Hjalmar Reitz

Dr. Hjalmar Reitz. He was born in Bloemfontein on February 25, 1877 and died in Johannesburg on January 10, 1946. He was christened Hjalmar after a Norwegian uncle. Hjalmar went to school at Grey College in Bloemfontein, then studied at the South African College, Cape Town, where he obtained a B.A. and an LL.B. degree. In 1897 he left for Europe for further study at Grey's Inn, London, and at the University of Amsterdam. It was also here that he had contact with Hieronyma Maria Antonia Fortunata Bosch Reitz (1867-1951) and her husband Professor Dr. Jonkheer Jan Six (1824-1899). Indebted to their hospitality, he named his daughter after her.
At the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) he abandoned his legal studies in Holland and returned to serve in the field with the Boer commandoes in the Transvaal. He was captured near Vryheid in 1901 and sent to India as a prisoner of war. After the war he continued his studies in the Netherlands, obtaining a doctor's degree in law, and on returning to South Africa in 1904 became clerk to Justice J.S. Curlewis in Pretoria. From January 1905 he practiced as an advocate in Pretoria, founding the legal firm of Reitz and Pienaar, but returned to the side bar in 1909. In 1927 he was again admitted as an advocate.
As early as 1909 Hjalmar showed an interest in politics, when he and a group of Transvaalers under the leadership of Adv. Tielman J. de V. Roos protested against certain stipulation of the draft constitution of the Union of South Africa, and when General J.B.M. Hertzog was omitted from the Union cabinet in 1912, he was one of the organizers of a demonstration held in Pretoria on December 28, 1912 in his support.
Hjalmar also served on the "Hertzog Working Committee" which afterwards actively promulgated Hertzog's cause. In the general election of 1915 he contested the Pretoria West constituency for the newly formed National Party, but was defeated by General J.C. Smuts. However, during a by-election in the same year he succeeded in gaining the Pretoria North Provincial Council seat for the National Party, although he had to surrender it to the SouthAfrican Party the next year. At that time he was, in fact, the first and only Nationalist on the Transvaal Provincial Council.
In 1919 he accompanied the freedom deputation under General Hertzog to Europe where unsuccessful overture were made for the return of independence to the former Boer Republics. The next year he became the Wonderboom member of the Provincial Council and served on the Executive Committee. With the general election of 1924 he won the seat for the North-East Rand and in 1929 became member of the House of Assembly for Brits. When Tielman Roos re-entered politics in December 1932, Hjalmar was one of a small group of nationalists who followed him, and as such in the general election of 1933 won the Jeppe Constituency.
After the death of Roos in 1935, Hjalmar joined the United Party, but resigned from politics in 1938 and became chairman of the Central Road Transport Council, a post he held until he died.
Hjalmar was actively interested in Afrikaans literature and at the time of his death was editor of the publication Kort en Goed. One of his novels in Dutch, De dochter van den handsopper: Afrikaansch-Hollandsche roman appeared in Amsterdam in 1903, while he and Tielman Roos jointly published a legal work, Principles of Roman Dutch Law (Grahamstown, 1909). He was also joint editor with Harm Oost of I.M. Goodman's Die Nassionale boek (Infra). He recorded his own story in The Conversion of a South African Nationalist (Infra). Hjalmar was a skilled politician with a fine sense of humour.
Although for years he supported the principals of the National Party, he was a follower of Tielman Roos rather than of General Hertzog. He married on July 6, 1906 Elzine Muder, the younger sister of his stepmother. She was born in Delft (Holland) on 21.6.1874.

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