There have certainly been some components of history we wish we could forget; like the Holocaust. However, that wasn’t the only mass genocide Germany has experienced – may the lives lost in the genocide at the beginning of the twentieth century never be forgotten.
We mostly all know about the horrific Holocaust genocide that took place in nineteen-forties Germany. It’s a major event that occurred in our history that left some six million Jewish people dead. However, this wasn’t the only mass genocide that occurred in Germany. In fact, The Herero Genocide took place in Germany at just the turn of the twentieth century but somehow most have forgotten about the some 100,000 people that were left dead. German soldiers had just made home on some foreign land and they weren’t about to lose it. They transported ethnic Germans into a territory to extract resources. The Ethnic Germans were transported to concentration camps. They were filled beyond maximum capacity and the death toll steadily grew.
German South-West Africa was a colony of the German empire between the ages of 1884 and 1915, before British and South African forces conquered it. The area was actually one and half times bigger than today’s Germany. The Germans tried to modernize them by forcing them to farm and work in businesses, but it just led to the eventual rebellion against Germany. Herero had ended up surrendering over ¼ of land to Germany, which turned out to be approximately 130,000Km of land. On January 12th, 1904 the Herero rebelled against the Germans and killed some 125-150 soldiers, but it only ended with German General Lothar Von Trotha arrived with approximately 14,000 soldiers.
“The nation of the Herero should immediately leave the country, because they are no longer considered German citizens. Whoever doesn’t obey and is found within the country, with our without a gun or an animal, they will be executed immediately. I am not going to show mercy to anyone. These are my commands and should be followed immediately….” – General Trotha
Testimonies say that about 80% of both ethnicities (Herero and Namaqua) were extinguished. About 65,000 to 100,000 Herero and 10,000 Namaquanum were left dead from the war. They were either killed in war or forced to work to death at the Shark Island Concentration Camp.
According to the Britons in 1918, reports estimated that about 45-75% of the Herero and Namaqua were entirely eliminated. What is even worse than that, is that most of them were women and children.
Featured image via the Smithsonian Magazine