Memory Against Forgetting
Memoir of a Time in South African Politics
The memory so eloquently contained in this book tells especially the younger generations of
South Africans who live in freedom that they should never forget that, indeed, that freedom
was not free.
Thabo Mbeki, anti-apartheid activist and former President of South Africa, 1994–2008
‘The silence of the cell is less disturbing than the deliberate silence of the human beings who
come and go. I know that it is part of the process, designed to break my morale, but that doesn’t make it any easier. I calculate that I am speaking less than twenty words a day, and begin to wonder whether my vocal chords will dry up and wither if this goes on … I have never been very talkative, but now I begin to hunger after talk more strongly than for either food or drink.’
Lionel ‘Rusty’ Bernstein was arrested at Liliesleaf Farm, Rivonia, on 11 July 1963 and
tried for sabotage, alongside Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki and other
leaders of the African National Congress and Umkhonto we Sizwe in what came to
be known as the Rivonia Trial. He was acquitted in June 1964, but was immediately
rearrested. After being released on bail, he fl ed with his wife Hilda into exile,
followed soon afterwards by their family.
This classic text, fi rst published in 1999, is a remarkable man’s personal memoir
of a life in South African resistance politics from the late 1930s to the 1960s. In
recalling the events in which he participated, and the way in which the apartheid
regime affected the lives of those involved in the opposition movements, Rusty
Bernstein provides valuable insights into the social and political history of the era.