J. B. M. Hertzog
|The Right Honourable General|
J. B. M. Hertzog
|3rd Prime Minister of South Africa|
30 June 1924 – 5 September 1939
1st Earl of Athlone|
6th Earl of Clarendon
Sir Patrick Duncan
|Preceded by||Jan Christiaan Smuts|
|Succeeded by||Jan Christiaan Smuts|
James Barry Munnik Hertzog|
6 April 1866
Wellington, Cape Colony
21 November 1942 (aged 76)|
Pretoria, Transvaal, South Africa
|Spouse(s)||Wilhelmina Neethling |
|Alma mater||University of Amsterdam|
General James Barry Munnik Hertzog KC, better known as Barry Hertzog or J. B. M. Hertzog (6 April 1866 – 21 November 1942), was a South African politician and soldier.
He was a Boer general during the second Anglo-Boer War who became Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa from 1924 to 1939. Throughout his life he encouraged the development of Afrikaner culture, determined to protect the Afrikaners from the UK's influences. He is the only South African Prime Minister to have served under three British Monarchs (George V, Edward VIII, and George VI).
Hertzog first studied law at Victoria College in Stellenbosch, Cape Colony. In 1889 he went to the Netherlands to read law at the University of Amsterdam, where he prepared a dissertation on the strength of which he received his doctorate in law on 12 November 1892.
Hertzog had a law practice in Pretoria from 1892 until 1895, when he was appointed to the Orange Free State High Court. During the Boer War of 1899–1902 he rose to the rank of general, becoming the assistant chief commandant of the military forces of the Orange Free State. Despite some military reverses, he gained renown as a daring and resourceful leader of the guerilla forces continuing to fight the British. Eventually, convinced of the futility of further bloodshed, he signed the May 1902 Treaty of Vereeniging.
With South Africa now at peace, Hertzog entered politics as the chief organiser of the Orangia Unie Party. In 1907, the Orange River Colony gained self-government and Hertzog joined the cabinet as Attorney-General and Director of Education. His insistence that Dutch as well as English be taught in the schools met bitter opposition. He was appointed national Minister of Justice in the newly formed Union of South Africa. He continued in office until 1912. His antagonism to imperialism and Premier Botha led to a ministerial crisis. In 1913 he led a secession of the Old Boer and anti-imperialist section from the South African Party.
In the general election of 1924, his National Party defeated the South African Party of Jan Smuts and formed a coalition government with the South African Labour Party, which became known as the Pact Government. In 1934, the National Party and the South African Party merged to form the United Party, with Hertzog as Prime Minister and leader of the new party.
As prime minister, Hertzog presided over the passage of a wide range of social and economic measures which did much to improve conditions for working-class whites. According to one historian, “The government of 1924, which combined Hertzog’s NP with the Labour Party, oversaw the foundations of an Afrikaner welfare state.”
A Department of Labour was established while the Wages Act (1925) laid down minimum wages for unskilled workers, although it excluded farm labourers, domestic servants, and public servants. It also established a Wage Board that regulated pay for certain kinds of work, regardless of racial background (although whites were the main beneficiaries of this legislation). The Old Age Pensions Act (1927) provided retirement benefits for white workers. Coloureds also received the pension, but the maximum for Coloureds was only 70% that of whites.
The establishment of the South African Iron and Steel Industrial Corp in 1930 helped to stimulate economic progress, while the withdrawal of duties on imported raw materials for industrial use, which encouraged industrial development and created further employment opportunities, but at the cost of a higher cost of living. Various forms of assistance to agriculture were also introduced. Dairy farmers, for instance, were aided by a levy imposed on all butter sales, while an increase in import taxes protected farmers from international competition. Farmers also benefited from preferential railway tariffs and from the widening availability of loans from the Land Bank. The government also assisted farmers by guaranteeing prices for farm produce, while work colonies were established for those in need of social salvage. Secondary industries were established to improve employment opportunities, which did much to reduce white poverty and enabled many whites to join the ranks of both semi-skilled and skilled labour.
