Nicolaas Johannes Diederichs, South Africa’s fourth state president, is born



Tuesday, 17 November 1903

Nicolaas Johannes Diederichs South Africa's fourth state president was born on 17 November 1903.  After studying for his doctoral degree at the University of Leyden in Germany, Diederichs returned to South Africa and was appointed professor of Political Science at the University of the Orange Free State.

While studying in Germany, Diederichs became an admirer of the Third Riech. He became an influential person in Afrikaner nationalist circles particularly in the 1930s and 1940s. For instance he published a number of publications including one that became the cornerstone of radical Afrikaner nationalism and consciousness in 1936. Perhaps the most famous was the Nationalism as Worldview and Its Relationship to Internationalism. In the article Diederichs, expounded a vision of Afrikaner (Christian) nationalism that was mixed with Dutch Calvinist theological ideas.

Diederichs served as chairman of the Broederbond from 1938 to 1942. He also became a speaker during the Oxwagon Trek of 1938. After the Economic Volk Congress of 1939, he was elected as chairman of the Reddingsdaadbond, an organization geared towards promoting the economic wellbeing of Afrikaners. Diederichs was also a founder member of the same organization. He was also elected as chairman of the Afrikanse Nasionale Studentebond ANS and was one of the founding members of the Economic Movement.

Diederichs entered politics by joining the National Party in 1953 and became a Member of Parliament who served on various ministerial portfolios.  He was appointed as the Minister of Economic Affairs in 1958 and served on the portfolio until 1967. After that he was appointed Minister of Finance (1967-1975). At the end of President Fouche's term in April 1975, Diederichs was elected by the National Party as the ceremonial State President of the South Africa, a position he held until his death in August 1978.


  1. Christoph Marx, (1998), Oxwagon Sentinel: radical Afrikaner Nationalism and the history of the Ossewabrandwag, (UNISA Press), p.212

  2.  Alan T. Davies, (1988), Infected Christianity: a study of modern racism, (McGill -Queen's University Press), p.95

  3. P. Eric Louw, (2004), The Rise, fall, and Legacy of apartheid, (Praeger Publishers), pp.28-29

Last updated : 24-Oct-2011

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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