6 September 1939
After the invasion of Poland by Germany in September 1939, SA Prime Minister Gen. J.B. Hertzog tried to pass a resolution in parliament, proclaiming South Africa's neutrality during the war. Hertzog's attempt was rejected by 80 votes to 67. After the refusal of Governor-General Sir Patrick Duncan to dissolve the parliament, Hertzog was left with no option but to resign from his position. The minister of justice, Gen. J.C. Smuts, took over and formed a new cabinet and South Africa joined the war against Germany. This step caused bitter dissent amongst the pro-war and anti-war sections. References: Potgieter, D.J. et al. (eds)(1970). Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, Cape Town: NASOU, v. 11, p. 512. Muller, C.F.J. (ed)(1981). Five Hundred years: a history of South Africa; 3rd rev. ed., Pretoria: Academica, p. 442.