It has become quite clear through our study of the Herero and Nama genocide that colonialism has the potential, or even tendency, to morph into genocide. The first and most obvious reason that comes to mind for this phenomenon is the nature of colonialism. The very concept on its own is founded upon the concept that one people, nation, or race is superior to another. This relationship and dynamic begins to create dangerous ideas that can lead to a genocide. For example, the sheer transparency that the German government had around the Herero genocide proves that the Germans believed themselves superior to the Herero. The kind of colonial propaganda that was put out by the Germans during this time, openly admitting to their atrocities in German Southwetst Africa, shows that the Germans openly believed they were naturally superior to the Herero and the Nama. This propaganda also drew similarities to other genocides in the sense that there was a massive campaign of "othering" towards the Herero in the Nama, mainly in the form of exaggerated accounts of the battles fought against them. In any kind of relationship between two nations such as this one, where one openly believes that they are naturally superior to the other, a dangerous dynamic will be created. In almost every instance of a genocide, there has been at least some form of the idea that one race, people, or nation is superior to another. Thus, because colonialism is fundamentally based on the concept of superiority, it has a heavy tendency towards genocide.
Additionally, colonialism has the potential to morph into genocide because of how easy it is for the colonizer to begin to believe that they cannot coexist with the colonized. This concept was clearly seen in the Herero genocide, when the Germans coined the term "Lebensraum", or living space. The Germans, wanting to rise to be more central power on the world stage, believed that this meant expanding their borders so the German people had more space to live, in this instance in the form of colonialism. Without even going into a discussion about how horrible the concept of colonialism truly is, the Herero were directly in the way of Germany acquiring this Lebensraum. The Herero were resisting the colonization of German Southwest Africa (rightfully so) and the Germans saw this as a barrier towards their ascension to greater power. Ultimately, the Germans came to believe that they could not co-exist with the Herero and the Nama, because they were in the way of their "living space". They believed that for wanting to keep their own land and not be horrendously exploited, the Herero and the Nama were blocking their way to greater power. This idea that formed in the mind of Germany, that the Herero and the Nama stood in the way of their improvement, was directly brought about by colonization. Because colonization was essential for nations in Europe to become world superpowers, many nations resented the resistance of the indigenous people whose land they were attempting to take, leading to this idea of "othering", and the idea that two nations, races, or peoples cannot coexist. This is another reason why colonization has the potential to morph into genocide.
There were also many eerie similarities between the genocide of the Herero and the Nama and the one that would begin four decades later, the Holocaust. The idea of Lebensraum, living space, for the German people, was essential to both Hitler and the Nazi party, and fueled the conquering of Europe by the Nazis. This idea began during the Herero and Nama genocide. This idea is also what led to the beginning of the othering of Jewish people during the Holocuast; similar to the Herero and the Nama, Germany believed that the Jewish people were taking up their living space and standing in their way of ascension to global power. This notion of the inability to coexist is common between both of these genocides. In addition to this, both of these genocides were highly systemic. The presence of concentration camps in both the Herero and Nama genocide and the Holocaust proves this; the Germans so strongly believed in their superiority that they resorted to the systemic destruction of entire peoples. This brings us to another parallel between the two genocides: the notion of German superiority. This strongly fueled both the Herero and Nama genocide and the Holocaust. The Herero and Nama genocide foreshadowed these notions when the Germans began releasing propaganda about the Herero, eerily similar to that which was present about the Jewish people in Nazi Germany; both contained notions that the oppressed people were wronging the Germans in some way. More specifically, the Germans released propagandas and ideas not only that the oppressed people were inferior, but that they themselves were superior in some way. This was furthered during the Holocaust when the idea of the "pure" Aryan race was founded. Ultimately, the notions that an entire people was standing in the way of German power, of German superiority, and systemic oppression were all ideas that were founded or continued during the Herero and Nama genocide that foreshadowed the Holocaust.
By learning about the Herero and the Nama genocide, I think there are several important takeaways. The first of these is that we have barely scratched the surface of human oppression and suffering in the past few centuries. There will always be another example of a time when an entire people or race was oppressed, or suffered under discriminatory rule. We must educate ourselves as best we can on as many of these examples as we can, but if I have learned anything from this course so far, it is that it is impossible to learn them all. Additionally, another important takeaway is that we must learn from the past. I had no clue that this genocide had even happened before this past week, but after learning about it I am shocked that the German people and the rest of Europe did not anticipate what happened during the Holocaust. Perhaps this is because it was not widely known, but the parallels between these two historical events seem to similar to be ignored. Lastly, I think it is important to recognize that the effects of this genocide are still felt throughout the whole of Namibia. Many people will claim that it happened so long ago that no one can make up for it or apologize for it, but this is simply incorrect. This is only one example of when a genocide or an oppression of a people has carried on to have a lasting effect on the people or the region. As discussed in the article by Reinhart Kossler and Henning Melber, the effects of the genocide are still felt throughout the whole of Namibia, whether in the form of poverty, or the lack of compensation from Germany.