Verwoerd, Hendrik Frensch

Verwoerd, Hendrik Frensch

(hĕn`drək frĕnsh fərvo͞ort`), 1901–66, South African political leader, b. Holland. He was taken as an infant to South AfricaSouth Africa,
Afrikaans Suid-Afrika, officially Republic of South Africa, republic (2011 pop. 51,770,560), 471,359 sq mi (1,220,813 sq km), S Africa. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean in the west, on Namibia in the northwest, on Botswana and Zimbabwe in the north, on
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 when his parents emigrated as missionaries. He graduated from Stellenbosch Univ. and studied further in Germany, where he came into contact with the nascent National Socialist (Nazi) party. He became (1927) professor of psychology and sociology at Stellenbosch. In 1928 he was named editor of the Transvaaler, an Afrikaans nationalist newspaper. His editorial policy reflected enmity toward the British, the Africans, and the Jews. Following a series of important posts in the Nationalist party, he became a senator (1948) and minister of native affairs (1950). In 1958 he was elected to parliament and, upon the death of J. G. Strijdom, became prime minister. A harsh proponent of white supremacy, Verwoerd, in response to foreign criticism, reformulated the apartheidapartheid
[Afrik.,=apartness], system of racial segregation peculiar to the Republic of South Africa, the legal basis of which was largely repealed in 1991–92. History
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 policy as "separate development," meaning physical segregation of the races. When South Africa became (1961) a republic, he severed its connections with the Commonwealth of Nations. An attempt was made (1960) on his life; its failure was interpreted by Verwoerd as God's approval of his work. A second assassination attempt succeeded in Sept., 1966.