Harry Schwarz

Harry Schwarz

Infobox Ambassador

caption =Harry Schwarz on the Charlie Rose talk show.
name =Harry Heinz Schwarz
order =
ambassador_from =South Africa
country =United States
term_start =March 6, 1991
term_end =November, 1994
president =Frederik Willem de Klerk
Nelson Mandela
preceded =Piet Koornhof
succeeded =Franklin Sonn
order2 =1st
ambassador_from2 =South Africa
country2 =Barbados
term_start2 =1991
term_end2 =1994
president2 =
preceded2 =
succeeded2 =
office3 = Opposition Finance Spokesman
term_start3 =1976
term_end3 =1987
succeeded3 =
office4 = Member of Parliament for Yeoville
term_start4 =1974
term_end4 =February 6, 1991
succeeded4 =Douglas Gibson
majority4 =
office5 = Transvaal Leader of the Opposition
term_start5 = 1963
term_end5 =1974
preceded5 =Marais Steyn
birth_date =birth date and age|1924|5|13
birth_place =flagicon|Germany Cologne, Germany
death_date =
death_place =
party = United Party
Reform Party
Progressive Reform Party
Progressive Federal Party
Democratic Party
spouse =Annette Louise Schwarz
relations =
children =Jonathan, Allan & Michael Schwarz
residence =
alma_mater =University of the Witwatersrand
occupation =Solicitor
profession =
religion =Judaism

website =
footnotes =

Harry Heinz Schwarz (born May 13, 1924) is a former South African anti-apartheid politician, diplomat, and jurist.

Harry Schwarz's political career started with sitting on the Johannesburg city council from 1951-1957. In 1958 he was elected into the Transvaal provincial council. From 1972 to 1974 he was the leader of the United Party in the Transvaal. In 1975 he created the Reform Party of which he was the leader. He was Opposition spokesman on Finance. He was a founding member of the Democratic Party. From 1991-1994 he was South African ambassador to the United States. He was the first South African ambassador to Barbados. He was in the minority opposition for over 40 years and was a prominent opponent of the National Party.

He was one of the founders of the Torch Commando, an ex-soldiers' movement to protest against the disenfranchisement of the coloured people in South Africa. He was also on the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. He is regarded as one of the great South African public speakers and debaters of his time. In his political career spanning 43 years he never lost an election. He served as a navigator in the SAAF during World War II. He received the Order of Meritorious Service and an Honorary Doctorate.

He was described by the University of Stellenbosch as "one of the conceptual and moral fathers of the new South Africa" [] in the sense that Schwarz had not only been one of apartheid's most prominent opponents, but his ideas and the initiatives he had taken had played an important role in the development of the concept of a negotiated democracy in South Africa, based on the principles of freedom and justice.

Refugee from Germany

Harry Heinz Schwarz was born to Fritz Schwarz and Alma Schwarz in Cologne, Germany. He arrived in South Africa as a Jewish refugee from Germany in 1934. He traveled onboard the SS Giulio Cesare. To get to the Giulio Cesare, Harry and his family had to walk across the border into Switzerland. They then got on a train to Milan and then to Genoa. When they arrived in Cape Town they stayed in one room in a house in Kloof Street.

He attended Tamboerskloof School and South African College Schools in Cape Town and then Jeppe High School for Boys in Johannesburg.

World War II

He was a navigator in the South African Air Force during World War II. He fought in North Africa and Italy. He was in 15 squadron and seconded to the RAF. In 1988 he was awarded order for Meritorious Service (Gold).

Wits University

In 1946 Harry went to University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He argued that the National Party's victory in 1948 was reversible and anyone who opposed them should concentrate on defeating them. He was awarded a BA, with distinctions in both major subjects, and later an LLB. He studied alongside Nelson Mandela. In 1949 he was admitted as an attorney, and later as a barrister (Member of Middle Temple) in London, United Kingdom and, in 1953, became an advocate at the South African Bar.

Rivonia Trial

In 1964 Nelson Mandela and many other political opponents were arrested. They were brought to court in the Rivonia Trial. Harry Schwarz was one of the defence barristers in the trial defending Accused No. 8 Jimmy Kantor, who was friend of his and was acquitted. While Nelson Mandela was in jail, Harry visited him. After the trial Harry stopped being a barrister so that he could concentrate on politics.

Leader of the opposition

Harry Schwarz was a City Councillor in Johannesburg from 1951 to 1957. In 1958 he was elected into the Transvaal provincial council for Hillbrow. In 1963 he became leader of the opposition in the Transvaal provincial council. In 1971 he became deputy leader of the UP in the Transvaal, a post specially created for him. Schwarz was the leader of the liberal "Young Turks" in the United Party. Internal divisions in the Party between liberals and conservatives came to a head on 25 August 25 1972 when Schwarz replaced Marais Steyn as the leader of the United Party in the Transvaal. His victory was a visible sign of strength from the liberals within the party

On January 4 1974, Harry Schwarz met with Mangosuthu Buthelezi. They agreed on a five-point 5 point plan for racial peace in South Africa. Its purpose was to provide a blueprint for government by consent and racial peace in a multi-racial society, stressing opportunity for all, consultation, the federal concept, and a Bill of Rights. This was known as the It was much closer to the Progressive Party than the United Party policy. However it was the idea of a white and black politician uniting that caused a split in the United Party later that year.

On March 29 1974, Chief Minister Cedric Phatudi of Lebowa signed the ‘Seshego Declaration’ with Harry Schwarz and the United Party M.P. for Durban North aiming at peaceful change, a federal system and a stake in society for black people.

