posts 1 - 15 of 24
Boston, US
Posts: 205


Clara Ng, “The 20th Century’s First Genocide: Not the Holocaust, but the Herero,” Post-Conflict Research Center, 6 April 2019.

Clara Ng, “Regarding Reconciliation: The Herero’s Long Quest for Justice,” Post-Conflict Research Center, 8 May 2019.

Reinhart Kössler and Henning Melber, “Toward a culture of memory for a memory culture today – a German perspective,” Pambazuka News, 20 March 2012.

“Herero and Nama genocide,” from Adam Jones, Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction pp. 122-124.

Most people know nothing of the Herero/Nama genocide, let alone be able to locate Namibia (the former German SW Africa) on a map.

It’s clear that a genocide happened there and that it happened “under the radar”—that is, that most people didn’t know about it. Even more than 100 years later, there are few books and articles on the subject and only a handful of photographs document what happened there. You saw the few that exist in class on Tuesday.

There is much that we see within the Herero and Nama genocide that suggests

(a) how colonialism has the potential to morph into genocide

(b) how events there prefigure what happened during the Holocaust.

As you read through the excellent recent articles by Clara Ng and by Reinhart Kössler and Henning Melber, identify details that demonstrate how the events that took place in today’s Namibia (the former German Southwest Africa colony) from 1904-1907 prove these two points.

Be specific! I will hold you to these specifics from the readings and from class!

And then comment: what are your big takeaways from learning about this genocide?

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 19

The Forgotten Genocide of the Herero, Nama, and the indigenous people of Namibia

I can’t believe I have never heard about this genocide before this week. I knew about the Berlin Conference (1884-1885), where European nations gathered and made negotiations about who got which territory in Africa after they split it up. This event led to the colonization of Africa. This shows that even before the genocide, these European powers had no regard for the lives of the people in these territories. Namibia was one of the colonies that was obtained by Germany. In the article written by Reinhart Kossler and Henning Melber they state that, “Amongst the colonies acquired, Namibia was the only territory considered suitable for extensive settlement by Europeans”. This desire to create a settlement in Namibia caused Africans to be driven away from their land by Germans. The settlers also exploited the indigenous groups for labor so they could collect diamond and copper. As Clara Ng says, the Germans viewed the Africans as not deserving of the human rights that White people had.

The events that followed show how colonialism has the potential to morph into genocide. When the German settlers began seizing land and constructing a railway line, Samuel Maharero, chief of the Herero, decided to fight back. They rebelled and attacked Germans from 1903 to 1907. Then General Lothar von Trotha and reinforcements came. Lothar von Trotha declared what was happening as a “war of races”, and thought that the only way to get African tribes to give in was by using violent force. In 1905, Lothar von Trotha announced an “extermination order” that was approved by the General staff in Berlin. One of von Trotha’s tactics was the “pincer strategy”, where he surrounded the Herero and pushed them into the desert where they died from starvation, dehydration, and poison from water wells contaminated by the Germans in anticipation. Lothar von Trotha’s “extermination order” was a call for genocide onto the African tribes in Namibia with intent to destroy them for the purpose of colonization.

The events that took place in Namibia prefigured what happened during the Holocaust. According to the United Nations, genocide is defined as acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.The leaderships in power had the same intentions in both events which was to destroy a specific group of people based on their ethnicity. In the case of the Namibia genocide, it was to destroy the Herero in order to colonize their land, and in the Holocaust it was to exterminate European Jews in order to cleanse the Aryan race. Those who turned themselves in to the Germans during the Namibia genocide were placed into concentration camps, where many died. As Clara Ng mentions, the events of the Holocaust overshadowed the other acts of violence committed by Germany.

