Germany Agrees To Pay Namibia €1.1bn Over Historical Herero-Nama Genocide

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

NAMIBIA – click to enlarge

 Philip Oltermann In Berlin | The Guardian UK

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.           

Since 2015, Germany 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: 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.

Some €50m will go towards setting up a foundation for reconciliation between the two states, including cultural projects and youth exchange programmes.

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.

Paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro, leader of the Ovaherero Traditional Authority, has criticised his government for not insisting on financial reparations and told local media: “When German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier comes to Namibia to render the apology we will embarrass him!”  

Namibian newspaper New Era reported on Thursday that at least three traditional leaders who had supported the government’s negotiations up to this point had refused to endorse the final wording of the declaration, which could make it difficult for President Hage Geingob to sign the deal.

The German side’s position is that it has negotiated the agreement with a Namibian government representing the country’s population as a whole, and that the deal does not stand or fall on the approval of Herero and Nama descendants groups.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia –

Namibia (/nəˈmɪbiə/ (About this soundlisten)/næˈ-/),[16][17] officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in Southern Africa. Its western border is the Atlantic Ocean; it shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. Although it doesn’t border Zimbabwe, less than 200 metres (660 feet) of the Zambezi River separates the two countries. Namibia gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990, following the Namibian War of Independence. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek. Namibia is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU) and the Commonwealth of Nations.

The driest country in Sub-Saharan Africa,[18] Namibia has been inhabited since early times by the SanDamara and Nama people. Around the 14th century, immigrating Bantu peoples arrived as part of the Bantu expansion. Since then, the Bantu groups, the largest being the Ovambo, have dominated the population of the country; since the late 19th century, they have constituted a majority.

In 1878, the Cape of Good Hope, then a British colony, annexed the port of Walvis Bay and the offshore Penguin Islands; these became an integral part of the new Union of South Africa at its creation in 1910.[citation needed] In 1884 the German Empire established rule over most of the territory, forming a colony known as German South West Africa. It developed farming and infrastructure. Between 1904 and 1908 it perpetrated a genocide against the Herero and Nama people. German rule ended in 1915 with a defeat by South African forces. In 1920, after the end of World War I, the League of Nations mandated administration of the colony to South Africa. As Mandatory power, South Africa imposed its laws, including racial classifications and rules. From 1948, with the National Party elected to power, this included South Africa applying apartheid to what was then known as South West Africa.

In the later 20th century, uprisings and demands for political representation by native African political activists seeking independence resulted in the UN assuming direct responsibility over the territory in 1966, but South Africa maintained de facto rule. In 1973 the UN recognised the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) as the official representative of the Namibian people; the party is dominated by the Ovambo, who are a large plurality in the territory. Following continued guerrilla warfare, South Africa installed an interim administration in Namibia in 1985. Namibia obtained full independence from South Africa in 1990. However, Walvis Bay and the Penguin Islands remained under South African control until 1994.

Namibia has a population of 2.55 million people and a stable multi-party parliamentary democracy. Agriculture, tourism and the mining industry – including mining for gem diamonds, uraniumgoldsilver and base metals – form the basis of its economy, while the manufacturing sector is comparatively small. The large, arid Namib Desert from which the country derived its name has resulted in Namibia being overall one of the least densely populated countries in the world.


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  • brandli62  On 05/29/2021 at 1:44 am

    A painful and terrible chapter of Imperial German history. I believe that Angela Merkel wanted to get this issue settled before she will leave office this fall. Germany is one of the few nations that faces up to past atrocities that were committed in its name. A lot of other nations, for example in the Far East, I will refrain from naming them here, should watch carefully and take a lesson.

  • mike  On 05/29/2021 at 4:20 am

    I have always wondered what if the Germans had won the last war what price would the British Empire have to pay. Seeing what they did in Europe I think the price wouls have been very high.
    Seeing that all the countries were not of the white race we would more than likely been culled

    • brandli62  On 05/31/2021 at 6:44 am

      I do not even want to imagine a world, where Hitler’s murderous regime would have won WW2. It’s too horrific for all people of color.

  • Dennis Albert  On 05/29/2021 at 2:36 pm

    Germany has done its fair share of paying for past historical crimes. What about Britain and the French empires?

    • Chris.  On 05/29/2021 at 2:51 pm

      Amen brother!

      When you add inflation to the equation, Britain extracted untold billions from our country. Perhaps, in excess of $800 billion.

      During British their occupation of India, example, they took out a documented $45 trillion US to the royal coffers. Lord knows what the estimated total from the combined colonies is.

      In my view, they owe reparation to all the colonies plundered during their long, illegal occupation.

      • brandli62  On 06/03/2021 at 4:01 am

        Keep in mind that Britain compensated the slave owners for the economic losses caused by the abolishment of slavery.

