Bernard Friedman

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Bernard Friedman
Born 1896
Pretoria, South Africa
Died 1984
Johannesburg, South Africa
Pen name Bernard Friedman
Occupation Surgeon, Businessman, Member of Parliament
Nationality South African
Ethnicity White
Citizenship South African
Education Pretoria Boys High School, University of Edinburgh, University of Vienna, Royal College of Surgeons
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
Notable works Smuts: A Reappraisal, George Allen & Unwin, London 1975, ISBN 0-04-920045-3
Notable awards Queen's Coronation Medal, 1953
Spouse Florence Louie Gordon
Children Jillian Ruth, Jonathan Gordon
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Dr Bernard Friedman (1896 Pretoria, South African Republic - 1984 Johannesburg, South Africa), was a surgeon, politician, author, businessman, and outstanding orator who co-founded the anti-apartheid Progressive Party.


He was educated at Pretoria Boys High School and then he read medicine at Edinburgh University, where he was a gold medalist.[1] He later became a specialist in aural surgery after studies in London and Vienna. Dr Friedman practised in Johannesburg and was Honorary Surgeon to the Ear, Nose and Throat Department of Johannesburg Hospital and then Head of Department. He was senior lecturer in Otolaryngology at the Medical School of the University of Witwatersrand and consultant to the United Defence Force. In the 1920s he became a good friend of Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone whose husband was Governor General of the Union of South Africa. The friendship lasted until Princess Alice's death. As an officer in the Medical Corps in the Second World War, he was Chief Aural Surgeon to the Military Hospital in Johannesburg.

A United Party candidate, he became an MP for Hillbrow in 1943 when Smuts was returned to power. In Parliament, he was noted for the informed content of his speeches, particularly those on financial and treasury matters, and was admired by members on both sides of the House for his quick repartee and cutting interjections. Dr Friedman kept his seat until 1948 when Smuts fell from power and the Nationalist Party under Malan took over Government. In 1955, Dr Friedman resigned his seat in protest against the United Party's refusal to pledge to the restoration of Coloured voters on the common roll (High Court of Parliament Bill). He stood as an Independent but was narrowly defeated by the UP candidate. He then became one of the founders of the Progressive Party (South Africa) and was its leader in the Transvaal for 10 years. Helen Suzman was a protégé of his. C Kaplan wrote in his obituary, "He was a man who saw the injustice of reducing the rights of South Africans of all races and was not afraid to say so". He retired and became President of the South African Institute of Race Relations.

He was also the founder and chairman of the Prudential Building Society, Chairman and Director of Unisec Ltd., Unit Securities and Trust Company of South Africa Ltd., and numerous other companies. He was befriended by Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone, when the Earl was Governor-General of South Africa. He developed the township of Northcliffe, near Johannesburg. He was also a friend of Gandhi.[citation needed]

He was married to Florence Louie Friedman[2] the satirist, translator of poetry, and publisher (Silver Leaf Books, which she founded with the writer Thelma Gutsche, the first publisher of Nobel Prize Winner, Nadine Gordimer[3] who became her good friend), and South African secretary of PEN.

He was father of the writer, Jillian Becker and a son, Jonathan Friedman, who predeceased him.

Published works[edit]

See also[edit]


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