• November 18th, 2018
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Germany Remains Distant on Reparations

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Bob Kandetu The German government would rather talk about atrocities instead of genocide and, as such, will apologise to the Namibian government only with regard to atrocities. Furthermore, Germany will not entertain payment for reparations because this is too ghastly to contemplate as it may open floodgates to claims, since that country has wronged so many nations, many of which are closely monitoring the Federal Court proceedings in New York. Germany is self-contradictory. There cannot be an apology towards Ovaherero and Nama nations unless that apology is for genocide. Germany’s extermination orders that were articulated and subsequently signed into German State orders constitute genocide. The Hague Convention and the Rome Statutes are explicit on these acts. The suggestion that Germany can apologise for “atrocities” against Ovaherero and Nama people is as misplaced as it is deeply rooted in dishonorable motives. It is intended to white-wash development aid and construes this as money allocated for doing well to the victims of German genocide. In the context of Namibia’s Genocide, development aid cannot be reparations for genocide. Upon reflection, the German Ambassador to Namibia, Ambassador Schlaga, was cited in Namibian Sun newspaper of August 4th 2017 as having said that Germany will apologise for the “atrocities” against the Nama and Ovaherero but maintained that these killings were “justified”, because they were committed in self-defense. Because killing for land and its wealth was justified and in fact, warranted no apology. This critical remark from the German Ambassador firmly stating the position of the German government has dangerous implications and equally cultivates dangerous assumptions, but in the interest of space it will be dissected in later editions. These misapprehensions lead one to conclude that Germany has been consistent with her position, never to apologise for genocide against Ovaherero and Nama and never to consider payment for reparations to the victim communities. Apologists of imperial Germany want the world to believe that German activities in South West Africa were no different from other colonial activities in Africa. The role played by Germany in South West Africa went beyond the scramble for the accumulation of wealth. For this war was premeditated, carefully planned and diligently executed. To this effect, a German physician by the name Gustav Frenssen, wrote a book titled “Peter Moors Farhrt nach Sudwes” circa 1930’s. He condensed the war mentality deeply rooted in a theological philosophy, reminiscent of the rationale used by the Nazi Party of Germany to eliminate Jews, a good twenty years after German genocide in South West Africa. I lift a few passages from the book. The first paints the racist mentality that characterised German genocide in South West Africa as it reads: “These blacks deserved death before God and man… because they have built no houses and dug no wells. God has let us conquer here because we are the nobler and more advanced people. That is not saying much in comparison with this black nation, but we must see to it that we became better and braver before all nations of the earth. To the nobler and more vigorous belongs the world. This is the justice of God.” Another says: “Here we lay in the dark night, 400 men worn out and half dead with thirst and in front of us a furious people numbering sixty thousand. These tall black and half-naked people have large exposed teeth and wild laughing eyes. As I turned to shoot I saw in the grey green bushes men in cord uniform, rising from grass like snakes. I saw not far from me a black half naked figure like an ape, holding a gun in his mouth and climbing with hands and feet into a tree. I aimed at him and screamed aloud with joy when he fell down the trunk.” I conclude these citations with a reflection of contempt and cynical indifference that obtained after Ovaherero’s last stance at Ohamakari. This is what a German soldier wrote in his diary: “How deeply the wild, proud sorrowful people had humbled themselves in the terror of death. Wherever I turned my eyes lay their goods in quantities: oxen and horses, goats and dogs, blankets and skins. And there lay the wounded and the old, women and children. A number of babies lay helplessly languishing by mothers whose breasts hung long and flabby. Others were lying alone, still living, with eyes and noses full of flies. Somebody sent our black drivers and I think that they helped them to die. We then led the men one side and shot them. The women and children who looked pitiably starved we hunted into the bush.” The German soldier concluded his observations somewhat ideological and somewhat philosophical, but evidently content: “It is wonderful how much a human being can endure. It is strange what a matter of indifference another man’s life is to us when he belongs to another race.” The synoptic appraisal of the book by Frenssen serves to contextualise the plight of Ovaherero and Nama of South West Africa’s demands from the German regime. The use of passages lifted from a book written by a German medical doctor of that time, recounting first hand tales of German soldiers passing as observer-participants, is intended to eliminate doubts on authentic representation of the facts as they reflect the philosophy behind the German war mentality. Germany’s war of annihilation and ultimate extermination orders on Ovaherero and Nama had intended implications and were deeply embedded in the entrenched mentality of the Germans regarding themselves as the chosen race in the eyes of God. Seemingly this mentality has not changed much and contemporary German thinking was publicly expressed by the German Ambassador to Namibia on the 4th of August 2017, when he said that Germany’s killing of Ovaherero and Nama people of South West Africa was justified as it was done in self-defense. It goes without saying that in their DNA, the German government does not feel remorse and does not take serious the demands that Germany must apologise for genocide, because to them, the extermination orders were justified.
New Era Reporter
2018-02-21 09:32:13 8 months ago

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