  • brandli62  On 05/29/2021 at 3:08 pm

    Good point. The French president was earlier this week in Ruanda to acknowledge that they failed to stop the genocide.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 05/30/2021 at 12:21 am

    Dr. Raphael Lemkin, The Totally Unofficial Man

    Jennifer Davis | In Custodia Legis – Law Librarians of Congress

    Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jewish international law jurist who lived and taught law in the United States at the end of his life, is famous for coining the word “GENOCIDE”.

    Lemkin also worked to make the act of genocide a crime in international law. As a child in rural Poland, Lemkin was fascinated by historical atrocities and was particularly struck by the story of Nero feeding Christians to the lions in Quo Vadis (Lemkin, Totally Unofficial, p. 1).

    The story of the Armenian genocide also captivated Lemkin. In a sad twist of fate, the man who was so interested in the tragedies of other cultural groups experienced the horrible loss of his own family and people in the Holocaust.

    After he finished his doctorate of law at Lwów University, he started writing law books, working as Warsaw’s deputy public prosecutor, and teaching law at university. One of the books he wrote during this time he coauthored with Duke University professor Malcolm McDermott — a contact who would later save his life (Lemkin, 21). Lemkin also wrote an influential article that argued for laws outlawing acts of barbarity and vandalism (Lemkin, 23).


    He first retreated to Stockholm, where he taught at the university. In Stockholm, he collected all the national official gazettes and Third Reich gazettes he could find to research the aims of Hitler and the Nazis, concluding that their policies of mass murder had the intention to wholly obliterate other peoples (Lemkin, 102).

    Lemkin’s conclusion from these studies was that “GENOCIDE is a premeditated crime with clearly defined goals, rather than just an aberration.”

    With the help of his colleague Dr. McDermott, Lemkin was able to take a teaching job at Duke University in 1941. He and his brother Elias were the only members of Lemkin’s family to escape; 49 members of his family died in the Holocaust.

    During the early 1940s he wrote, traveled, taught, and lectured. Lemkin met John Vance, Law Librarian of Congress and began translating and analyzing Nazi decrees. Lemkin wrote:

    I wanted to secure a regular flow of such decrees from occupied Europe and suggested in a letter to Vance that he might get them through book dealers in neutral countries – Portugal, Switzerland, or Sweden. In this way I hoped to build up in the Library of Congress a center of documentation that would be helpful in explaining the “war on the peoples” behind the current European “war on the armies” (Lemkin, 109).

    This work was the basis for his later – and arguably most important – book, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. In this text he introduced the term “GENOCIDE”, which is a combination of the Greek “GENOS” (race, tribe) and the Latin “-CIDE” (killing) (Lemkin, Axis, p. 79).

    This name was important; Churchill had called the acts of the Holocaust “THE CRIME WITHOUT A NAME”.



    The Statute of the International Military Tribunal, which did not include a charge of genocide, bound the Nuremburg Tribunal. This defeat bolstered Lemkin’s resolve and although his health continued to decline, he tirelessly worked to establish genocide as an international crime.

    Throughout the late 1940s, Lemkin traveled throughout Europe and the States to talk to every diplomat, legal academic, politician and statesman he could find, about the legal concept of genocide, working to get allies to advocate for the GENOCIDE CONVENTION.


    Dr. Raphael Lemkin spent the rest of his life working to get nations to pass laws against genocide, teaching, and writing articles as well as his autobiography, though he died before he could complete it.

    The tentative title was “Totally Unofficial” from a 1957 New York Times editorial describing him as, “…THAT EXCEEDINGLY PATIENT AND TOTALLY UNOFFICIAL MAN, PROF. RAPHAEL LEMKIN” (Lemkin, xxv).

    His patience and single-minded pursuit of his goal was best explained in a speech he gave in Durham:

    “If women, children, and old people would be murdered a hundred miles from here, wouldn’t you run to help? Then why do you stop this decision of your heart when the distance is five thousand miles instead of a hundred?” (Lemkin, 103).

    • Chris  On 05/30/2021 at 7:43 am

      Raphael Lemkin died at age 59. That’s relatively young. He was writing his autobiography at the time of his death and didn’t get to finish it.

      What was the cause of death, does anyone know?

  • Clyde Duncan  On 05/30/2021 at 11:30 am


    Raphael Lemkin coined the word “GENOCIDE” in his 1944 book, AXIS RULE IN OCCUPIED EUROPE. He tirelessly lobbied the United Nations for genocide to be added to international law, and his efforts to enlist the support of national delegations and influential leaders eventually paid off.

    On December 9, 1948, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. Lemkin did not rest with the UN document, but committed the rest of his life to urging nations to pass legislation supporting the Convention.


  • wally n  On 05/31/2021 at 10:31 am

    Germany Agrees To Pay Namibia €1.1bn Over Historical Herero-Nama Genocide
    Nice Nice
    OK Where does the $$$$ go, to whom??????

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