The Ambassador in the Union of South Africa (Erhardt) to the Dominion Affairs Officer, Office of British Commonwealth and Northern European Affairs (Shullaw)1


Dear Harry: When first coming to South Africa we were very much interested in reading the very useful Policy Statement2 as published in the Department’s policy series. We have the impression that you have been pretty responsible for that publication. It seemed to contain all the necessary information in practical, concise form. It has always been a feeling of mine that no one in a Mission from the Chief down to the most junior officer can function efficiently unless he has a frankwork [framework?] upon which to build subsequent reports, and the Policy Statement on South Africa gives just that precise information.

Another practice which we endeavor to follow at successive posts is to put in outline form the objectives of American policy. With Joe Sweeney we have provisionally prepared such an outline and submit it to you for criticism. Here it is:

Objectives of American Policy in South Africa

To maintain and strengthen South Africa’s support of the Western cause.
To expedite the utilization of South Africa’s strategic raw materials in such a way as to strengthen the West and aid the Union’s economy.
To maintain South African participation in the United Nations.
To encourage South African membership in the British Commonwealth of Nations without opposing the Afrikaner ideal of a Republic.
To exert American influence cautiously and without giving offense to achieve a broader outlook for Afrikaner nationalism that:
  • a. Parochial nationalism is lessened.
  • b. Better feeling is brought about between the English and Afrikaans-speaking segments of the population.
  • c. Native policy is brought closer to the general standards of Western democracies.
  • d. South African leadership of the African Continent becomes a positive force.
To observe and, if possible, to influence African (Native) nationalism so that:
  • a. Communist penetration is forestalled.
  • b. Anti-white hatred is lessened.
  • c. This dynamic force becomes pro-Western.
  • d. A harmonious formula is evoked for the co-existence of the white and black peoples in the Union.

Sincerely yours,

John G. Erhardt
  1. Ambassador Erhardt, who arrived in South Africa and assumed charge of the Embassy in September 1950, died suddenly of coronary thrombosis on February 18, 1951. In response to the letter printed here, Shullaw wrote to Chargé Bernard C. Connelly in Capetown on March 1 as follows:

    “In the Ambassador’s letter dated January 30 he listed certain objectives of American policy in South Africa and asked for my comments. I have shown the letter to Hayden Raynor who you probably know has succeeded Harry Labouisse as Director of BNA. His reaction was that the objectives were very good. I agree and think that it is useful to have such a detailed list of points of interest in the implementation of our more general policy objectives. Many of the points listed, as I know all of you recognize, are matters of extreme delicacy in hypersensitive South Africa. They are not easy objectives to advance but I still agree that as occasion and opportunity permit we should do what we can along these lines.” (611.45A/1–3051)

  2. The reference here is presumably to the Department of State Policy Statement on the Union of South Africa, November 1, 1948, Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. v, pt. 1, p. 524. For the text of the revised Policy Statement of March 28, 1951, see p. 1433.