “Just”. His trade was listed as “Bonecrusher” and his religious affiliation as “Scrounger”, although this was later altered to the more charitable “Canine Divinity League (Anti-Vivisection)”. To allow him to receive rations and because of his longstanding unofficial service, he was promoted from Ordinary Seaman to Able Seaman.

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He never went to sea but fulfilled a number of roles ashore. He continued to accompany sailors on train journeys and escorted them back to base when the pubs closed. While many of his functions were of his own choosing, he also appeared at many promotional events, including his own ‘wedding’ to another Great Dane, Adinda. Adinda produced five pups as a result, two of which, named Victor and Wilhelmina, were auctioned off in Cape Town to raise funds for the war effort.

Nuisance’s service record was not exemplary. Aside from the offences of travelling on the trains without his free pass, being absent without leave (AWOL), losing his collar and refusing to leave the pub at closing time, his record shows that he was sentenced to having all bones removed for seven days for sleeping in an improper place — in the bed of one of the Petty Officers. He also fought with the mascots of ships that put in at Simon’s Town, resulting in the in the deaths of at least two of them, one of them was the ship mascot of the HMS Shropshire, for which AB Nuisance was charged.

Nuisance was at some point involved in a car accident. This caused thrombosis, which gradually paralysed him, so on 1 January 1944 he was discharged from the Navy. His condition continued to deteriorate, on 1 April 1944 he was taken to Simon’s Town Naval Hospital where, on the advice of the naval veterinary surgeon, he was put to sleep. The next day he was taken to Klaver Camp, where his body was draped with a Royal Naval White Ensign and he was buried with full naval honours, including a gun salute and the playing of the Last Post. A simple granite headstone marks his grave, which is on the top of the hill at Klawer, at the former SA Navy Signal School. A statue was erected in Jubilee Square in Simon’s Town to commemorate his life.

The Simon’s Town Museum has an exhibition dedicated to his story and since 2000 there has been an annual parade of Great Danes from which a lookalike is selected.

 

Information – Wikipedia.

South Africa’s Nazi Party; The ‘Gryshemde’

10404483_10153212904526480_7383389610987690773_nHere is a rare and very unique display of South Africa’s very own Nazi Party’s shirts, flags and bunting.  Of interest, is the use of Orange, Blue and White in the Nazi swastika configuration – this was intentionally done to reflect the national colours of the South African flag at the time, the ‘Oranje-blanje-blou’.

These items  belong to  South Africa’s ‘Greyshirts’, read on for an in-depth chapter in South Africa’s hidden history, here we focus on the SANP  – The South African Christian National Socialist Movement also referenced as the South African Gentile National Socialist Movement. More commonly they were also known at the time as the ‘Gryshemde’ in Afrikaans and ‘Grey-shirts’ in English.

South African statute forces had fought a hard war against Italian Fascism and German Nazism, and the same war had been fought on the ‘home-front’ in South Africa itself, as with the USA and the United Kingdom, South Africa also had its own National Socialist (Nazism) parties prior to the war (it had actually been a quite popular doctrine across many “Western” European states prior to the war)

Imagine the sheer frustration felt by the South African war veterans returning after winning ‘The War for Freedom’ (as Smuts had called WW2 at the time).  This war had been fought with a massive cost in South African lives to rid the world of Nazism and Fascism in the “good fight” – only to come home in 1945 and within three short years in 1948 find South African ‘home grown’ pre-war Nazi and Neo Nazi politicians swept into government. The very men and their philosophy they had gone to war against in the first place.

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During the war the Smuts’ government took severe action against three pro-Nazi South African movements on the Afrikaner right-wing political fringe – the SANP (the Grey-shirts), The ‘New Order’ and the Ossewabrandwag  and jailed their leaders for the duration of the war.

