Herero and Namaqua Genocide
Overview
 

The Herero and Namaqua Genocide is considered to have been the first genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 of the 20th century. It took place between 1904 and 1907 in German South-West Africa
German South-West Africa
German South West Africa was a colony of Germany from 1884 until 1915, when it was taken over by South Africa and administered as South West Africa, finally becoming Namibia in 1990...

 (modern day Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

), during the scramble for Africa
Scramble for Africa
The Scramble for Africa, also known as the Race for Africa or Partition of Africa was a process of invasion, occupation, colonization and annexation of African territory by European powers during the New Imperialism period, between 1881 and World War I in 1914...

. In fact, the Herero-Namaqua genocide was the first large-scale act of genocide in German South-West Africa, but it was preceded by a less well-known act of destruction: the Khaua-Mbandjeru Rebellion
Khaua-Mbandjeru Rebellion
The aboriginal African natives of the area originally referred to by the Portuguese as Angra Pequena did not share the European attitude of private property ownership. Indeed, the entire "purchase" or "lease" by Heinrich Vogelsang, representative of Lüderitz, was fraudulent for several reasons...

.

On January 12, 1904, the Herero people, led by Samuel Maharero
Samuel Maharero
Samuel Maharero was a Paramount Chief of the Herero people in German South-West Africa during their revolts and in connection with the events surrounding the Herero genocide.- Life :...

, rebelled against German colonial rule
German colonial empire
The German colonial empire was an overseas domain formed in the late 19th century as part of the German Empire. Short-lived colonial efforts by individual German states had occurred in preceding centuries, but Imperial Germany's colonial efforts began in 1884...

.
Encyclopedia

The Herero and Namaqua Genocide is considered to have been the first genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 of the 20th century. It took place between 1904 and 1907 in German South-West Africa
German South-West Africa
German South West Africa was a colony of Germany from 1884 until 1915, when it was taken over by South Africa and administered as South West Africa, finally becoming Namibia in 1990...

 (modern day Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

), during the scramble for Africa
Scramble for Africa
The Scramble for Africa, also known as the Race for Africa or Partition of Africa was a process of invasion, occupation, colonization and annexation of African territory by European powers during the New Imperialism period, between 1881 and World War I in 1914...

. In fact, the Herero-Namaqua genocide was the first large-scale act of genocide in German South-West Africa, but it was preceded by a less well-known act of destruction: the Khaua-Mbandjeru Rebellion
Khaua-Mbandjeru Rebellion
The aboriginal African natives of the area originally referred to by the Portuguese as Angra Pequena did not share the European attitude of private property ownership. Indeed, the entire "purchase" or "lease" by Heinrich Vogelsang, representative of Lüderitz, was fraudulent for several reasons...

.

On January 12, 1904, the Herero people, led by Samuel Maharero
Samuel Maharero
Samuel Maharero was a Paramount Chief of the Herero people in German South-West Africa during their revolts and in connection with the events surrounding the Herero genocide.- Life :...

, rebelled against German colonial rule
German colonial empire
The German colonial empire was an overseas domain formed in the late 19th century as part of the German Empire. Short-lived colonial efforts by individual German states had occurred in preceding centuries, but Imperial Germany's colonial efforts began in 1884...

. In August, German general Lothar von Trotha
Lothar von Trotha
Adrian Dietrich Lothar von Trotha was a German military commander widely condemned for his conduct of the Herero Wars in South-West Africa, especially for the events that led to the near-extermination of the Herero....

 defeated the Herero in the Battle of Waterberg
Battle of Waterberg
The Battle of Waterberg took place on August 11, 1904 in Waterberg, German South-West Africa , and was the decisive battle in the German campaign against the Herero.-The armies:...

 and drove them into the desert of Omaheke
Omaheke
Omaheke is one of the thirteen regions of Namibia. Omaheke lies on the eastern border of Namibia and is the Western extension of the Kalahari desert. The name Omaheke is the Herero word for Sandveld. A large part of this region is known as the Sandveld...

