GERMANY’S DELIBERATE EXTERMINATION IN 1904
THE FEARLESS AND WAR-LIKE AFRICAN TRIBE THAT SUFFERED THE WORLD`S FIRST HOLOCAUST AT THE HANDS OF GERMANS
It’s rarely mentioned, but the first horrific act of genocide was carried out by Germany in southwest Africa.
France, Britain and Germany were all vying for African lands.
"Germans first reached the arid shores of southwestern Africa in the mid-1800s. Travelers had been stopping along the coast for centuries, but this was the start of an unprecedented wave of European intervention in Africa."
"In 1884, German chancellor Otto von Bismarck convened a meeting of European powers known as the Berlin Conference. Though the conference determined the future of an entire continent, not a single black African was invited to participate. Bismarck declared South-West Africa a German colony suitable not only for trade but for European settlement. Belgium's King Leopold, meanwhile, seized the Congo, and France claimed control of West Africa.
"The German flag soon became a beacon for thousands of colonists in southern Africa—and a symbol of fear for local tribes, who had lived there for millennia. Missionaries were followed by merchants, who were followed by soldiers. The settlers asserted their control by seizing watering holes, which were crucial in the parched desert. As colonists trickled inland, local wealth—in the form of minerals, cattle, and agriculture—trickled out.
Indigenous people didn't accept all this willingly. Some German merchants did trade peacefully with locals. But like Belgians in the Congo and the British in Australia, the official German policy was to seize territory that Europeans considered empty, when it most definitely was not. There were 13 tribes living in Namibia, of which two of the most powerful were the Nama and the Ovaherero.
In January 1904, a revolt by native Africans began against German colonial rule in Southwest Africa (Namibia). The revolt was led by a Ovoherero tribe, which overran several settlements, killing over 100 German colonialists. The Germans ruthlessly put down the revolt – within a few years, only a quarter of the original Herero population of 80,000 still survived. Kaiser Wilhelm II praised German forces for conquering the indigenous population.
The atrocities against the tribes included explicit extermination orders, mass shootings, bonfires immolating wounded or starving Africans, the wearing of identification numbers, and organized transport in cattle cars to concentration camps. One of these 5 camps, Shark Island, was considered a “death by labor” camp. In its campaign against the Africans, the German authorities introduced several terms like Konzentrationslager or concentration camp, untermenschen or subhumans, Mischlinge or mixed race, which all contributed to anti-race mixing laws.
Many of the veterans of Germany’s Southwest Africa extermination campaign went on to become key Nazi activists or otherwise inspired major figures in the Third Reich.
In the 1920s, former colonial Trooper Franz Ritter von Epp went on to hire Adolf Hitler and fund the purchase of the Nazi newspaper Völkische Beobachter. With Ernst Röhm, von Epp helped found the Stormtroopers, the Nazi Party’s first paramilitary group. The Stormtroopers, or SA, even adopted the desert sand-colored brown shirt uniforms worn by the troops deployed in Africa.
After the Treaty of Versailles stripped Germany of its African colonies, German citizens were shocked to see African soldiers patrolling their streets. It is not widely known that when France occupied post-World War 1 Germany, it deployed 20,000 to 40,000 colonial African troops. The Germans reacted with a bitter national protest movement, imbued with sexual imagery, called “Black Shame on the Rhine.” When a generation of Afro-Germans arose, denigrated by Hitler and the Nazis as “Rhineland Bastards,” they were among the first to be forcibly sterilized."
One of the most horrific German death camps in Africa was Shark Island. And yet to this day, there seems to be a meek apology, no talk of Reparations, even though law suits have been filed by the people. Apparently Reparation denial is a global thing.
Excerpted Sources: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/brutal-genocide-colonial-africa-finally-gets-its-deserved-recognition-180957073/