Namibia: Germany's Forgotten Genocide

By Palash Ghosh
on March 10 2012 7:32 PM

In response to the revolt, the Kaiser dispatched the Oberbefehlshaber (Supreme Commander) General Lothar von Trotha to Namibia with a grave warning to the African tribes: depart the country or suffer death. The German troops carried out the threat through the hanging and shooting of men, women and children, with machine guns, forced starvation, the poisoning of water supplies, slave labor, rape and deportation.

"Any Herero found within the German borders with or without a gun, with or without cattle, will be shot... The Hereo people must leave," von Trotha declared. Indeed, von Trotha's threat to wipe out an entire people would be echoed a few decades later by Hitler.

The Nazi Holocaust which killed 6-million Jews and up to 15-million people during the Second World War, was not the first state-sanctioned mass murder perpetrated by the German state. In fact, it was not even the first German genocide of the 20th century.

Thirty years before Adolf Hitler seized power as Germany's chancellor, German soldiers murdered up to 105,000 Herero and Namaqua tribemembers in its Southwest Africa colony, now the state of Namibia.

While the final number of deaths was far less than the victims of the Nazi war machine, the genocide in Namibia featured some startling similarities with the WWII tragedy: the application of scientific theories of racial superiority, the formation of concentration camps; the meticulous recording of details of the mass killings; the need for "lebensraum" (living space) for the German people; demand for reparations; and a lengthy silence over German complicity in such crimes.

It was not until 2004 (a century after the massacre) that Germany formally apologized for the atrocity.

At a commemoration in the Namibian city of Okokarara, Germany's Minister for Economic Development and Cooperation, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, stated: We Germans accept our historic and moral responsibility and the guilt incurred by Germans at that time. Germany has learnt the bitter lessons of the past. She characterized the killings in Namibia as a "genocide."

http://www.ibtimes.com/namibia-germanys-forgotten-genocide-214267

By Palash Ghosh
on March 10 2012 7:32 PM