Genocide recognized colonial massacre in Namibia, Germany

Berlin-Germany has reached an agreement with Namibia to officially acknowledge the killing of tens of thousands of people during the colonial era as genocide, promising to spend a total of € 1.1 billion ($ 1.3 billion) primarily on development projects.

The agreement, announced on Friday, is the result of more than five years of discussions with Namibia about what happened between 1904 and 1908 when Germany was the colonial ruler of South Africa.

According to historians, General Rotar von Tolosa, sent to what was then German South West Africa in 1904 to quell the Herero uprising, instructed the troops to wipe out the entire tribe. According to them, about 65,000 Herero people and at least 10,000 Nama people were killed.

“In the light of Germany’s historical and moral responsibility, we ask Namibia and the descendants of the victims for forgiveness,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement.

Heiko Maas
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks to the press at the Foreign Ministers’ Council in Brussels on September 21, 2020. (Olivier Hoslet / Pool / AFP via Getty Images)

“Our purpose was to invade the victims and find a common path to true reconciliation,” he said. “This includes mercilessly naming the events of the German colonial era in Namibia today, especially the atrocities from 1904 to 1908, without using the es song expression.”

“We will formally call these events genocide from today’s point of view.”

Negotiations between Germany and Namibia began in 2015, more than a decade after visiting Namibia in 2004. “

“As a sign of immeasurable suffering,” Mars said, Germany plans to support Namibia and the descendants of the victims, planning a € 1.1 billion “reconstruction and development” program in its planning and implementation. “It will play a decisive role in the communities affected by the genocide,” he said.

At the same time, he said, “a legal claim for compensation cannot be derived from this.”

This reflects Germany’s position that the 1948 Genocide Convention cannot be applied retroactively and its responsibilities are political and moral rather than legal.

The German-funded project is expected to last for 30 years and covers areas such as land purchase, agriculture, rural infrastructure, water supply and land reform, including vocational training. These are separate from ongoing development assistance to Namibia.

Germany states that representatives of Herero and Nama were involved in the negotiations, but has made direct deals with the Namibian government in Berlin.

Germany gained control of the desert country in the 1880s and surrendered its territory to South Africa in 1915. Namibia became independent in 1990.