ADOLF HITLER developed obnoxious theories regarding a distinct Jewish race. His race supremacist views have been publicly applauded by the disgraced former SRC-president of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Mcebo Dlamini.
Like Hitler, Dlamini makes a category error by incorrectly attributing a race to Jews. His latest social-media campaign against Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib has all the workings of a subtle defence of National Socialism and the Aryan Nation.
Such claims of a Jewish race are ludicrous considering the existence of Chinese, Ethiopian, Nigerian and “Coloured Jews”.
Nations are not races. The Nazi Nuremberg Laws which prevented miscegenation and race-mixing, lead to the forced sterilisation of persons of mixed race, and later mass extermination of Jews, Poles and Roma.
Such laws were the basis for later apartheid legislation under DF Malan and HF Verwoerd. The Group Areas Act, Population Registration Act, Immorality Act and other laws, separated South Africans according to race and lead to absurd quasi-legalistic arguments informed by the discredited pseudo-science of eugenics and what is known as the apartheid heresy, i.e the theological argument that apartheid and race segregation is the result of divine intervention by God.
“How did we go from the critique of Israel… to talking about all Jews. It’s racist and anti-Semitic,” says Adam Habib, Vice Chancellor of Wits.
Apartheid never worked. The lists of persons reclassified black or white and coloured were routinely included in the columns of South African newspapers. Many families were split down the middle. It was enough to have “one drop of niggers blood” reminds Louis Farrakhan, for one to be classified black.
Persons could be classified coloured or “other coloured” merely for looking coloured, and associating with persons of mixed race. Such was the problem inherent to coloured identity and the criteria enumerated by C Vogel and A Abdurahman.i
The apartheid system collapsed, not simply because of sanctions and international isolation, but because its ideology was unsustainable. It became a long-standing joke that certain National Party MPs had skeletons in their closets, and were thus susceptible to investigations of their DNA. Can anyone forget the Piet Koornhof affair in which it later turned out that the “Deputy Minister of Bantu Affairs and Bantu Education” and chief spokesperson for Apartheid during the 1980s, had a secret love affair with a “coloured” woman. Koornhof would later leave his wife and marry his lover in highly publicised capitulation of his position in 1993.
As it turned out, all humans alive today have a common ancestor in Africa. We are all related in some way to the first nations of the planet. Nations such as the Khoisan, who are nomadic peoples who still roam the savannahs of the sub-Continent.
In recent years academics have found renewed interest in the links between the Nazi Regime and the later Apartheid Regime. A flurry of academic papers followed the 2013 rediscovery of the so-called ‘Fischer Tools’, used for race-classification purposes at the University of Stellenbosch.
“The artefacts, it was immediately clear,” writes Dan Newling, “had been used to measure and classify physical differences between human beings of different ethnic origins.”
“An inscription on the back of one of the [objects] revealed their origin: they were the tools of Eugen Fischer, a notorious German eugenicist and Nazi whose theories inspired Hitler.”
The role played by eugenics and Nazi ideology is not without controversy. The University of Witwatersrand psychiatrist, Alban Burkeii, has gone so far as to name the racist academics and eugenics specialists that apartheid architect HF Verwoerd met and communicated with during his stay in pre-war Germany. Verwoerd gained a degree in psychology, there, studying at the Universities of Hamburg, Berlin and Leipzig.
The similarities are uncanny.
Both the Nazi Regime and the Apartheid Regime, deployed racial superiority theories, both had laws against miscegenation, both went to absurd levels to classify persons according to race, both had political parties backed by secret societies, both had secret police and torture, both detained their respective populations in prison camps or prison regions, both treated the target or outside group as cheap labour, both had territorial ambitions, yet only one waged outright world war, only one succeeded in exterminating part of its population.
The link between Nazidom and Afrikanerdom has thus a further controversial dimension in the Holocaust.
That a genocide-in-the-making, was part and parcel of apartheid South Africa’s Project Coast, which had as its objective a race virus or race bomb that could technically, have killed every single black person on the planet, is often met with derision by political pundits.
Daan Goosen, the former director of Project Coast’s biological research division, told the press he was ordered by the project’s head, Wouter Basson to develop ways “to suppress population growth among blacks” and to “search for a ‘black bomb,’ a biological weapon that would select targets based on skin color.” Similar evidence was also heard by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as well as the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).
Luckily this ambition to rid the planet of black people never came to fruition, thanks to a counter-operation by MK and the anti-apartheid movement. It was also an ambition that was perhaps, a little ahead of the science of its time.
Project Coast as outlined by Goosen, also aimed to forceably sterilise black South Africans. It has its corollary in Hitler’s Rhineland Sterilisation campaign which saw the forced sterilisation of the “bastard” offspring of mixed race couples. In Mein Kampf, Hitler described children resulting from such marriages as a contamination of the white race “by Negro blood on the Rhine in the heart of Europe.”
The words may as well be those of PW Botha.
Hitler thought that “Jews were responsible for bringing Negroes into the Rhineland, with the ultimate idea of bastardizing the white race which they hate and thus lowering its cultural and political level so that the Jew might dominate.” He also implied that this was a plot on the part of the French, since the population of France was being increasingly “negrified”.
Sentiments which would later find their expression in Botha’s statement: “I am one of those who believe that there is no permanent home for even a section of the Bantu in the white area of South Africa and the destiny of South Africa depends on this essential point. If the principle of permanent residence for the black man in the area of the white is accepted then it is the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it in this country.”
The genocide of the Herero and Namaqua by German forces under Lothar von Trotha in Namibia, prefigured similar policies towards Jews under Hitler. Hitler was thus a white supremacist who developed theories about the supremacy of the so-called Aryan Nation.
He refused to shake the hand of Jesse Owens during the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin.
Hitler’s Axis forces would later invade North Africa and Ethiopia, subjecting African populations to servitude, forced labour and medical experiments.
It is clear that the National Party adopted similar Anti-Black and Anti-Semitic legislation, resulting in the deaths of German Jewish refugees, barred from entering South Africa under legislation drafted by D F Malan.
D F Malan was locked up briefly by the Smuts administration during World War Two, for being a Nazi sympathiser and a member of the Pro-Nazi Ossewabrandwag, a precursor to the later Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) of Eugene Terreblanche. National Party membership cards from the 1930s show a Swastika and the inscription: “The South African National Party emanates from the SA Gentile National-Socialist Movement and incorporates the said Movement as also the SA Grey Shirts”. The AWB and its paramilitary went so far as to openly display a Swastika-like emblem during the 1980s, whilst imitating the ideology and rhetoric of the Aryan Nation of Adolf Hitler.
i C Vogel and A Abdurahman in Ian Goldin (1987) Making Race: The Politics and Economics of Coloured Identity in South Africa London: Longman
ii A. Burke, "Mental Health Care During Apartheid in South Africa: An Illustration of How 'Science' can be Abused", in I. Gozaydin and J.L. Madeira (eds), Evil, Law and the State: Issues i State Power and Violence (Inter-Disciplinary Press, Oxford, 2006), pp 117-133.