An extension of worker’s compensation was carried out, while improvements were made in the standards specified under a contemporary Factory Act, thus bringing the Act into line with international standards with regard to the length of the working week and the employment of child labour. A law on miners' phthisis (pulmonary tuberculosis) was overhauled, and increased protection of white urban tenants against eviction was introduced at a time when houses were in short supply. The civil service was opened up to Afrikaners through the promotion of bilingualism, while a widening of the suffrage was carried out, with the enfranchisement of white women. The pact also instituted ‘penny postage’, automatic telephone exchanges, a cash-on-delivery postal service, and an experimental airmail service which was later made permanent.
The Department of Social Welfare was established in 1937 as a separate governmental department to deal with social conditions. Increased expenditure was also made on education for both whites and coloureds. Spending on coloured education rose by 60%, which led to the number of coloured children in school grow by 30%. Grants for the blind and the disabled were introduced in 1936 and 1937, respectively, while unemployment benefits were introduced in 1937. That same year, the coverage of maintenance grants was extended.
Although the social and economic policies pursued by Hertzog and his ministers did much to improve social and economic conditions for whites, they did not benefit the majority of South Africans, who found themselves the targets of discriminatory labour laws that entrenched white supremacy in South Africa. A Civilised Labour Policy was pursued by the Pact Government to replace black workers with whites (typically impoverished Afrikaners), and was enforced through three key pieces of legislation: the Industrial Conciliation Act No 11 of 1924, the Minimum Wages Act No. 27 of 1925, and the Mines and Works Amendment Act no. 25 of 1926. The Industrial Conciliation Act No 11 of 1924 created job reservation for whites while excluding blacks from membership of registered trade unions (which therefore prohibited the registration of black trade unions). The Minimum Wages Act No. 27 of 1925 bestowed upon the Minister for Labour the power to force employers to give preference to whites when hiring workers, while the Mines and Works Amendment Act No. 25 of 1926 reinforced a color bar in the mining industry, while excluding Indian miners from skilled jobs. In a sense, therefore, the discriminatory social and economic policies pursued by the Pact Government helped pave the way for the eventual establishment of the Apartheid state.
Constitutionally, Hertzog was a republican who believed strongly in promoting the independence of the Union of South Africa from the British Empire. His government approved the Statute of Westminster in 1931, and replaced Dutch as the second official language with Afrikaans in 1925, as well as instating a new national flag in 1928. His government approved women's suffrage for white women in 1930, thus hardening the dominance of the white minority. Property and education requirements for Whites were abandoned in the same year, with those for non-Whites being severely tightened, and in 1936 Blacks were completely taken off the common voters' roll. Separately elected Native Representatives were instead instated, a policy repeated in the attempts of the later apartheid regime to disenfranchise all non-Whites during the 1950s. Through this system of gradual disenfranchisement spanning half a century, the South African electorate was not made up entirely of Whites until the 1970 general election.
In foreign policy, Hertzog favored a policy of distance from the British Empire and as an Germanophile was sympathetic towards revising the international system set up by the Treaty of Versailles in Germany's favor.:297 Hertzog's cabinet in the 1930s was divided between a pro-British group led by the Anglophile Smuts and a pro-German group led by Oswald Pirow, the openly pro-Nazi and antisemitic minister of defense with Hertzog occupying a middle position between the two.:297 Hertzog had an autocratic style of leadership, expecting the cabinet to approve his decisions rather than to discuss them, and as a consequence the cabinet only met intermittently.:297 From 1934 onward, South Africa was dominated by an informal "inner cabinet" consisting of Hertzog, Smuts, Pirow, the Finance minister N.C. Havenga and Native Affairs minister P.G.W. Grobler.:297 Generally, the "inner cabinet" would meet in private and whatever decision that Hertozg, Smuts, Pirow, Havenga and Grobler had reached in their meetings would be presented to the cabinet to endorse with no discussion.:297 Though Hertzog was not as pro-German as the faction led by Pirow, he tended to see Nazi Germany as a "normal state" and as a potential ally, unlike the Soviet Union which Hertzog saw as a threat to the West.:301
Alongside this, Hertzog saw France as the main threat to peace in Europe, viewing the Treaty of Versailles as an unjust and vindictive peace treaty, and argued the French were the principle trouble-makers in Europe by seeking to uphold the Versailles treaty.:303-304 Hertzog argued that if Adolf Hitler had a belligerent foreign policy, it was only because of the Treaty of Versailles was intolerably harsh towards Germany and if the international system was revised to take account of Germany's "legitimate" complaints against Versailles, then Hitler would become a moderate and reasonable statesman.:301 When Germany remilitarized the Rhineland in March 1936, Hertzog informed the British government that there was no possibility of South Africa taking part if Britain decided to go to war over the issue, and in the ensuing crisis, South African diplomats took a very pro-German position, arguing that Germany was indeed right to violate the Treaty of Versailles by remilitarizing the Rhineland.