, where most of them died of thirst. In October, the Nama people also rebelled against the Germans only to suffer a similar fate.

In total, from 24,000 up to 100,000 Herero perished along with 10,000 Nama. The genocide was characterized by widespread death by starvation and thirst because the Herero who fled the violence were prevented from returning from the Namib Desert
Namib Desert
The Namib Desert is a desert in Namibia and southwest Angola that forms part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park, the largest game reserve in Africa. The name "Namib" is of Nama origin and means "vast place"...

. Some sources also claim that the German colonial army systematically poisoned desert wells.

In 1985, the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

' Whitaker Report classified the aftermath as an attempt to exterminate the Herero and Nama peoples of South-West Africa, and therefore one of the earliest attempts of genocide in the 20th century. The German government recognized and apologized for the events in 2004, but has ruled out a financial compensation for the victims' descendants.

Background

The Herero were originally a tribe of cattle herders living in a region of German South West Africa, presently modern Namibia. The area occupied by the Herero was known as Damaraland
Damaraland
Damaraland was a name given to the north-central part of what later became Namibia, inhabited by the Damaras. It was bounded roughly by Ovamboland in the north, the Namib Desert in the west, the Kalahari Desert in the east, and Windhoek in the south....

.

In 1883, during the scramble for Africa
Scramble for Africa
The Scramble for Africa, also known as the Race for Africa or Partition of Africa was a process of invasion, occupation, colonization and annexation of African territory by European powers during the New Imperialism period, between 1881 and World War I in 1914...

, Franz Adolf Eduard Lüderitz purchased land from the Nama and, in August 1884, it was declared a German protectorate
Protectorate
In history, the term protectorate has two different meanings. In its earliest inception, which has been adopted by modern international law, it is an autonomous territory that is protected diplomatically or militarily against third parties by a stronger state or entity...

, despite the German government's knowledge that their means of acquisition were fraudulent; at that time, it was the only overseas German territory deemed suitable for white settlement.

Chief of the neighbouring Hereros, Kamaharero
Maharero
Maharero was one of the most powerful paramount chiefs of the Herero people in South-West Africa, today's Namibia.-Biography:...

 had made himself great by uniting all the Herero . Faced with repeated attacks by the ǀKhowesin, a subtribe of the Khoikhoi
Khoikhoi
The Khoikhoi or Khoi, in standardised Khoekhoe/Nama orthography spelled Khoekhoe, are a historical division of the Khoisan ethnic group, the native people of southwestern Africa, closely related to the Bushmen . They had lived in southern Africa since the 5th century AD...

 under Hendrik Witbooi
Hendrik Witbooi
Hendrik Witbooi may refer to:* Hendrik Witbooi * Hendrik Samuel Witbooi * Hendrik Witbooi , deputy prime minister of Namibia...

, he signed a protection treaty with Imperial Germany
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

's colonial governor Göring
Heinrich Ernst Göring
Heinrich Ernst Göring was a German jurist and diplomat who served as colonial governor of German South-West Africa. He was the father of five children including Hermann Göring, the Nazi leader and commander of the Luftwaffe....

 on 21 October 1885 but did not cede the land of the Herero. This treaty was renounced in 1888 due to lack of German support against Witbooi but it was reinstated in 1890.

The Herero leaders repeatedly complained about violation of this treaty, as Herero women and girls were raped by Germans, a crime that the German authorities were reluctant to punish.

In 1890 Kamaharero's son Samuel
Samuel Maharero
Samuel Maharero was a Paramount Chief of the Herero people in German South-West Africa during their revolts and in connection with the events surrounding the Herero genocide.- Life :...

 signed a great deal of land over to the Germans in return for helping him to ascend to the Ovaherero throne, and to subsequently be established as paramount chief. German involvement in tribal fighting ended in tenuous peace in 1894 . In that year, Theodor Leutwein
Theodor Leutwein
Theodor Gotthilf Leutwein was colonial administrator of German Southwest Africa from 1894-1904. Born in Strümpfelbrunn in the Grand Duchy of Baden, he replaced Curt von François as commander of the Schutztruppe in 1894...

 became governor of the territory, which underwent a period of rapid development, while the German government sent the Schutztruppe
Schutztruppe
Schutztruppe was the African colonial armed force of Imperial Germany from the late 19th century to 1918, when Germany lost its colonies. Similar to other colonial forces, the Schutztruppe consisted of volunteer European commissioned and non-commissioned officers, medical and veterinary officers. ...

