Lothar von Trotha
Adrian Dietrich Lothar von Trotha (July 3, 1848 – March 31, 1920) was a German military commander
Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

 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.

Born in Magdeburg
Magdeburg , is the largest city and the capital city of the Bundesland of Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Magdeburg is situated on the Elbe River and was one of the most important medieval cities of Europe....

, the capital of the Province of Saxony
Province of Saxony
The Province of Saxony was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia and later the Free State of Prussia from 1816 until 1945. Its capital was Magdeburg.-History:The province was created in 1816 out of the following territories:...

, von Trotha joined the Prussian army
Prussian Army
The Royal Prussian Army was the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It was vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power.The Prussian Army had its roots in the meager mercenary forces of Brandenburg during the Thirty Years' War...

 in 1865 and fought in the Austro-Prussian
Austro-Prussian War
The Austro-Prussian War was a war fought in 1866 between the German Confederation under the leadership of the Austrian Empire and its German allies on one side and the Kingdom of Prussia with its German allies and Italy on the...

 and Franco-Prussian
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 wars, for which he was awarded the Iron Cross
Iron Cross
The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

 2nd class. He married Bertha Neumann on 15 October 1872.

In 1894 he was appointed commander of the colonial force in German East Africa
German East Africa
German East Africa was a German colony in East Africa, which included what are now :Burundi, :Rwanda and Tanganyika . Its area was , nearly three times the size of Germany today....

 and was ruthlessly successful in suppressing uprisings including the Wahehe Rebellion. While temporarily posted to Imperial China
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 as Brigade Commander of the East Asian Expedition Corps, he ruthlessly suppressed the Boxer Rebellion
Boxer Rebellion
The Boxer Rebellion, also called the Boxer Uprising by some historians or the Righteous Harmony Society Movement in northern China, was a proto-nationalist movement by the "Righteous Harmony Society" , or "Righteous Fists of Harmony" or "Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists" , in China between...

. It was not therefore a surprise when he was appointed Commander in Chief of German South West Africa on 3 May 1904 and directed to crush the native Herero rebellion. von Trotha arrived in South West Africa on 11 June 1904, when the war against the Herero had been raging for five months. The German command up to that time had not had much success against the Herero guerrilla tactics. Initially, he too suffered losses.

In October 1904, General von Trotha devised a new battle plan to end the uprisings. 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:...

, he issued orders to encircle the Herero on three sides so that the only escape route was into the waterless Omaheke-Steppe, a western arm of the Kalahari Desert
Kalahari Desert
The Kalahari Desert is a large semi-arid sandy savannah in Southern Africa extending , covering much of Botswana and parts of Namibia and South Africa, as semi-desert, with huge tracts of excellent grazing after good rains. The Kalahari supports more animals and plants than a true desert...

. The Herero fled into the desert and von Trotha ordered his troops to poison water holes, erect guard posts along a 150-mile line and shoot on sight any Herero, be they man, woman or child, who attempted to escape. To make his attitude to the Herero absolutely clear, von Trotha then issued the Vernichtungsbefehl, or extermination order:
von Trotha defended his policies later in his life "It was and is my policy to use force with terrorism and even brutality." An undisclosed German soldier was reported to have said of the massacres "...the death rattle of the dying and the shrieks of the mad...they echo in the sublime stillness of infinity."
von Trotha’s tactics were in marked distinction to that of the Herero leaders, who were, in the main, careful to ensure that only soldiers were attacked.

von Trotha’s methods caused a public outcry which led the Imperial 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...

 to ask William II, German Emperor
William II, German Emperor
Wilhelm II was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, ruling the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from 15 June 1888 to 9 November 1918. He was a grandson of the British Queen Victoria and related to many monarchs and princes of Europe...

, to relieve von Trotha of his command. This, however, was too late to help the Herero, as the few survivors had been herded into camps and used as labour for German businesses, where many died of overwork, malnutrition or disease. Prior to the uprisings, there were estimated to be 80,000 Herero. The 1911 census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

 records 15,000.

von Trotha’s troops also routed the Nama
Nama may mean:* Nama band, a Greek music group* Nama , a genus of plants in the family Hydrophyllaceae* Holy Name in Indian religions* Nama , a hero in ? folklore who built an ark to save his family from a flood...

. On April 22, 1905, he sent a message to the Nama, suggesting they surrender, and mentioning the fate of the Herero.
Approximately 10,000 Nama died during the fighting, the remaining 9,000 were confined to concentration camps.

On 19 November 1905 von Trotha returned to Germany and was appointed as general of the infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 in 1910. He married for a second time on 19 May 1912 (to Lucy Goldstein Brinkmann) and died of typhoid fever
Typhoid fever
Typhoid fever, also known as Typhoid, is a common worldwide bacterial disease, transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person, which contain the bacterium Salmonella enterica, serovar Typhi...

 (bilious fever) on 31 March 1920 in Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....



On August 16, 2004, the German government under Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor...

 officially apologized for the atrocities. "We Germans accept our historic and moral responsibility and the guilt incurred by Germans at that time," said 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 development aid minister. In addition, she admitted the massacres were equivalent to genocide. The two countries have generally had a good relationship since and Germany has tailored generous economic, political packages for the people of Namibia.

In 1933, the Nazi authorities had named a street in Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 as "von Trotha Straße". In 2006 the Munich city council officially decided to change the name of this street to "Herero Straße" in honour of the victims of the war.
The descendants of von Trotha and the von Trotha family travelled to Omaruru in October 2007 by invitation of the local Herero chiefs and publicly apologised for his actions. Wolf-Thilo von Trotha, a member of the family, said,
"We, the von Trotha family, are deeply ashamed of the terrible events that took place 100 years ago. Human rights were grossly abused that time."
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