Hertzog's principle adviser on foreign affairs was his external affairs state secretary, H.D.J. Bodenstein, an anti-British Afrikaner nationalist and a republican, who was seen as the eminence grise of South African politics, as no other man had the same degree on influence on Hertzog as Bodenstein did.:297-298 Sir William Henry Clark, the British high commissioner to South Africa, had a long-standing feud with Bodenstein, whom he accused of being an Anglophobe, writing in his reports to London that Bodenstein always presented Britain in the worse possible light to Hertzog and noted with worry that Bodenstein's best friend was Emile Wiehle, the German consul in Cape Town.:298 The Germanophile South African minister in Berlin, Stefanus Gie, largely embraced Nazi values as his own, and in reports to Pretoria portrayed Germany as the victim of Jewish plots, arguing that everything the Nazis did against German Jews were only defensive measures.:299 Through Hertzog did not share the antisemitism of Gie, his dispatches portraying the Third Reich in a favorable light were used to support the prime minister's foreign policy preferences.:299
In a statement of foreign policy principles for South Africa drawn up by Pirow for the cabinet in March 1938, the first principle was combating communism and the second was having Germany serve as the "bulwark against Bolshevism".:300 In a message to Charles te Water, the South African high commissioner in London in early 1938, Hertzog told him to tell the British that South Africa expected "immediacy, impartiality and sincerity" in resolving the disputes of Europe.:300 Just was meant by this was explained by Hertzog in a letter to the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in March 1938 saying South Africa would not fight in any "unjust" wars, saying that if Britain choose to fight for Czechoslovakia, then South Africa would be neutral.:3030 On 22 March 1938, Hertzog sent te Water a telegram stating that South Africa would not in any conditions go to war with Germany in defense of Czechoslovakia, stating he regarded Eastern Europe as being rightfully in Germany's sphere of influence.:304
In another letter in the spring of 1938, Hertzog stated he was "exhausted" by France, and wrote that he wanted Chamberlain to tell the French that the commonwealth and South Africa in particular would be neutral if France went to war with Germany because of a German attack on Czechoslovakia.:304 When te Water reported to Hertzog on 25 May 1938 that the British foreign secretary, Lord Halifax, had promised him that Britain was applying maximum pressure on Czechoslovakia to resolve the dispute over the Sudetenland in Germany's favor and was pressuring France to abandon its alliance with Czechoslovakia, Hertzog stated his approval.:305 On 14 September 1938, te Water complained to Lord Halifax about this "astonishing episode" that Britain was drifting to war with Germany over the Sudetenland issue, stating that as far was South Africa was concerned, Germany was in the right in demanding that mostly German-speaking Sudetenland be allowed to join Germany, and Czechoslovakia and France was in the wrong, the first by refusing the German demand and the second by having an alliance with Czechoslovakia that encouraged Prague to resist Berlin.:312
In the middle of September 1938, when Britain was on the verge of war with Germany over the Sudetenland issue, Hertzog clashed in the cabinet with Smuts over the course of action that South Africa would pursue with the former favoring neutrality and the latter intervention on Britain's side.:309 On 15 September 1938, Hertzog presented the cabinet with a compromise plan in the event of war that South Africa would declare neutrality, but would be neutral in the most pro-British way possible.:328 The cabinet was divided. Pirow favored South Africa allying itself with Germany to fight against Britain. On the other hand, Smuts favored South Africa allying with Britain and going to war with Germany and threatened to use his influence with the MPs loyal to himself to bring down the government if Hertzog did declare neutrality.:328 On 19 September 1938 as a part of a peace plan to resolve the crisis, Britain offered to "guarantee" Czechoslovakia if the latter agreed to allow the Sudetenland to join Germany, which led te Water to inform Lord Halifax that South Africa was utterly opposed to taking part in the "guarantee" and advised Britain against making such a "guarantee", through he later changed his position, saying that South Africa would "guarantee" Czechoslovakia if it was backed by the League of Nations and if Germany signed a non-aggression pact with Czechoslovakia.:316
