….October 2 identified as possible day
New details obtained regarding Namibia’s bid to force Germany to pay reparations of N$510 billion for its role in the 1904-08 genocide revealed the Namibian government’s plan to come up with a ‘memorial day’ to commemorate the genocide in both countries.
Government also wants Namibian exports to Germany to receive preferential trade access.
These recommendations are contained in the Namibia’s National briefing paper on the 1904-08 Genocide, Apology and Reparation Technical Committee dated 2016, which The Patriot has seen.
Under the proposed plan, October 2 has been identified as the ideal date to commemorate the genocide.
On this day in 1904, Lieutenant-General Lothar von Trotha issued his order to exterminate the Hereros. “All the Herero must leave the land. If they refuse, then I will force them to do it with the big guns. Any Herero found within German borders, with or without a gun, will be shot. No prisoners will be taken. This is my decision for the Herero people,” Von Trotha sternly warned back then before his troops massacred over 65 000 Herero and Nama people.
The Nama community also suffered at the hands of the colonists. After the defeat of the Herero the Nama also rebelled, but von Trotha and his troops quickly routed them. On April 22 1905, Lothar von Trotha sent his clear message to the Nama: they should surrender. “The Nama who chooses not to surrender and lets himself be seen in the German area will be shot, until all are exterminated.”
The affected communities have in the past castigated government for failing to accord a date on which the Nama/Ovaherero genocide can be commemorated. This day would be similar to Cassinga Day which has been declared a public holiday and is commemorated annually on May 4.
Declaring October 2 as a public holiday could draw backlash from the business community, which says there are already enough public holidays, but those affected by the genocide would certainly welcome it with open arms.
Government also recommended that new memorials should be erected in Germany and Namibia at sites of memory and that a dedicated museum should be erected to tell the story of the genocide.
While also mooting the establishment of a bi-national commission, the plan also wants the school curricula to be reviewed to ensure it tells the story of the genocide.
In addition: “Development should be fast-tracked through targeted Public Private Partnerships,” the briefing paper has recommended, adding that German companies still active since the German colonial times such as Deutsche-Afrika-Linien and Woermann Group should pledge their support to Namibia’s quest to become the trade and logistical hub of southern Africa.
It also stated that Namibian export products must obtain preferential trade access to Germany.
“This specific aspect seeks to gain preferential market access to Germany and the European Union, via Germany for niche Namibian export products,” the briefing paper further states.
“German firms implicated in genocide should spearhead large scale direct investments in Namibia, paired with offering technology and equipment transfer as well as empowerment programmes,” the paper noted.
According to the briefing note, which sources say formed a central part of Namibia’s negotiations, government also wants students seeking training, research work or experience in Germany to be given access to Germany under relaxed visa requirements and called for twinning agreements between affected Namibian and German communities to carry out memorial work together.
Germany’s apology trail
While the German government refuses to recognise the killings as a genocide, the German state is not new to apologies that emanated from past human rights abuses.
In 1990 East Germany apologised to Israel and the whole Jewish community for the Nazi holocaust carried out decades earlier.
In 2012 Germany apologised again, this time to the Czech Republic after Germany’s SS-units destroyed Lidice near Prague in June 1942 and killed almost all its inhabitants.
The following year, Germany staged another apology which was necessitated by the August 1942 massacre of 560 people living at an Italian village called Sant’Anna di Stazzema. This was done by Germany’s 16th SS-Armoured Infantry Division
In 2014, Germany apologised to Greece because of the killings carried out by Adolf Hitler’s troops. Official historical data, indicate that Hitler’s troops killed 83 inhabitants residing in the Greek village of Lingiades in October 1943.
The data also shows that about 300 000 people were killed during Germany’s occupation of Greece from 1941-1944.
In 2015, Germany also apologised to Armenia for the Armenian genocide.