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Fascism, the Third Reich and Afrikaner Nationalism: An Assessment of the Historiography

PATRICK J. FURLONG a a Bethany College , Kansas Published online: 14 Jan 2009.

To cite this article: PATRICK J. FURLONG (1992) Fascism, the Third Reich and Afrikaner Nationalism: An Assessment of the Historiography, South African Historical Journal, 27:1, 113-126, DOI:


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South A@XVIHktorkd Journal 27 (1992), 113-126

Fascism, the Third Reich and Afrikaner Nationalism:

An Assessment of the Historiography

PATRICK J. FURLONG Bethany College, Kansas

The appearance of several new books and a fascinating, if provocatively unorthodox, article, on the subject of fascism and the authoritarian right in South Africa during the 19% and 1940s prompts this review of the his- toriography on this subject.’ The author’s interest in these works was especially piqued by their appearing since completing revision of a manuscript on this very topic? The South African far right has, moreover, been more visible recently than for many years, just as the National Party, once the most formidable representative of the Afrikaner right, has ‘gradually divested itself of its own legacy of authoritarian nationalism and legally enforced racism, a legacy rooted heavily in the events of the two decades preceding its 1948victory. It therefore

seems especially appropriate to

most recent contributions to the debate on to what extent the rise of Nazi Germany, fascism in the broader sense, or imported authoritarian nationalist and racist ideas are important for understanding the shaping of modem Afrikaner nationalism, especially that characterized by many authors as ‘Christian nationalism’. Books on fascism in South Africa are certainly no novelty. In the past, several works identified Afrikaner nationalism fairly closely with Nazism or at least with ‘fascism’ broadly conceived, the most well-known of these is Brian

reflect on the state of the literature and on the

1. C. Bloomberg.(edited

by S. Dubow), Chrisrirm-N-

and the Rise of thc Afrikmra

hderM in South Afica 1918-48 (Bloomington and Indianopolis, 1989); R. Citino, Gammry and theUnion ofSouthAfiico in rhcNod Paiod (New York, Westport, Connecticut

and London, 1991); k Hagemann, SiidofriGaund dos ‘WacRcich?RarsrnpolitisdteAfiinircir und macmkk Rivolitcit (Frankfurt and New York,1989);J.M. Coetzee, ‘The Mind of Apartheid Geoffry CronjC 1907- ’, Social Dpamk, 17,l (June 1991), 1-35.

2. See PJ. Furlong, Between Crown and Swartika. The Impact of the Radical Right on thc

(Hanwer, New Hampshire and London,

AjXkaner Nationahkt Mo~marrin thc Fascist Era



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Bunting’s long-banned Rise of the SouthAfican Reich? These did not seriously

engage the problem of

were concerned either with the general phenomenon of Afrikaner nationalism or with analogies between post-1948 Nationalist policies and the Third Reich. This approach, which assumes a very loose definition of ‘fascism’, has become generally discredited among serious students of both Afrikaner nationalism and of comparative fascism in general. Other reasons for the latterday distaste for the use of the ‘fascist’label have been the gradual apparent moderation of the Nationalist regime, fading memories of wartime subversive activities by persons later closely associated with that government, and the rise of Marxian revisionist scholarship, which has questioned the much-vaunted discontinuity between the post-1948 apartheid regime and earlier segregationist governments. It is harder to dismiss the case made by Howard Simson? using a Poulantzian variant of the Marxist theoretical model of fascism as capitalism in distress, an effort unfortunately limited by its use of only published sources. For Simson, fascism is simply any capitalist state in which a primarily petty bourgeois-based mass movement uses a combination of legal measures and violence to achieve power. The regime thus established is marked by a militantly anti-working class ideology and a massive expansion of monopoly capital under the guise of building a strong national economy. In Simson’s view, the socio- economic base and function of Afrikaner nationalism are so close to those of German Nazism and Italian Fascism that, given the allegedly farcical nature of electoral politics in apartheid South Africa, the similarities between classical fascism and what he calls ‘Afrikaner fascism’ outweigh the differences? This argument, while theoretically compelling provided that one accepts Simson’s structural Marxist premises, requires the suspension of any scruples about the seriousness with which Afrikaners have treated their often messily internecine

politics, and the underplaying of the importance of the white working class in the Nationalists’ electoral platform until at least the late l%Os. Without a more thorough grounding in the primary sources, Simson’s position therefore remains problematic.

