Hendrik Verwoerd

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Apartheid means: ‘something of your own’; ... separate development means the kind of growth which one creates by means of own power and for the sake of yourself and your people.

Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd (8 September 1901 – 6 September 1966), also commonly referred to as H. F. Verwoerd and Dr. Verwoerd, was a Dutch-born South African politician, sociologist and journalist. As leader of South Africa's National Party he served as the last prime minister of the Union of South Africa from 1958 until 1961. In 1961 he proclaimed the founding of the Republic of South Africa, and continued as its prime minister from 1961 until his assassination in 1966 by Dimitri Tsafendas. Although apartheid existed before Verwoerd took office, his efforts to place it on a firmer legal and theoretical footing, in particular his opposition to even the limited form of integration known as baasskap (boss-ship), have led him to be dubbed the Architect of Apartheid.


  • As Jews presently enjoy a disproportionate share of the wholesale and retail trade, such a balanced distribution can be achieved only by refusing them further trading licenses, until such a time as the other main population groups, such as English- and Afrikaans-speakers, have gained a proportion which (as far as practicable) corresponds to their percentage of the white population. … Of course, the discrimination must disappear as soon as the correct balance (ewewigtige toestand) has been achieved.
  • Must Bantu and European in future develop as intermixed communities, or as communities separated from one another in so far as this is practically possible? If the reply is ‘intermingled communities’, then the following must be understood. There will be competition and conflict everywhere. So long as the points of contact are still comparatively few, as is the case now, friction and conflict will be few and less evident. The more this intermixing develops, however, the stronger the conflict will become. In such a conflict, the Europeans will, at least for a long time, hold the stronger position, and the Bantu be the defeated party in every phase of the struggle. This must cause to rise in him an increasing sense of resentment and revenge.
  • [The present Government] believes in the supremacy (baasskap) of the European in his sphere, [and] equally in the supremacy (baasskap) of the Bantu in his own sphere. There is thus no policy of oppression here, but one of creating a situation which has never existed for the Bantu; namely, that, taking into consideration their languages, traditions, history and different national communities, they may pass through a development of their own. … The future Bantu towns and cities in the reserves may arise partly in conjunction with Bantu industries of their own in those reserves. In their establishment Europeans must be prepared to help with money and knowledge, in the consciousness that such industries must, as soon as possible, wholly pass over into the hands of the Bantu.
  • The curriculum (to a certain extent) and the practice of teaching, ignoring the policy of segregation or apartheid, could not offer preparation for service within the black community. By simply blindly producing pupils formed on a European mould, the vain expectation was created that they, in spite of the said national policy, would still be able to fill posts in the white community. This is that is meant by the unhealthy creation of white collar ideals and the causing of widespread frustration among the so-called learned natives.
  • We shall not act unfairly in any way. We shall not allow our understanding to let us down. For a leader who has to take care of a volk/people, cannot govern, driven by emotions or vengefulness. It is our task in these heavy times, while the heart often wants to speak, to let understanding dominate; understanding and faith. Carried by faith in God, the government will not be able to govern unfairly. Faith and understanding does not, however, say that we have to act timidly when greater evils may follow. Power is sometimes the best means to get peace.
    • Verwoerd in 1960, as quoted and translated by J. J. Venter in H.F. Verwoerd: Foundational aspects of his thought, Koers 64(4) 1999: 415–442
  • The tendency in Africa for nations to become independent and, at the same time, the need to do justice to all, does not only mean being just to the black man of Africa but also being just to the white man of Africa. They are the people, not only in the Union but throughout major portions of Africa, who brought civilisation here, who made possible the present development of black nationalism by bringing the natives education, by showing them the Western way of life, by bringing to Africa industry and development, by inspiring them with the ideals which Western civilisation has developed for itself.
  • Aan die vooraand van die Republiek vra teenstanders nou dat ons, die regering, sy kleurbeleid moet wysig sodat hulle meer geld kan maak. ... Sekere mense dink ons het hulle nodig en hou 'n pistool voor ons kop en vra prysgewing van sekere dele van ons kleurbeleid. Ons is nie te koop nie. Ons kleurbeleid is nie te koop nie.
