German foreign minister said Germany will pay 1.1 billion euros for the reconstruction and development of that country for the genocide that took place between 1904 and 1908, Of course, he added, the financial assistance for the development of Namibia should not be considered as compensation and the damage from a legal point of view. This money must be paid within 30 years and above all for projects in the areas where the two tribes of Herero and Nama are residing. At the request of the Namibian government, the money will be used for land reform, including the purchase and expansion of agricultural land, rural infrastructure, water supply and job creation.
The German government emphasizes that recognizing the genocide and establishing an emergency aid fund for Namibia does not mean a legal claim for the survivors to receive compensation, but only a moral and political duty. The agreement is by no means the end of the past, but it is an “important step” towards redressing the crimes and building a future together. Germany apologizes for committing the genocide.
Germany’s official apology is expected to be delivered by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier during a visit to Namibia and address to the parliament. The acceptance of German atrocities in Namibia was announced a day after France apologized for its responsibility for the Rwandan genocide.
Namibia was a colony of the German Empire from 1884 to 1915. The empire ruled part of southwestern Africa as a colony of the “Southwest Africa of Germany”. The colony, which was half the size of the mainland of the German Empire in Europe, was inhabited by a small number of Germans. German domination of the region was accompanied by numerous uprisings. In 1894, a group of people from the two ethnic groups revolted against the German colonialists, killing more than a hundred of their men.
In response, German forces defeated the rebels in the battle and drove them into the desert, where many died of thirst. Thousands of the insurgents were subsequently taken captive and sent to the concentration camps, most of whom died of disease, harassment, and exhaustion. After the beginning of the riots and unrest in Germany, the inhabitants of the colony, especially the Hereros, sent General Lothar von Trotta to suppress the protests and ordered the massacre of the protesters. The suppression of those uprisings by the Germans was brutal and violent. The order was to destroy everyone, men, women and children. Many were sent to encamped camps. This massacre is in fact the first genocide of the twentieth century committed by Germany in an African country. The members of the Nama tribe revolted a year after the repressions, and the same fate befell on them. The atrocities and killings in Namibia during German colonial rule have strained relations between the two countries for many years.
Between 1904 and 1908, the Nama and the Herero tribes revolted in response to the seizure of their lands by German colonial troops. It is estimated that between 65,000 and 80,000 members of the Herero tribe and 10,000 to 20,000 members of the Nama tribe were killed during the genocide. Those crimes were declared genocide by the United Nations in 1948. After the end of the World War I, a report on the catastrophes of German colonialism was prepared, but it was soon put in a stagnant archive under the title “White Alliance”.
The governments of Germany and Namibia have been in talks since 2015 to recognize genocide, apologize and pay compensation. The German government stressed in 2016 that there was no compensation in the negotiations, as was the case with Holocaust victims. The Namibian government has welcomed Germany’s decision to accept genocide, saying people cannot forget the killings, but that Germany’s action is a healing to the wounds of the survivors.
In Namibia, victims’ associations have objected to the outcome of Germany’s negotiations with Namibia, calling it insufficient in exchange for the blood of their ancestors and seeking direct compensation. They believe that the money that Germany has allocated to those projects will actually go to the Namibian government. Opposition parties in Namibia have called the German government’s offer an insult to the Namibian people, calling it a coup by the German government and a betrayal by the Namibian government. Vekuii Rukoro, a leader of the Herero tribe, does not accept the agreement between the Namibian government and Germany because the representatives of the victims were not present at the talks, and the Namibian government has “betrayed” the victims’ relatives and the 1.1 billion euro that Germany is giving will not go to the victims’ survivors and will be spent on public projects. The money is to be spent on infrastructure as well as training in areas where the two tribes live. This financial assistance is not intended to pave the way for legal compensation as demanded by the survivors. This is Germany’s highest per capita contribution to development in Africa.
In 2018, Germany returned the remains of 27 victims to Namibia. The skulls of the victims were transported to Germany to be used to prove racist theories of European superiority over Africans and other races. Ms. Petra Bose-Huber, bishop of the Protestant Church, addressed a prayer service at Frederic Church in Berlin before handing over the remains of the bodies Germany had taken out of Namibia during the colonization of that country. “We, together with the survivors of the victims, will keep that era alive and work openly to recognize the massacre and to overcome the injustice done by German colonialism and to continue this situation after that time.”
Representatives of the two ethnic groups staged peaceful demonstrations at the same time as the bodies were handed over. The demonstrators complained about the very low compensation paid to the survivors of the victims of this genocide. The remains of bodies that Germany had taken out of that country during the exploitation of Namibia were kept in anthropological collections in several German cities.
Like many other genocides in the world by colonial powers, its perpetrators and agents refuse to pay direct compensation to the survivors. Germany is concerned that any compensation to the victims could open the door to other countries in the world, including Greece. Nearly 80 years after Germany invaded Greece in World War II, Greece is pushing for negotiations on German reparations for its damage to the country during the war. On April 6, 1941, Germany invaded Greece and Yugoslavia. By 1944, German forces carried out many massacres in Greece. Tens of thousands of Greek civilians were killed in the war. A Greek parliamentary commission has estimated the damage caused by the war waged in that country by Germany at, at least 289 billion euros.