Wits at War
The Second World War began as a European war on Sunday 3 September 1939 and ended six years later in the Far East with the Japanese surrender to the United States. In the history of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, as in the history of much else, the war was a watershed. The University became much more 'open' in its admissions policy, with blacks securing access to the medical school; war—oriented research, notably in radar, gave a new importance to the University as a centre of research; the war contributed significantly to a heightened political awareness among students and the beginnings of student activism at Wits; and the enrolment of thousands of ex-servicemen at the end of the war helped to make the University a distinctly more adult institution. The war also effected major transformations in the wider society, which in turn were to have a significant impact on the University's development. World War II, and South Africa's participation in it on the Allied side, greatly affected the economic, social, and political life of the country.
African Studies Seminar series. Paper presented August 1990
University of the Witwatersrand, World War, 1939-1945