Lionel Bernstein

by Colton Scholl

Life and Accomplishments

Lionel Bernstein was born on 3 March 1920 in Durban, Natal of European Jewish Immigrants. As a child, he was orphaned at the age of 8 and raised by relatives. He studied architecture part-time at Witwatersrand University. After becomming qualified, he began to sudy architecture full-time from 1937-1941. He was a very skillful writer and he wrote many artilcles throughout his life that dealt with matters of Apartheid. In 1941, he married Hilda Watts who accompanied him in many of the protests against Apartheid. Before Lionel really began his fight against Apartheid, he served in World War 2 as a gunner in which he then joined the Springbok Legion as a journalist for their editorial board. Near the end of Lionel's life, he and his wife both received honorary awards from the University of Natal for helping bring Democracy to South Africa. Lionel later died on 23 June 2002 in Kidlington, Oxfordshire.

Contribution to the Anti-Apartheid Movement

Lionel started fighting Apartheid as the secretary of the Labour Party League of Youth. After that had concluded, Lionel joined the Communist Party of South Africa and became in charge of propaganda as he was a good a persuasive writer. Later on him and his wife protested in the African Mineworkers' Strike of 1946 and they were both arrested and charged with sedition. Following his release from prision, he founded and led the Congress of Democrats which was established in 1953. Lionel also formed the Underground Communist Party after the Communist Party of South Africa was shut down. By the time the 1950's arrived, the government had banned Lionel from all political activity. Despite the banning, Lionel continued to work against Apartheid as he played an important role in drafting the Freedom Charter. He also was a defendant in the 1956 Treason Trial which he was later acquitted from. Lionel and his wife protested in the Sharpeville Massacre and they were again both arrested. Throughout his life, he wrote for multiple journals about the struggle against Apartheid and how to fight it. Lionel was also involved in the Rivonia Trial in which he was acquitted. Throughout his life, Lionel worked to end Apartheid as he continued to write articles that would challenge the government and its morals of Apartheid until his death.