Germany agrees to pay Namibia €1.1bn over historical Herero-Nama genocide

Survivors of the Herero genocide (Wikimedia)

This is historic, late and probably not enough compared to the loss in human lives… yet it is historic nonetheless! Germany has agreed to pay 1.1 billion Euros over the Herero-Nama genocide [Germany in Namibia: the First Genocide of the 20th Century]. This will be paid in existing aid programs over 30 years. I am always skeptical of these aid programs, because countries and companies usually get their money back that way…; plus there are probably billions worth of Namibian diamonds or cobalt mines that will profit German companies in the fine prints. Anyways, for the first time, Germany called the atrocities ‘genocide‘, but fell short of calling the arrangement ‘reparations’ and ‘compensation’ [Have Germans finally acknowledged the Namibian Genocide?]. It is a step forward, we acknowledge it, and recognize the progress. Enjoy! Excerpts below are from the Guardian.

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Germany calls atrocities ‘genocide’ but omits the words ‘reparations’ or ‘compensation’ from a joint statement.

Germany has agreed to pay Namibia €1.1bn (£940m) as it officially recognised the Herero-Nama genocide at the start of the 20th century, in what Angela Merkel’s government says amounts to a gesture of reconciliation but not legally binding reparations.

Tens of thousands of men, women and children were shot, tortured or driven into the Kalahari desert to starve by German troops between 1904 and 1908 after the Herero and  Nama tribes rebelled against colonial rule in what was then named German South-West Africa and is now Namibia.

Chained Herero men

Since 2015Germany has negotiated with the Namibian government over what it calls an attempt to “heal the wounds” of historic violence.

Our aim was and is to find a joint path to genuine reconciliation in remembrance of the victims,” the German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said in a statement. “That includes our naming the events of the German colonial era in today’s Namibia, and particularly the atrocities between 1904 and 1908, unsparingly and without euphemisms.

We will now officially call these events what they were from today’s perspective: a genocide.

On Thursday, official circles in Berlin confirmed reports in Namibian media that after nine rounds of negotiations the two sides had settled on the text of a joint declaration and a sum of €1.1bn, which will be paid separately to existing aid programmes over 30 years.

Of the overall sum, more than a billion euros will go towards projects relating to land reform, rural infrastructure, water supply and professional training. Communities of Herero and Nama descendants, which form ethnic minorities in all of the seven affected regions, are meant to be involved in the development of the specific projects.

Flag of Namibia

… The text of the joint declaration calls the atrocities committed by German troops a “genocide” but omits the words “reparations” or “compensation” – a move borne out of fear that such language could set a legal precedent for similar claims from other nations.

A spokesman for the Namibian president, Hage Geingob, described German’s acknowledgment of genocide “as the first step” in the right direction. “It is the basis for the second step, which is an apology, to be followed by reparations,” the spokesman said.

Some of the numerous groups that make up the descendants of the genocide’s survivors have been critical of the framing of the negotiations from the outset and have declined to back the Namibian government’s stance. ….

8 thoughts on “Germany agrees to pay Namibia €1.1bn over historical Herero-Nama genocide

  1. I’m glad Germany is FINALLY paying up, but it should’ve been better if they cut checks to the Nama and Herero families instead of just programs. Them not using the words “reparations” or “compensations” is eye-rolling at best. This is an obvious double standard. Keep in mind some of the German soldiers who slaughtered the Namibians also became elder Nazi party members with the biggest one being General Franz Ritter von Epp whom Adolf Hitler himself was an employee of and admitted that von Epp helped give him “his voice” before he got elected. The timing of this article was impeccable since the survivors of the Black Wall Street Massacre are trying to to that by talking to congress to give reparations to the survivors and the families descended from the victims 100 years ago to this day.

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    1. Yes… I agree with you about Germany arranging with the Nama and Herero families, instead of ‘aid programs’…
      I did not know Hitler acknowledged General Franz Ritter von Epp (one of the genocide perpetrators in Namibia) as having helped him to find “his voice”… It would seem Namibia was the experimenting ground for genocide by Germany, before implementing it on a larger scale years later.

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      1. Thanks. Cutting the check would be the most beneficial.

        That’s right and I learned it from the Namibian Genocide and the 2nd Reich BBC documentary that David Olusoga directed. Both German and Namibian historians made legitimate arguments of the Namibian Genocide being a prototype of the Holocaust with some people being perpetrators of both and with von Epp being that influential to Hitler.

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