‘historical Afrikaner fascism’ in the pre-1948 period, but



B. Bunting, The Rise of thc South Afrcan Reich (Harmondsworth, 1%9); W.H. Vatcher

devotes a full chapter to the impact of fascism in his white Loagcc The Rise of Afrikrma

Nafionah (New York and London, 1965). A more recent work in this genre is S. Mzimela’s

Aparthekt South Afrcan NOrian (New York, 1983). Mzimela recentlyshifted his allegiances to the right, becoming an official of the Inkatha Freedom Party.

H. Simson, TheSocialOriginr ofAfrikme Fasch and Its Apanheid Policy (Stockholm, 1980).

See also his ‘The Afrikaner Nationalist Movement/Regime in Comparative Perspective’ (Unpublished Paper, ‘South Africa in the Comparative Study of Class, Race and Nationalism’ Conference, New Yo&, 1982).

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By the 1970s such claims had gone out of fashion as the South African academicleft and centre sought what was felt to be more objectivelybased types of analysis. From the liberal side of the spectrum, Heribert Adam dismissedthe fascist analogy as unhelpful, even misleading, a position taken up by another structuralist Marxist, Dan O’Meara, in his much-dii book Volkxkapi- tulhe, in which such arguments were rejected as lacking in historical specificity and as unable to advance theoretical understanding? The popular press, however, continued to make the most of ongoing interest in stories of the home front during the Second World War. Former Sunday Timesjournalist Hans Strydom’sbook on Nazi agent RobeyLeibbrandt’s attempt to assassinate Smuts and set up a puppet government even incited interest in a filmed version? George Visser, who was employed by the Smuts government to investigate the activities of pro-Nazi elements, produced a less controversial work: which, while offering much information on the overtly pro-fascist Ossewa-Brandwag(--Wagon Guard or OB),did its best to distance the ostensibly more moderate National Party from charges of supporting the


Afrikaner nationalist historians have understandablybeen more vociferous than most in rejecting the fascist analogy and have provided their own sanitized

version of

(later Reunited National) Party from 1934 to 1948. The older standard survey texts repeat the argument that Malan and the Nationalists merely ‘gentlytoyed’ with the new ‘foreign ideology‘ coming from Europe? The major Afrikaans- language studies of Afrikaner nationalism in the Nazi era are no more forthcoming on the relationship between European fascism or the Nazi state and developments in mainstream Afrikaner nationalism, although conceding some fascist influence among groups to the right of the Nationalists such as the

OB.” Another approach is to develop a closely defined ‘typology‘ of fascism

the period coincidingwith the riseof D.F. Malan’s Purified National

6. H. Adam, ‘Perspectivesin the Literature: A Critical Evaluation’, in H. Adam and H. Giliomce, eds,TheRiSr mcd CrisisofAfrikrmaPow (Cape Town,1979), 25;D. O’Meara,- V ClaEl, CapW and Ideology h Ihc Devel~pm~UOf Afrikrma Notionolimr 1934-1948 (Johannesburg, 1983), 9-11.

7. SeeH.Strydom,For Volkand Fiihm: Robcy Leibbrandt and Operation Weidom (Johannes- burg, 1982).

8. G.C. Vi,OB: Traitors orP&B? (Johannesburg, 1976).

9. See,for instance, D.W.KrOger, hc Making ofa Nation- A History of the Union of South Africa 19101961 (Johannesburg and London, 1969), 213 and BJ. Liebcnberg, ‘Fmm the Statute of Westminster to the Republic of South Africa, 1931-1961’ in CFJ. Muller, ed., FivC Hundred Yem:A Histoty of SouthAjka (Pretoria and Cape Tm,1%9), 422.

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on the basis of which J.C. Moll concludes that the post-1948South African state and government do not, contrary to the view of Bunting and others, show the minimum number of characteristics necessary to qualify as ‘fascist’.” In addition to the concerns cited above, none of these works has combined a case-study of connections between fascism and South Africa with a full-scale examination of relevant archival materials and oral sources. This charge cannot be made against Frederilc van Heerden, whose monumental doctoral thesis plumbs a wide variety of Afrikaner nationalist records to demonstrate the alleged insignificance of fascist influence on mainstream white South African politics.12 However, his pronouncedly apologetic stance in respect of the National Party, combined with his failure to use the records of the enemies of Afrikaner nationalism, such as the wartime South African government or concerned leaders of the Jewish community, or even of the Nazis themselves, lessen the value of what would othenvise have been a major contribution to the debate. Instead, we are left with the familiar position that the Nationalists merely flirted brietly with a few ‘superficial experiments’ with Nazism, none of which were applied thoroughly. Indeed, Van Heerden hails Malan’s limited triumph in the 1943 election as Leader of the Opposition as the triumph of democratic values over the authoritarianism of the extreme right.13 Abroad, severalscholars have addressed themselves to the problem of Nazi policies in Africa. The general surveys of Nazi foreign policy or the activities of Nazi agencies such as the party’s Auslandsotgunisation (Foreign Organization), headed ironically by the South African raised and educated Emst Bohle, say