My takeaways from learning about this genocide are that more people should learn about what took place in Namibia, and that Germany should be held accountable for the effects that their actions had on the indigenous people of Namibia. The Herero community is still being affected by what happened. They deserve legal compensation from Germany for the acts that were committed. Clara Ng mentions in her article, "Perhaps the problem is the ease with which we forget, fail to see, or neglect to examine: genocide does not end with extermination but with the need to address denial.". Hopefully continuing to talk about what happened will lead to the reconciliation that the Herero have been fighting for, and will allow voices that have been overshadowed to be heard and understood.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 24

Remember the Herero and Nama People

The Herero and Nama Genocide was something I never heard about until Wednesday. It is shameful that we do not learn about these histories, and the influence that this genocide had on the Holocaust. A common word that was used throughout the articles I read and the video we watched in class was “annihilate”. Nearly 80% of the Herero population were murdered and from 1900 to 1999, 170 million people were killed by genocide. The Herero and Nama Genocide started when Germany’s industrial economy wanted to expand beyond its borders, “As emigration increased, German national identity took a toll. This fueled an aggressive expansionism: its people needed Lebensraum, or “living space” (a notion that would later fuel the emergence of the Nazi ideology).” (Clara Ng, “The 20th Century’s First Genocide: Not the Holocaust, but the Herero,” Post-Conflict Research Center, 6 April 2019. The greed and the sheer disregard for human life bred one of the most horrific events in human history. There were some similarities between the Herero and Nama Genocide and the Holocaust. Including the fact that they had concentration camps, “Fenced in by thorn bushes and barbed wire, many Herero and Nama died from illness, abuse, and exhaustion. Later, the Third Reich would follow this model, establishing thousands of such camps where Jews and other “undesirables” were systematically killed.”(Clara Ng, “The 20th Century’s First Genocide: Not the Holocaust, but the Herero,” Post-Conflict Research Center, 6 April 2019. As well as Germans poisoning the water holes in the desert, as the people were thirsty and needed something to drink. The Herero were seen as “savages” and “barbarians”, the Germans believed they should not exist. Another similarity between the two genocides was that “Settler ideology envisaged the creation of a ‘New Germany’. Under such circumstances, any challenge to colonial rule was tantamount to disparaging national honour and grandeur. At the same time, the quest for settlement translated into a sustained drive to expropriate Africans from their lands and from their livestock.” (Reinhart Kössler and Henning Melber, “Toward a culture of memory for a memory culture today – a German perspective,” Pambazuka News, 20 March 2012. With that, the utter inhumane treatment of innocent men, women, and children should not be glanced over. This is a dark history that needs to be addressed. I shouldn’t have been 17 years old just finding out about a genocide that essentially influenced one of the most well known tragedies in the world. We owe it to the millions of lives lost, the Herero and Nama people should be remembered as many forget to do so.
boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

The first German genocide

German colonialism seen in German South West Africa very quickly devolved into genocide within a couple of years, but the middle man between the start of German colonization and the genocide of the Herero people was a sense of superiority and exploitation. “Colonial rule quickly dissolved into widespread exploitation and resource theft. Newly-settled Europeans viewed native Africans as a source of cheap labor undeserving of the same human rights as the white populations. According to the German Colonial League, for instance, the legal testimony of seven Africans was equivalent to that of one colonist.” The Europeans were originally welcomed by the Herero, but took this as a sign of weakness. The transformation from a peaceful colonization to an exploitative way to get money warranted an uprising by the Herero people, which then triggered anti-african propaganda to become widespread in the German mainland, and the genocide to begin.

“Lieutenant-General Lotha Von Trotha declared the conflict a ‘race war’, one impossible to ‘conduct humanely against non-humans’. In the German media, he presented the African tribespeople as subhuman and diseased, no more than pests to be eradicated. ‘I think it is better that the Herero nation perish rather than infect our troops,’ he wrote in late 1904.”

The sense of racial superiority translates directly from the genocide in German South West Africa to the holocaust later that century. The white German people were almost conditioned to look at all “other” groups as inferior and worthy of extermination. Von Trotha even gave an annihilation order and created camps directed at the Herero, very similar to the widespread death camps and concentration camps meant for those affected by the holocaust.

