Arthur Goldreich

By: Bryan Farrell

Life and Influence of Arthur Goldreich

Arthur Goldreich was born in 1929 in the South African town then known as Pietersburg. When he was eleven, he attended a secondary school that required all students to learn German, believing that the Nazis would win World War II. Goldreich, being Jewish, found this very offensive and promptly wrote a letter to the then Prime Minister of South Africa, Jan Smuts demanding to be taught Hebrew instead. And so he was taught Hebrew. As a teenager, he moved to Israel and joined the Palmach an elite force dedicated to fighting for Israeli independence.

In 1954, Goldreich returned to South Africa to join the fight against apartheid. Additionally, he studied art and architecture and became a prominent figure in abstract painting. Goldreich was living in the Liliesleaf farm at the time, where he was working with other ANC leaders to determine how best to go about overthrowing the Apartheid government. Goldreich was a major planner for the Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) the militant group recently established. Goldreich was invaluable to the planning of the attacks carried out by the MK thanks to his experiences in Israel as well as his trips to places such as East Germany, Soviet Union, and China seeking military aid and learning strategies. On July 11, 1963, the Liliesleaf Farm was raided by the police, and 17 leaders were arrested. With Goldreich the Secretary General of the ANC, Walter M. Sisulu, was also arrested. While many of the leaders captured later went on to the Rivonia Trial, Arthur Goldreich was able to escape from prison, along with Harold Wolpe and two others, and fled the country to continue the fight against Apartheid.

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Manifesto of Umkhonto we Sizwe Leaflet issued by the Command of Umkhonto we Sizwe, 16th December 1961

Units of Umkhonto we Sizwe today carried out planned attacks against government installations, particularly those connected with the policy of apartheid and race discrimination.

Umkhonto we Sizwe is a new, independent body, formed by Africans, It includes in its ranks South Africans of all races It is not connected in any way with a so-called `Committee for National Liberation` whose existence has been announced in the press. Umkhonto we Sizwe will carry on the struggle for freedom and democracy by new methods, which are necessary to complement the actions of the established national liberation organisations. Umkhonto we Sizwe fully supports the national liberation movement, and our members jointly and individually, place themselves under the overall political guidance of that movement.

It is, however, well known that the main national liberation organisations in this country have consistently followed a policy of non-violence. They have conducted themselves peaceably at all times, regardless of government attacks and persecutions upon them, and despite all government-inspired attempts to provoke them to violence. They have done so because the people prefer peaceful methods of change to achieve their aspirations without the suffering and bitterness of civil war. But the people`s patience is not endless.

The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices: submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means within our power in defence of our people, our future and our freedom. The government has interpreted the peacefulness of the movement as weakness; the people`s non-violent policies have been taken as a green light for government violence. Refusal to resort to force has been interpreted by the government as an invitation to use armed force against the people without any fear of reprisals. The methods of Umkhonto we Sizwe mark a break with that past.

We are striking out along a new road for the liberation of the people of this country. The government policy of force, repression and violence will no longer be met with non-violent resistance only! The choice is not ours; it has been made by the Nationalist government which has rejected ever peaceable demand by the people for rights and freedom and answered ever such demand with force and yet more force! Twice in the past 18 months, virtual martial law has been imposed in order to beat down peaceful, non-violent strike action of the people in support of their rights. It is now preparing its forces - enlarging and rearming its armed forces and drawing the white civilian population into commandos and pistol clubs - for full-scale military actions against the people. The Nationalist government has chosen the course of force and massacre, now, deliberately, as it did at Sharpeville.

Umkhonto we Sizwe will be at the front line of the people`s defence. It will be the fighting arm of the people against the government and its policies of race oppression . It will be the striking force of the people for liberty, for rights and for their final liberation! Let the government, its supporters who put it into power, and those whose passive toleration of reaction keeps it in power, take note of where the Nationalist government is leading the country!

We of Umkhonto we Sizwe have always sought -as the liberation movement has sought - to achieve liberation without bloodshed and civil clash. We do so still. We hope - even at this late hour - that our first actions will awaken every one to a realisation of the disastrous situation to which the Nationalist policy is leading. We hope that we will bring the government and its supporters to their senses before it is too late, so that both the government and its policies can be changed before matters reach the desperate state of civil war. We believe our actions to be a blow against the Nationalist preparations for civil war and military rule.

In these actions, we are working in the best interests of all the people of this country - black, brown and white - whose future happiness and well-being cannot be attained without the overthrow of the Nationalist government, the abolition of white supremacy and the winning of liberty, democracy and full national rights and equality for all the people of this country.

We appeal for the support and encouragement of all those South Africans who seek the happiness and freedom of the people of this country.

Afrika Mayibuye!


"Arthur Goldreich." The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 26 May 2011. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

"Leaflet." Manifesto of Umkhonto We Sizwe. African National Congress. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

Martin, Douglas. "Arthur Goldreich, a Leader of the Armed Fight to End Apartheid, Dies at 82." The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 May 2011. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

"South African Jew Who Hid Nelson Mandela Dies in Tel Aviv at 82." Haaretz, 26 May 2011. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.