Germany officially recognized this Friday (28) that it was responsible for a genocide in Namibia during colonial times. The German government will pay the African nation 1.1 billion euros (about 7 billion reais) to compensate for the damage inflicted.
The murder took place between 1904 and 1907, when German soldiers killed between 75,000 and 100,000 people in the territory of then-southwest Africa, now Namibia, after the peoples’ revolt. Herero and Nama.
One of the last African borders to arouse the interest of European settlers, these semi-desert areas were occupied by Germany in 1884. Inward expansion led to conflicts with the established peoples, angered by the loss of the few arable land in the territory.
The revolt of the Herero and Nama peoples was contained by mass killings, internment in unsanitary concentration camps and deportation to the desert, where thousands of men, women and children died of thirst. .
The German massacre wiped out 80% of the Herero and 50% of the Nama, reducing them to relatively small portions among the 2.6 million Namibians today. The Herero, for example, have gone from 40% of the population to just 7%.
The UN, which defines genocide as “a series of acts, including murder, committed with the intention of destroying, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”, considers since 1985 the massacre as the first genocide in the country in the twentieth century, and Germany had already recognized “moral responsibility”.
German museums also returned in 2018 the remains of the victims Herero and Nama who had been brought to Germany for research aimed at “proving the superiority of the white race”. The payment negotiations lasted six months, however, as Germany feared that the use of the term “redress” would make it subject to legal action.
In Friday’s announcement, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas officially declared that the events, “from today’s perspective”, were “genocide”. “In light of Germany’s historical and moral responsibility, we will apologize to Namibia and the descendants of the victims,” he said, before stressing that legal claims for compensation cannot arise. .
The German government wants to discourage claims like that of Greece, which is asking for around 289 billion euros ($ 1.84 trillion) in damage caused during the Nazi era. Thus, the appeals were announced as “a gesture of recognition of the immeasurable suffering inflicted on the victims”.
“We want to support Namibia and the descendants of the victims with a substantial € 1.1 billion program for reconstruction and development,” Maas said. Namibia ranks 130th in the United Nations Human Development Index, out of 189 surveyed, and has the second highest inequality in the world, according to the World Bank, only better than neighboring South Africa in this area. Its Gini index is 59.1, on a scale from 0 to 100 (Brazil’s is 53.4). Unemployment exceeds 30% and poverty affects more than 20% of the population.
Despite the promise of local participation in infrastructure investments, the deal was rejected by leaders Herero and Nama. They said they considered the value insufficient to compensate for the suffering of their ancestors and the loss of their land.
German advertising follows the movement of several other European countries to recognize the crimes of the colonial period and offer reparations. Since last year, statues have been demolished in several countries and governments like France and the Netherlands have returned works of art brought from African countries, a discussion that is also taking place in the UK.
This week, French President Emmanuel Macron visited Rwanda to apologize for France’s role in the genocide that left 800,000 Tutsi dead in 1994. A study commissioned by the French government concluded that the European country, although not an accomplice in the genocide, had “crushing responsibilities” for remaining allied with the “racist, corrupt and violent” government of the Hutus, which was preparing to massacre the Tutsis.
“France has a role, a history and a political responsibility. He has a duty to face history and recognize his part in the suffering he inflicted on the Rwandan people, ”Macron said Thursday (27), after visiting the Kigali genocide memorial.
Maintaining and expanding his influence in Africa is one of the international policy priorities of Macron, who likes to remember being the first French president born after the independence of most of the continent. In 2019, he traveled to East Africa and signed partnership and investment agreements in Ethiopia and Kenya. On his current trip, he is still visiting South Africa.