South African Jewry Mourns Tragic Death of Assassinated Premier
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South African Jewry Mourns Tragic Death of Assassinated Premier

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South African Jewry “shares the national shock and grief” over the assassination yesterday of Premier Hendrik Verwoerd,” Teddy Schneider, president of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, declared today in a telegram to Mrs. Verwoerd.

“The South African Jewish Community is deeply shocked by the tragic national calamity and offers you and your children heartfelt condolences,” the telegram said. “We mourn the passing of a dedicated son of his country.” The Board sent a similar message to the State President.

Rabbi Bernard Casper, Chief Rabbi of the Federation of Synagogues, sent a message expressing the “profound sense of sorrow and dismay of the Jewish community. We think of Verwoerd, the patriot, the devoted son of his country, respected even by his opponents. His eye was not dimmed nor his force abated.”

South Africa’s senior Reform rabbi, Arthur Super, in a message, paid tribute to the slain Premier’s dedication and said that South Africa’s Reform congregations were arranging special mourning services.

Edel Horowitz, chairman of the South African Zionist Federation echoed the “grief” of South Africa and conveyed “deepest sympathy toward the Government and the widow.” His message added that “we can only pray that God will preserve the peoples of this republic at this critical time, and that the peace and democratic progress of all of us will not be imperiled by this evil act.”


The first physician to reach the stricken Premier was a Jewish Member of Parliament, Dr. Ephraim Fisher, who described the scene in these words: “I saw somebody rush toward the Prime Minister and appear to lean over him. I then realized he had been injured. I rushed over to his bench and found him bleeding profusely from four chest wounds.

“I tried to stop the bleeding. Other medical MPs came to help. We gave mouth-to-mouth breathing and tried artificial respiration. Dr. Verwoerd also was given four heart stimulant injections — I had my medical bag with me. We continued until the ambulance came but by that time, he had no pulse — it was hopeless.”

The assassin, Dimitri Tsafendas, reportedly born in Mozambique, is partly Portuguese and partly Greek. The shocked country is reacting soberly.

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