Lionel and Hilda Bernstein
15 May 1915
London, United Kingdom
|Died||8 September 2006 91) (aged|
Cape Town, South Africa
|Known for||Anit-apartheid activism|
Hilda Bernstein (London, 15 May 1915 – 8 September 2006) was a British-born author, artist, and an activist against apartheid and for women's rights.
London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.
An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book or play, and is thus also a writer. More broadly defined, an author is "the person who originated or gave existence to anything" and whose authorship determines responsibility for what was created.
An artist is a person engaged in an activity related to creating art, practicing the arts, or demonstrating an art. The common usage in both everyday speech and academic discourse is a practitioner in the visual arts only. The term is often used in the entertainment business, especially in a business context, for musicians and other performers. "Artiste" is a variant used in English only in this context; this use is becoming rare. Use of the term to describe writers, for example, is valid, but less common, and mostly restricted to contexts like criticism.
She was born Hilda Schwarz in London and emigrated to South Africa at the age of 18 years and became active in politics. She married fellow activist Lionel "Rusty" Bernstein in March 1941, and together they played prominent roles in the struggle to end Apartheid in South Africa. After her husband was tried and acquitted in the Rivonia Trial in 1964, government harassment forced them to flee to Botswana, an ordeal described in her 1967 book The World that was Ours , which was republished by Persephone Books in 2004. They lived in Britain for some years where she further established herself internationally as a speaker, writer, and artist. She returned with her husband to South Africa in 1994 for the South African election in which fellow activist Nelson Mandela was elected President. She died at the age of 91 in Cape Town, South Africa.
South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres (1,739 mi) of coastline of Southern Africa stretching along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini (Swaziland); and it surrounds the enclaved country of Lesotho. South Africa is the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th-largest country in the world by land area and, with over 57 million people, is the world's 24th-most populous nation. It is the southernmost country on the mainland of the Old World or the Eastern Hemisphere. About 80 percent of South Africans are of Sub-Saharan African ancestry, divided among a variety of ethnic groups speaking different African languages, nine of which have official status. The remaining population consists of Africa's largest communities of European (White), Asian (Indian), and multiracial (Coloured) ancestry.
Politics refers to a set of activities associated with the governance of a country, or an area. It involves making decisions that apply to members of a group.
Lionel "Rusty" Bernstein was a South African anti-apartheid activist and political prisoner.
Bernstein was born in London to Russian-Jewish immigrants Simeon and Dora Schwarz. When she was ten her father, who was a lifelong Bolshevik and had been the Russian Trade Attaché to Britain, was recalled to the Soviet Union. He was not able to return to Britain, and after his death she quit school to work before emigrating to South Africa at the age of 18 to work in journalism.
Russia, officially the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and North Asia. At 17,125,200 square kilometres (6,612,100 sq mi), Russia is by far or by a considerable margin the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, and the ninth most populous, with about 146.77 million people as of 2019, including Crimea. About 77% of the population live in the western, European part of the country. Russia's capital, Moscow, is one of the largest cities in the world and the second largest city in Europe; other major cities include Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod. Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and North Korea. It shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U.S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. However, Russia recognises two more countries that border it, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are internationally recognized as parts of Georgia.
The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.
Journalism refers to the production and distribution of reports on recent events. The word journalism applies to the occupation, as well as citizen journalists using methods of gathering information and using literary techniques. Journalistic media include print, television, radio, Internet, and, in the past, newsreels.
In response to the rise of fascism in Europe, she became involved with the Labour Party. This party, however, did not share her growing concern with apartheid and she left it to join the South African Communist Party, the only South African party with no racial segregation. She demonstrated her speaking and organizing skills on the party's district committee and national executive committee.
Fascism is a form of radical, right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I before it spread to other European countries. Opposed to liberalism, Marxism, and anarchism, fascism is placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.
The Labour Party, was a South African political party formed in March 1910 in the newly created Union of South Africa following discussions between trade unions and the Independent Labour Party of Transvaal, was a professedly democratic socialist party representing the interests of the white working class.
