Hendrik Frensch Verwoerd ([f?'vu?rt]; 8 September 1901 – 6 September 1966) was a South African politician, sociologist and journalist.
As leader of South Africa's National Party he served as the last prime minister of the Union of South Africa from 1958 until 1961.
In 1961 he proclaimed the founding of the Republic of South Africa, and continued as its prime minister from 1961 until his assassination in 1966 by Dimitri Tsafendas.
Verwoerd was an authoritarian, socially conservative leader and an Afrikaner nationalist.
His goal in founding the Republic of South Africa, thereby leaving the Commonwealth of Nations, was to preserve minority rule by white Afrikaners over the various non-white ethnic groups, including Bantu, Khoisan, Coloured and Indian people, who were the majority of South Africa's population.
To that end, he greatly expanded apartheid, the system of forced classification and segregation by race that existed in South Africa from 1948 to 1994.Verwoerd characterised apartheid as merely "good-neighbourliness", but its practical effects have been widely condemned, then and since, as a form of racism.
Decisions that Prime Minister Verwoerd made in the areas of legislation, law enforcement and public policy caused almost the entire non-white population of South Africa to be disenfranchised, lose civil rights, and suffer from discrimination based on skin color.Verwoerd heavily repressed the Anti-Apartheid Movement, ordering the detention and imprisonment of tens of thousands of people and the exile of further thousands, while greatly empowering, modernising and enlarging the security forces and army.
Black-dominated political organisations such as the African National Congress and the Pan Africanist Congress were banned under Verwoerd, and future-president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, were prosecuted for sabotage in the Rivonia Trial.Although apartheid existed before Verwoerd took office, his efforts to place it on a firmer legal and theoretical footing, in particular his opposition to even the limited form of integration known as baasskap, have led him to be dubbed the Architect of Apartheid.
These actions prompted the passing of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1761, condemning apartheid, and ultimately leading to international isolation and economic sanctions against South Africa.