Die Nashu& Pa@: Drel 4 (Bloemfontein, 1986). The biographical literature is no more helpful, with the most potted coverageof the war years in H.B. Thorn’s biography,D.J? Molmr (Cape Town, 1980); Malan himself focuses on the struggle against British imperialism in his autobiography,Afrikrmn-Volkromheid01 My Ervarings op die Pod Dam;hcen (Cape Town, 1989).The baaicworkr on other key figuresare no better. Examplesare CM.van den Heever, G0terolLB.M. Hopog (Johannesburg,’1946);J.FJ. van Rensburg, TheirPolhr Cmd Mk Menwirsof theCommmrdmtt-GeMaloftheOsrovobrondwag(Johannesburg, 1956);J. Kruger,

Resident C.R Swan (Cape Town,l%l);PJ. Meyer,Nog NU Ver Garoeg NU: ’n Perroonlike Rekmkap van vfigJoar Georgmripecrdc-A (Johannesburgand Cape Town,1984); and Dirk and Johanna de Villiers’r biography of former President Botha, P.W (Cape Town,



This method is used by J.C.Moll in his impressive little volume, based however only on secondarywurccd and some newspapers,Fascism.&:Die problcmoriak von V.-:

Fascism.&01 SlCid-Afriko(Bloemfontein, 1985).


FJ. van Heerden, ‘NasionaalSosilisme 88 Faktor in die Suid-Afrikaanse Politiek, 1933-1948‘ (DPhil thesis, University of Orange Free State, 1972), 357.

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little on South Africa and next to nothing on Afrikaner nationa1i~m.l~The standard work in English on the African component of Nazi policy is Wolfe Schmokel’s study of German ‘colonial policy’ after Versailles and is complemen- ted by a collection of useful essays on German involvement in Africa by several historians from the former German Democratic Republic, now available in translation.” Unfortunately, neither has much to offer on South African politics, being more concerned with German continent-wide policies. A similar problem afflicts Alexandre Kum’a N’dumbe’s huge doctoral thesis, which includes a substantial section on Southern Africa, but, given his demonological assumptions regarding the Nationalist regime, which place him more or less in the Bunting school of thought, has relatively little to add to the question of Afrikaner N’dumbe does provide the only really detailed discussion of relevant Nazi sources in both Germanies before the late 1980s. but his lack of access to South African materials is as much a handicap as Van Heerden’s exclusive use of Afrikaner nationalist records. Moreover, N’dumbe’s sometimes questionable factual reliability is compounded by his zeal to pin the fascist label on the authors of a~artheid.’~ * The literature is thus uniformly afflicted by two problems. On the one hand, inadequate source materials limit the value of most existing studies. On the other hand, the relevant scholarship is essentially either polemical or apologetic in nature, or otherwise dismissiveof the reality of any links between Afrikaner nationalism and the European authoritarian right. The need for further serious and detailed work is therefore obvious. Of the four recent works cited at the beginning of this article, perhaps the least satisfactory is that of Citino,18 to which I will devote comments of a


See for instance K Hildebrand, The Foreign Policy of the Third Rcich (Berkeley and Los

Angeles, 1973); D.M. McKale, The Swartika OUrJidc Germmy (Kent, Ohio, 1977); and W. Michalka,NafionaLsoM~hcAussenpolifik (Darmstadt, 1978).


W.W.Schmoke1,Lkam ofEnpinz:Geman Cobniahm 1919-1945(New Haven and London,

1964) and H. Stoecker, ed., Geman Imperialisin m Awa: From the Beginnhp Unril the

Second World War (London and Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, 1986).

