Harry Frederick Oppenheimer

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Harry Frederick Oppenheimer

Also Known As: "Frederich"
Birthplace: Kimberley, Transvaal, South Africa
Death: August 19, 2000 (91)
Johannesburg, City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng, South Africa
Immediate Family:

Son of Sir Ernest Oppenheimer, SV/PROG and Mary Lina Oppenheimer
Husband of Bridget Oppenheimer
Father of Mary Waddell; Private User and Nicky Oppenheimer
Brother of Frank Leslie Oppenheimer
Half brother of Michael Oppenheimer

Managed by: Hatte Anne Blejer
Last Updated:

About Harry Frederick Oppenheimer

Harry Oppenheimer (1908–2000)

Born 28 October 1908 and died at age 91 on 19 August 2000, Harry Oppenheimer was a leading South African businessman and one of the richest men in the world. His father was Sir Ernest Oppenheimer and his mother was May Pollack. He was born in Kimberley, the original center for diamond mining in South Africa, and lived in Johannesburg. Although his family was Jewish and he had a Bar Mitzvah, he converted to Christianity when he married Bridget McCall in 1943. They had two children: Mary and Nicholas.

Harry was born in Kimberley in the Northern Cape Province.. He attended primary school in Johannesburg and then Charterhouse school in England. He went on to complete his education at Oxford University and graduated in philosophy, economics and politics.

When the Second World War began, Oppenheimer volunteered to be an officer in the South African Union Defence Force. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Intelligence Section. After serving on the General Staff in Pretoria, he was sent to Egypt as an intelligence officer. During a later WW II tour of service on Robben Island in South Africa, Oppenheimer met Bridget McCall, a young officer in the Women's Auxiliary Army Service, who had just returned from school in England. They married on March 6, 1943.

Harry Oppenheimer was the chairman of Anglo American Corporation for a quarter of a century and chairman of De Beers Consolidated Mines for 27 years . His son Nicky Oppenheimer became Deputy Chairman of Anglo in 1983 and Chairman of De Beers in 1998. He also spent some time as the Member of Parliament for Kimberley (1948 to 1957) and became the opposition spokesman on economics, finance and constitutional affairs.

He was known for his opposition to apartheid as well as for his philanthropy and business acumen. He was a strong supporter of the State of Israel. In the 1970s and 1980s, he financed the anti-apartheid Progressive Federal Party, that later merged with the Democratic Alliance.

Africa's highest research prize - The Harry Oppenheimer Fellowship award is given every year in memory of Harry Oppenheimer by the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, in memory of Harry's commitment to an ideal of 'unambiguous excellence".


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Harry Frederick Oppenheimer's Timeline

October 28, 1908
Transvaal, South Africa
South Africa
June 8, 1945
South Africa
August 19, 2000
Age 91
Johannesburg, City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Gauteng, South Africa