Germany first acknowledged that it committed genocide in Namibia at the beginning of the last century. Berlin has already pledged more than a billion euros for aid projects in the Southwest African country on Thursday.
“We will from now on officially refer to these events as what they were from a contemporary perspective: a genocide,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement. It was issued to welcome an agreement with Namibia after five years of negotiations.
“As a gesture of recognition for the immeasurable suffering caused to the victims, we want to support Namibia and the victims’ descendants with a substantial € 1.1 billion reconstruction and development program,” said Maas
Namibia was a colony of the German Empire from 1884 to 1915. Between 1904 and 1908, thousands of people from the Herero and Nama ethnic groups were killed by colonial forces after the peoples revolted against German colonial rule.
Survivors were driven into the desert, where many were locked up in concentration camps. There, many Herero and Nama died of exhaustion, cold, and malnutrition. According to historians, 65,000 of the 85,000 Herero were killed and at least half of the 20,000 Nama.
The German government has in the past already accepted “moral responsibility” for the atrocities in Namibia, which a minister had once referred to as genocide. Until recently, however, Berlin has refused to apologize for fear of compensation claims.