Apartheid was a system of institutionalised racial segregation that existed in South Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s. Apartheid was characterised by an authoritarian political culture based on baasskap, which encouraged state repression of Black African, Coloured, and Asian South Africans for the benefit of the nation's minority white population. The economic legacy and social effects of apartheid continue to the present day.
Through her political activities she met Lionel "Rusty" Bernstein, whom she married in March 1941.
In 1943 she was elected to the city council of Johannesburg by a then all-white electorate, the only member of the Communist Party to do so. She used this position for three years as a platform for publicizing the injustices of apartheid.
Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa and one of the 50 largest urban areas in the world. It is the provincial capital and largest city of Gauteng, which is the wealthiest province in South Africa. While Johannesburg is not one of South Africa's three capital cities, it is the seat of the Constitutional Court. The city is located in the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills and is the centre of large-scale gold and diamond trade.
In the 1950s she became more focused on organizing with women. She was a founding member of the multi-racial Federation of South African Womenin 1956, and she was one of the organizers of the Women's March to Pretoria. Her writings were appearing regularly in periodicals in South Africa and other nations in Africa and Europe.
As early as 1946 the South African government began its attempts to limit her activities and minimize her political influence. In that year she was convicted of assisting an illegal strike of black mineworkers. In 1953 the government banned her membership in a list of organizations, and in 1958 extended this ban to prohibit her from writing or publishing. In 1960 she was detained during the state of emergency declared after the Sharpeville massacre. She was therefore required to go underground with her political work.
In 1963 her husband Rusty was one of 19 African National Congress leaders arrested at Johannesburg suburb of Rivonia. Rusty was acquitted at the Rivonia Trial, but was soon rearrested and released on bail to house arrest. Hilda Bernstein fled from their home as the police were on the way to arrest her. They fled to Botswana, crossing the border on foot.
In exile, the Bernsteins eventually settled in Britain where they continued to work in support of the African National Congress. She also dedicated her written and oral communication skills to the Anti-Apartheid Movement and the British peace movement. Her writings and speaking engagements were numerous in Europe, the United States, and Canada.
She wrote several books, including The World That was Ours which documented their flight from South Africa. She also dedicated more time to her art, which appeared in several shows and became part of many public and private collections. Her artwork has also been used in many publications for the Anti-Apartheid Movement.
Rusty and Hilda Bernstein returned to South Africa in 1994 to participate in the South African election which was the first democratic election where all races were allowed to vote, and see the end of apartheid and their fellow ANC member Nelson Mandela become president.
In 1998, both Rusty and Hilda were awarded honorary degrees from the University of Natal for their role in helping to bring democracy to South Africa. Rusty died at their home in 2002.
In 2004 she was awarded the Luthuli Silver Award for her "contribution to the attainment of gender equality and a free and democratic society" in South Africa. She died from heart failure at the age of 91 at her home in Cape Town, South Africa. She was survived by their four children: Toni, Patrick, Frances, and Keith Bernstein.
In March 2011, the country of Gambia issued a postage stamp in her honor, naming her as one of the Legendary Heroes of Africa.
Bantu Stephen Biko was a South African anti-apartheid activist. Ideologically an African nationalist and African socialist, he was at the forefront of a grassroots anti-apartheid campaign known as the Black Consciousness Movement during the late 1960s and 1970s. His ideas were articulated in a series of articles published under the pseudonym Frank Talk.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, also known as Winnie Mandela, was a South African anti-apartheid activist and politician, and the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela. She served as a Member of Parliament from 1994 to 2003, and from 2009 until her death, and was a deputy minister of arts and culture from 1994 to 1996. A member of the African National Congress (ANC) political party, she served on the ANC's National Executive Committee and headed its Women's League. Madikizela-Mandela was known to her supporters as the "Mother of the Nation".
