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On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X


GRUNDLINGH, Louis. "In the crisis, who would tamper with the existing order?" The political and public reaction of English-speaking South Africans to the 1914 Rebellion. Historia [online]. 2014, vol.59, n.2, pp.152-170. ISSN 2309-8392.

Academic writing about white political history has been rather limited since the 1980s. Nevertheless, cognisance should be taken of a growing interest in the issue of the identity of various South African groups during the past two decades. Much attention has been paid to African and Afrikaner identities but identity formation amongst English-speaking South Africans has been somewhat neglected. John Lambert's work on the history of a white English-speaking identity in South Africa is a singular exception. Mindful of this, the article aims at recovering the history of these ignored observers of the 1914 Rebellion. A major question it addresses is identity formation among English-speaking South Africans within a dual context: that of the British Empire and that of a specific South African setting. Both were shaped by the First World War. English-speakers' reactions to the rebellion were prompted by the decision taken by the South African government to join the Allied war effort, and they should be understood within this context. For white South African English-speaking politicians and newspaper editors, the rebellion was initially inexplicable. The article highlights the efforts of these two very influential groups to gain insight on why some Afrikaners rebelled. Specific attention is paid to their views on the role of the military and political Afrikaner leaders during the rebellion. Lastly, the article considers the views of these opinion makers relating to the sentences and penalties meted out to the rebels.

Keywords : First World War; 1914 Rebellion; English-speaking South Africans; anti-British sentiment; forgive and forget" policy.

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