16. A. Kum’a N’dumbe 111, ‘La Politique Africaine de I’Allemagne Hitlerienne 1933-1943’,2vok. (Troisieme cycle doctoral thesis, Lyons University II,1974), availablein a published version as Hider V& L;rfrique(Paris, 1980);see alsohi ‘Afrikapolitik des dritten Reichs’,Afrika Hcurc, 21/22 (Nov. 1972), 456-9; ‘Hitler, L‘Afrique du Sud et la Menace Imperialisle: Les Relations Secretes entre Hitler et L‘Afrique du Sud‘, teS Temps Modcmes, 29 (Oct. 1973), published as a separate pamphlet; and, most polemical in nature, a pamphlet for the UN Centre Against Apartheid, RekAms betweenNazi Germmy and SouthAfica: ThdrInfruence on the De~~bprnuUof the Ideology of Apmthcid (New York, May 1976).

17. For instance, he describes Louis Botha and Jan Smuts as ‘English immigrants’: see ‘Hitler, L‘Afnque du Sud et la Menace Imperialiste’, 13-14.

18. Citino, Germmy and the Union of SouthA@a.

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more general and comparative nature, as I have reviewed this volume elsewhere.” This book is, despite its faults, too important to ignore, simply because there is no current English-language alternative: Ndumbe’s major work is in French and Hagemann’s massive contribution is restricted to those who can wade throu his often dense and at times almost impenetrable academic German style.&ost South African scholars will therefore have to seek out Citino’s book as the most detailed readily accessible study of relations between Nazi Germany and South Africa. Unfortunately, Citino restricts the body of his work to the period 1933-9, already covered in William Kienzle’s fine 1974 unpublished dissertation which paid particular attention to the very considerable scope of economic relations between the two countries in that period?l Like Kienzle, his primary sources are captured German Foreign Office Records (available on microfilm from the US National Archives Service), but he offers sketchier coverage of commercial relations, and does not use anyother unpublished German materials, nor indeed any South African archival collections. Coupled with the apparent lack of Afrikaans-language material, this makes his work so dependent on his German sources that he repeats their inaccuracies: for instance, he continually refers to Afrikaners as ‘Boers’.It is also a pity that he has no more than a brief postscript on the war years; for this the reader must turn to Hagemann, who is admittedly sketchy in his treatment of the second half of the war. Citino is of course a diplomatic historian of Germany, not an Africa- nisLZ To the extent that he restricts himself to diplomatic history, he provides a more thorough reading of the Foreign Office Records than anyone else at this time, albeit from the perspective of the German officials serving in Southern Africa more than from that of the central bureaucracy in Berlin. He demonstrates that links between the two countries were already significant even before Hitler’s accession to power, for instance in relation to setting up ISCOR.

Like Hagemann, who provides more detailed information on this aspect of the subject, Citino shows that even among South Africans of German origin, there was less than unanimous support for Hitler, a conclusion which a reader limited to South African materials such as the papers of Harry Lawrence or Jan Smuts might not necessarily reach. As HagemaM points out, the Nazis themselves, in fact, were often internally at odds, as elsewhere, on the best


In a forthcoming issue of the IruaMlioMl Journal ofAfrican Historical Sncdics


Hagemann, SidarfiiGnund dus ‘I)rincRcich:


See W.R.Kienzle, ‘German Policy Towards the Union of South Africa,1933-1939’(PhD dissertation, Pennsylvania State University, 1974).


His major prior work was TheEvolution ofBliakrieg Tactics: Gammty pefordr Itself Againn


1918-1933 (Westport, Connecticut, 1987).

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strategy to pursue, with the Foreign Office keener to pursue friendly relations with the host country, whereas the Nazi Party Auslandso?ganisationprovided a constant source of friction with the same government by attempting, however imperfectly, to provide a miniature state-within-a-state for the local German- speaking minority. IndividualGerman officialscould also make a big difference:

as Hagemann perceptively notes, when the prudent

Wiehl was succeeded at the German Legation in Pretoria by the arrogant Leitner, not only did tensions with the Union government increase, but it

became increasingly difficult for Berlin to guage accurately the likely response of South Africa should Britain become involved in a war with Germany. Citino’s extensive treatment of domestic South African politics in two separate chapters seems a strange obtrusion into such a diplomatic history, particularly in light of his limited sources, and relies heavily on long German reports on the subject. What does become apparent is the enormous interest of German officials in South Africa as the one British dominion with the potential to be drawn into the German sphere of influence. Such interest could have yielded real benefits, especially if Berlin had maximized the potential value of having the Germanophile Hertzog as Prime Minister and the German-descended Oswaid Pirow at the crucial defence and transport ministries. Citino does differ from HagemaM in asserting that Hertzogwas not especially pro-German in outlook, and even claims that he was not unfriendly to the Jews (a position not supported by the much more variable sentiments evidenced in my own research). But both concur that, by constantly pushing for the return of South-West Africa and interfering in the South African German community, the Nazis alienated to some extent many conservative Afrikaners, both in the Fusionist and Purified Nationalist camps. My work on the unsuccessful Nationalist negotiation of an electoral pact in 1938 with the avowedly pro-Nazi South African Greyshirts confirms this point: regardless of their sympathy for the new order in Germany and even