, imperial colonial troops, to pacify the region.

Under German colonial rule natives were routinely used as slave
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 labourers, and their lands were frequently confiscated and given to colonists, who were encouraged to settle on land taken from the natives, that was stocked with cattle stolen from the Hereros and Namas, causing a great deal of resentment.

Eventually the area was to be inhabited predominantly by whites and become "African Germany". Over the next decade, the land and the cattle that were essential to Herero and Nama lifestyles passed into the hands of German settlers arriving in South-West Africa.

Revolts

In 1903, some of the Nama tribes rose in revolt under the leadership of Hendrik Witbooi
Hendrik Witbooi (Namaqua chief)
Hendrik Witbooi was a king of the Namaqua people, a sub-tribe of the Khoikhoi. He lived in present day Namibia. His face is portrayed on the obverse of all Namibian dollar banknotes.-Names:...

. A number of factors led the Herero to join them in January 1904.

One of the major issues was land rights. The Herero had already ceded over a quarter of their 130000 square kilometres (50,193.3 sq mi) to German colonists by 1903, prior to the completion of the Otavi railroad line
Otavi Mining and Railway Company
The Otavi Mining and Railway Company was a railway and mining company in German South-West Africa...

 running from the African coast to inland German settlements. Completion of this line would have rendered the German colonies much more accessible and would have ushered a new wave of Europeans into the area.

Historian Horst Drechsler states that there was discussion of the possibility of establishing and placing the Herero in native reserves and that this was further proof of the German colonists' sense of ownership over the land. Drechsler illustrates the gap between the rights of a European and an African; the German Colonial League held that, in regards to legal matters, the testimony of seven Africans was equivalent to that of one white man. Bridgman writes about racial tensions underlying these developments; the average German colonist viewed native Africans as a lowly source of cheap labour, and others welcomed their extermination.

A new policy on debt collection, enforced in November 1903, also played a role in the uprising. For many years, the Herero population had fallen in the habit of borrowing money from white traders at great interest. For a long time, much of this debt went uncollected and accumulated, as most Hereros had no means to pay. To correct this growing problem, Governor Leutwein decreed with good intentions that all debts not paid within the next year would be voided. In the absence of hard cash, traders often seized cattle, or whatever objects of value they could get their hands on, in order to recoup their loans as quickly as possible. This fostered a feeling of resentment towards the Germans on the part of the Herero people, which escalated to hopelessness when they saw that German officials were sympathetic to the traders who were about to lose what they were owed.

In 1903 Herero learned of a plan to divide their territory by a railway line and set up reservations where they would be concentrated; this was also one of the reasons for the revolt.

The Herero judged the situation intolerable, and revolted in early 1904, killing between 123 and 150 Germans, including seven Boers and three women, in what Nils Ole Oermann calls a "desperate surprise attack".

The timing of their attack was carefully planned. After successfully asking a large Herero tribe to surrender their weapons, Governor Leutwein was convinced that they and the rest of the native population were essentially pacified and half the German troops stationed in his colony had been withdrawn. Led by Chief Samuel Maharero
Samuel Maharero
Samuel Maharero was a Paramount Chief of the Herero people in German South-West Africa during their revolts and in connection with the events surrounding the Herero genocide.- Life :...

, they surrounded Okahandja
Okahandja
Okahandja is a town of 14,000 inhabitants in Otjozondjupa Region, central Namibia, and the district capital of the Okahandja electoral constituency. It is known as the Garden Town of Namibia. It is located 70km north of Windhoek on the B1 road...

 and cut links to Windhoek
Windhoek
Windhoek is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Namibia. It is located in central Namibia in the Khomas Highland plateau area, at around above sea level. The 2001 census determined Windhoek's population was 233,529...

