The AWB was formed on 7 July 1973 in a garage in Heidelberg, a town southeast of Johannesburg, in the then Transvaal Province of South Africa. Eugène Terre'Blanche, a former police officer, became disillusioned by then-Prime Minister B.J. Vorster's "liberal views," as well as what he viewed as communist influences in South African society. Terre'Blanche decided to form the AWB with six other like-minded persons, and was elected leader of the organisation, a position he held until his death in April 2010.
Their objective was to establish an independent Boerestaat ("Boer State") for Boer-Afrikaner people only, existing separately from South Africa, which was considered too left wing and liberal by Terre'blanche. The AWB was formed in an attempt to regain the ground lost after the Second Boer War: they intended to re-establish the independent Boer Republics of the past – the South African Republic (Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek) and the Republic of the Orange Free State (Oranje Vrystaat).