What I take away from this case study is how manipulatable people are when it comes to things they don't understand such as race.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 19

The Forgotten Genocide

I, like many other people in our class, have never heard about the Herero and Nama Genocide until this past week. Just saying that makes me feel ashamed, but only at myself but also at our learning system. Events like this should, with such an array of significance and stature, should never go unnoticed. This genocide also sparked the way for the Holocaust, so how was it not mentioned?

The Genocide started when Germany needed more space, something which often occurred, but in this instance, it was against their "allies": the Herero. Specifically for Industrialism, the Germans needed more space, "As emigration increased, German nation identity took a toll. THis fueled an aggressive expansionism" (The 20th Century’s First Genocide). Even though in the beginning the Germans and Herero had humane relations, that had all stopped once the Germans got greedy. You can easily see similarities between this and the Holocaust, for example, concentration camps, labor camps, and mass death. Instead of gas chambers, that were utilized during the Holocaust, most of the Herero people died of exhaustion.

The environments were also very similar, with nowhere to run or hide, "fenced in by thorn bushes and barbed wire" (The 20th Century's First Genocide). The Germans developed an intense hatred for the Herero, calling them savages, and later believing that their existence is a good thing. It is insane how quickly their minds changed after they don't get what they want, it's like greedy children. The Germans had found causes too, "expropriate Africans from their land and from their livestock" (Toward a culture of memory), and somehow made this seem like the right thing to do.

I am upset how I never heard of this event, espeically going to a school such as this one, history is something that should always hold importance and insight into modern day.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

Colonialism, the Progenitor of Genocide

Genocide is what happens to a colonized people when they are deemed no longer useful by the colonizers. Sometimes the colonized are never considered useful, and sometimes they are worked until they are no longer of use. While genocide is not always the result of colonialism, genocide will always be the end result of colonialism if it is not subverted.
Colonialism will either end in genocide, or in abolition.

The genocide of the Herero people is an example of this in horrific practice. The storyline is simple and familiar to anyone familiar with American colonialism. Germany started to take control of the area, instituting their white supremacist laws. These laws were contested by the indigenous population, in particular the Herero tribe. The Herero were a prosperous people, and were nowhere near the European idea of an African savage. They had a robust culture, tradition, and weaponry. The atmosphere of white supremacy allowed the German colonists, who also held great economic power due to having the backing of the German military, to be cruel and inhuman. They attacked, raped and murdered Herero. Eventually tensions rose and a faction of Herero decided to fight back. This was a short rebellion, and negotiations with parts of the German authority began. However, most of the German authority prepared for war. They amassed an army and cornered the Herero and opened fire, following an order of annihilation. It was express orders to not take any prisoners and to kill every one including women and children. 65,000 out of the estimated 80,000 were killed in this war.
"Hereros are no longer German subjects. All Hereros must leave the countryor die. All Hereros found within the German borders with or without weapons, with or without animals will be killed. I will not accept a woman nor any childThere will be no male prisoners. All will be shot."
Eventually the order was called off and the remaining Herero were captured and sent to concentration camps where they were worked to death. The intent of the camp was to kill Herero as well as get their labor. Their skulls and body parts were sold to museums.

Many consider the genocide to be a precursor to the Holocaust, and they would be correct. It is clear that the tactics and ideas of colonialist genocide were easily applied back home. Many have said that fascism is imperialism brought home, and so it follows that Imperial German would lead into Fascist Germany. The tools were the same. They shored up racial hatred against the particular group, and allowed the German public to see them as inhuman and a threat. Because this threat was deemed inhuman, no amount of force would be too much. And because the threat is existential a great amount of force is needed. So the military will be bolstered and sent to destroy the threat, because the threat cannot be allowed to continue if the current order is to survive. Once the threat is defeated militarily, if the threat ever had a military, then the population will be subjugated and murdered. However, a large population is useful for work, so the power will do both at once. They work to death those who they want, and murder the rest the regular way. This series of events is roughly the same for both genocides.

