Germany in Namibia: the First Genocide of the 20th Century

Herero
Survivors of the Herero genocide (Wikimedia)

How many think that the first big genocide of the 20th century happened during world war II, and was the holocaust? If you thought so, then think again. The Holocaust was not Germany’s first genocide. The very first genocide of the 20th century occurred in Namibia, on the African continent. It was perpetrated by Germans on the Herero and Nama people of Namibia. It was extremely brutal and almost wiped out all Herero people. It was a campaign of racial extermination and collective punishment that the German Empire undertook in German South-West Africa (modern-day Namibia) against the Herero and Nama people. It took place between 1904 and 1907 during the Herero Wars. Today it is known as the Namibian genocide or the Herero and Namaqua genocide. For the longest time, the German government denied it until 2004 when they finally acknowledged and recognized for the atrocities they perpetrated to wipe out an entire race. However, they ruled out financial compensation for the victims’ descendants. They still refuse to officially name these actions as “genocide”.

 

Herero_chained
Chained Herero men

In total, between 24,000 and 100,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama died. The genocide was characterized by widespread death from starvation and dehydration due to the prevention of the retreating Herero from leaving the Namib Desert by German forces. Some sources also state that the German colonial army systematically poisoned desert water wells. Moreover, the Germans also tested the very first use of concentration camps on the Herero and Nama people.

 

Before the genocide, the tribe numbered 80,000; after it, only 15,000 remained. Enjoy the video below which tells it all.