Lionel Bernstein

By Andrew Kling

Life of Lionel "Rusty" Bernstein

Lionel “Rusty” Bernstein was one of a small minority of white activist that supported the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. As a child, both of Bernstein’s parents died, leaving him as an orphan at the age of eight. During his schooling, Bernstein attended Hilton College in Natal studying architecture. One interesting fact was that Bernstein was at one point a member of the South African Labour Party. With this group he supported segregation. He later then joined the South African Communist Party in 1938 and married Hilda Watts which they then both had four children. Bernstein ended up joining the South African Army serving as a gunner for some time. After the National Party took over, architecture became a thing of the past as he became devoted to the cause. Though acquitted during the treason trial, South Africa placed Bernstein into jail for short periods of time and put under house arrest to limit his influence and is support for the cause. Eventually, Bernstein and his family escaped South Africa to go to Great Britain. He did not return until after 1990 when Apartheid ended.

Bernstein's Influence on the Anti-Apartheid Movement

Being a member of the South African Communist Party made Bernstein a member of the only multi-racial party . With this organization, Bernstein was in charge of writing propaganda for the anti-apartheid movement. During the Mineworkers’ Strike in 1946, Bernstein participated in the protests. But as the Communist party was pushed underground due to the National Party’s growing influence, Bernstein followed suit. Most of his influence comes from his help in drafting the Freedom Charter with the African National Congress (ANC). During his time with the ANC, Bernstein was put on trial in the treason trial, but was acquitted due to lack of evidence. Another time, both Bernstein and his wife were arrested in during the Sharpeville massacre. After finally leaving South Africa, Bernstein’s influence on the ANC began to shrink, only giving seminars to ANC members in Moscow.

Work Cited

Work Cited

"Lionel Rusty Bernstein." Anonymous. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

Sampson, Anthony. "Lionel Bernstein." The Guardian. 25 June 2002. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

""Man's Struggle against Power Is the Struggle of Memory against Forgetting"" Lionel "Rusty" Bernstein. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

"The Rivonia Trial: The Accused (biographical Sketches, Trial Notes)." The Rivonia Trial: The Accused (biographical Sketches, Trial Notes). Web. 15 Nov. 2015.


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