On 23 September 1938 at the Bad Godesburg summit, Hitler rejected the Anglo-French plan for transferring the Sudetenland to Germany as insufficient, thus putting Europe on the brink of war.:312-313 In a telegram to Chamberlain on 26 September 1938, Hertzog wrote that the differences between the Anglo-French and German were "mainly of method" and "as the issue was one of no material substance, but merely involves a matter of procedure for arriving at a result to which it is common cause between disputants Germany is entitled", there was no possibility of South Africa going to war over the issue.:313 Even after Hitler's belligerent speech on Berlin on the same day, proclaiming that he would still attack Czechoslovakia unless Prague settled its disputes with Poland and Hungary by 1 October 1938, Hertzog in a telegram to te Water wrote he felt "very deeply that if after this an European war was still to take place the responsibility for that will not be placed upon the shoulders of Germany".:315 In his messages to te Water in the last days of September 1938, Hertzog consistently portrayed Czechoslovakia and France as the trouble-makers and argued that Britain must do more to apply pressure on those two states for more concessions to Germany.:3186 Te Water and the Canadian high commissioner in London, Vincent Massey, in a joint note on behalf of South Africa and Canada to Lord Halifax, stated that Sir Basil Newton, the British minister in Prague, should tell the Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš, that "the obstructive tactics of the Czech government were unwelcome to the British and Dominion governments".:318 On 28 September 1938, Hertzog was able to get the cabinet to approve his policy of pro-British neutrality subject to parliamentary approval, adding that South Africa would only go to war if Germany attacked Britain first.:329-330 Given his views, Hertzog very much approved of the Munich agreement of 30 September 1938, which he regarded as a "just" and "fair" resolution of the German-Czechoslovak dispute.:333-334
On 4 September 1939, the United Party caucus revolted against Hertzog's stance of neutrality in World War II causing Hertzog's government to lose a vote on the issue in parliament by a vote of 80 to 67. Governor-General Sir Patrick Duncan refused Hertog's request to dissolve parliament and call a general election on the question. Hertzog resigned and his coalition partner Smuts become prime minister and led the country into war, and political re-alignments followed with Hertzog and his faction joining with Daniel Malan's opposition Purified National Party to form the Herenigde Nasionale Party with Herzog becoming the new Leader of the Opposition. However, Hertzog soon lost the support of Malan and his supporters when they rejected Hertzog's platform of equal rights between British South Africans and Afrikaners, prompting Hertzog to resign and retire from politics.
Hertzog died on November 21, 1942, at the age of 76.
A 4-metre statue of Hertzog was erected in 1977 at the front lawns of the Union Building. The statue was taken down on 22 November 2013. It was still in good condition, save that the spectacles which originally were included on the statue had been removed. The statue was removed to make way for a 9-metre high statue of Nelson Mandela.
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Media related to J. B. M. Hertzog at Wikimedia Commons
- Portraits of J. B. M. Hertzog at the National Portrait Gallery, London
- Newspaper clippings about J. B. M. Hertzog in the 20th Century Press Archives of the German National Library of Economics (ZBW)
|New title|| Minister of Justice of South Africa
Jacobus Wilhelmus Sauer
| Prime Minister of South Africa
|Party political offices|
|New title|| Leader of the United Party