The First Genocide of the 20th Century
Nearly 100,000 people died, but you probably didn't learn about the Namibian Genocide in history class, the first genocide of the 20th century.
The forgotten Namibian genocide, first of the 20th century
Namibia, a country in southwest Africa, is distinguished by the Namib Desert along its Atlantic Ocean coast. The country is home to diverse wildlife, including a significant cheetah population. The capital, Windhoek, and coastal town Swakopmund contain German colonial-era buildings such as Windhoek's Christuskirche, built in 1907. In the north, Etosha National Park’s salt pan draws game including rhinos and giraffes.
It is the birthplace of the world’s first genocide of the 20th century in Namibia, the Herero and the Nama were exterminated. In January 1904, the Herero revolted against the German colonizers, killing around 100 people. In response, German general Lothar von Trotha was sent there to subdue the rebellion. Known for his cruelty, he signed an extermination order. The soldiers forced the children to watch all these murders. The colonial army developed various genocide techniques: massacres, exile in the desert and concentration camps. Children, women, old people, men, everyone had to be exterminated. They forced them into the desert, where they died of hunger, they poisoned their wells. Roughly 50% of the Nama and 80% of the Herero were exterminated and nearly 100,000 people died based on data from the Courtesy of National. Their skulls were then sent to Germany for scientific experiments.
Physician Eugen Fischer, whose historical racist writings would influence Adolf Hitler, officiated in the Namibian camps. His goal was to prove the superiority of the white race. Although they represented nearly 40% of the Namibian population at the beginning of the century, the Herero now account for only 7%. For the past three decades, descendants have been demanding recognition and reparations from the German authorities. They have consistently refused to talk to us, arguing that we are a non-sovereign, non-state entity.
Several German leaders have already recognized this genocide, but the government opposes any financial reparations.