History of South Africa and significant dates in Denis Goldberg’s life
Foundation of the African National Congress (ANC).
Lands Act bans the acquisition of land for Africans outside the reserves; eventually 13 per cent of the land area of South Africa.
1914 – 1918 First World War:
Black South Africans serve on European battlefields.
Foundation of the South African Communist Party (SACP).
1923 – 1927:
Apartheid laws: separation of residential areas according to race; restriction of the right to strike for Africans; ban on sexual relations between blacks and whites.
1933: 11 April:
Denis Goldberg (DG) is born in Cape Town. Father and uncles work as small businessmen with trucks converted into buses.
Ban on Jewish immigration through the Aliens Act against ‘non-integratable races’.
Declaration of war by South Africa on Nazi Germany, despite the great sympathy of many whites for the German fascists.
DG starts school in Cape Town on his 6th birthday.
Foundation of the ANC Youth League by Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Lembede, Mda and others.
The Afrikaner National Party comes to power in the ‘whites only’ election. Apartheid becomes the official doctrine of the state.
DG last year at school; afterwards works on a fruit farm before university.
‘Racial classification’ of all South African after birth according to the ‘race’ of the father; final separation of settlements and residential areas according to ‘races,’ mass forced resettlements; ban of the Communist Party.
DG begins studies in civil engineering at the University of Cape Town.
Introduction of the pass book for all black males over 16. Between 1948 and 1974 ten million trials as a result of infringements of the pass laws. The Defiance Campaign was to protest against this by civil disobedience.
Introduction of ‘petty Apartheid’: racial separation in public facilities.
DG marries the physiotherapist Esme Bodenstein.
1955: 24 January:
Birth of daughter Hilary Goldberg, known as Hilly.
Formation of the Congress Alliance out of the ANC, Congress of Democrats (COD), Indian Congress (SAIC) and Coloured Peoples Congress (CPC), the so-called Charterists.
1955: 25/26 June:
At Kliptown, Soweto, Congress of the People. 2884 delegates adopt the Freedom Charter; reception of the Charter into the statutes of the ANC.
Arrest of 156 activists, almost all leaders of the Alliance. Charge: high treason.
Start of the Treason Trial.
DG joins the Communist Party, which is working underground.
1957: 24 November:
birth of son David Goldberg.
Hendrik Verwoerd becomes Prime Minister. Introduction of the ‘homelands,’ as “independent states” and the inhabitants automatically lose their South African citizenship.
Nobel Peace Prize for ANC President General Albert John Luthuli the first African to receive this award..
1960: 21 March:
Sharpeville: at a non-violent demonstration against the Pass Laws; the police kill 69 people.
Declaration of State of Emergency, arrest of 18,000 activists.
DG and his mother also spend several months in prison.
Exit of the Union of South Africa from the Commonwealth. The Treason Trial ends with acquittals due to lack of evidence of intention to overthrow the state.
1960: 16 December:
Launch of UmKhonto we Sizwe (Spear of the Nation), MK for short, the armed wing of the ANC.
Nelson Mandela goes underground after the end of the Treason Trial; arrest in August and sentenced to five years in prison for going abroad without a passport and for calling for a national strike against Apartheid.
The state reacts with new laws: arbitrary arrest is permitted.
Turn of the year:
DG is commander at the first MK training camp at Mamre near Cape Town.
Law on 90-day imprisonment: suspected persons can be imprisoned for three months without the decision of a court and without access to lawyers.
DG goes underground to Johannesburg.
1963: 11 July:
Police raid on Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia: 18 men are arrested, among them DG. Charge: sabotage, communist activities and attempted coup.
Esme Goldberg goes with the children into exile in London.
1964: 12 June:
Announcement of the verdict in the Rivonia Trial. Eight of the accused are sentenced to multiple life sentences.
DG begins his imprisonment in the high security wing of ‘Pretoria Local’ prison.
Assassination of Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd, successor to B.J.Vorster who was a supporter of Hitler. Start of the armed struggle in Namibia against the South African occupation regime by the Peoples Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) which took political guidance from SWAPO.
DG meets Bram Fischer in prison.
