The German government has on today May 28 apologized of its involvement in committing genocide in the 1904 to 1907 massacres on the Ovaherero and Nama people.
After five years of negotiations Germany’s foreign minister issued a statement promising to pay more than $1 billion in development projects in communities where the killings occurred.
The refusal to take responsibility came in sharp contrast to the country’s recognition of its role in the Holocaust.
In welcome of this apology The Namibian government called the announcement a “first step in the right direction.”
Descendants of the victims wanted direct reparations, but the German government instead chose payments of about $1.3 billion for development projects that will take place over a 30-year period.
The genocide occurred between 1904 and 1908 as German forces fought a rebellion of the Herero and Nama tribes in a area then known as South West Africa. At least 65,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama tribesmen were killed.
About 80% of the Herero tribe and half of the Nama people died, according to researchers.
“It was, and continues to be, our aim to find a common path toward real reconciliation in the memory of the victims,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement reported by The Washington Post.
The negotiations between Berlin and the Namibia government began in 2015. Alfredo Hengari, a spokesman for Namibia’s President Hage Geingob, said the government would soon convene a session with people in the affected communities for their input.
Although the Herero and Nama leaders have criticized the deal as it excludes direct reparations the Namibian government has agreed the deal with the Namibian Presidency’s press secretary, Alfredo Hengari told Xinhua that the decision by the Germans to officially recognize the colonial-era atrocities as genocide is a step in the right direction in efforts by the two countries to find a way forward in dealing with the issue that has been deliberated on for six years.
“Namibian President, Hage Geingob, is satisfied with the way the two countries have handled the process and is expected to give feedback to Namibians in the near future on the way forward,” Mr Hengari said.
Conclusion more than half a decade in the making
Germany began talks with the Namibian government in 2015 on what was termed a “future-oriented reappraisal of German colonial rule.”
Germany’s former development minister, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, offered her country’s first apology for the killings on a trip to Namibia in 2004, where she said the country’s actions would be seen as genocidal in today’s terms.
What happens now?
The declaration is expected to be signed by Maas in the Namibian capital, Windhoek, in early June.
Parliaments in both countries must then ratify the declaration with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier then expected to officially apologize for Germany’s crimes in front of the Namibian Parliament.
What crimes did Germany commit in Namibia?
The German Empire was the colonial power in what was then called German South West Africa from 1884 to 1915.
During that time, its military forces brutally put down several rebellions, killing tens of thousands of people.
German General Lothar von Trotha, who was sent to quell a Herero uprising in 1904, was particularly known for his extreme ruthlessness.
Historians generally accept that up to 65,000 of roughly 80,000 Herero people living in the area at the time, and at least 10,000 of the roughly 20,000 Nama people, were killed.