Remarkable People

ID #5259

Jan Smuts 8 Second World War.

After nine years in opposition, Smuts returned as Deputy Prime Minister in a coalition government under J. B. M. Hertzog. When Hertzog advocated neutrality towards Nazi Germany in 1939, he was deposed by a party caucus, and Smuts again became Prime Minister. He had served with Winston Churchill in World War I and they had developed a personal and professional rapport. Smuts was invited to loin the Imperial War Cabinet in 1939. In 1941 Smuts was appointed a field marshal of the British Army, becoming the first South African to hold that rank.

In May 1945, he represented South Africa at the drafting of the United Nations Charter in San Francisco. Just as in 1919, Smuts urged delegates to create a powerful international body to preserve peace. He was determined that, unlike the League of Nations, the United Nations would have teeth. Smuts signed the Paris Peace Treaty, resolving the peace in Europe and becoming the only signatory of the treaties that ended the First and Second World Wars.

His preoccupation with the war had political repercussions. Smuts's support of the war and his support for the Fagan Commission made him unpopular amongst Afrikaners. Daniel François Malan's pro-Apartheid stance won the Reunited National Party the 1948 general election. He hoped the tenuous National Party government would fall but it remained in power until 1994 when, after five decades of Apartheid, a transitional government of national unity was formed. RSAJCS8

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Last update: 2014-03-17 02:36
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.3

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