305. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, July 5, 19561


  • Ambassador Holloway’s Farewell Call on the Under Secretary


  • Ambassador Holloway of the Union of South Africa
  • The Under Secretary
  • AF—Mr. Cyr

Mr. Hoover expressed regret that the Ambassador was leaving Washington. Since this must be, Mr. Hoover added, he was pleased that Ambassador Holloway, with his understanding of our problems, would be stationed in such an important post as London. Ambassador Holloway replied that his transfer to London was the result of Secretary for External Affairs Forsythe’s2 resignation, which set in motion a chain of transfers. He concurred that London is an important post and added that the future of the world depends on continuing collaboration between the United States and Great Britain. South Africa is “small-fry” among the world powers, he said, but is at least as firm as the United States in its determination to combat communism, even in a third world war. The Communists have recognized this determination and would like to drive a wedge between us by pointing out that South Africa gets no aid from the United States while others do. But South Africa has no desire to be a burden on the American tax-payer and believes that a country with the capability should pay its own way. This South Africa intends to do.

But there was another matter which the Ambassador found more worrisome and concerning which he is thinking of making a public statement in a few days. The American press seems bent on poisoning the American public’s mind on the subject of South Africa. Fifty per cent of the information which appears on the American press about South Africa is completely untrue or distorted. In answer to Mr. Hoover’s question as to the reason, he blamed the liberal element in this country for the attacks on South Africa. Accounts of housing developments and other constructive programs make uninteresting reading material but the opposite is true of what are called repressive measures. For example, Alan Paton had written an article for Coronet. The editors made numerous unfavorable changes [Page 786] which Mr. Paton could not accept. But the editors informed Mr. Paton that it was too late—the article had been published.3

South Africa believes in freedom, the Ambassador said, and it is therefore often asked why the Union does not give its natives the right to vote. The great bulk of the native population is still on the fringe of barbarism, he said, and the South African Government would not be so stupid as to give these people the right to vote. Rather, the Union is trying to raise the educational level of the natives and this is a long process. To give such people the right to vote, as is being done in Nigeria for example, is preposterous. Instead of understanding that the natives need to evolve, the American press takes the stand that the Union is against freedom. The South African Government intends to continue its present policies.

Mr. Hoover commented that to his knowledge many visitors to South Africa have been greatly impressed by what they have seen. It is often better in matters of public relations to go on the offensive rather than the defensive… .

Ambassador Holloway admitted that perhaps his Government had been remiss in this respect and indicated that he would give serious consideration to Mr. Hoover’s ideas.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.45A/7–556. Official Use Only. Drafted by Cyr.
  2. Douglas D. Forsythe.
  3. The May 1956 issue of Coronet contained an article by Paton entitled “Tragedy of the Beloved Country”.