, the colonial capital. Maharero issued a manifesto in which he forbade his troops the killing of Englishmen, Boers, uninvolved tribes as well as women and children in general and German missionaries.

Leutwein was forced to request reinforcements and an experienced officer from the German government in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. Lieutenant-General Lothar von Trotha
Lothar von Trotha
Adrian Dietrich Lothar von Trotha was a German military commander widely condemned for his conduct of the Herero Wars in South-West Africa, especially for the events that led to the near-extermination of the Herero....

 was appointed Supreme Commander of South-West Africa on 3 May, arriving with an expeditionary force of 14,000 troops on 11 June.

Leutwein was subordinate to the Colonial Department of the Prussian Foreign Office, which reported to Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow
Bernhard von Bülow
Bernhard Heinrich Karl Martin von Bülow , named in 1905 Prince von Bülow, was a German statesman who served as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs for three years and then as Chancellor of the German Empire from 1900 to 1909.Bülow was described as possessing every quality except greatness...

 while general Trotha reported to the military German General Staff
German General Staff
The German General Staff was an institution whose rise and development gave the German armed forces a decided advantage over its adversaries. The Staff amounted to its best "weapon" for nearly a century and a half....

, which was only subordinate to Emperor Wilhelm II.

Leutwein wanted to defeat the most determined Herero rebels and negotiate a surrender with the remainder to achieve a political settlement. Trotha, however, planned to crush the native resistance through military force. He stated that:
He also wrote that :

Genocide

General Trotha stated his proposed solution to end the resistance of the Herero people in a letter, before the Battle of Waterberg:

Trotha's troops defeated 3,000–5,000 Herero combatants at the Battle of Waterberg
Battle of Waterberg
The Battle of Waterberg took place on August 11, 1904 in Waterberg, German South-West Africa , and was the decisive battle in the German campaign against the Herero.-The armies:...

 on 11–12 August 1904 but were unable to encircle and eliminate the retreating survivors.

The pursuing German forces prevented groups of Herero to break from the main body of the fleeing force and pushed them further into the desert and as exhausted Herero fell to the ground unable to go on, German soldiers acting on orders killed men, women and children. Jan Cloete, acting as a guide for the Germans, witnessed the atrocities committed by the German troops and deposed the following statement:
A portion of the Herero escaped the Germans and went to Omaheke Desert, hoping to reach British territory of Bechuanaland; less than 1,000 managed to reach the British protectorate where they were granted asylum. In order to prevent them from returning Trotha ordered the desert to be sealed off. German patrols later found skeletons around holes 13 m (approx. 40 ft) deep that had been dug in a vain attempt to find water. Maherero and between 500 to 1,500 men crossed the Kalahari into Bechuanaland where he was accepted as a vassal of the Batswana chief Sekgoma.

On 2 October, Trotha issued a warning to the Hereros :
Trotha gave orders that captured Herero males were to be executed, while women and children were to be driven into the desert where their death from starvation and thirst was to be certain; Trotha argued that there was no need to make exceptions for Herero women and children, since these would "infect German troops with their diseases", the insurrection Trotha explained "is and remains the beginning of a racial struggle". German soldiers regularly raped young Herero women before killing them or letting them die in the desert After the war, von Trotha argued that his orders were necessary writing in 1909 that "If I had made the small water holes accessible to the womenfolk, I would run the risk of an African catastrophe comparable to the Battle of Beresonia"

The German general staff was aware of the atrocities that were taking place; its official publication, named Der Kampf, noted that:
Alfred von Schlieffen who served as Chief of the Imperial
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 German General Staff
German General Staff
The German General Staff was an institution whose rise and development gave the German armed forces a decided advantage over its adversaries. The Staff amounted to its best "weapon" for nearly a century and a half....

 approved of von Trotha's intentions in terms of a "racial struggle" and the need to "wipe out the entire nation or to drive them out of the country", but had doubts about his strategy, preferring their surrender.

