Fonds BC1215 - Henry Katzew Papers

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Henry Katzew Papers


  • 1912-2006 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

Circa 1,300 items

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Biographical history

Henry Katzew was born in Johannesburg on 14 May 1912, one of 7 children to parents who had immigrated from Lithuania at the turn of the century. He was educated at Forest High School. As a schoolboy, he submitted articles to the Sunday Times, some of which were accepted. After leaving school, he became, for a short period, a dispatch clerk for a firm of wholesale tobacconists, while continuing to submit sketches to the Sunday Times. In 1931 he was engaged as a cub reporter for the Rand Daily Mail and the Sunday Times. In 1933, he was transferred to run the Mail and Sunday Times office in Brakpan, where he stayed for 3 years. In 1936, he left for England, hoping to make a career as a writer. He earned some money as a “space man” with the Press Association, working under the name of Henry Hornley. Together with a friend, Nat Soskin, he signed on as a deck boy on the “Jervis Bay” for a return voyage to Australia. He returned to South Africa in 1938, after 2 years abroad and found employment at the Africopa News Agency until it dissolved in 1939. He enlisted in March 1942, in the Seaward Defence Force (fore-runner of the South African Navy. After he was demobilised in 1945, he wrote editorials and “viewpoint articles” for several South African newspapers For several of the newspapers, he wrote regular columns for many years, for instance, he wrote a regular South African scene column for the Zionist Record, under the pseudonym, Karl Lemeer. He also later wrote a regular column for the Rand Daily Mail and for the Sunday Beeld, with whose editor, Schalk Pienaar, he was friendly and who believed that readers should be exposed to a variety of opinions. In 1968 he became editor of the Zionist Record. He moved with his family to a 5 acre property between Johannesburg and Vereeniging (in Grasmere) in 1951, where they lived for 13 years. It was intended that his sister-in-law would run it as a guest farm and he would write. The guest farm did not prove viable and he returned to full-time journalism. He published two books, Solution for South Africa: a Jewish view (1956) Apartheid and survival (1965). One of the themes that interested him and which he dealt with frequently in his writing was the place of the Afrikaner in South Africa. He looked to the state of Israel as a possible model, but in later years grew increasingly uneasy at political developments in both South Africa and Israel. For over 40 years, while expressing his own strongly-held opinions, he was also an important representation of the Jewish voice in the South African press.In 1969, he and his wife left South Africa and went to Israel for 5 years, acting, while he was there, as foreign correspondent for The Star. After leaving Israel, they went to live in Rumson, New Jersey, with their daughter and son-in-law. He continued to act as a foreign correspondent for several South Africa newspapers. After 20 years in the U.S., they returned to South Africa in 1995. In 1939, he had married Ethel Simon, a teacher, and they had three children, Michael, Helen and Tony Ivor.

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Scope and content

Papers of Henry Katzew (1912 -); journalist who wrote on political matters in the mainstream and Jewish press in South Africa. Papers include newspaper clippings of editorials and articles from the 1930s until 2000, correspondence about his articles, his two books and his editorial appointments. A draft of his memoirs is also included, as well as photographs.


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No restrictions apply

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Language of material

  • English

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  • English



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