There are still people out there who will tell you that the old National party was just whistling on a innocent tune, they were merely on a ‘anti-British’ ticket thanks to the Boer War, without a shred of consideration of exactly what ticket it was really on, and a good example is the political cartoon (or ‘toon’) and newspaper reflected on the banner.
In addition to being ‘anti-British’ – the Nationalists in 1938 had also taken on a strong ‘anti-Semitic’ guise – strongly influenced prior to the war by Nazi Germany and splinter right wing ‘shirt’ movements – the Greyshirts and Blackshirts in South Africa supporting Nazi ideology and even by the National Party’s leadership itself. This pro-Nazi Germany, National Socialist and anti-Semitic positioning found its way into cultural groupings affiliated to the National Party such as the Ossewabrandwag, Pirow’s New Order and others. It would really start to manifest itself publicly around two events – the 1938 Great Trek Centennial and the arrival of Jewish refugees on the S.S. Stuttgart in 1936.
Dr Hendrik Verwoerd (Broederbond member and future National Party Prime Minister) showed his colours early on when, prior to the war, The South African Christian National Socialist Movement (i.e. South African Nazi Party, SANP or ‘Greyshirts’) and their affiliated ‘Blackshirts’ held a large rally and protested the arrival of the S.S. Stuttgart in Cape Town from Nazi Germany on the 27th October 1936 with 600 Jewish refugees on board. The Nationalists joined hands with the SANP and a few days later on 4 November, Dr Theophilus E. Dönges (future NP Acting National Party Prime Minister) would nail the Nationalists colours to the mast on the matter and said: “the Jew is an insoluble element in every national life.”
They were joined by Dr Verwoerd and five fellow professors from the University of Stellenbosch who all went in deputation to the government to protest against Jewish Refugees arriving from Nazi Germany. Frans Erasmus (Ossewabrandwag member and future National Party MP) would go further on the matter and even officially thank the South African Nazi Party on behalf of The National Party for bringing the attention of the “Jewish problem to the Afrikaner ‘volk’.”
By the time the Broederbond’s Chairman, Henning Klopper, inspired the Ox Wagon Centennial in 1938, this anti-semitism had really taken root, making it very clear in written notification that their event off limits for “Jews”. When Solly Sachs requested his garment union’s participation in the 1938 Ox Wagon centennial (Sachs sympathised with the poor living and working conditions of many rural Afrikaner girls who came to work in the Johannesburg garment industry during the Great Depression), he received a letter from the Centennial organisers which read:
“The Afrikaner nation is busy uniting, to mobilise its forces against you and your sort. The thousands of Afrikaner daughters whom you have in your clutches will settle with you … Our people do not want anything to do with Communists and Jews, the high priests thereof, least of all. The day when we Afrikaners begin to settle with you Jews, you will find out that Germany is a Jewish paradise compared with what South Africa will be.”
Such was the nature of the Centennial organisers, who in turn went on to start the overtly pro-Nazi, Ossewabrandwag (Ox-Wagon Fire Watch) on the back of the centenary. One also has to remember that the Transvaal branch of the ‘Pure’ National Party as late as 1943 truly nailed their colours to the mast once and for all and officially ‘banned’ Jews from joining the National Party, such was the depth of anti-Semitism in the Afrikaner right.
So, over to this cartoon, Die Burger was established by the Nationalists as their official mouthpiece in 1915 and Dr D.F. Malan as its first editor – an ‘anti-Smuts’ paper it was going to be from the get-go. By the mid 1930’s it had become popular in right leaning European newspapers in countries like Germany to target Jews with what is now known as “the great Jewish Capitalist conspiracy lie” – Jews were demonised as ‘fat cats’ using capital exploitation to the detriment of ‘ordinary’ non Jewish folk and this image and symbology found itself into all visual media – including (and especially) political cartoons.
Images: Nazi period demonisation of Capitalist Jews, known as the ‘banker’ – depicted as fat, cigar smoking, balding and greedy – either pulling the strings or holding onto the money bag .
In South Africa, this trend for demonising Jews in political cartooning found favour in publications like the Die Burger, and especially in the works of D.C. Boonzaier, himself an anti-imperialist, pro-republican, pro-nationalism and anti-capitalist. He created a caricature figure called Hoggenheimer specifically for Die Burger – a derogatory figure designed to depict a fat and bloated Jewish capitalist with a play on ‘hog” or pig, the character made a number of appearances and also served to lampoon Ernest Oppenheimer, the German Jewish Mining Industrialist who made South Africa his home.
This cartoon by D.C. Boonzaier was published in Die Burger, 23 May, 1938. The bloated caricature Hoggenheimer is been carried on the shoulders of JBM Hertzog and Jan Smuts following the United Party’s landslide victory in the general election of 1938 over the ‘purified’ Nationalists. Smuts and Hertzog were in “Fusion” at this time and the National Party had split, with D.F. Malan heading up the “Purified” National Party – so it’s no surprise Die Burger also took aim at Hertzog as a ‘puppet’ of ‘British’ Imperialism along with Smuts.
The caption alludes to ‘Jewish Capital’ as the real winners of the election and Hoggenheimer’s finance the sinister reason behind D.F. Malan’s defeat, the winners – the United Party – a puppet in servitude to its Jewish master, and the image also alludes to the “Imperial” i.e. English press as leading the way.
The editor of Die Burger at the time this cartoon was published was Albertus Lourens Geyer – who edited Die Burger after Dr Malan from 1924 to 1945, he was awarded for his loyalty to the Nationalist cause in 1950 when the National Party appointed him the South African High Commissioner to Britain. In one his first speeches to the Rotary Club in the UK he asserted that the Black man should be grateful to the White man for his sacrifices during WW2 against Nazim – the irony that he, his paper and the Nats supported Nazim lost on him and in addition he passed off “Apartheid” as really meaning “Partnership” between White and Black – the irony lost on him again. Such was the politics of the editor.
In conclusion, I’ll say this, in Germany there was a concerted effort to educate and reconcile a nation scarred by this type of propaganda and the hurt (and death) it caused the Jewish Community, it continues to this day as the nation is sensitised to this past. In South Africa, no such efforts have taken place, no apologies, I don’t even think Die Burger has apologised to the Jewish community for publishing stuff like this (surprise me if they have – point to note, Die Burger today is a far cry from its Nationalist past and severed its association to this type of politics years ago).
Believe it or not, many still live with the lie peddled by the Nationalists that their flirtation with Nazism was all because of the British concentration camps, nothing more and had nothing really to do with South Africa’s Jews – no harm done. Funnily enough even to this day a published Boer War historian was still trying to make this case on social media – the ‘harm’ to the Jewish community it created and continues to create .. completely ignored – the irony lost on him too.
Written and Researched by Peter Dickens
Reference; The White Tribe of Africa by David Harrison and the Rise of the Afrikaner Reich by Brian Bunting, also “histories of catastrophic dreaming’ on-line file archive and Die Burger on-line and the Anti-semitism policy trust – anti-Semitic imagery and caricatures.
South Africa’s Nazi ‘Neuordnung’ and Oswald Pirow
“Mein Kampf shows the way to greatness for South Africa” – The Ossewabrandwag
Blood Oaths on the Führer principle
South Africa’s Nazi Party; The ‘Gryshemde