Governor Leutwein, later relieved of his duties, complained to Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow about Trotha's actions, seeing the general's orders as intruding upon the civilian colonial jurisdiction and ruining any chance of a political settlement. According to Professor Mahmood Mamdani
Mahmood Mamdani
Mahmood Mamdani is an academic, author and political commentator. He is a Professor and Director of the at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, and the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government at Columbia University, New York. He grew up in Uganda and acquired his B.A from the University of...

 from Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

, opposition to the policy of annihilation was largely the consequence of the fact that colonial officials looked at the Herero people as potential source of labor, thus economically important. For instance, Governor Leutwein wrote that:

Having no authority over the military, Chancellor Bülow could only advise Wilhelm II that Trotha's actions were "contrary to Christian and humanitarian principle, economically devastating and damaging to Germany's international reputation."

Upon the arrival of new orders at the end of 1904, prisoners were herded into concentration camps and given by the German state to private companies as slave labourers, and exploited as human guinea pigs in medical experiments

Concentration camps

Survivors, majority of whom were women and children, were eventually put in concentration camps, such as that at Shark Island, where the German authorities forced them to work as slave labor for German military and settlers, all prisoners were categorized into groups fit and unfit for work, and pre-printed death certificates indicating "death by exhaustion following privation" were issued. The British government published their well-known account of the German genocide of the Nama and Herero peoples in 1918.

Many Herero died later of disease, overwork and malnutrition.

In 1906, the Shark Island registered an annual death rate of 227% for the Nama, and 86% for the Herero; other camps, such as Windhoek, showed mortality rates as high as 61% The mortality rate in the camps reached 45% in 1908. The death rates are calculated at between 69 and 74%.

Food in the camps was extremely scarce, consisting of rice without any additions. As the prisoners lacked pots the rice they received was uncooked and indigestible; horses and oxen that died in the camp were later distributed to the inmates as food. As a result dysentery
Dysentery
Dysentery is an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon, that results in severe diarrhea containing mucus and/or blood in the faeces with fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, dysentery can be fatal.There are differences between dysentery and normal bloody diarrhoea...

 spread, in addition to lung diseases, despite those conditions the Herero ware taken outside the camp every day for labour under harsh treatment by the German guards, while the sick were left without any medical assistance or nursing care.

Shootings, hangings and beatings were common, and the sjambok
Sjambok
The sjambok or litupa is the official heavy leather whip of South Africa, sometimes seen as synonymous with apartheid but actually much older and still used outside the official judiciary....

 was used by guards who treated the forced laborers harshly; a September 28, 1905, article in the South African newspaper Cape Argus
Cape Argus
Founded in 1857 by Saul Solomon, the Cape Argus is a daily newspaper published by Independent News & Media in Cape Town, South Africa. It is commonly referred to simply as "The Argus"....

detailed some of the abuse, with the heading: "In German S. W. Africa: Further Startling Allegations: Horrible Cruelty". In an interview with Percival Griffith, "an accountant of profession, who owing to hard times, took up on transport work at Angra Pequena
Angra Pequena
Angra Pequena was a small coastal area in what is now known as Lüderitz, Namibia.First discovered by Europeans in 1487 by the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias. On April 10, 1883 Heinrich Vogelsang first landed at Angra Pequena...

, Lüderitz
Lüderitz
Lüderitz is a harbour town in south-west Namibia, lying on one of the least hospitable coasts in Africa. It is a port developed around Robert Harbour and Shark Island.- Overview :...

", related his experiences.
During the war, a number of people from the Cape (in modern day South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

) sought employment as transport riders for German troops in Namibia. Upon their return to the Cape, some of these people recounted their stories, including those of the imprisonment and genocide of the Herero and Namaqua people. Fred Cornell, a British aspirant diamond prospector, was in Lüderitz when the Shark Island camp was being used. Cornell wrote of the camp:
The concentration camp on Shark Island, in the coastal town of Lüderitz, was the worst of the five Namibian camps. Lüderitz lies in southern Namibia, flanked by desert and ocean. In the harbour lies Shark Island, which then was connected to the mainland only by a small causeway. The island is now, as it was then, barren and characterised by solid rock carved into surreal formations by the hard ocean winds. The camp was placed on the far end of the relatively small island, where the prisoners would have suffered complete exposure to the strong winds that sweep Lüderitz for most of the year.

