337. Telegram From the Embassy in South Africa to the Department of State0

78. Made initial call on Prime Minister April 24. Verwoerd is middle-aged with white hair and tendency to pudginess, but there is nothing pudgy about his personality or intellect. He is man of considerable personal charm with disarming manner that tends to soften force of his arguments. There is, however, no mistaking the will underneath. He is a fanatic with a fanatic’s absolute faith in his own righteousness. After a polite inquiry on Mr. Dulles’ health he plunged into case for apartheid and gave 45-minute lecture on government’s racial policies.

Points covered included strong hint government plans take over British Protectorates1 when time comes. Questioned on relations with [Page 733] newly-independent Black states of Africa, Verwoerd said he wants good relations with them but will not exchange Ambassadors as does not want problem of looking after non-White diplomats in Union. He added that even if he wanted received non-White Ambassadors, could not rationalize such a departure to Bantus in Union. If Black diplomat from Accra treated as White man, leaders of local Bantu would want similar treatment. He was referring to time when separate Bantu states will have been created and presumably be run by Bantu authorities.

Like Louw, Verwoerd has low opinion of press especially American. Verwoerd said used to like Time until it published lies about Union. Reminded that I worked for Time for some years, he gave me singularly sweet smile and said was sure Time attacks did not occur during that period. He has sense of humor but I do not think it would extend to racial problem.

Despite above his manner was extremely friendly. I received impression he really does not understand why world does not see his point on race relations within Union. He spoke of Black man in kindly and clearly sincere terms. He honestly believes his policies are best for all concerned. At this point he asked me his first question, “Why do you think we are so misunderstood?” For half hour I attempted explain in moderate language objection of most Americans to his policies. He listened carefully and thanked me profusely. Believe I have established working relationship that might some day pay moderate dividends.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 645A.00/4–2759. Confidential.
  2. Basutoland, Bechuanaland, and Swaziland.