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On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X


GEYER, René. The Union Defence Force and the 1914 strike: The dynamics of the shadow of the burgher. Historia [online]. 2014, vol.59, n.2, pp.136-151. ISSN 2309-8392.

In January 1914 a general industrial strike took place in the Union of South Africa, which resulted in unrest in the Witwatersrand area. Subsequently the fledgling Union Defence Force, for the first time since its inception in 1912, was called upon operationally by the government to suppress the strike. Because the Defence Force was still in a transformational and integration phase, the Permanent Force was not yet ready to quash the strike on its own, and therefore the commandos of the Citizen Force Reserve were commandeered for service. The traditional commando system of the former Boer republics and of the Transvaal Colony and Orange River Colony were thus briefly revived to quell the 1914 strike, albeit in a new and multifaceted South African milieu. This article focuses on conflict and society and emphasises important social military historiographical aspects in South Africa that have been neglected in the past. It illuminates the Zeitgeist and character of Afrikaner society of the day by focusing specifically on the social dynamics and the experience of the "burghers" on commando that participated in the crushing of the strike. Theoretical concepts such as ideological differences, nationalism, leadership, commando and Afrikaner identity, masculinity, nostalgia and white poverty elucidate these experiences and perceptions.

Keywords : Military history; Union Defence Force; 1914 strike; 1914 Rebellion; commando; masculinity; nationalism; nostalgia; white poverty.

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