  • On the eve of the Republic, opponents are now demanding that we, the government, change its colour policy so that they can make more money. ... Some people think we need them and keep a pistol to our head and ask for the forfeiting of certain aspects of our colour policy. We are not for sale. Our colour policy is not for sale.
    • As Prime Minister, as quoted in the Die Transvaler newspaper (4 July 1960)
  • [True democracy] is not what the Communists practice. It is not even what the African states practice. But that is the pressure being exerted when demands are made upon our country. In other words, the process towards integration [would inexorably] lead to Bantu domination, a situation from which there would be no escape. … [Coloureds and Indians] must not think that the colour of their skins will protect them. The minority groups will all have to contend with an unrestricted domination by the Bantu if a multi-racial state comes into being. … the people of South Africa cannot accept the consequence of a multi-racial state unless the Whites, the Coloureds and the Indians are prepared to commit race suicide.
  • After half a century of co-operation – difficult, at times very difficult – a stage has been reached when both groups [i.e. Afrikaans and English-speaking whites] as never before are faced with a challenge to bury the past, to let it become the combined history of a unified volk/people. Today we are faced with threats for the future of our civilization, for our prosperity, for the contribution of the white man of Africa to the struggle of the white man of Europe and America to retain his hegemony in the world. Also to make Christianity victorious, sacrifices must be made, and nowhere is Christianity more threatened than in Africa. Sacrifices of sentiment is expected of everybody. There must not only be a union of provinces in South Africa. There must also be a union of hearts.
    • Verwoerd in 1963, as quoted and translated by J. J. Venter in H.F. Verwoerd: Foundational aspects of his thought, Koers 64(4) 1999: 415–442
  • We must have the courage of men and be strong. But the will to resistance of a volk/people is linked to the kind of leadership which he chooses for himself. If he has the will to resistance, he searches for strong leadership and not weak leadership. If you want to be victorious, you have to be prepared to follow leaders who are not prepared to cave in.
    • Verwoerd in 1963, as quoted and translated by J. J. Venter in H.F. Verwoerd: Foundational aspects of his thought, Koers 64(4) 1999: 415–442
  • Apartheid means: ‘something of your own’; the other word refers to something even greater, i.e. ‘development’, which implies ‘growth’. A human being should not regress if one undertakes a task. Through the work of one's hands something must come into being. This is creation; and development is growth by what one creates anew in a continuously flowing process. Therefore separate development means the kind of growth which one creates by means of own power and for the sake of yourself and your people.
    • Verwoerd in 1963, as quoted and translated by J. J. Venter in H.F. Verwoerd: Foundational aspects of his thought, Koers 64(4) 1999: 415–442
  • Israel is not consistent in its new anti-apartheid attitude... They took Israel away from the Arabs after the Arabs lived there for a thousand years. In that, I agree with them. Israel, like South Africa, is an apartheid state.
    • Quoted in The Empire's New Walls: Sovereignty, Neo-liberalism, and the Production of Space in Post-apartheid South Africa and Post-Oslo Palestine/Israel, by Andrew James Clarno, 2009. pp. 66–67

Quotes about Verwoerd[edit]

  • [Your] Government, after receiving a mandate from a section of the European population, decided to proclaim a Republic on 31 May. [It is feared that] under this proposed Republic your Government, which is already notorious the world over for its obnoxious policies, would continue to make even more savage attacks on the rights and living conditions of the African people. [We] considered the grave political situation facing the African people today. [Many delegates] drew attention to the vicious manner in which your Government forced [people of various areas] to accept the unpopular system of Bantu Authorities, [and] the rapid manner in which race relations are deteriorating in this country.
  • Ek wil nie 'n huigelaar wees nie: die feit dat Dr Verwoerd nie meer die Eerste Minister van Suid-Afrika is nie, is die beste ding wat met ons land kon gebeur het.
  • I don't want to be a hypocrite: the fact that Dr Verwoerd is no longer the prime minister of South Africa is the best thing that could have happened to our country.
  • Every day, you see a man you know committing a very serious crime for which millions of people suffer. You cannot take him to court or report him to the police because he is the law in the country. Would you remain silent and let him continue with his crime or would you do something to stop him? You are guilty not only when you commit a crime, but also when you do nothing to prevent it when you have a chance.

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