Collection 090 - Hilda and Rusty Bernstein Papers

Identity area

Reference code

ZA SAHA MR-RT-090

Title

Hilda and Rusty Bernstein Papers

Date(s)

  • 1936 - 1964 (Accumulation)

Level of description

Collection

Extent and medium

51 boxes. Extent of Rivonia Trial is scattered and limited (as per description) ; Text-based documents

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Scope and content

Rusty (Lionel) Bernstein's Papers include personal correspondence to family and comrades, professional documentation relating to his career as an architect and inventor, and a large collection of writing, including drafts and material for his political biography "Memory Against Forgetting" as well as articles, essays and literature relating to prominent events in the liberation struggle (the 1946 Mine Workers Strike, The Freedom Charter and the Rivonia Trial). The collection also includes written material relating to his political career in the Communist Party and involvement with the ANC and as editor/contributor to journals like Fighting Talk and The African Communist and a lecture series given in Moscow to young militants of the ANC. Hilda Bernstein's papers include a series of journals dating from 1967 to 2001 and personal diaries written whilst in prison, and on travels throughout South Africa and Europe. A large part of the collection marks her involvement with women's rights and work for the ANC Women's League. There is also a considerable collection of art records documenting her career in London and Europe. The bulk of the collection is comprised of records relating to Hilda's extensive writings - books, articles and political literature. Of particular prominence is material collected for her most recent book "The Rift", which captures the experiences of South African exiles. There is also a large collection of correspondence both personal and professional and political brochures relating to her position as City Councillor for the Communist Party in Johannesburg from 1943 to 1946. The records kept by Hilda (viewed as 'evidence' of Hilda's activities) far outnumber those kept by Rusty. It would be misleading to presume that this is in any way a complete archive of the Bernstein's activities.

Records directly related to the Rivonia Trial are:
D1.2 Sketches, Rivonia Trial done by Hilda on scraps of paper in black pen during the trial. There are drawings of the judge, Special Branch policemen, court scenes and the back of the heads of the accused.
F2.18 Article by Hilda: "The Rivonia Trial" (1 December 1963), 4 pages of a reflection on the trial
F2.23 Article by Hilda: "The Men Who Many Die" (8 March 1964)
F2.25 Article by Hilda: "Rivonia" Landmark in SA Liberation Struggle" (24 June 1964) detailing what happened at Rivonia
F3.36 Article by Hilda: "The Trials of Nelson Mandela" (undated)
R3.1 Article in Sechaba 1989: "Rivonia: Telling it as it was"
V2.1 Transcript of Judge's remarks when passing sentence in the trial (photocopy)
V2.2 "Rivonia: The Story of Accused No. 11" by Bob Hepple. Memoirs (manuscript) with letters from Sisulu and Joffe as appendix.

Minor references to the Rivonia Trial are:
B2.1 Diary notes where Hilda refers visiting Rusty in jail, going to court and consulting with lawyers amongst other things
I11.1.2 Letter addressed to Rusty from Hilda in Pretoria Jail. Aside from address, not reference to trial or Rivonia events.
N4 Correspondence re his inventions and other business between Rusty and Hilda while he was in prison during the Rivonia Trial
Q1 Draft Novel by Rusty written in Pretoria Local Prison during the trial in 1963/4. Content not related to Trial in any way.

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Conditions governing access

Mostly unrestricted. Temporary embargo on personal journals of Hild Bernstein.

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Finding aids

Inventory available online - http://www.historicalpapers.wits.ac.za/inventory.php?iid=8754

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