interest in introducing elements of European

South Africa, the vast majority of Afrikaner nationalists were deeply suspicious

and highly regarded Emil

far right political programmes into

being identified too closely with a foreign power.= There was little interest

in exchanging British for German domination, although in practice in at least

the early years of the war this was often lost sight of in the rush to take advantage of what then seemed a likely German victory by creating a republic entirely separate from the British Empire. Such a republic was to be modelled on lines more in keeping with the ‘New Order’ lauded so warmly by the editor of the National Party organ Die Oosferlig, Otto du Plessis, in a notorious


23. See Furlong, &ween

Crown and Swastika, 39-41.

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pamphlet published by Malan’s Nasionale Pers.” The way in which Christian nationalists like Du Plessis sought to build their republic not only on imported ideas, but also on the model of the old Boer republics needs some close analysis, but is not discussed in any detail in these new works. Citino’s treatment of anti-Semitism, which became dramatically more visible in South Africa in the 193Os, is on particularly shaky ground, relying once again on German reports, which exaggerated the slightest promising sign in this regard, at least in the 1930s and, naturally enough, presented the adoption by the Nationalists of anti-Jewish policies as essentially the product of Nazi influence, rather than a much more complex and often opportunistic response to the growth of anti-Semitic groups such as the various ‘shirt movements’ to the right of the party, which may have been more directly affected by the anti-Jewish propaganda then flooding South Africa from Germany. Hagemann is no more illuminating on this subject than Citino. Citino’s handling of the Jewish issue underlines his too ready reliance on

the simple black-and-white interpretation of his sources; this is equally true of his tendency to see Hertzog’s United Party as of one mind in its support in 1939 for war with Germany, in contrast with the more sympathetic position of the Purified Nationalists. The problem of the Hertzog-Smuts divide within the

United Party is not understood with the sensitivity of a scholar more

steeped in South African historiography, but this imbalance in knowledge of European versus South African affairs characterim the book as a whole. The scholar wishing to obtain a more thorough attempt to integrate the diplomatic material with an examination of the problem of fascism in Afrikaner

nationalism must therefore turn to Hagemann’scompendious contribution. This wide-ranging study encompasses several of the areas previously studied separately by individual scholars, including economic relationships with Germany, diplomaticaffairs, the German minoritywithin South Africa, German wartime interest in South Africa, South African anti-Semitism and racism, and the rise of Christian nationalism. Whereas Citino thoroughly mines a single vein of evidence, Hagemann, an

who studied at the University of Bielefeld, has

been able to draw on a vast range of primary and secondary material in German, English and Afrikaans. The bibliographyindicates that he has searched files in all the major relevant South African archives (the crucial relevant Foreign Ministry records, like those for Defence, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Police were apparently still closed during his research) in addition to various archives in Germany, the Netherlands, Britain and Namibia.


apparently well-funded historian

24. 0.du Plespis, Die Nuwc Suid-A~Xka:Die Revolurie van die Twinrigsrc Eeu (Port Elizabeth,


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Closer analysis of the references indicates, however, that for primary materials, he has not made as fruitful use of certain kinds of South African sources as he might have. He seems more comfortable with German- and, to a lesser extent, English-language materials, making only the most limited use of the very rich materials consulted at the Institute for Contemporary History in Bloemfontein, the principal repository for the records of modem Afrikaner nationalism. Indeed, his discussion of Afrikaner nationalism as such, while helpful, is among the less impressive sections of his book (just 13 pages are devoted to Christian nationalism, and only 14 to the Broederbond, compared with 31 on Nazi subversion in the Union and South-West Africa in the 193os, 31 on trade relations, and 49 on diplomatic relations before the war). On anti- Semitism, he has not mined Jewish or Afrikaner sources nearly as effectively as he has his Nazi materials, while on diplomatic relations, such as the neutrality question, he relies only on published selections from the Smuts Papers and ignores the equally crucial Hertzog Papers. His book is therefore impressive,but less than truly magisterial in its command of the sources. Some of this problem is of course beyond any author’s control. Despite the broad spectrum of materials upon which Hagemann draws, he acknowledges that some key documents, such as the original version of Count Durckheim- Montmartin’s much-cited report to Berlin on bringing South Africa into the German sphere of influence, have seeminglydisappeared. He does not, however, deal with the even greater problem that large quantities of German Foreign Office records were destroyed on Hitler’s orders at the end of the war, a fate which also befell some two truckloads of material on the OB and the Broeder- bond in the hands of South African Military Intelligence, removed on the orders of F.C. Erasmus when he took office at the Defence Ministry.= Continuing difficulties with access to official records at the Central Archives until at least the late 1980s also pose a problem (with the end of the Emergency and the advent of the De Klerk era, this situation may be changing); nobody will ever really know the full scope of South Africans’ entanglement with wartime fascism without such materials. Nevertheless, Hagemann makes one of the most persuasive attempts yet. He has a simple but compelling thesis: that German-South African relations, while made closer by their racial ties, were constantly frustrated by their rivalry for domination of the region and even the continent as a whole, especially as South Africa sought to carve out a role for itself as a serious player on the international scene.

