We have discussed the first genocide of the 20th century, committed by Germany in … Namibia, on African soil. We are not talking about World War II, but instead the real first genocide of the 20th century which almost wiped out all the Herero and Nama people of Namibia, Germany in Namibia: the First Genocide of the 20th Century. 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, which took place between 1904 and 1907 during the Herero Wars. Today it is known as the Namibian genocide or the Herero and Namaqua genocide. It was cruel, gruesome, and yet today, many Germans don’t even know that their country had a colonial past! Hello? Germany had 4 colonies in Africa, Togoland (Togo), Kamerun (Cameroon), German East Africa (Tanzania), and German South-West Africa (Namibia), and in most of them great atrocities were committed, yet, it is as if the history annals of the world have refused to acknowledge the humanity of the countless Africans who died. Recently, a German movie producer made a movie to reintroduce the German society to its colonial heritage. Recently, Germany agreed to pay Namibia €1.1bn over historical Herero-Nama genocide, while recognizing the actions as genocide, yet falling short of calling it reparations. Excerpts below are from the Guardian. You will also hear of the painful requests of many families for the return of their ancestors’ skulls (why on earth are these museums still holding onto people’s skulls?) Germany Returns Skulls of Namibians Genocide Victims, Germany Returns Artifacts Stolen From a Namibian Freedom Fighter.
It was one of the darkest eras in German history, and the first genocide of the 20th century: the mass killing of tens of thousands of people in German South West Africa after a rebellion against colonial rule by the Herero and Nama tribes.
More than 100 years later, a feature film about the violence perpetrated by Germany in what is now Namibia explores that brutal colonial past for the first time. Its director hopes Measures of Men will bring the calamitous episode to the attention of ordinary Germans.
“Germany has denied its colonial past for 120 years,” Lars Kraume said, in advance of the film’s domestic release on Thursday. “Most people are unaware Germany even had a colonial past, let alone anything about the brutality of it – it is not even taught in schools.” [Aren’t Africans humans too? are their deaths meaningless?]
… Measures of Men, filmed mainly on location in Namibia using local crew and expertise, tells the story of Alexander Hoffmann – played by Leonard Scheicher – a young, idealistic but wide-eyed ethnologist who questions the evolutionist racial theories of the time, according to which sizes and shapes of skulls determined intelligence. His attempts to rebut the pseudoscientific legitimisation of the superiority of white people over people from the colony of south-west Africa leads him to take first an intellectual and then a romantic interest in Kezia Kambazemi, the interpreter of a delegation of Nama and Herero people who are shipped to Berlin to participate in the Kaiser’s “Völkerschau”, or human zoo exposition.
Despite studying history for his final exams in Germany, Kraume became aware of Germany’s colonial past only when he visited Namibia in the early 1990s, immediately after its independence from South Africa. …
Kraume was particularly shocked by the existence of thousands of skulls of people murdered by Germans, which were gathered and shipped to Germany in large quantities and still exist in museums across the country.
“I cannot comprehend the fact that we have these skulls, like artefacts, stored in ethnological museums,” he said. “I cannot understand why they are still being kept and have not been given back.
“You ask yourself: ‘Why were the skulls collected in the first place, and why have we not seen fit to give them back?’”
… The film’s relevance to the present day, Kraume said, is also in its depiction of how those in power choose to ignore scientific facts and truth for political gain and in order to maintain the status quo. …