German Commander Von Estorff wrote in a report that approximately 1,700 prisoners had died by April 1907, 1,203 of them Nama. In December 1906, four months after their arrival, 291 Nama died (a rate of more than nine people a day). Missionary reports put the death rate at between 12 and 18 a day; as many as 80% of the prisoners sent to the Shark Island concentration camp never left the island.

There are accusations of Herero women being coerced into sex slavery as a means of survival.

Trotha was opposed to contact between natives and settlers, believing that the insurrection was "the beginning of a racial struggle" and fearing that the colonists would be infected by native diseases.

Benjamin Madley argues that it would be more accurate to describe Shark Island not as a concentration camp or work camp, but as an extermination camp or death camp.

Medical experiments

Eugen Fischer
Eugen Fischer
Eugen Fischer was a German professor of medicine, anthropology and eugenics. He was director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics between 1927 and 1942...

, a German scientist, came to the concentration camps to conduct medical experiments on race, using children of Herero people and mulatto
Mulatto
Mulatto denotes a person with one white parent and one black parent, or more broadly, a person of mixed black and white ancestry. Contemporary usage of the term varies greatly, and the broader sense of the term makes its application rather subjective, as not all people of mixed white and black...

 children of Herero women and German men as test subjects. Together with Theodor Mollison he also experimented upon Herero prisoners

Those experiments included sterilization, injection of smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

, typhus
Typhus
Epidemic typhus is a form of typhus so named because the disease often causes epidemics following wars and natural disasters...

 as well as tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

. According to Clarence Lusane
Clarence Lusane
Clarence Lusane is an African-American author, activist, lecturer and free-lance journalist. His most recent major work has been the publication of his book The Black History of the White House.-Background:...

, an Associate Professor of Political Science at American University School of International Service, Fischer's experiments can be seen as testing ground for later medical procedures used during Nazi Holocaust.

The numerous cases of mixed offspring upset the German colonial administration and the obsession with racial purity. Eugen Fischer studied 310 mixed-race children, calling them "Rehoboth bastards" of "lesser racial quality". Fischer also subjected them to numerous racial tests such as head and body measurements, eye and hair examinations. In conclusion of his studies he advocated genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 of alleged "inferior races" stating that "whoever thinks thoroughly the notion of race, can not arrive at a different conclusion".

Fischer's (at the time considered) scientific actions and torment of the children were part of wider history of abusing Africans for experiments, and echoed earlier actions by German anthropologists who stole skeletons and bodies from African graveyards and took them to Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 for research or sale.

Fischer later became chancellor of the University of Berlin, where he taught medicine to Nazi physicians. One of his prominent students was Josef Mengele
Josef Mengele
Josef Rudolf Mengele , also known as the Angel of Death was a German SS officer and a physician in the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. He earned doctorates in anthropology from Munich University and in medicine from Frankfurt University...

, the doctor who made genetic experiments on Jewish children at Auschwitz.

An estimated 3000 skulls were sent to Germany for experimentation. In October 2011, after 3 years of talks, the first skulls were due to be returned to Namibia for burial.

Other experiments were made by doctor Bofinger, who injected Herero that were suffering from scurvy with various substances including arsenic and opium, afterwards he researched the effects of these substances by performing autopsies on dead bodies

Influence upon Nazi Germany

The Herero genocide has commanded the attention of historians who study complex issues of continuity between this event and the Nazi Holocaust,.

