Antisemitism in South Africa
The interwar years were a tumultuous time in South Africa. The effects of the worldwide economic slump gave rise to a huge number of ‘poor whites’ and fed the growth of a militant and aggressive Afrikaner nationalism that often took its lead from Nazi Germany. For a great number of whites, both English – and Afrikaans – speakers, the Jew was an unwelcome and disturbing addition to society. A Perfect Storm explores the growth of antisemitism in South Africa between 1930 and 1948 within the broader context of South African politics and culture. A Perfect Storm reveals how the radical right’s malevolent message moved from the margins to the centre of political life; how demagoguery was able to gain traction in society; and how vulgar antisemitism seeped into mainstream politics, with real and lasting consequences. Milton Shain, South Africa’s leading scholar of modern Jewish history, carefully documents the rise of the ‘Jewish Question’ in this period, detailing the growth of overtly fascistic organisations such as the Greyshirts, the New Order and the Ossewa-Brandwag. Central to his analysis is the National Party’s use of anti-Semitism to win electoral advantage and mobilise Afrikaners behind the nationalist project. The party contributed to the climate of hostility that resulted in the United Party government drastically curtailing the numbers of Jews admitted as immigrants. Indeed, some of its most virulent antisemites were accorded high office after 1948 when the National Party came to power.
Paperback, Jonathan Ball Publishing, 2015