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Germany’s ‘other genocide’ in Namibia

Between 1904 and 1907 German colonial rulers in Namibia attempted to exterminate a whole section of the native population, in another horrific chapter of history campaigners are calling on the country to face up to.

 

After a debate in the Bundestag (German parliament) last week on whether to officially describe the mass killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire from 1915 on as genocide, an old debate on Germany’s recognition of the Herero genocide has resurfaced.

The attempted “extermination of the Herero nation” in Namibia in 1904-7 under German colonial rule is largely ignored by Germans, to the extent where David Olusoga, who co-wrote a book about the events, described what took place in Namibia as “Germany’s forgotten genocide”.

The organization No Amnesty on Genocide is campaigning for the German government to recognize it as genocide, as well as symbolic and material reparations.

Despite previous attempts to deal with the horrific crimes, 111 years on the German government position on the matter remains murky.

Israel Kaunatjike is an activist, born in Namibia, who has been living in Berlin since 1970.

Together with other campaigners, he submitted a petition to the Foreign Ministry at the end of March asking for an official apology, reparations for stolen land and expulsions, and to recognize the atrocities as genocide.

He told The Local that, despite having received no response yet, he is “hopeful and confident” that after senior figures like President Joachim Gauck described the Armenian atrocities as genocide, Germany will finally stop hiding from those committed in Namibia.

 

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