The Nazis who fled to South Africa

Stewart alerted us to this Facebook post by Steve Russell:

Mr. Trump is innocent of history, but I don’t know if he would care. My attention was gotten back when the UT Main Library was closed stack and I requested a very old book titled “The Race Problem in South Africa.” It turned out to be a book about the relations between Brits and Boers. The Boer War did not not settle it. The Brits would go so far as to intermarry with the indigenous Africans and that’s why when the Boers had their day, they had to create a special classification for “coloreds.” The Asian population was mostly Indian with a few Chinese, but for reasons too complicated for this post, the Nationalist government declared Japanese to be “honorary whites,” and so they did not have to carry passes that limited them as Asians. Anyway, it was not coincidence that the Nationalist government advocating apartheid came to power in 1948. Everyone knows that Hitler’s defeat sparked a diaspora (if I may indulge a little irony) of hardcore Nazis. Most of them went to Latin America and it was support from German immigrant communities that gave us many of the odious dictators the US supported in Latin America during the Cold War because they were anti-Communist. Of course they were–nobody is more anti-Communist than a Nazi.

Ok that right there is something I’d like to know more about. (For one thing I wonder how Nazi diaspora immigrant communities in various Latin American countries could have given us the odious dictators the US supported, when there can’t possibly have been all that many of them in any one country. He must have overstated that bit.)

Less visible were the Nazis who fled to South Africa. Proportionately, there were more of them, and they swelled the ranks of the Nationalist Party. In 1948, they got their way, and South Africa was governed by repressive methods that got more repressive as the black majority found a voice. Before 1960 the majority of blacks stood behind the non-violent African National Congress, sort of the NAACP of South Africa, rather than the Pan-Africanist Congress, which advocated violent revolution. The Sharpeville Massacre of unarmed blacks in 1960 knocked ANC off nonviolence and the faction within that wanted to fight with the PAC formed Umkhonto we Sizwe (“Spear of the Nation”). It was this fight Nelson Mandela refused to denounce when offered release from Robben Island if he would. Some never abandoned nonviolence–early on, Albert Luthuli and later Desmond Tutu. But Sharpeville enabled Robert Sobukwe of the PAC to say “I told you so” and most of the ANC leadership forsook nonviolence—Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Oliver Tambo, and of course Mandela. It was literal Nazis running the propaganda machine that called these men “terrorists.”

And Ronald Reagan, for one, bought the lie, and supported the apartheid regime.

When Mandela was released, he used his substantial personal credibility to stand for peace and reconciliation. There was no throwing out the Afrikaners–the descendants of Dutch settlers had nowhere to go. But they always had the descendants of the violent fringe refighting the Boer War in alliance with Hitler’s refugees. These people are still at work. Nazis. Literally. They lie and they kill and they idolize Hitler. Mr. Trump has thrown in with them, but his breathtaking ignorance of history requires that we leave open the possibility that he knew not what he did.

His breathtaking ignorance of history is one powerful reason he should never have run for president or any other political office.

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