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June 23, 2021

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Germany recognizes colonial-era killings in Namibia as genocide

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Nimibia

A painting depicts German soldiers shooting Herero people in 1904. Photograph: Chris Hellier/Corbis via Getty Images

Germany on Friday formally recognized as genocide the crimes committed by its colonial troops at the beginning of the 20th century against the Herero and Nama people in what is now Namibia. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) said in a statement that as a “gesture of recognition of the immeasurable suffering” Germany caused, it would set up a fund amounting to €1.1 billion (US $ 1.34 billion).

Affected communities would play a key role in deciding what the funds were used for, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, while legal claims for compensation would not be deducted from it.

The accord announced Friday is the result of more than five years of talks with Namibia on the events of 1904-1908, when Germany was the southern African country’s colonial ruler.

The aim of the negotiations that lasted more than half a decade was “to find a common path to genuine reconciliation in memory of the victims,” Maas explained. The foreign minister said that representative of the Herero and Nama communities were closely involved in negotiations with Namibia lasting more than five years.

Historians say German Gen. Lothar von Trotha, who was sent to what was then German South West Africa to put down an uprising by the Herero people in 1904, instructed his troops to wipe out the entire tribe. They say that about 65,000 Herero were killed and at least 10,000 Nama

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.

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. President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is then expected to officially apologize for Germany’s crimes in front of the Namibian Parliament.

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.

Report Of DW News Official

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