Herero Genocide

After 100 years,Germany   has made a formal apology to the Herero people of Namibia for the massacre of 65,000 people

A group of Herero have fiiled a case against Germany  and in the US claiming $4 billion in compensation.  However  despite the formal apology the German government are still refusing to compensate the descendants of those massacred.   The Herero people have said they do not want cash but a "mini Marshall Plan" to enable them to get businesses started and scholarships to German universities. 

Germany was not a major colonial power and started quite late. Nevertheless it had one of the worst records on the continent. 

It was in the sleepy farm town of Okahandja in 1904 that the genocide began.

For 20 years, German settlers moving inland had been stealing land and cattle, raping women, lynching men with impunity and calling them "baboons" to their faces. When the Herero finally hit back, they did so in an attack that killed all the German men in Okahandja – on the orders of their leader, Samuel Maherero, they spared women, children, missionaries and the few English and Afrikaner farmers. When word reached Kaiser Wilhelm II in Berlin, the counterattack was quick, brutal and quickly expanded into slaughter.

The Germans responsded brutally.   

Von Trotha pushed the Herero guerrillas and their families north to Waterberg and then attacked from three sides, leaving one exit, the Omaheke Desert. When the Herero fled into it, he poisoned the water holes, erected guard posts along a 150-mile line and bayoneted everyone who crawled out. He then issued the Vernichtungsbefehl, or extermination order: "Within the German borders, every Herero, whether armed or unarmed, with or without cattle, will be shot. I shall not accept any more women or children. I shall drive them back to their people – otherwise I shall order shots to be fired at them…….the remaining Herero were rounded up and sent to labor camps, where they starved or died fo overwork, typhus and smallpox"

Many of the "pseudo-scientific theories" of race were developed at this time by the Germans and later adopted by Hitler.   Geneticist Eugene Fischer performed his medical experiements to prove his racists theories and used Herero and mixed race subjects as guinea pigs to prove the dangers of race mixing and the ultimate superiority of the Aryan race. 

Compensation for acts of genocide, mass murder, slavery, loss of property and livelihood committed by Governments  should not be related to time or to numbers.  The Herero were and still are a small  in number (about 100,000 today)  but historians put the number killed by the Germans as 80% of the population of the time.       However there is no international pressure to compensate the Herero people.    In fact it is most probable  that few in the west have heard of the Herero people or are aware of Germany’s brutal colonial past. Even in their own country of Namibia the Herero’s demands are not supported by the government.

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