Many of these movement’s leaders and members were folded into National party after the war to one day become South Africa’s political elite (including a  Ossawabrandwag General – BJ Vorster who became a future Prime Minister and State President of South Africa).  See related observation posts by following this link to the Ossewabrandwag “Mein Kampf shows the way to greatness for South Africa” – The Ossewabrandwag and South Africa’s ‘Neuordnung’ and Oswald Pirow

One such South African politician was Louis Theodor Weichardt (21 May 1894 – 26 October 1985) and this is his relatively unknown story of South Africa’s very own Nazi Party.

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Louis Theodor Weichard

Louis Theodor Weichardt was a South African political leader who founded the “Greyshirts”, a National Socialist organisation following German Nazi doctrine.

Louis Weichardt was born in Paarl of German extraction. In Cape Town, on 26 October 1933, he founded South Africa’s Nazi party equivalent – The South African Christian National Socialist Movement (SANP) with a paramilitary section (modelled on Nazi Germany’s brown-shirted Sturmabteilung) called the ‘Gryshemde’ (Grey-shirts).

The “SANP” grew to about 2000 members in South Africa, central to their cause in the 1930’s where Jewish immigrants escaping Nazi Germany to South Africa, and their numbers were growing significantly over the decade – in response the SANP and their Greyshirts launched a campaign calling for an end to Jewish migration and even arranged mass protests in Cape Town.  Their primary communication  mouthpiece was a newspaper called “Die Waarheid” (the truth) which was nothing more than a vehicle to spread Nazi doctrine in South Africa

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The nature of the movement was clearly seen in March 1934 when the SANP held a rally in Aberdeen in the Eastern Cape, Harry Victor Inch – one of the Greyshirt leaders – announced that he had in his possession a ‘stolen’ document from a Port Elizabeth synagogue – signed by its Rabbi – which outlined a secret plot by the Jews to destroy the Christian religion and civilisation.

The Rabbi in question, Rabbi Abraham Levy, took the SANP Greyshirts to court in Grahamstown and in a landmark case the document was scrutinised legally, it was found to be a complete falsehood and fabricated by the SANP. As a result three Greyshirt leaders were fined and  Harry Victor Inch was found guilty of perjury and was sentenced to serve six years and three months in prison for forging documents defaming the Jewish race and swearing under oath that those documents were genuine. Inch and his fellow defendants, David Hermanus Olivier and Johannes Strauss von Moltke faced other charges which grew out of the Grahamstown trial.

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The result has been widely hailed here as a complete vindication of the Jewish people and of Rabbi Abraham Levy who brought the lawsuit against the Grey Shirt leaders.

As the leader of the SANP, Weichardt was arrested and imprisoned during World War II at Koffiefontein detention barracks by the Smuts’ government as an ‘enemy of the state’ – along with all the other far right pro Nazi Germany, anti-British militants and held there for the duration of the war.

Weichardt disbanded his Nazi party in 1948 and closely worked with Oswald Pirow’s ‘New Order’ (another South African neo Nazi anti-communist movement). Moving on, Weichardt then gave his full attention and allegiance to D.F. Malan and the National Party (NP) itself. He had a very successful political career with the NP and went on to become the National Party’s senator from Natal Province from 1956 to 1970.

By the early 1950’s the South African National Party government was littered with men, who, prior to the war where strongly sympathetic to the Nazi cause and had actually declared themselves full-blown National Socialists along Nazi political doctrine lines: Oswald Pirow, B.J. Vorster (a future President of South Africa), Hendrik van den Bergh, Johannes von Moltke and Louis Weichardt to name a few, and there is no doubt that their brand of far right politics, known collectively as Christian Nationalism (a form of Nazism) was influencing the National Party’s government policy.

image.thumb.jpg.781092f53561360b127da1709642666eBy the early to mid 1950’s, this state of affairs led to open Anti-Apartheid protests from the South African military veterans community returning from WW2 (see The Torch Commando led South Africa’s first mass anti-apartheid protests, NOT the ANC!– in their tens of thousands, and it also ultimately led to the marginalisation of South African World War 2 veterans and their veteran associations by the ruling party (see The Torch’s impact on the South African military veteran diaspora!).