Learning about this has made me realize that recognizing genocide is never a moral question to governments. Recognizing genocide is about appearance when it comes to politics, and so genocides will only ever be recognized when it is politically convenient to do so.

Boston, Ma, US
Posts: 18

Consequences of Colonization

The sad thing was, reading about this genocide sounded so familar. My first thought reading the first article was that it feels so similar to what we in America have done to our native populations. The Germans forced the Herero and Nama peoples from their land for “Lebensraum”, similar to the U.S’s expansion during the late 18th and early 19th century. The Germans even considered putting them on native reserves, mirroring the reservations Native Americans were forced on to here in the U.S.

I think that colonialism can morph into genocide so fast because the colonizers have no regard for native peoples, just their land and resources. In german southwest Africa, the Herero and Nama were forced out because it was the goal of German colonists to settle there. They characterized the native peoples as dangerous and inhuman in order to justify the seizing of their land. After seizing all the native people’s land and leaving them with no livelihood, it was only a matter of time before they fought back. Once they did, Von Trotha declared the conflict a race war, denying their struggles legitimacy and making it German policy to “annihilate” them. All these events follow a fairly sequential order stemming from a disregard for other people over the German economy. One reason the Germans were able to do this was because they effectively portrayed Native Africans as inferior and subhuman, reaching the point where it was believed to be acceptable to collect hundreds of skulls from their dead bodies.

I think this genocide never being adressed definatly contributed into the Holocaust. During the Herero and Nama genocide, many of the practices used in the Holocaust were developed, and the German people were desensitized to the mass murder of othered groups.

My biggest take away from learning about this event is how little I, and so many others, know about world history. I honestly can’t believe that I never learned about this and how little it’s discussed. Learning about it made me realize how easily important historical events are forgotten, and the consequences which can happen if they aren’t addressed.

Posts: 21

Colonialism and Genocide

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.

Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 16

not talked about enough

Not talked about enough

My big take away from this is how upset I am that we haven’t talked about this more. We go to a historical school with 6 years of history classes and in my 5 years here this is the first time I’ve even heard of this.

The genocide of the Herero people happened when Germany wanted more land and was taking over other places. The Herero people had a strong and healthy culture, which was stripped away from them by the Germans. They had lost up to 50,000 square miles of land to the germans, and a lot of these loses led to invasions and epidemics. They decided to fight back, and were willing to die fighting, according to Hendrik Witbooi , the Namaqua chief.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 16

The Hidden Genocide

Before we started learning about the Herero genocide in class, I had never heard of it. It is shocking to learn that something as horrific as that has happened in somewhat recent history without being properly remembered, and it makes me wonder how many more horrible things happen like this that most people never hear about. In previous history classes, I have learned about how colonialists split up Africa into pieces, almost as if it was a pie, but I had not learned what happened in each of those areas. During the time of colonialism, there was a need for more space as populations grew and people moved around. Africa was seen as the ideal place for expansion because of its natural resources and its supposed availability of space. However, most colonists did not take into account the presence of people in the space that they wanted to take control of. In the case of Germany, Namibia was deemed as one of the more suitable regions, so the Germans arrived, and imposed themselves and their rule on the natives. They even considered the native people to be inferior and not deserving of basic human rights.

German colonization of Namibia is an example of how colonialism has the potential to turn into genocide. One of the examples from the article that I found particularly interesting and horrible was the way in which General Lothar von Trotha handled the resistance of the native population. Rather than diplomatically work out a compromise, he determined that the best way to keep the native people under control was through a violent and forceful extermination. One of the methods by which this was done was trapping people in the desert without access to food and water, condemning them to die.