Parliamentary Career

Reform Party

Harry Schwarz was known as the leader of the "Young Turks" in the United Party. In the 1974 general election he was elected into parliament for the United Party. In 1975 he was expelled from the United Party for signing the Mahlabatini Declaration and not following the "party line". On February 11 he formed the Reform Party, which he led. The Reform Party had four MP's, a senator and ten members of the Transvaal Provincial Council. This made it the official opposition in the Transvaal Provincial Council.

Progressive Federal Party

On the 25 July the Reform Party merged with the Progressive Party to form the Progressive Reform Party. This proved to realign the opposition in South Africa, as the PRP became the official opposition party. Schwarz became the party's spokesman on finance and Chairman of the Federal Executive. It soon became the Progressive Federal Party in which he was the party's finance spokesman, defence spokesman and Chairman of the Federal Executive. He was also a member and chairman of the Standing Committee on Finance. He was perceived to be on the right wing of the PFP.

Harry Schwarz was asked on many occasions by state-leaders B. J. Vorster, Pieter Willem Botha and Frederik Willem de Klerk to become finance minister. He refused all requests, stating that he would never join the National Party and the apartheid regime. On February 6, 1991 he ended his career in parliament. His farewell speech to parliament was entitled "Look after my people while I'm gone".

Incident at university

On October 12 1976 while giving a lecture on aspects of South Africa at the University of British Columbia to an audience of 300, a group of around 60 calling themselves the Ad Hoc Committee to Support the Just Struggle of the Azanian People interrupted the three public speeches given by Mr. Schwarz with chants of "fascists have no right to speak" and "go home". Mr Schwarz interrupted his speech to say “I had to fight the fascists in the last war and I don’t think you know what fascism means.”

During the third speech a Chinese girl stepped up to the podium and said "What about my right to hear what Mr Schwarz has to say?". Members of the audience shouted "Let him speak".

The following day, President Douglas Kenny of the UBC issued the following statement:

"I deplore in the strongest terms the recent disruption by a group of individuals of a lecture given on campus by Mr Harry Schwarz, a member of Parliament for the Progressive Reform Party of South Africa. The denial of the right of free speech to a visitor to the University is a total rejection of the values on which a university is founded. Without freedom of thought, freedom of enquiry and freedom of speech, a university cannot exist. These freedoms must be maintained at all costs. I would be greatly disappointed if the individuals who took part in this offensive demonstration were UBC people. Such undemocratic refusal to grant a fair hearing to any person's views is not acceptable behaviour by any member of the University."

South African Ambassador to United States

Harry Schwarz was the first serving politician from the opposition ranks to be appointed to a senior ambassadorial post in South African history. Schwarz agreed to take the job of ambassador on the terms that the National Party would not try and take his seat in Yeoville.

While in office in Washington, D.C., Harry worked on marketing the process towards democracy in South Africa and on lifting sanctions. Harry Schwarz, played a significant role in convincing many Americans that the de Klerk government was committed to ending apartheid. In 1991, after international pressure on South Africa, Harry Schwarz signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Schwarz returned to South Africa in November 1994, following his three and-a-half-year tenure as South African ambassador to the United States. At an event sponsored by the South African Jewish Board of Deputies in his honor, Schwarz urged the Jewish community to make the best of the changes taking place in South Africa and to contribute actively to the success of the country.

Jewish Board of Deputies

Beginning in the mid-seventies, Schwarz played an increasingly important role on the Jewish Board of Deputies, serving as chairman of its committee on international relations and often acting as spokesman for the board to Jewish agencies abroad. He argued that violent change could ultimately lead to a nondemocratic government, incompatible with Jewish ethics and with the interests of the Jewish community. He emphasized that Jews needed not only a democratic society for all, but also "The right to follow [their] own religion and love for Israel freely."


"I want to abolish discrimination, not merely cosmetically but in reality."

"It is important that in the process of change, existing institutions of value and means of production are not destroyed. The fabric of society, however critical one may be of its present structures, should be adopted and modified where required, but not destroyed."

""Poverty corrodes freedom."

"We are opposed to the homeland concept and we believe the way to solve our problems is to call a national convention of all races to change to a more multiracial basis."

"We are a country with a people who are removing the shackles of apartheid and will create a just economic system and a true democracy"

Awards and honors

Harry Schwarz was awarded Order for Meritorious Service (Gold) in 1988. In 1995 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate, from the University of Judaism. That year he also received an honorary degree from the University of Stellenbosch. He has also been given the Society of Advocates Prize and Transvaal Law Society Prize.

Present life

Harry Schwarz has now returned to law. His areas of legal practice are primarily corporate and commercial with special interests in banking, insurance, diplomacy and advocacy. After Harry Schwarz left Washington, he and his wife set up a charity trust called the Schwarz Upliftment Trust. In 2000 he left the Democratic Party because of its alliance with the New National Party. He lives in Johannesburg with his wife Annette. They have been married for 56 years with three children and four grandchildren.


* Goethe Institut Südafrika. [http://www.goethe.de/ins/za/prj/jue/bfx/bxd/en1637558.htm Biographies. Harry Heinz Schwarz.] Seeking Refuge Exhibition. 2005/2006
* [http://www.whoswhosa.co.za/Pages/profilefull.aspx?IndID=1778]
* [http://www.library.ubc.ca/archives/pdfs/ubyssey/UBYSSEY_1976_10_19.pdf]
* [http://academics.uj.edu/Content/ContentUnit.asp?CID=1550&u=5211&t=0 University of Judaism Link]
* [http://www.iss.co.za/Pubs/Monographs/No1/Schwarz.html]
* []


External links

* [http://www.washdiplomat.com/ambprof/southafrica.html Washington Diplomat Bio]

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