Verwoerd, Hendrik Frensch

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Verwoerd, Hendrik Frensch

Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd (hĕn´drək frĕnsh fərvōōrt´), 1901–66, South African political leader, b. Holland. He was taken as an infant to South Africa when his parents emigrated as missionaries. He graduated from Stellenbosch Univ. and studied further in Germany, where he came into contact with the nascent National Socialist (Nazi) party. He became (1927) professor of psychology and sociology at Stellenbosch. In 1928 he was named editor of the Transvaaler, an Afrikaans nationalist newspaper. His editorial policy reflected enmity toward the British, the Africans, and the Jews. Following a series of important posts in the Nationalist party, he became a senator (1948) and minister of native affairs (1950). In 1958 he was elected to parliament and, upon the death of J. G. Strijdom, became prime minister. A harsh proponent of white supremacy, Verwoerd, in response to foreign criticism, reformulated the apartheid policy as "separate development," meaning physical segregation of the races. When South Africa became (1961) a republic, he severed its connections with the Commonwealth of Nations. An attempt was made (1960) on his life; its failure was interpreted by Verwoerd as God's approval of his work. A second assassination attempt succeeded in Sept., 1966.

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