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Title:Colonel Coetzee's war: loyalty, subversion and the South African Police, 1939-1945
Author:Shear, KeithISNI
Year:2013
Periodical:South African Historical Journal (ISSN 0258-2473)
Volume:65
Issue:2
Pages:222-248
Language:English
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:defence policy
police
intelligence services
World War II
About person:Jacobus Johannes Coetzee
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02582473.2012.726252
Abstract:This article analyses the (mal)functioning of the South African State's administrative machinery under the Second World War government of General Smuts, focusing on opposition to the war policy within the police. Prime Minister Jan Smuts controlled a small pro-war parliamentary majority, but he was assailed both by constitutional opponents and by extra-parliamentary adversaries like the Ossewa-Brandwag. The emphasis here is on the chief of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Colonel J.J. ('Bill') Coetzee. The CID had a principal role in producing intelligence and countering subversion, but Coetzee's actions respecting Axis espionage and South African anti-war republicans raised suspicions about his and the police's loyalties among his fellow senior civil servants and other Union and Allied intelligence organizations operating in Southern Africa. Drawing on South African, British and American archives, the author examines the evidence against Coetzee and assesses both his motives and those of the domestic and foreign rivals who suspected him. The account shows how Smuts survived in power despite the extent of internal opposition to his government; reveals the complexities particularly of Afrikaners' conduct in public service during the 1940s; interrogates the historiography of Anglo-South African intelligence relations; and confronts the challenges of establishing the disposition of an individual like Coetzee while relying predominantly on the untested views of his friends and foes. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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