The events that occurred in Namibia during the Herero genocide are prefigures to what happened during the Holocaust. It showed that colonialists had the power and ability to wipe out entire populations for their own gain so that several decades later, similar events would be able to occur under the Nazi regime. The genocide in Namibia had similar intentions to the Holocaust in that the goal was to wipe out an entire population of people based on a single or few characteristics.

One of my biggest takeaways from learning about the Herero genocide is that there needs to be more education on topics like this so that they can get the recognition that they deserve. People need to be held accountable for the past, and the only way that can begin to happen is if people know what occurred. As was stated in the article by Clara Ng, “the problem is the ease with which we forget, fail to see, or neglect to examine.” Many people would rather not face the darker parts of history, but it is extremely important to understand what happened so that it can be prevented in the future.

Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

A Hop, Skip, and a Jump Away from Genocide

Colonialism is just a skip, a hop, and a jump away from Genocide. The Idea of Colonialism is to control a land and its people for profit. This is shown in how the Spanish colonized the Phillipines for the profits from the spice trade. In Southeastern Africa, The Germans colonized to expand their territories and make more money. This is when they met with the colonized people in that area. The Hereros.They had no initial disputes, but when Germany tried to expand their territores once again, the Herero people fought back. The Germans easily outgunned them, and decided that it was worth the loss to eradicate them, so as to have all of the land. That is when the situation changes from a colonisation to a genocide- when the death of the people with whom you are competing for the land are worth killing more than the loss of resources in the fights.

The Herero genocide was very much the precursor to the Holocaust. The methods of killing were very similar, using Eugenics to justify your killing of both peoples, the use of Concentration Camps to work them to death, and the use of propaganda to portray both the Jews and the Herero people as diseased and less than human.

My big takeaways from learning about this genocide are just how horrible people can be when they choose to be, committing horrible atrocities against an unnamed enemy, and that colonialism is a plague, built for the subdigation of other human beings for one countries profit.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16


While we would hope that genocide should never be ignored or overlooked, it appears that it happens more commonly than we'd like. This is thanks to colonialism that is so deeply embedded in society that genocide was not treated as a crime by many people for a long time. Colonialism's core idea is to grab other people's property and disregard the consequences. While this is a shocking idea, it is important that we understand how damaging colonization can be. It's impossible to predict how much people would go for power and influence. The notion of mistreating and looking down on a group of people is normalized by colonialism. It becomes appropriate to discriminate against these people until you avoid treating them as decent peers. You avoid thinking about these people as people until discrimination becomes normalized and embraced. You won't find it's a bad thing to try to get rid of them if they get in the way, aka genocide. Take for example: Including myself until today, many people are unaware of the Herero and Nama genocides because they are overshadowed by the Holocaust's massacres, but in fact, German views and methods predate the Holocaust. Concentration camps, for example, were used in the genocides against the Herero and Nama peoples; they were forced to do dreadful labour and often died of starvation, as occurred on a larger scale during the Holocaust. One of the most tragic events in human history resulted from corruption and a complete disrespect for human life, and the most upsetting part is that they were actually commended for this, they were commended for “cleansing the world”, and it’s honestly insane to believe this happened. My takeaway is one, being exposed to the Herero and Nama genocides, secondly that there must be more efforts to let the the Herero and Nama genocides be known and not allow it to be hidden in history, by colonization, an excuse to dehumanize others and kill/tortutre them (genocide).

withered wojak
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 16

The First German Holocaust

When talking about colonialism, it is hard to not talk about genocide. While I'm sure there are some exceptions, it is undeniable that in the act of colonialism, mass killings are almost a necessity. I mean if ya think about it, you're going to a foreign land, full of people who don't know you and don't speak your language, to settle down there and use their valuable land, resources, and labor. I do not know of any group of people on the face of this Earth who would lie down and let another group of people do that to them and their country. So since that's not really an option, unless you're extremely powerful, you slowly infiltrate. At first, you may come on friendly terms and slowly seep your fingers into their government, society, and economy, and then you take over. That is almost exactly as we saw with Germany in South West Africa. They came in search of land. The people gave the Germans land. The Germans wanted more, and soon expanded land along with business, and this was given up too. This continued in an almost World War Two-esque appeasement strategy, until it became too much. Out of a feeling of inferiority; a sense of anger of being treated almost as equals by those perceived to be lesser, the Germans sought to kick the Herero and Nama out. To them, maybe they felt that they were bringing glory to their Empire by kicking out and killing murderous thieves, but looking back, Germany committed atrocious unprovoked.