The Rivonia Trial took place in South Africa between 9 October 1963 and 12 June 1964. The Rivonia Trial led to the imprisonment of Nelson Mandela and the others among the accused who were convicted of sabotage and sentenced to life at the Palace of Justice, Pretoria.
Helen Suzman, DBE was a South African anti-apartheid activist and politician. She represented a succession of liberal and centre-left opposition parties during her 36-year tenure in the whites-only, National Party-controlled House of Assembly of South Africa at the height of the apartheid era. She hosted the meeting that founded the Progressive Party in 1959, and was its only MP in the 160-member House for a period of 13 years.
Abraham Louis Fischer, commonly known as Bram Fischer, was a South African lawyer of Afrikaner descent, notable for anti-apartheid activism and for the legal defence of anti-apartheid figures, including Nelson Mandela at the Rivonia Trial. Following the trial he was himself put on trial accused of furthering communism. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, and diagnosed with cancer while in prison. The South African Prisons Act was extended to include his brother's house in Bloemfontein where he died two months later.
Fatima Meer was a South African writer, academic, screenwriter, and prominent anti-apartheid activist.
George Bizos is a human rights lawyer who campaigned against apartheid in South Africa, most notably during the Rivonia Trial.
Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada, sometimes known by the nickname "Kathy", was a South African politician, political prisoner and anti-apartheid activist.
Mamphela Aletta Ramphele is a South African politician, a former activist against apartheid, a medical doctor, an academic and businesswoman. She was a partner of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, with whom she had two children. She is a former Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town and a one-time Managing Director at the World Bank. Ramphele founded political party Agang South Africa in February 2013 and withdrew from politics in July 2014 after disputes within the party.
The Constitution Hill precinct is located at 11 Kotze Street in Braamfontein, Johannesburg near the western end of the suburb of Hillbrow. Constitution Hill is the seat of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
The Treason Trial was a trial in Johannesburg in which 156 people, including Nelson Mandela, were arrested in a raid and accused of treason in South Africa in 1956.
Adelaide "Mama" Tambo was a prominent anti-apartheid activist, political exile, and regarded as a hero of the liberation struggle against apartheid in South Africa.
The World that was Ours (1967) is Hilda Bernstein's personal account of life in Johannesburg under the oppressive surveillance of the apartheid regime. Hilda and her husband Rusty Bernstein were both detained, along with many others, in the aftermath of the Sharpeville massacre of 1960. Upon their release, Rusty was placed under house arrest, while Hilda's day-to-day activities were closely monitored by the Special Branch, if not altogether prohibited. Her memoir recalls these fraught years in the build-up to the landmark Rivonia Trial, the events and ordeals of the Trial itself, and finally the couple's reluctant decision to flee their beloved country in the wake of Rusty's acquittal.
Vernon Celliers Berrangé SCOT "Defender of the People" was an eminent South African human rights advocate (QC)
Frances Rix Ames was a South African neurologist, psychiatrist, and human rights activist, best known for leading the medical ethics inquiry into the death of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, who died from medical neglect after being tortured in police custody. When the South African Medical and Dental Council (SAMDC) declined to discipline the chief district surgeon and his assistant who treated Biko, Ames and a group of five academics and physicians raised funds and fought an eight-year legal battle against the medical establishment. Ames risked her personal safety and academic career in her pursuit of justice, taking the dispute to the South African Supreme Court, where she eventually won the case in 1985.
Christina 'Chrissie' Jasson was a South African clerk and trade unionist from Port Elizabeth, who stood accused of treason at the Rivonia Trial.
Sonia Bunting, OLS was a South African journalist, and a political and anti-apartheid activist. After being charged with treason and imprisoned, being detained a second time, and barred from publishing, she and her husband went into exile in London, where she joined the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) and organised the World Campaign for the Release of South African Political Prisoners. When the African National Congress (ANC) ban was lifted in 1991, she returned to South Africa where she was involved in political activism until her death in 2001. She was posthumously honored by the government of South Africa with the Order of Luthuli in Silver in 2010.