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The colonial legacy of the Herero Genocide in Namibia

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  1. Introduction.
  2. The history of the genocide.
    1. Historical background of the German colonization in Namibia.
    2. The history of the genocide.
  3. The reparation issue around the genocide.
    1. The fight of the Herero community for a recognition of the genocide.
    2. The German position.
    3. German attitude towards the reparation issue.
    4. German amnesia.
    5. The actions done to repair the genocide.
  4. Conclusion.
  5. End notes.
  6. Bibliography.

What is the relationship between Namibia at the dawn of the XXth century, Mein Kampf and UNO? The Hereros establish the link; this community of Southwest Africa who, in spite of it, took part in the ideological elaboration of the genocides century. It is not a very common history which, for unknown it is, deserves to leave the shade. In the last quarter of the XIXth century, several European powers, mainly Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy, launched out in a hard competition in order to extend (France, Great Britain) or to constitute (Germany, Italy) their colonial empire, mainly in Africa, Asia and in the Middle East. In Asia and in the Middle East it was especially a commercial fight, the positions already being in general acquired. It is in Africa, especially, that the confrontation was the hardest, because around 1880, except Belgian Congo and a part of Southern Africa and North Africa, only the coastal zones were under colonial domination and 80 % of the continent was free. The massacre of Hereros by the German army since 1904 is considered by much, since the end of the XXth century, as the first attempt of genocide of this century, before the Armenian one. It is located in a context of tension between European colonial powers but also in a series of similar actions carried out by the German army between the end of the XIXth century and the beginning of the First World War.

[...] The question remained for a long time to know if von Trotha had planned, from the beginning,a genocide of completely new dimension (as the herero leaders affirmed it) or rather a military destruction campaign, with all its horrors, which all the colonial empires practised then. The historians of ex-GDR are those who agree the most clearly on the thesis of the genocide: von Trotha would have set up a tactic which let no other choice to the Herero than flee to Omaheke, the desert becoming the tool of the genocide. [...]


[...] Major Ludwig von Estoff who participated in the military campaign against the Herero community confessed that: it was a policy which was equally gruesome and senseless, to hammer the people so much, we could still have saved many of them and their rich herds, if we had pardoned and taken them up again, they had been punished enough. I suggested this to General von Trotha but he wanted their total extermination?.12 In a few weeks Hereros died per tens of thousands of thirst and hunger in the Omaheke desert. [...]


[...] Cooper, ?given the leadership role Riruako has played in the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance Namibia's leading opposition party, it is difficult to determine whether the real purpose of the legal proceedings against Germany is to win compensation for damages and suffering resulting from the colonial era or merely an attempt to enrich the coffers of the opposition leaders inside Namibia.?17 First, the authorities don't really recognise the traditional chiefs of the Herero community, and so don't want to pay attention to their protests. [...]

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