The Curious Case of World War 2 South Africa – How a Nation Divided Contributed to the War Effort

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You’ve probably heard of South African airmen, like Sailor Malan, volunteering to fight for the British Royal Air Force during World War II, but this was by no means South Africa’s sole contribution to the Allied war effort. What else did South Africa get up to during the war?

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Narrator – Cam
Editors – Giorgi, Steve
Writer – Nick Petrou, Brad Dare
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0:00 Introduction
1:15 South African Politics Pre-World War 2
4:38 South Africa’s World War 2 Contributions
10:25 Conclusion


  1. Yes there were lots of pro German people in South Africa. The issues in Namibia should indicate their strength and resolve. However they majority of British expats was greater, and they were the real hero’s. Thanks to them we have experienced several years of very good life. Now it’s all about to unfold again with China.

  2. Dude, I love your accent. :-> My great uncle served as bomber crew for the RAF. His plane was shot down and he was made a prisoner of war, working in a munitions factory in Germany. He and his mates used to compete to see who could produce the most dud shells! Seems kind of dumb, using enemy POW's in a munitions plant? πŸ˜›

  3. I am always worried that videos like these would portray White Afrikaans speaking South Africans as racist Nazi’s. It is very important to add context here and the irony that you would dare suggest that White Afrikaans speaking South Africans where pro Germany and their ideology is troublesome. This at a time when the English invaded SA, burn the land, kill the natives and looted as they saw fit. This all the while claiming the high ground and allowing the main stream narrative to perpetuate hate towards White South Africans, just as you are trying to do now… Perhaps you could do an video of how the Queen had thousands of people die in concentration camps here in SA and the prisoners of war which was exiled, very similar to that of Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

  4. Many Boers would have most likely fought alongside Germans had they been given chance. They despised Britain for the defeats they suffered at the hands of the British during the 2 South African wars. 20 years before World War 2…And they were very racist just like the Nazis

  5. My great Grand dad was on the sea and then moved to be a artillery man don't know what you call them my dad told me the story he still has his medals and his combat knife so this was such a great piece of content thanks for that as A South African this was amazing.

  6. My grandfather's uncle went MIA during Butte de Warlencourt (Somme offensive) WW1 whilst fighting for the Allieds. His dad emmigrated to SA during 1883 from Germany. Goes to show, not all germans were bad.

  7. If you want to read about bravery read Jungle Man "Mtanda Batho" The Autobiography of Major PJ Pretorius – Jungle Man….MAN his guy was on another level he saved thousands of lives in East Africa during the 2nd war war…. Pls pls read the book it's unbelievable what he accomplished!!!!!

  8. In our school in Beaufort west south africa there are special plackets in our hall for the troops that served in the Great War that volunteered from our school, just thought it might be interesting.

  9. In the end, the Nazi's just perfected what the British had done to the Boer nation and natives a mere 30 years earlier.
    Not to mention their other colonies like India and Australia..

    Image the Nazi's invading France, doing what they did to the local population and then expecting the men to join their war effort.
    People tend to think that British history is rosy and paint what Germany did as the ultimate crime, while both nations committed huge atrocities.

    The Boer people had no quarrel with the Germans..We just wanted to live in peace and continue to build our very young nation.

    But I guess the saying that the history books are written by the victor is really true..

  10. Both my Grandfathers fought in WWll on my fathers side my Grandpa’s parents were of Jewish Lithuanian descent so of course he fought, he disarmed bombs on bridges throughout Europe as the front advanced. They both survived obviously cos Otherwise I wouldn’t be here today

  11. To this very day, I have always wished to know what my great grandfathers role was in this war. An indentured labourer marched onto a ship in india to work the sugar cane fields in S.A. only to be sent off to a war he knew nothing off.

  12. ' SCORCHED EARTH ' will never be forgotten as it was the LOWEST the ENGLISH could ever be by capturing our Women and Children as their Thousands of Soldiers could not Win the WAR against a handful of Boer Commandos so they redirected the WAR by this lowly act to force us into surrendering.
    This DESPICABLE act deserves NO RESPECT nor any 'GLORY ' and will forever be remembered the cause of thousands of DEATHS of our women and children.

  13. Maybe you should consider doing research into the concentration camps and make a video about it, poor defenseless woman and children. If something like that happened to your kin – would you join them?

  14. The importance of the 2nd Boer War must not be underestimated – it was the first time trenches were used combined with guerilla warfare by the Boers vs the British tactics of scorched earth and concentration camps. All of the these were applied in both world wars.

  15. The largest part of the Afrikaners was decendent from the Dutch and the French. Germans only a very small as the Germans never really immigrated to South Africa, but more to South West Africa and East Africa.

