28 May 2021   Leave a comment

Germany has finally admitted that it committed genocide against the Herero and Nama tribes in South West Africa between 1904 and 1908. Germany held the territory as a colony between 1884 and 1915. After World War I it became a British Mandate under the League of Nations and was controlled by South Africa after the end of World War II although South African control was never legally recognized. The territory eventually became independent in 1990 and is now known as Namibia.

The German Colony of South West Africa

The Germans exploited the diamonds, gold, platinum, and copper resources of the territory and forced the indigenous peoples to work as slaves to mine the mineral resources. Moreover, the Germans seized the land of the locals in order to settle Germans on the land as part of an official policy in 1901 called Lebensraum which ultimately was brutally implemented in Europe by the Nazis. The treatment of the local population was horrific:

“Between 1893 and 1894, Hottentot Uprising’ of the Nama led by Hendrik Witbooi occurred. The following years saw many other local uprisings against the Germans. Remote farms were attacked and around 150 German settlers were killed. However, an additional 14,000 troops sent from Germany crushed the rebellion in Battle of Waterberg.

“Earlier, the German Lieutenant Von Trotha issued an ultimatum to Herero people. The ultimatum denied them the right of being German subjects and actually ordered the Herero people to leave the country or be killed.

“In 1904, Nama entered the struggles against the colonial rule. This uprising was finally stopped between 1907 and 1908. This resulted in between 25,000 and 100,000 Herero, 10,000 Nama, and 1,749 Germans deaths. After the conflict ended, the remaining natives who were released from detention were subject to a policy of deportation, deposition, forced labor, racial segregation and discrimination.”

The German confession of genocide comes after 6 years of negotiation. The Germans have refused to pay reparations to the Herero and Nama peoples, but have agreed to give Namibia $1.3 billion in development assistance. The offer was considered inadequate by the Namibians:

“As news of an agreement trickled out over the past two weeks, Herero and Nama leaders issued a joint statement rejecting the deal and condemning its lack of direct reparations.

“’The so-called ‘compensation’ to finance ‘social projects’ is nothing but a coverup for continued German funding of Namibian Government projects,’ said the statement from the Ovaherero Traditional Authority and the Nama Traditional Leaders Association. ‘Germany must pay reparations for the genocide.’

“The German Foreign Ministry’s statement said the roughly $1.3 billion in development aid would serve as a ‘gesture of recognition for immeasurable suffering.’”

The German decision has received mixed reactions and there is probably no effective redress for such horrific actions. But the willingness of the German government to admit to the crime is a necessary first step to finding a more effective response.

Herero Victims of German Genocide

Posted May 28, 2021 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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