Stumbling on an antique printing press that spewed anti-Semitism
Even though the printing press was not for sale, Moshal decided he was going to buy it, and he ensured that it was installed at the Durban Holocaust & Genocide Centre (DHGC), which has an exhibit addressing the virulent anti-Semitism that emerged in South Africa in the 1930s and ’40s.
“It felt great to find it. During my tenure in community service, Rudman’s name often came up along with the names of other anti-Semites,” recalled Moshal, who is a trustee of the DHGC.
Speaking to the SA Jewish Report from his office in Durban – which is the house where he was born and which he bought back after 50 years – he explained that it is where the idea for a Durban Jewish Club came about. “Jews were not welcome in other clubs because of anti-Semites like Rudman – and so we made a club of our own.”
The story came full circle as the DHGC, housed on the grounds of the Durban Jewish Club, celebrated its 10th anniversary and re-opened its updated permanent exhibition at the end of May, which now includes the printing press.
Amazingly, “the panel explaining South African anti-Semitism and the difficulties facing Jewish refuges was already in place, and the printing press fits perfectly into that narrative”, says the centre’s director, Mary Kluk.
“It will help learners and visitors understand that just up the road from here, there was Rudman and his fellow anti-Semites spewing hatred from this printing press. It wasn’t just something that happened in Europe – it happened here too. It will help young people understand what anti-Semitism is and how it manifests.”
Kluk adds that the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum actually has a section on Rudman, and gave permission for the centre to include its information.
Anti-Semitism expert Professor Milton Shain was also consulted, as Rudman is featured in the third volume in his trilogy on anti-Semitism in South Africa.
The text explaining the printing press at the DHGC reads as follows: “Raymond Kirch Rudman (1898-1978) was a prominent right wing radical in the 1930s. As Natal leader of the South African National Party, better known as the Greyshirts, Rudman’s rhetoric and propaganda focused on the ‘Jewish Question’. Subsequently, he headed the fiercely anti-Semitic Boerenasie movement and, after the Second World War, ran the Aryan Book Store in Pietermaritzburg. Rudman brought out an edition of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as well as re-publishing other anti-Semitic works, including a 1921 reprint pamphlet, England: Under the Heel of the Jew.”
Adds Shain: “He continued in the post-war decades with distribution of anti-Semitic material, while maintaining links with a great number of fascists and neo-Nazis abroad. He also denied the Holocaust.”
When the DHGC received the artefact, it printed out the last pamphlet on the press. Adorned with Nazi insignia, it is a fake ‘declaration’ by ‘James Rothchild – The King of the Jews’ stating that Jews will take over the world. On it is written: “The net which Jewry is throwing out over the earth is widening and spreading daily.”
One wonders how Rudman would react today, knowing that his propaganda is being used to teach young South Africans about the dangers of anti-Semitism, and that his old printing press is now housed on the grounds of the Durban Jewish Club in the Durban Holocaust & Genocide Centre, which educates against his brand of hatred.