On how it's related to the Holocaust, I have called this the first German holocaust. Not only were there the concentration camps, forced labor, and mass killings, but the underlying made up biological essentialism that fueled it all. The Germans also employed propaganda campaigns to vilify the enemy who are by necessity a massive threat to society that could end it, but also weak and easy to defeat.

My takeaways are that a) Africa, one of the most materially rich continents, is in such a dismal state due to Europe raping it. b) I learned that this even happened. c) This genocide further fueled racial science.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

The effects of colonialism

Just like everyone has already stated, I, too, have never heard about the Herero, yet alone the terrible Herero Nama genocide that occurred in Namibia. It was very shocking and disturbing to not only read about what happened in these three articles by Clara Ng, Reinhart Kössler, and Henning Melber, but also to see photos of it in the film that we watched in class. It is quite clear that this idea of colonialism and taking control of another region to drain it of its natural resources can easily morph into genocide. As stated in the first Clara Ng article, Germany had a growing population that required more and more resources, and in order to get that, they needed to expand their territory. The Berlin Conference allowed them to gain access to South West Africa because of their plentiful resources, and it was quite interesting to read how quickly, “newly-settled Europeans viewed native Africans as a source of cheap labor undeserving of the same human rights as the white populations”. It was this thinking that really served as a foundation for people like von Trotha to segue into the idea of a “war of races” — as mentioned by both Clara Ng in her articles as well as by Reinhart Kössler and Henning Melber in their article. It seems like once someone believes they are superior to another human being, they also begin to believe that they have the right to control them and will them to do whatever they wish— in this case the Germans believed the Hereros were not human beings, and as such treated them as objects that they could kill off with no mercy. I think it’s even more disturbing how they not only killed off more than half of the population, but also collected their skulls for experimentation and studies about eugenics— studies to prove that Africans were inferior than white people. As mentioned in both Clara Ng’s article and the film we watched in class, they were largely observed by Eugen Fischer, who ended up publishing a book based on these experiments on Herero and Nama prisoners that formed the basis of the Nuremberg Laws that discriminated against Jews during the Holocaust. It was also partly because of this that this idea of an “ideal race” was spread further.

For me, the big takeaways from learning about this genocide is definitely a somewhat reality check on just how much our history courses don’t cover/teach to students. It is crazy how such a tragedy is never learned about when it is just as important to know as other tragic events in history. I feel like part of it is because of this colonialism that led to eurocentric views that have impacted almost every aspect in the world, and especially with history. I hate that it is still not really being addressed or known about, and it’s scary to think how much of history is still hidden.

Boston, MA, US
Posts: 18


My biggest takeaways would be the selfishness and racist atrosities set upon the people of South West Africa. The pursuit of riches and cheap labor for those riches, led to these events. The greed of the Germans in the late nineteenth century into the twentieth century pushed them into Africa. This caused the tragedy of South West Africa. The German ideology of their superior race was not created in their minds before entering Africa but was implanted because they were stronger financially and were able to exploit. This allowed them to look down upon the group of people and fueled the racist sentiment that followed. The Germans felt entitled to their “conquered” land’s riches so they exploited everything there. This left behind a trail of blood and bodies. It is a disappointment that it has only been recently that they have taken responsibility for their actions. It is unnerving that this event is not as well known. I personally did not have a clue this happened. There should be more awareness of this time in history.

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