25. E.G.Malherbe,Educafionm SouthAfrca VoL 11: 1923-1975 (CapeTown and Johannesburg,


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Trade relations provide a good example. Notwithstanding one of the most effective Jewish boycotts of German goods, South African trade with Germany actually increased after 1933, primarily because of the warm support of Hertzog, Pirow and like-minded cabinet ministers. On the other hand, German government agencies saw such trade in a one-sided way, trying to strengthen German-speaking and ‘ethnically related’ Afrikaner business at the expenseof English-speaking enterprises. Moreover, in addition to the South-West African dispute, the Italian invasion of Ethiopia greatly increased South African fear of fascist intervention in their own desired sphere of influence, drawing them closer to Britain, until the final break came in September 1939. On the subject of Afrikaner nationalism, although providing a far less satisfactory discussion of the internal dynamics within Afrikaner nationalism (he provides little discussion of developments after early 1942, and almost none for after 1943, when the German sources on South Africa largely dry up), Hagemann shows a wnsitivity to the subject lacking in almost all his predeces- sors.This perhaps reflects the sheer range of the material to which he has been exposed in his research. Although Hagemann agrees with OMeara that Christian nationalism cannot in essence be characterized as fascist according to any generally recognized definition of the term, he does concede the striking similarity between the extreme nationalism, anti-liberalism, anti-Marxism and anti- parliamentarism of this ideology and European forms of fascism in the interwar period. This position could probably be developed to advantage by applying the typology adopted by Stanley Payne in describing the Greyshirts as fascist, the OB as a radical right group and the National Party as rightist, but essentially conservative.26 But Hagemann shows even more ambivalence in describing

Christian nationalism as a ‘South African variant of fascism,’ albeit

marked by

a specifically ‘Christian’ character, but lacking ‘any autochthonous “South African ideology”’.” His comments on the ambivalence of this movement, including both pro-capitalist and anti-capitalist and both modernizing and anti- modern elements, raises the question of why he does not provide a more thorough comparative discussion of radical Afrikaner nationalism in the context

of the immense variety of European, Latin American and even Asian rightist movements of this period. Indeed, this remains a real need in the literature, although it will require a scholar steeped in several languages not usually familar to South Africanists. The parochialism of South African historiography so long criticized by the revisionists has not been overcome in respect of Afrikaner history. Ironically, while South African history has quite rightly

26. S.G.Payne, Fasci.wt~Compahn andlk$nition

27. Hagemann, SkiojXh und dac ‘WacReich’,346.

(Madison, Wisconsin, 1980), 17.

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become more thoroughly embedded in African history in recent years, there has been no concomitant attempt to place relevant areas of South African history

in an appropriate extra-African context.

This comment raises the contribution of the late Charles Bloomberg, brought before the public in an excellent edition by Saul Dubow, who has done

a superlative job of creating order out of what was apparently a vast and unwieldy manuscript.28 For Bloomberg can understand South African Christian nationalism only in the context of its roots and parallels in the ultra- conservative, neo-Cslvinist world of the Dutch Anti-Revolutionary Party before

its conversion to a more liberal worldview under the heel of wartime Nazi occupation. Like the Afrikaner Christian nationalists, the ARP showed an extraordinary ambivalence toward fascism as an admittedly quasi-pagan manifestation of its revolt against the liberal spirit of 1789.

