110.15 MC/3–2150

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chargé in South Africa (Connelly)1


Subject: General.

Participants: Prime Minister Dr. D. F. Malan
Assistant Secretary of State George C. McGhee
B. C. Connelly, American Embassy

Mr. McGhee expressed his appreciation of the Government’s invitation to visit Cape Town and said he had always looked forward to visiting the Union. He explained that while the Union did not fall within his own particular area, which was the Near East, South Asia, and Africa north of the Union, he would be very glad to report back to his associates in Washington anything that the Prime Minister might wish to say.

The Prime Minister stated that South Africa had very friendly relations with the United States. Whereas in the past events occurring in the United States had been of worldwide interest and influence, today the Union was in a somewhat similar position with respect to the African continent. In the event of an East–West conflict, the Union would be able to provide supplies for vessels and furnish other assistance. Whether the Union would be in a position to send troops outside [Page 1816] of its own boundaries was, of course, dependent upon the requirements for maintaining order within the Union and on attending circumstances.

North Atlantic Pact.

Dr. Malan referred to the Union’s desire, voiced both in Parliament and in the press, to join the North Atlantic Pact. He observed that he was sure his Government’s views on this matter have been made known to the United States and the British. Mr. McGhee pointed out that the NAP was but one regional pact and did not exclude the possibility of other similar arrangements for other areas. He replied in the negative to the Prime Minister’s questions as to whether a Far Eastern Pact was contemplated at this time. Mr. McGhee explained that the actions to be taken under the NAP were still not completed. For example, it was not yet known how much the European nations could contribute to the common program, and for that reason the extent of the United States’ commitments could not yet be determined. The Prime Minister acknowledged that the NAP specifically applied to the North Atlantic area, and Mr. McGhee remarked that the Turks were also very much interested in a similar pact.2


The Prime Minister said that while Communism had not yet had any appreciable effect in the Union, the Government was endeavoring to take steps which would at least prevent it making any headway, particularly among the natives who were susceptible to Communist propaganda. He said that he believed the Soviet Consulate General in Pretoria, which was vastly overstaffed by Russians who kept exclusively to themselves, was the training school for Communist agitators who were then sent out to work among the natives, both in the Union and in neighboring areas such as South West Africa and the Congo Basin. In reply to Mr. McGhee’s question, Dr. Malan said that it was rather difficult to keep tabs on these Soviet activities.


The Prime Minister referred to the fact that the Europeans in the Union were outnumbered 4 to 1 by the non-Europeans and that in order to ensure white survival, segregation measures were an absolute necessity. The Government was endeavoring to separate the whites and non-whites into individual residential areas. This did not mean removing all the non-whites from the urban areas and sending them back to the native reserves but rather to put each race together in its [Page 1817] own area or areas. If the native could live exclusively among his own kind, there was a good chance that he would be able to live in accordance with his own tribal customs. Dr. Malan stressed that his policy was to treat the native “with justice”. He added that all whites in the Union were in favor of white supremacy and that recently it had been noted in Parliament that more and more members of the Opposition in fact agreed with the Government’s policy in respect to the natives. In reply to Mr. McGhee’s question, Dr. Malan said that his Government’s apartheid program was making progress.

Mining Credits.

The Prime Minister stated that the Union did not need United States Government credits to assist in the development of the Union’s mineral resources, particularly in the new fields in the Orange Free State. Private capital required for these purposes was adequate, both from local sources and from abroad. Dr. Malan did express a desire for further investment in the Union by private American concerns.

No Specific Problems Between the US and the Union.

Mr. McGhee, in stating that one of the attributes of friendship was the ability to speak frankly, asked if there were any particular problems between the US and South Africa. The Prime Minister agreed that frankness was one of the prerogatives of friendship but made no reference to any specific problems. Mr. McGhee, in thanking the Prime Minister for his courtesy in seeing him, stated that we viewed with tolerance the steps which the Government was taking to handle its problems and wished Doctor Malan success in their solution.

United States Ambassador to the Union.

Just before the lunch given by the Prime Minister for Mr. McGhee, Dr. Malan asked Mr. Connelly if there was any news of the appointment of a new US Ambassador, and commented “Isn’t it rather unusual that it takes such a long time?” Mr. Connelly said that there had been no word as yet, that he was expecting it any day, and that, of course, it took some time to complete these appointments as they were matters involving both the White House and the State Department and the new appointee had to obtain the approval of the United State Senate.3

  1. After serving as chairman of the West and East African Regional Conference of U.S. Diplomatic and Consular Officers, held at Lourenço Marques, Mozambique, February 27–March 2, 1950 (for information, see p. 1514), Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, African, and South Asian Affairs George C. McGhee visited a number of African and Near Eastern countries before returning to Washington. Regarding his African journey, see the editorial note, p. 1512. During his visit to South Africa, March 4–9, Assistant Secretary McGhee conferred with a number of high-ranking South African officials including Field Marshal Jan Christian Smuts, Prime Minister Daniel F. Malan, External Affairs Secretary D. D. Forsyth, Minister for Economic Affairs Eric H. Louw, Minister of Finance N. C. Havenga, Minister of Native Affairs E. G. Jansen, and Minister of Interior T. E. Dönges. Memoranda of McGhee’s various conversations were transmitted to the Department of State as enclosures to despatch 54, March 21, from Cape Town. The source text was transmitted to the Department as enclosure 2 to despatch 54.
  2. For documentation on the participation by the United States in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the question of Turkey’s adherence to NATO, see vol. iii, pp. 1 ff.
  3. On March 31, Under Secretary of State James C. Webb recommended to President Truman the appointment of John G. Erhardt, then serving as Minister in Austria, to become Ambassador in South Africa to succeed Ambassador North Winship who resigned in November 1949. Erhardt’s proposed appointment was approved by the President on April 11, the South African Government gave its agreement on April 22, and Erhardt was confirmed by the Senate on May 17. Erhardt left Vienna on June 26 and assumed charge of the Embassy in Pretoria on September 27. See Connelly’s memorandum of conversation of September 27, p. 1830.