The following documents were not published in the issue of Revolutionary History which dealt in depth with the origins of Trotskyism in South Africa (Vol.4, No.4, Spring 1993), mainly because of the fact that they did not provide new information of importance on the themes we were dealing with there. They are presented here in order to complete publication of the material provided to us by Baruch Hirson, who holds the originals, and also to document the continuing relationship between the emerging South African party and Trotsky. They should be read in conjunction with the South Africa issue.

Cde Hirson's article in Vol 4 No 4 'Profiles of some South African Trotskyists' provides some information on Goodlatte, and a little on Koston (about whom little seems to be available at present). A longer article on Goodlatte appeared in Searchlight South Africa No 2.

Any readers with access to archive material on the Trotskyists in South Africa becoming available since 1993 are warmly invited to contact Revolutionary History. There are still many areas where our knowledge of these revolutionaries needs to be developed.

We record again our thanks to Cde Hirson for his work and scholarship in the preparation of Vol 4 No 4. We warmly commend to our readers Cde Hirson's other works, especially his magazine Searchlight South Africa and his memoirs of his own revolutionary work in South Africa. In the near future we will add a feature to this website providing more information on these invaluable publications.

Two letters to Trotsky from the South African Trotskyists

1. Koston to Trotsky

12 Church Street
Cape Town
10th January 1939

Dear Comrade Curtiss,

Your letter of the 2nd December addressed to Comrade Goodlatte has been handed over to me: Comrade Goodlatte has retired, because of age and ill-health, from all active work.

As your letter gives no address except Coyoacan, I am sending this letter through Comrade Abern. Please send me the address to which you want things sent.

As I am a bookseller it is very easy for me to keep you posted with material on South Africa. To begin with, as soon as I hear from you, I shall enter a subscription to the "Cape Times", one of the leading local daily newspapers, to be sent to you either daily or weekly, whichever you prefer.

With reference to books, little is published in South Africa in the English language: local publications tend to be in Afrikaans. Most of the books which appear in English about South Africa or by South Africans are published in England.

I would consider it an honour if you would permit me to present you with any books on Africa which come out in future or which have already been published that you may need. Never mind the expense but please let me know what kind of things you require. To begin with I am instructing my London Agents to post to you care of Abern copies of Hailey's "An African Survey" and Frankel's "Capital Investment in Africa", and I am asking Comrade Abern to forward these to you.

Should anything of importance occur in the interval between today and the time I hear from you (ordinarily it takes a month for a letter to reach New York from Cape Town) I shall send it on to Comrade Abern.

yours comradely

Paul Koston
General Secretary WPSA

2. Goodlatte to Trotsky

The Workers Party of South Africa (Cape Branch)
PO Box 1940
Cape Town
4th Jan 1938

To Comrade Trotsky


We are most grateful for your Preface to the Afrikaans versions of the "Communist Manifesto" It is exactly what was needed to bring Afrikaner readers into close touch with the great work of Marx and Engels. We have hope of the revolutionary movement developing among the factory workers, of whom the Afrikaans speaking are the most numerous. As yet we are too few to make much progress; but, if the movement can once gain a footing in the factories, even this land of oppression and repression will yet produce a worthy section of the Fourth International under your tried and trusted leadership.


C.R Goodlatte

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