Bloomberg’s work has only a few footnotes, limiting the scholar’s ability

to trace his materials, and suffers from the very difficult conditions under which

this eccentricallybrilliant journalist completed his life’s great work. Errors there certainly are: Hitler is said to have taken over Austria in 1934 rather than 1938 and the war issue is given as the reason for the formation of the National Party in 1914; he states that the OB toned down ifs pro-Nazi enthusiasm later in the war, whereas my own evidence suggests a more explicitly pro-National Socialist message in that period, he sees the wartime Broederbond executive as predominantly pro-NP, whereas the executive’s records suggest a deep split between a large pro-OB faction and the pro-Nationalist wing.29 For some, Bloomberg’swork may be a historical curiosity, largely oblivious to the great changes in historiography of the last two decades. He happily indulges in all the old shibboleths of a Broederbond conspiracy and the nineteenth century ‘Calvinist’ explanation of the Afrikaner worldview, so thoroughly discredited in the works of Dan O’Meara and Andrb du Toitm Yet this essentially intellectual history, despite perhaps overstretchhg the analogy between the ARP and the Broederbond, fits a valuable niche in the literature on the Afrikaner right. It includes a wealth of relevant historical detail

28. Bloomberg, ChnXan Naiiomhm.

29. Bid, 154,158,180and 182.

30. In addition to OMeara’s V-m, relevant works include A. du Toit’s two Lcy articles, ‘No Chosen People: lXe Myth of the Calvinist Origins of Afrikaner Nationalism and Racial Ideology’, American Historid Revicw, 88, 4 (at. 1%), 20-52 and ‘Puritans in Africa? Afrikaner “Calvinism” and Kuyperian Neo-Calvinism in Late Nineteenth Century South Afrid, Comparatiw Snrdiu in Sociqv and History, 21,2 (Apr. 1985), m-40.

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on Afrikaner nationalist groups and individuals, including much not available in previous studies of the Broederbond?l Bloombergbuilds a strong casefor the impact of fascismon leading figures in the Afrikaner nationalist movement such as LJ. du Plessis, Piet Meyer, Nico Diederichs, John and Koot Vorster, and for the involvement of National Party figures such as C.R. Swart, M.D.C. de Wet Nel and Eric Louw with far right groups like the OB, but acknowledges the complexityof such relationships. For Bloomberg is not a supporter of the Bunting position; in essence he agrees with Hagemann that Christian nationalism (like that in the Netherlands), was ambivalenttoward fascism, but that (unlike the Dutch variety) radical Afrikaner nationalists were not alienated from fascism by the events of the early war years; instead, they continued to draw selectively from fascism and Nazism those elements most congenial to their own history and current needs. Bloomberg rightly points out that the quarrel between the OB and the NP later in the war was not the product of intrinsically different attitudes to the Third Reich; both were decidedly pro-German, even if both were not necessarily equally pro-Nazi, and even the OB qualified its support for Nazism. I would add that absolutely essential to any treatment of the rift between the NP and OB was that this rested less on different attitudes to fascism than on individual and organizational jealousy: the NP knew that as the Nazis shifted their interest to the OB, the threat of a ‘non-party’ state as advocated by OB boss Hans van Rensburg had to be met head-on. The NP itself, however, could be just as authoritarian as the OB, was deeply involved in the drawing up of the famous ‘Draft Constitution’ for a republic more in keeping with the ‘New Order’ (discussed with great clarity by Bloomberg) and, when the time came to face the real enemy, Smuts’s United Party, unofficial OB support was crucial in electing

nationalism as Albert Hertzog

and Nico Diederichs. The 1948 election became, as Bloomberg perceives it, even if not necessarily the victory of sometime adherents of fascism (Hagemann, despite all his qualifications in the preceding chapters, comes very close to this position in his final paragraph), that of a counter-revolutionary movement rooted as much in the nineteenth century world of Abraham Kuyper and Paul Kruger as in the twentieth century world of Hitler, Mussolini or Van Rensburg. For all that, the reader cannot but note that the ARP was just a generation ahead of Hitler in

such well-known NP supporters of authoritarian

31. See AN.Pelzer, Dic Afrikrmcr Broeabbod Em@ 50 Jaar (Cape Town,1979), the official sanitized account; the controversial works by J.H.P. Serfontein, Brothahood of Power: An Eqw& oftheSamAfrikrmcr BruederW (Blmmington, Indiana and London, 1978)and H. Strydomand 1. Wilkins, I7&?Supw-A~:Inside theAfrikamr5mdchmd (Johannesburg, 1978); and, from the unusual perspective of the disaffected far right, B.M.Schoeman’sDic

BroeabW in dicAfrikrmcr-Politick(Pretoria, 1982).

