WINDHOEK – Visiting President of the German Bundesrat Daniel Günther says his country is still haunted by the terror that Germans brought to the people of Namibia at the beginning of the 20th century, especially the crimes committed against the Ovaherero and Nama.
“The consequences of these past crimes are still felt today. We recognise this historical guilt without any ifs and buts. I bow my head before you in humbleness and respect,” said Günther who is also the Minister President of the Federal State of Schleswig-Holstein.
Günther says both governments are engaged in constructive dialogue to address Namibia’s colonial past.
“From Germany I know that our government is very much trying to move forward together on these issues. Germany is firmly committed to its historical responsibility,” he said during his visit to Parliament yesterday.
“Even though it was not until later that the term was legally defined, the atrocities committed at the time in Germany’s name constituted what would today be called genocide,” he added.
However, he said, by coincidence “our two modern societies and nations” shared a similar political experience thirty years ago. In 1989, he said Namibia, was still fighting for its independence and finally had its first free elections. “What a milestone!”
He added that after WWII, Germany had been divided into two countries, the Federal Republic of Germany that was closely linked to the democratic West, and the GDR – the so-called German Democratic Republic, part of the communist, soviet-dominated Eastern bloc.
Also, he said, in 1989 the people of the GDR took to the streets in protest against the repressive rulers, famously chanting “we are the people”.
And this movement achieved what had been unthinkable before: they toppled the regime of the totalitarian GDR and brought down the wall that had split Germany into two countries.
“The people of the GDR – just like people here in Namibia – forced the government to hold the first and only free elections of its Volkskammer, the GDR parliament,” he said, adding that these events happened in both countries in 1989, thirty years ago.
“They show what courage can achieve!” he said.
Günther says he is happy that this year, during his Bundesrat presidency and as Minister President of the state of Schleswig-Holstein, he can host the national festivities to celebrate the Day of German Unity on October 3 in the city of Kiel, 30 years after the Peaceful Revolution in East Germany.
“We chose the motto ‘Courage unites’ for the festivities,” he said.
“We are not only connected through the historical events 30 years ago. What better place to address what we have in common than there in the National Council? We also have commonalities in our experiences with decentralised, regional politics, with a federal system,” he said.