Colonial era killings in Namibia were genocide – Germany

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Germany apologised for its role in slaughter of Herero and Nama tribespeople in Namibia (then South West Africa) over a century ago and described the massacre as genocide for the first time, agreeing to fund projects worth over a billion euros.

German soldiers killed 65 000 Herero and 10 000 Nama in a 1904-1908 campaign after a revolt against land seizures by colonists in what historians and the UN said is the first genocide of the 20th century.

Germany previously acknowledged “moral responsibility” for the killings, it avoided official apology for the massacres to avoid compensation claims.

In a statement announcing an agreement with Namibia following five years of negotiations, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said events of the German colonial period should be named “without sparing or glossing over them”.

“We will now officially call these events what they were from today’s perspective: a genocide,” Maas said.

“In light of Germany’s historic and moral responsibility, we will ask Namibia and the descendants of the victims for forgiveness,” he said.

Germany agreed to fund 1.1 billion euros of reconstruction and development projects to benefit genocide-affected communities, he said.

Namibian media reported the money would fund infrastructure, healthcare and training programmes for 30 years.

Germany, which lost its colonial territories after World War One, was the third biggest colonial power after Britain and France. Its colonial past was ignored while historians and politicians focused on the legacy of Nazi crimes, including the Holocaust.



In 2015, it began formal negotiations with Namibia over the issue and in 2018 returned skulls and other remains of massacred tribespeople used in the colonial-era experiments to assert claims of European racial superiority.