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confronting the nightmares of modem conservatives: the breakdown of order, the challenge to traditional values, and the liberal demand for equality and for a new, international sensibility. This is where the novelist J.M. Coetzee’s slight but striking contribution to the subject can be introduced?2 For Coetzee, 1948 cannot be wished away as revisionists like O’Meara have, precisely because the nightmares which fed Afrikaner nationalist ideologues like Geo!Trey Cronje were very real to them, feeding a kind of social madness. It was Foucault who introduced many historians to the intriguing possibilities of studyingmadness; Coetzee offers here his equally provocatively eclectic thoughts on a political variety of insanity, which he believes to have infected a wide swathe of the white electorate in 1948, as an antidote to those who would explain the 1930s and 1940s in strictly rational, instrumentalist terms. Regardless of whether one agrees with all the post-Freudian psychobabble littering much of this article, it does raise an important issue for the student of fascism, for fascism, when all is said and done, has a distinctly irrational component, drawing on a hysterical reaction to modernization. The recent litarature on the South African right has tended to overlook this. It was as an irrational reaction to modernization that Hitler found such support among the small shopkeepers, craftsmen, farmers and white collar workers of his day who felt so threatened by the brave new industrial and transnational worlds of liberal capitalism and Marxist socialism. This is also why the petit bourgeois intelleo tuals of the Broederbond were able to forge a cross-classalliance of Afrikaner workers, farmers and emerging entrepreneurs and professionals terrified by a world in which they could not imagine competing with rapidly urbanizing black workers and large-scale English capitalists. Apartheid, like fascism, offered a panacea that does not negate more consciously rational explanations for 1948. Bloomberg’s work comes together here with Coetzee’s, for in the atmosphere of South Africa in the 1940s. Cronjes ‘mad’ obsession with racial mixing found a special resonance as a symbol of all that confronted the mid- twentieth century Afrikaner. Cronje was a sociologistwho was both a prominent OB figure and one of the most influential Afrikaner writers on race relations in the years during and immediatelyafter the war (his contribution to Regverdige Russe-Apartheid reads like a first draft of the Sauer Report, the basis for the 1948 NP apartheid platform). In so doing he provides a link with the work of Citino and Hagemann, who stop short in the body of their work before the end of the war. For Cronjes work was thoroughly imbued with the Nazi-style biological racism propagated by his mentor G. Eloff, something atypical in Afrikaner political writing, and so obviously the product of external influences.

32. Coetzee, ‘The Mind of Apartheid’.

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Yet Cronje‘s work was widely hailed in both party and church circles, because his ‘anti-infection’ model of full-scale segregation, clothed in quasi-fascist rhetoric, resonated with one of the oldest excuses of South African governments for keeping black and white apart, that of preserving public health. Thus, as Hagemann is so at pains to stress throughout his work, the common interest in the race question and in preserving their own identity brought together German Nazis and radical Afrikaner nationalists even when geo-political concerns or religious scruples limited the scope of their coopera- tion. Therefore, even though Berlin increasingly questioned the value of the OB, let alone of the Np, as a reliable partner in South Africa, and gradually replaced any prior hopes of replacing the Smuts government with a policy calculated more to irritate and harrass this remote comer of the Allied war effort, Afrikaner nationalism did not cease to be affected by the years of dalliance with the European radical right. The focus of Christian nationalist interest was no longer ‘English’ liberal democracy, but the black majority. With the defeat of the Nazis abroad and the collapse of the South African far right, the purportedly more moderate NP, deeply involved at home in its own complex alliances and feuds with ultra-rightist groups such as the Greyshirts and OB, was certainly the one surviving viable bearer of the radical Afrikaner nationalist tradition. The NP remained attached to a parliamentary system of sorts and, as Hagemann notes, it continued to be suspicious of a fascist-style leadership cult; nor, as he argues, were there any documentable institutional ties between Nazi Germany and the real force behind the party, the Broederbond. But individual connections there were aplenty, and those who had drunk of the waters of authoritarian nationalism found a ready home in the post-1948NP, especiallyafter the hard-line Verwoerd faction gained ascendancy in the 1950s. As Hagemann points out in his closing words, Germans have never satisfactorily agreed on whether 8 May 1945 was a day of liberation or of catastrophe for Germany, but those Afrikaner intellectuals who had been such admirers of Nazi Germany have never asked that question. They did not need to, for on the contrary, the alleged correctness of their Christian national path seemed to be realized when, just three years later, Christian nationalism came to power in South Africa.