Germany for the first time admits committing genocide in Namibia

More than 100 years after the crimes were committed, Germany formally confessed on Friday to having committed genocide as the colonial power in what is now Namibia.

After years of negotiations, the German government recognized the atrocities committed against the Herero and Nama ethnic groups as genocide and said reparations would be paid.

“As a gesture of recognition of the immeasurable suffering inflicted on the victims, we want to support Namibia and the descendants of the victims with a substantial program of 1.1 billion euros (about $1.3 billion) for reconstruction and development,” said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. Germany also said it would officially seek forgiveness for the crimes.

“We will now officially refer to these events as what they are from today’s perspective: genocide,” said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in a statement.

Berlin — More than 100 years after the crimes were committed, Germany formally confessed on Friday to having committed genocide as the colonial power in what is now Namibia. After years of negotiations, the German government recognized the atrocities committed against the Herero and Nama ethnic groups as genocide and said reparations would be paid.

“As a gesture of recognition of the immeasurable suffering inflicted on the victims, we want to support Namibia and the descendants of the victims with a substantial program of 1.1 billion euros (about $1.3 billion) for reconstruction and development,” said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. Germany also said it would officially seek forgiveness for the crimes.

Herero people taken captive after a rebellion by German colonial powers in what is now Namibia are seen chained in a photo from 1904 or 1905. / Credit: ullstein bild via Getty
Herero people taken captive after a rebellion by German colonial powers in what is now Namibia are seen chained in a photo from 1904 or 1905. / Credit: ullstein bild via Getty

Earlier, delegations from both countries reached an agreement on a joint political declaration after nearly six years of negotiations. The German Empire was the colonial power in what is now Namibia from 1884 until 1915, and it brutally quashed repeated rebellions during that time.

Historians believe that German forces in what was then known as German Southwest Africa killed about 65,000 of the 80,000-strong Herero population, and at least half of the 20,000 Nama in the region.

The official request for forgiveness was reportedly to be made by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at a ceremony in the Namibian parliament.