Some argue that the Herero genocide set a precedent in Imperial Germany to be later followed by Nazi Germany's establishment of death camps, such as the one at Auschwitz.
  • Mahmood Mamdani
    Mahmood Mamdani
    Mahmood Mamdani is an academic, author and political commentator. He is a Professor and Director of the at Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, and the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government at Columbia University, New York. He grew up in Uganda and acquired his B.A from the University of...

     argues that the links between the Holocaust and the Herero Genocide are beyond the execution of an annihilation policy and the establishment of concentration camps. Focusing on a written statement by General Trotha translated as:

Mamdani takes note of the similarity between the aims and desires of the General and the Nazis. According to Mamdani in both cases there was a Social Darwinist notion of "cleansing" after which "something new" would "emerge".

  • According to Benjamin Madley, the German experience in Namibia was a crucial precursor to Nazi colonialism and genocide. He argues that personal connections, literature, and public debates served as conduits for communicating colonialist and genocidal ideas and methods from the colony to Germany.

  • Tony Barta, honorary research associate at La Trobe University Melbourne, argues that Herero Genocide was an inspiration for Hitler for his war against Jews.

  • Ben Kiernan
    Ben Kiernan
    Benedict F. Kiernan is the Whitney Griswold Professor of History, Professor of International and Area Studies and Director of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University. He is a prolific writer on the Cambodian genocide...

    , a professor and director of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University notes that besides Eugen Fischer also Franz Ritter von Epp, who was later responsible for liquidation of all Bavarian Jews and Roma as governor of Bavaria, took part in the genocide.

Number of victims

A census performed in 1905 revealed that 25,000 Herero remained in German South-West Africa
German South-West Africa
German South West Africa was a colony of Germany from 1884 until 1915, when it was taken over by South Africa and administered as South West Africa, finally becoming Namibia in 1990...

.

According to the 1985 United Nations' Whitaker Report, the population of 80,000 Herero was reduced to 15,000 "starving refugees" between 1904 and 1907 In Colonial Genocide and Reparations Claims in the 21st Century: The Socio-Legal Context of Claims under International Law by the Herero against Germany for Genocide in Namibia by Jeremy Sarkin-Hughes a number of 100,000 victims is given. German author Walter Nuhn states that in 1904 only 40,000 Herero lived in German South-West Africa, and therefore "only 24,000" could have been killed.

Aftermath

With the closure of concentration camps all surviving Herero were distributed as labourers for settlers in the German colony, and from that time on, all Herero's over the age of seven were forced to wear a metal disc with the their labour registration number., and banned from owning land or cattle, a necessity for pastoral society

About 19,000 German troops were engaged in conflict, of which 3,000 saw combat, the rest were used for upkeep and administration; the German losses were 676 soldiers killed in combat, 76 missing and 689 dead from disease. The costs of the campaign were 600 million marks, the normal subsidy of the colony was usually 14.5 million marks At about the same time, diamond
Diamond
In mineralogy, diamond is an allotrope of carbon, where the carbon atoms are arranged in a variation of the face-centered cubic crystal structure called a diamond lattice. Diamond is less stable than graphite, but the conversion rate from diamond to graphite is negligible at ambient conditions...

s were discovered in the territory, and this did much to boost its prosperity. However, it was short-lived. In 1915, at the start of World War I, the German colony was taken over and occupied in the South-West Africa Campaign
South-West Africa Campaign
The South-West Africa Campaign was the conquest and occupation of German South West Africa, now called Namibia, by forces from the Union of South Africa acting on behalf of the British Imperial Government at the beginning of the First World War.-Background:...

 by the Union of South Africa
Union of South Africa
The Union of South Africa is the historic predecessor to the present-day Republic of South Africa. It came into being on 31 May 1910 with the unification of the previously separate colonies of the Cape, Natal, Transvaal and the Orange Free State...

, acting on behalf of the British Imperial Government
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

. South Africa received a League of Nations Mandate
League of Nations mandate
A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that contained the internationally agreed-upon terms for administering the territory on behalf of the League...

 over South-West Africa in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

.

