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Germany Says It Committed Genocide in Namibia During Colonial Rule

May 28, 2021, 10.03 PM - Germany for the first time on Friday recognized it had committed genocide in Namibia during its colonial occupation, with Berlin promising financial support worth more than one billion euros to aid projects in the African nation.

Namibia on Friday welcomed Germany's acknowledgment it had committed genocide in the southwestern African country during its 20th century colonial occupation.

"The acceptance on the part of Germany that a genocide was committed is the first step in the right direction," President Hage Geingob's spokesperson Alfredo Hengari told AFP.

German colonial settlers killed tens of thousands of indigenous Herero and Nama people in 1904-08 massacres -- labelled the first genocide of the 20th century by historians -- poisoning relations between Namibia and Germany for years.

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While Berlin had previously acknowledged that atrocities occurred at the hands of its colonial authorities, they have repeatedly refused to pay direct reparations.

"We will now officially refer to these events as what they are from today's perspective: genocide," said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in a statement.

He hailed the agreement after more than five years of negotiations with Namibia over events in the territory held by Berlin from 1884-1915.

"In light of the historical and moral responsibility of Germany, we will ask forgiveness from Namibia and the victims' descendants" for the "atrocities" committed, Maas said.

A view of the Brandenburg Gate in SCHWARZ PURZLBAUM A view of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

In a "gesture to recognize the immense suffering inflicted on the victims", the country will support the "reconstruction and the development" of Namibia via a financial program of $1.34 billion, he said.

The sum will be paid over 30 years, according to sources close to the negotiations, and must primarily benefit the descendants of the Herero and Nama.

However, he specified that the payment does not open the way to any "legal request for compensation."

Rebellion, reprisals

Namibia was called German South West Africa during Berlin's 1884-1915 rule, and then fell under South African rule for 75 years, before finally gaining independence in 1990.

Tensions boiled over in 1904 when the Herero -- deprived of their livestock and land -- rose up, followed shortly after by the Nama, in an insurrection crushed by German imperial troops.


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