  16. Afrikaaners are made up of Dutch, German, a large portion of French Huguenots, there were early settlers who also intermarried. I never quite get why a lot of Brits think they are Dutch. The sailor captains were mainly Dutch but the crew which were on those ships settled the Cape & most of them in fact (Peasant) labor were not Dutch but also included a large group of Swedes. The is also quite a lot of Portuguese intermixed with them. A very unique group of people, besides the British administration most of them got on quite fine with the English

  17. You cant discuss the anti British sentiment without discussing why. The Afrikaners (Boers aka Farmers) had a long history of Britain (Cape) government interference in their lives. They had taxed them to death in the Cape, they started the 1st Boer war & lost it. The Queen signed agreements with Paul Kruger acknowledging the Boer republics recognised in Geneva which quickly went out the window with the discovery of gold leading to the 2nd Anglo Boer war & the farmers homes being burnt & 36,000+ women & children landing up in concentration camps.

  18. "The Americans fight for a free world, the English mostly for honour and glory and medals, the French and Canadians decide too late that they have to participate. The Italians are too scared to fight; the Russians have no choice. The Germans for the Fatherland. The Boers? Those sons of bitches fight for the hell of it!”
    – American General, George β€œGuts and Glory” Patton

    "Take a community of Dutchman of the type of those who defended themselves for fifty years against all the power of Spain at a time when Spain was the greatest power in the world.
    Intermix with them a strain of those inflexible French Huguenots, who gave up their name and left their country forever at the time of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The product must obviously be one of the most rugged, virile, unconquerable races ever seen upon the face of the earth. Take these formidable people and train them for seven generations in constant warfare against savage men and ferocious beasts, in circumstances in which no weakling could survive; place them so that they acquire skill with weapons and in horsemanship, give them a country which is immanently suited to the tactics of the huntsman, the marksman and the rider. Then, finally, put a fine temper upon their military qualities by a dour fatalistic Old Testament religion and an ardent and consuming patriotism.
    Combine all these qualities and all these impulses in one individual and you have the modern Boer.”
    – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

    "Give me 20 divisions American soldiers and I will beach Europe. Give me 15 consisting of Englishmen, and I will advance to the borders of Berlin. Give me two divisions of those marvellous fighting Boers (Meaning Farmer, originating from the Boer War) and I will remove Germany from the face of the earth.”
    Field Marshall Bernard L. Montgomery, Commander of the Allied forces during WWII.

  19. You made 1 mistake, Nazi Germany was not Socialist, it's just in the name but is by no means actual socialism. This claim has lead to many people believing that socialism leads to something bad like Nazi Germany. Which is utterly bull.

  20. Thanks for this. I think largely forgotten what South Africa contributed to the war as my grandfather used to say.Especially considering the historical Afrikaans English animosity still in living memory at the time ( clearly pointed out in the comments) My hometown has many streets named by those who never came home. Many of them Afrikaans names in particular adjacent to mine Jannie de Waal I think he was 20 or 21 his memorial in the high school book reads " went down in flames in the hills of Pomona Northern Italy". My old high school has a VC recipient Quentin Smythe his bayonet and helmet are still on display in the hall.

  21. The main reason that their was no conscription during the second world war for South Africa was the fear of a second Maritz rebellion. And during the battles of North Africa Smuts wanted to raise more troops and the parliament wanted to avoid a possible civil war so Smuts proposed that some black divisions could be raised and the anti-smuts politicians laughed and said only if they where trained in their traditional weapons of spear and shield, they where and shortly before the battle of Al-Alemein the south African minister of war ordered the blacks to pick up Italian guns and start practicing to later be used as a rear gaurd when Rommel would try and out flank the main defence line, teh Italian guns where changed to Lee Enfield because they where found to be to unreliable, it was even reported that the minister of war himself gave them gun classes on how to clean and maintain their guns and even today the few survivors of that division have still recalled the training classes they received in the hot desert and have said that in South Africa the people where starting to be divided while in North Africa everyone where brothers and no one was different from each other everyone felt the heat of the sun, the heat of the sand and every one waited in line for food telling jokes regardless of skin colour.

  22. Fascinating content, don't know where but I read once that Rommel wrote to Hitler saying that he had no desire to come up against South Africans again. Apparently they held their ground somewhere till nearly the last man.

  23. The Afrikaners had every reason to hate the Brits. A war fomented by the Brits for South African gold and diamonds. 26 000 women and children dead in the concentration camps. Farms burnt and animals slaughtered. Women raped by the Brits and then after the war the Brits refused to investigate. The Rand Rebellion where live ammo was used on the Afrikaners. And then only menial labour was permitted the Afrikaners. They were disposessed and starving. Its about time historians started telling the truth.

  24. The Australians didn't have much trouble holding Tobruk despite being outnumbered and under siege. Was there a difference in defensive tactics between the two, or were the defensive tank trenches around tobruk not maintained??.

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