Harry Schwarz, anti-apartheid lawmaker and Mandela attorney, dies


(JTA) — Harry Schwarz, a South African Jewish leader and lawmaker who as an attorney defended Nelson Mandela, has died.

Schwarz, who escaped the Nazis and came to South Africa from Germany in 1936, died last Friday following a short illness. He was 86.

As an opposition member of Parliament from 1974 to 1989, he was among the most vociferous campaigners against apartheid, according to a statement from the South Africa Jewish Board of Deputies.

Schwarz in Parliament forcefully denounced the government’s racial policies and spoke out strongly against anti-Semitism, the statement said.

From 1990 to 1994, although still in the opposition, Schwarz served as South Africa’s ambassador to the United States.

As an attorney, he served on the defense team of Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid activists during the 1963-64 Rivonia Trial.

For his services to South Africa, he was awarded the Order for Meritorious Service: Class 1, Gold.

Schwarz was active in Jewish communal affairs, serving from 1983 to 2000 on the National Executive, Management Committee and Gauteng Council of the Jewish Board of Deputies. 

He served as a navigator in the South African Air Force during World War II.

Recommended from JTA