745A.13/11–651: Despatch

The Ambassador in the Union of South Africa ( Gallman ) to the Department of State

confidential
No. 302

Subject: Conversation between the Ambassador and Minister of the Interior, Dr. the Honorable T. E. Dönges, K. C.

I made my first call today on Dr. Dönges, Minister of the Interior. While Dönges was quite occupied getting ready for his departure for Paris the end of the week to attend the General Assembly session, he [Page 1458] gave me about an hour of his time. A case before the Cape Supreme Court involving the Separate Representation Voters Bill prevented his departure earlier for Paris (see Embassy’s despatch, Cape Town Series No. 43, March 29, 19511).

Dönges received me in a breezy, friendly way. He said he hoped to be back from Paris at least by the latter part of December. While he would not have as heavy a legislative program to look after at the coming session of Parliament as he did last year, he would, however, have to be back sometime before the session opened and, of course, be in Cape Town at its opening. During the session last year he said he was kept very much occupied getting action on the Separate Representation Voters Bill and the Group Areas Act. He anticipated a great deal of his time this year in Cape Town would be occupied with details of the Van Riebeeck Centenary.

Dönges then spent some time telling me about his stay in the States last year.2 He said he had enjoyed his talks with the Secretary and his association with our delegation at Lake Success. He regretted that he had to spend so much time at Lake Success and had only been able to get to know New York and Washington. He would have liked to have traveled more widely in the States. He said he would have particularly liked to have visited the Middle West and the west coast. We then discussed points of interest which he thought it would be well for me to see in South Africa. He mentioned particularly some of the irrigation projects and I told him that I had already made plans with our Agricultural Attaché Dougherty to visit some of these projects.

Dönges then launched into a discussion of the present General Assembly meeting. The solution for the South West Africa question, he said, to his mind would be an agreement limited to the Union, the United States, Britain and France. South Africa, he said, was not willing any longer to be a “whipping boy”. One report on South West Africa had been Submitted to UNO and that promptly led to some forty questions. The Union was not going to expose itself to this again. To limit matters to the four nations, as the Union wished, would have one very vital advantage. There are indications, he said, that South West Africa may become an important source for uranium. For that reason alone it certainly was best to keep a large number of foreign powers, including the Soviet Union, from injecting themselves into South West Africa affairs. I told Dönges that a good deal of what he had said about South West Africa I had heard before. I hoped very much that a mutually satisfactory agreement could be reached on this issue soon. At this point Dönges promptly moved on to the question of the Indian minority.

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South Africa, he said, was a western nation in thought and orientation. South Africa already had enough on its hands with the Native problem without having also to contend with an Indian minority problem. The Indian minority in South Africa constituted a “bridgehead for the east”. This bridgehead should be eliminated. In the hope of bringing Dönges to see the practical implications of his statement, quite apart from the moral issues involved, I asked him just how large the Indian minority was. He promptly replied “only 300,000”, and then callously stated that the 300,000, added to the millions already in India, could hardly create a problem for India.

Dönges then turned the discussion to U.S.-South African relations. He acknowledged that there was a large measure of understanding and friendship between the two countries. He said he wished though the United States would not, as she so often does, deal with South Africa “on a broad, international, world basis” but would do so more on a “direct basis”. This he followed up with the breath-taking remark that he had always been impressed with the firm backing Moscow gave her satellites at international conferences. I reminded Dönges that I had had some personal experience with Moscow’s treatment of Satellites, having lived in one of the satellite countries, but Dönges gave no visible signs of appreciation of what I was trying to tell him.

What stood out in my talk with Dönges was his disarmingly frank and friendly behavior, his bland method of talking, and his ability to cloak his obviously narrow nationalistic outlook, for the most part, with smooth language.

W. J. Gallman
  1. Not printed.
  2. Minister of Interior Dönges headed the South African Delegation to the Fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly held in New York, September–November 1951.