Germany Acknowledges Colonial Genocide in Namibia and Promises Development ProjectsBreaking News
tags: colonialism, genocide, African history, German history
Germany’s government acknowledged Friday that it committed genocide during its colonial occupation of what is now Namibia and promised more than $1 billion in development projects in communities descended from victims.
The announcement from Germany’s Foreign Ministry comes after more than five years of negotiations between Berlin and Windhoek, the Namibian capital, where the news was received cautiously as a “first step in the right direction,” according to the president’s spokesman. Germany refused direct reparations that victims’ descendants had lobbied for and said development projects would be carried out over the next 30 years.
The acknowledgment came more than 100 years after the genocide — a stark contrast with the public recognition and deeply imbued sense of national shame around the Holocaust that has become part of Germany’s modern identity.
Between 1904 and 1908, German colonial forces in what was then known as South-West Africa brutally quashed a rebellion spearheaded by the Herero and Nama tribes against the seizing of land and livestock by colonists, killing at least 65,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama. Many were driven into the Kalahari Desert, where the colonial administration had built labor and concentration camps, and died there of starvation and exhaustion. Researchers estimate that as many as 80 percent of the Herero and half of the Nama people were killed.
“It was, and continues to be, our aim to find a common path towards real reconciliation in the memory of the victims,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement. “This requires us to be unreserved and unflinching in naming the events of the German colonial period in what is now Namibia, and especially the atrocities of the period 1904 to 1908. We will from now on officially call these events what they are from a contemporary perspective: a genocide.”
Alfredo Hengari, spokesman for Namibian President Hage Geingob, said the announcement out of Berlin was the result of a ninth round of negotiations that began in 2015 over how Germany would move forward in making amends to victims’ descendants and repairing relations between the two countries. The process has drawn widespread criticism among victims’ descendants, who say they have been left out.