UN General Assembly declares Apartheid a crime against humanity.
Hillary Kuny begins her visits to DG in prison.
Carnation revolution in Portugal, independence of Mozambique and Angola.
Death of Bram Fischer.
Death of DG’s mother Annie Goldberg.
1976: 16 June:
School pupils’ uprising in Soweto.
Jeremy Cronin comes into DG’s section of the ‘Pretoria Local’ prison (until 1983).
MK infiltrates hundreds of fighters into South Africa.
Steve Biko dies in police custody of injuries to the brain as a result of ill-treatment.
DG and others take legal action against the denial of access to news media and censorship in the prison.
Pieter Willem Botha, up to now Defence Minister, becomes President.
Successful escape of Tim Jenkin, Stephen Lee and Alex Moumbaris from ‘Pretoria Local’.
Death of DG’s father, Sam Goldberg.
MK alters its strategy: attacks on an oil refinery, a power station and military facilities. For the first time there are civilian casualties. Independence of Zimbabwe.
Guy Berger meets DG in prison (Berger remains imprisoned until 1983).
Assassination of Ruth First, wife of Joe Slovo, in Maputo (Mozambique) via a letter bomb.
Hillary Kuny sends a memorandum on the case of DG to Minister of Justice ‘Kobie’ Kotze .
Foundation of the United Democratic Front (UDF), it grows to two million people from nearly 700 organisations.
Militant protests by young people make the land ‘ungovernable.’ The secret State Security Council reacts with declaration of a “state of emergency.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu receives the Nobel Peace Prize.
1985: 13 February:
DG writes a letter to State President, P.W. Botha
1985: 28 February:
DG is released from prison.
DG gives his first big speech in London in Trafalgar Square as spokesperson for the ANC.
1985: 15 August:
‘Rubicon Speech’ by State President Pieter Willem Botha about supposed reforms; economic sanctions begin to bite; beginning of the secret negotiations between Mandela and the regime; foundation of the joint trade union organisation Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).
Lifting of the Pass Laws.
DG begins a six week speaking tour in Scandinavia. Madi Gray gets to know him in Sweden.
Giant demonstrations with up to 1.5 million workers. UDF supports the ‘mass actions’ all over the country.
Brian Filling from the British Anti-Apartheid Movement invites DG to Scotland.
1987: January to March:
Heavy defeat for the South African armed forces at Cuito Canavale (Angola), the biggest battle in Africa since 1943.
Mandela Concert at Wembley Stadium in London.
Education Minister Frederik Willem de Klerk ousts Pieter W. Botha; intensification of the secret discussions with Nelson Mandela, and separately with the exiled leadership of the ANC
1989: July: Mandela meets President Botha in his residence ‘for tea’.
Release of Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Andrew Mlangeni, Elias Motsolaedi, Wilton Mkwayi and others.
1990: 11 February:
Release of Mandela.
First round of discussions between the government and the ANC. Start of violent clashes between Inkatha and ANC in KwaZulu-Natal. Civil war like battles cost 10,000 people their lives.
COSATU, ANC and SACP establish the Tripartite Alliance, still in existence today, under the leadership of the ANC.
DG meets Nelson Mandela in Stockholm.
The negotiation partners sign a provisional constitution. Nobel Peace Prize for Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk.
1994: 27 April:
First free and universal parliamentary elections. Nelson Mandela becomes the first President of free South Africa. Adoption after broad discussions throughout the country of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) for the Satisfaction of Basic Needs.
Ruth Weiss and DG meet in person at her birthday party in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight.
Beginning of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
1995: 26 April: Freedom Day:
DG founds the organisation Community Health Education and Reconstruction Training (Community H.E.A.R.T.) in London. Isobel McVicar is on board from the beginning. DG gets to know Edelgard Nkobi.
Change in strategy on economic policy, also under the influence of the World Bank: adoption of the neo-liberal Growth, Employment and Redistribution Programme (GEAR).
After meeting Tina Jerman and Dodo Schulz DG’s first reading tour through Germany, organized by EXILE Culture Coordination Essen. Foundation of Community H.E.A.R.T., Germany with headquarters in Essen. Reinhard Stolle invites DG to Osnabruck for the first time.