The folding in of the three key National Socialist organisations, including the SANP, into the National Party’s political sphere would have a resounding impact on the future of not only the majority of ‘Black’ South Africans (who were viewed as ‘Inferior’ peoples by these hard liners), but also minority white ethnic groups like South Africa’s very large Jewish community.  The arrogance of this underpinning politics is seen with Louis Weichardt himself, who, on becoming an elected National Party Parliamentarian quickly covered up his dubious history as a full blown card carrying Nazi, and rather infamously declared that he had never been against the ‘Jewish race’ but only against the actions of certain ‘Jewish communists’. Not a single Jew, in his ‘opinion’ had suffered through his actions.


Researched and written by Peter Dickens.  References Wikipedia, “Not for ourselves” – a history of the SA Legion by Arthur Blake, “Echoes of David Irving – The Greyshirt Trial of 1934” by David M. Scher. The Rise of the South African Reich by Brian Bunting. Our thanks and acknowledgements to Ulrich Duebe, the current owner of the collection as illustrated.

Britain never really “stood alone” at the beginning of WW2

Iconic propaganda poster from World War 2 calling for the unification of the British Commonwealth in what was termed at the time in South Africa by Jan Smuts as the “fight for the freedom of the human spirit” – essentially against Fascist and Nazi ideologies of the time.

It’s widely reported now that Britain “stood alone” at the beginning World War 2, but that is not strictly true (for a short while after the fall of Dunkirk, it may have felt like it, but it was not the case) very quickly coming to aid Britain “in her hour of need” and reinforce her troops, airman and seamen where the armed forces of the British Commonwealth – and not only the armed forces but also the raw materials and industry of the likes of Australia, India, South Africa and Canada – an all in effort to aid the United Kingdom, push back the advances of Fascist thinking and change the course of European history.

It’s generally misunderstood – but within a day of the United Kingdom and France declaring war on Germany on 3 September 1939, New Zealand and Australia had declared war on Germany as well.  It was just 3 short days later that an independent parliament in South Africa declared war on Germany on the 6th September 1939 (very early on if you think about it – the fifth country to declare war on Nazism).  Quickly followed by Canada who just four days after South Africa’s declaration also declared war on Germany – 10th September 1939.

In context – the United States of America came to the table much later on declaring war on Germany on the 11th December 1941.  In this respect it can be better argued that Britain AND her Commonwealth of Nations stood alone against Nazism and other forms of Fascism for about two years.

Seen in this poster are the United Kingdom’s key ‘dominions’ – South Africa, Australia and Canada feature in the most pronounced positions in this poster as the leading nations of the Commonwealth.

Representatives of Commonwealth Armed Forces marching toward the right, with a Union flag behind the front figures. Left to right they are soldiers from India, East Africa, a South Africa soldier (in his distinctive “Pith helmet”),  New Zealand, a Canadian airman, an Australian soldier (in his distinctive “slouch hat”) and a Royal Navy sailor (in senior position as the Navy is the senior service).

Poster Copyright: Imperial War Museum

South African “homefront” Wartime Support for WW2

Cape Town station in 1943. A sight you will not see today – wartime propaganda posters at the train station urging South Africans not to use the train networks unnecessarily so as to keep the system at peak proficiency for wartime supplies.  Think of it as “load shedding”, but this time in the nobel interests of winning a world war.

During World War 2, the whole country was mobilised in the war effort and the majority of South Africans were happy to endure the austerity measures and “do their bit”.  To put this support into perspective – under the Union government of Smuts, one in every four white South African men (a quarter of the country’s white male population) volunteered for the armed forces to take part in this great fight for “the freedom of the human spirit” as Jan Smuts termed it.   Such was the support that South Africa did not have to conscript anyone to the armed forces, even at a time when a world war was on and everything was stretched to the limit.

That figure and this “call to action” for support is quite something when you consider that the country had to initiate conscription for the next generation of white males to serve in the armed forces, when South Africa became a Republic under the National Party, and they had to force the issue – think about that one for a minute.