Recognition

In 1985, the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

' Whitaker Report classified the aftermath as an attempt to exterminate the Herero and Nama peoples of South-West Africa, and therefore one of the earliest attempts of genocide in the 20th century

In 1998, German President Roman Herzog
Roman Herzog
Roman Herzog is a German politician as a member of the Christian Democratic Union, and served as President of Germany from 1994 to 1999...

 visited Namibia and met Herero leaders. Chief Munjuku Nguvauva demanded a public apology and compensation. Herzog expressed regret but stopped short of an apology. He also pointed out that special reparations were out of the question .

The Hereros filed a lawsuit in the United States in 2001 demanding reparations from the German government and the Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank
Deutsche Bank AG is a global financial service company with its headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. It employs more than 100,000 people in over 70 countries, and has a large presence in Europe, the Americas, Asia Pacific and the emerging markets...

, which financed the German government and companies in Southern Africa.

On August 16, 2004, at the 100th anniversary of the start of the genocide, a member of the German government, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul
Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul
Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul is a German politician and a member of the Social Democratic Party since 1965.-Career:...

, Germany's Minister for Economic Development and Cooperation, officially apologized and expressed grief about the genocide, declaring in a speech that:

She ruled out paying special compensations, but promised continued economic aid for Namibia which currently amounts to $14m a year.

The von Trotha family travelled to Omaruru
Omaruru
Omaruru may refer to:* Omaruru, Namibia* Omaruru Constituency* Omaruru River...

 in October 2007 by invitation of the royal Herero chiefs and publicly apologized for the actions of their relative. Wolf-Thilo von Trotha said:
Peter Katjavivi, a former Namibian ambassador to Germany, demanded in August 2008 that the skulls of Herero and Nama prisoners of the 1904-08 uprising, which were taken to Germany for scientific research to "prove" the superiority of white Europeans over Africans, be returned to Namibia. Katjavivi was reacting to a German television documentary which reported that its investigators had found over 40 of these skulls at two German universities, among them probably the skull of a Nama chief who had died on Shark Island near Luederitz. In September 2011 the skulls were returned to Namibia.

Revisionism

Brigitte Lau has challenged the analyse of GDR historian Horst Drechsler (Let Us Die Fighting, London, 1988 translation). She considers that his work contains important factual errors, pointing amongst other things to his and other's reliance on First World War British propaganda.

Werner Hillebrecht, who criticised Brigitte Lau's work at great length, agrees that there was no plot to commit genocide, and that von Trotha "initially planned to take prisoners". However as the logistical impossibility of dealing with tens of thousands of prisoners became apparent he let the desert deal with the problem. He considers the German high command guilty of genocide because: "They let it happen".

It has been pointed out that although German colonists did seize and exploit much Herero/Nama soil, diamonds can't have been a motive as reports of their discovery did not appear until 1908.

Media

A BBC Documentary Namibia - Genocide & the second reich explores the Herero/Nama genocide and the circumstances surrounding it.

Fictional representations

One chapter of Thomas Pynchon
Thomas Pynchon
Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. is an American novelist. For his most praised novel, Gravity's Rainbow, Pynchon received the National Book Award, and is regularly cited as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature...

's novel V.
V.
V. is the debut novel of Thomas Pynchon, published in 1963. It describes the exploits of a discharged U.S. Navy sailor named Benny Profane, his reconnection in New York with a group of pseudo-bohemian artists and hangers-on known as the Whole Sick Crew, and the quest of an aging traveller named...

(1963) is about the Herero genocide. A group of characters of Herero descent are also present in his Gravity's Rainbow
Gravity's Rainbow
Gravity's Rainbow is a postmodern novel written by Thomas Pynchon and first published on February 28, 1973.The narrative is set primarily in Europe at the end of World War II and centers on the design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military, and, in particular, the quest...

(1974), which hints more than once at the Herero massacre.

See also

  • Genocides in history
    Genocides in history
    Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. It is defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in...

  • Research Materials: Max Planck Society Archive
    Research Materials: Max Planck Society Archive
    At the end of World War II, the Kaiser Wilhelm Society was renamed the Max Planck Society, and the institutes associated with the Kaiser Wilhelm Society were renamed "Max Planck" institutes. The records that were archived under the former Kaiser Wilhelm Society and its institutes were placed in the...


Further reading

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