Brigitte Haage-Hussein, close friend of Edelgard Nkobi, meets DG in Cologne.
DG’s first visit to Siegen where he meets Guenter Hensch.
Awarded Honorary Doctorate of Laws by Glasgow Caledonian University.
In the parliamentary elections the ANC is able to increase its majority. New State President is Thabo Mbeki. The number of HIV infected persons is estimated at ten per cent of the population.
Elisabeth Quart meets DG via Edelgard Nkobi.
Death of DG’s wife Esme.
Honorary Doctorate (PhD) from the Medical University of South Africa
Eberhard Neugebohrn meets DG at an event in Hamburg on the anniversary of the Soweto uprising.
Death of DG’s daughter Hilly.
Wedding of DG and Edelgard Nkobi, move to South Africa: work as a Special Adviser to the Minister for Water Affairs and Forestry, Ronnie Kasrils.
Wolfgang Ebert invites DG to Wuppertal. Maria Rosary meets DG for the first time at the Secondary School at Schloss Borbeck in Essen.
The South African parliament accepts the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
In the elections in April the ANC gains a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Thabo Mbeki is confirmed in office.
DG finishes his work at the Ministry.
DG gives a lecture at Essen University and meets Geoffrey Davis.
Peter Senft meets DG in Cape Town.
Death of Denis Goldberg’s second wife Edelgard Nkobi-Goldberg.
52nd Congress of the ANC in Polokwane: in a crucial vote Jacob Zuma is elected as the new chairman of the ANC.
Dwyn Griesel founds the Kronendal Music Academy (KMA) in Hout Bay. A little later DG becomes patron of the KMA.
Violent attacks on immigrants.
Thabo Mbeki resigns as State President as a result of the accusation that he has influenced the legal proceedings against the chair of the ANC, Jacob Zuma, on charges of corruption.
Congress of the People (COPE) splits from the ANC.
DG and others, among them Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, awarded National Orders. DG receives Order of Luthuli for his contribution to the liberation struggle and his service to the South African people. Andimba ja Toivu made a Companion of the Order of O R Tambo.
In the elections the ANC, with 65.9 per cent of the vote, barely misses the two-thirds majority: the Democratic Alliance receives 16.7 per cent, the COPE 7.4 per cent.
Jacob Zuma becomes the new President of South Africa.
DG awarded the Ph.D. degree (hcS) by Medunsa
DG’s autobiography The Mission – a life for freedom in South Africa is published. Peter Heller’s documentary film Comrade Goldberg premiered in Munich
DG awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany for fostering good relations between the peoples of South Africa and Germany and his lifelong struggle to uphold human dignity.
June: World Football Championship in South Africa.
2012: August: miners’ strikes in a platinum mine at Marikana. The police kill 34 people. October: Brian Filling inducted into the Order of Companions of O R Tambo for his mobilisation of international support against apartheid
December: the ANC party congress elects Jacob Zuma again as the head of the ANC.
2013: 11 April 2013
Comrade Denis Goldberg is 80 years old.
2014: Fifth free elections:
ANC gets 62 per cent and the DA gets 22 per cent of the vote. Economic Freedom Fighters gets 6.35% and enters Parliament for the first time.
New edition of autobiography, A life for Freedom: the mission to end racism in South Africa. Press at Kentucky University, Lexington, 2016
Moments in a Life performed at the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival, Music by Matthijs van Dijk with narration by Denis Goldberg
Local government elections 2016, ANC loses majority in major cities (the Metros): Tshwane (Pretoria), Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth) but polls 54% of the vote in total.
2017 Denis Goldberg Legacy Foundation Trust presents first event:
An exhibition, A “Decolonised” History of the Third World in World War Two, at the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town from March 1 to end of June; (planned) at Freedom Park in Tshwane/Pretoria from July 2017.
2017: 6 March:
Repeat performance of Moments in a Life at the Woordfees in Stellenbosch.
The exhibition at The Holocaust and Genocide Centre in Johannesburg.