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The King's Afrikaners? Enlistment and Ethnic Identity in the Union of South Africa's Defence Force during the Second World War, 1939-45
The Journal of African History
Vol. 40, No. 3 (1999), pp. 351-365
Published by: Cambridge University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/183618
Page Count: 15
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In South African historiography in general, the history of 'war and society' remains relatively underdeveloped. This article looks at one dimension of such history, namely, Afrikaner participation in the Second World War. While there is no shortage of studies on the growth of Afrikaner nationalism during the 1930s and 1940s and Afrikaner nationalist opposition to South Africa's entry into the war, little attention has been given to those Afrikaners who, despite nationalist prescriptions, joined the military. The reasons for enlistment and the contradictory impact of the war on Afrikaner identity are analysed. In assessing the way in which Afrikaners in the Union Defence Force dealt with their experiences in an overwhelmingly English-speaking environment, cultural factors are highlighted. It is concluded, in contrast to the existing historiography on Afrikaner nationalism, that the impact of the war on Afrikaner ethnicity was more nuanced and complex than has been hitherto assumed.
The Journal of African History © 1999 Cambridge University Press