Namibia segregated: Old Nazi ideology persists
Lavish villas, cafes as well as cultural centers surround old German churches, but just a few miles away, there are gaping slums lacking all the basic services. The white and black divide is striking, with some neighborhoods that are housing ‘colored people’, placed right in between.
The center of Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, has an unmistakably Germanic orderly feel, boasting ‘colonial architecture’, including flowerpots, Protestant churches and commemorative plaques mourning those ‘brave German men, women and children, those martyrs, who died during the uprisings and wars conducted by local indigenous people’.
The most divisive and absurd of those memorials is the so-called “Equestrian Monument”, more commonly known as “The Horse” or under its German original names, ‘Reiterdenkmal’ and ‘Südwester Reiter’ (Rider of the South-West). It is a statue inaugurated on 27 January 1912, which was the birthday of German Emperor Wilhelm II. The monument ‘honors the soldiers and civilians that died on the German side of the Herero and Namaqua War of 1904–1907’.
To be precise, that ‘war’was not really a war; it was nothing more than genocide, a holocaust.
Of course there were many holocausts committed by the Europeans in Africa, from British and French slave trade hunts, to about 10 million innocent people murdered in cold blood in what is now DR Congo, during the reign of (in Europe) a very revered Belgian monarch, King Leopold II.
Namibia was a prelude to what German Nazis later tried to achieve on European soil. Like the French in some of their Caribbean and Pacific colonies, the ‘success rate’ of German colonizers was almost complete, around 80%.
A European expert working for the UN, my friend, speaks, like almost everyone here, passionately, but without daring to reveal her name:
“The first concentration camps on earth were built in this part of Africa… They were erected by the British Empire in South Africa and by Germans here, in Namibia. Shark Island on the coast was the first concentration camp in Namibia, used to murder the Nama people, but now it is just a tourist destination, mainly for the divers – you would never guess that there were people exterminated there. Here in the center of Windhoek, there was another extermination camp; right on the spot where ‘The Horse’ originally stood.”
‘The Horse’ was recently removed from its original location, and placed in the courtyard of the old wing of The National Museum, together with some of the most outrageous commemorative plaques, glorifying German actions in this part of the world. Nothing was destroyed, instead just taken away from prime locations.
Where ‘The Horse’ stood, there now stands a proud anti-colonialist statue, that of a man and a woman with broken shackles, which declares, ‘Their Blood Waters Our Freedom’.
A visit to those German genocidal relics is ‘an absolute must’ for countless Central European tourists that descend every day on this country, mainly on their ‘grand southern African tour’ that includes South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. I followed several of those groups, listening to their conversations. Among their members, there appears to be no remorse, and almost no soul-searching: just snapshots, posing in front of the monuments and racist insignias, pub-style/beer jokes at places where entire cultures and nations were exterminated!
Central European, German-speaking tourists in Windhoek, appear to be lobotomized, and totally emotionless. And so are many of the descendants of those German ‘genocidal pioneers’. Encountering them is like déjà vu; it brings back memories of the years when I was fighting against the German Nazi colony, ‘Colonia Dignidad’ in Chile; or when I was investigating the atrocities and links, of the German Nazi community in Paraguay to several South American fascist regimes that had been implanted and maintained by the West.
And now the German community in Namibia is protesting the removal of ‘The Horse’. It is indignant. And this community is still powerful, even omnipotent, here in Namibia.
Almost nobody calls the ‘events’ that took place here, by their rightful names, of holocaust or genocide. Everything in Namibia is ‘sensitive’.
But even according to the BBC: “In 1985, a UN report classified the events as an attempt to exterminate the Herero and Nama peoples of South-West Africa, and therefore the earliest attempted genocide in the 20th Century.”
On 21 October 2012, the Canadian daily newspaper, The Globe and Mail, reported:
“In the bush and scrub of central Namibia, the descendants of the surviving Herero live in squalid shacks and tiny plots of land. Next door, the descendants of German settlers still own vast properties of 20,000 hectares or more. It’s a contrast that infuriates many Herero, fuelling a new radicalism here.
Every year the Herero hold solemn ceremonies to remember the first genocide of history’s bloodiest century, when German troops drove them into the desert to die, annihilating 80 percent of their population through starvation, thirst, and slave labor in concentration camps. The Nama, a smaller ethnic group, lost half of their population from the same persecution.
New research suggests that the German racial genocide in Namibia from 1904 to 1908 was a significant influence on the Nazis in the Second World War. Many of the key elements of Nazi ideology – from racial science and eugenics, to the theory of Lebensraum (creating ‘living space’ through colonization) – were promoted by German military veterans and scientists who had begun their careers in South-West Africa, now Namibia, during the genocide…”
The Namibian government is still negotiating the return (from Germany) of all skulls of the local people, which were used in German laboratories and by German scientists to prove the superiority of the white race. German colonialists decapitated Herero and Nama people, and at least 300 heads were transported to German laboratories for ‘scientific research’. Many were ‘discovered’ in the Medical History Museum of the Charite Hospital in Berlin, and at Freiburg University.
A leading German doctor, who was working on ‘the pure race doctrine’ in Namibia (the doctrine later used by the Nazis), was Eugen Fischer. He ‘educated’ many German physicians, including Doctor Mengele.
It is of little surprise, considering that the first German governor of the colony was the father of Hitler’s deputy Herman Goering.
Germany never officially apologized for its crimes against humanity in what it used to call German South-West Africa. It did not pay reparations.
Nor did, of course, most of other European colonial powers, from Portugal, the UK and France. When one of the greatest African leaders, Patrice Lumumba, and democratically elected President of Congo, declared that Africa has nothing to be grateful to European colonial powers, he was murdered in cold blood by the alliance of Belgian, British and the US nations.
Divisions are shocking: ideological, racial, social.
In Namibia, there is segregation on an enormous scale, everywhere.
While neighboring South Africa is moving rapidly away from racial segregation, introducing countless social policies, including free medical care, education and social housing, Namibia remains one of the most segregated countries on earth, with great private services for the rich, and almost nothing for the poor majority.
“Apartheid was even worse here than in South Africa”, I am told by my friend from the United Nations. “And until now… You go to Katutura, and you see who is living there, they are all local people there, all black. Katutura literally means ‘We have no place to stay’. Fifty percent of the people in this city defecate in the open. Sanitation is totally disastrous. Then you go to Swakop city, on the shore, and it is like seeing Germany recreated in Africa. You also see, there, shops with Nazi keepsakes. Some Nazis, who escaped Europe, came to Windhoek, to Swakop and other towns. In Swakop, men march periodically, in replicas of Nazi uniforms.”
Katutura is where the black people were moved to, during apartheid.
My friend, a ‘colored’ Namibian, who fought for the independence of his own country and of Angola, drove me to that outrageous slum which seems to host a substantial amount of the capital’s population, with mostly no access to basic sanitation or electricity.
He has also chosen to remain anonymous, as he has explained, in order to protect his lovely family. To speak up here, unlike in South Africa, which may, these days, be one of the freest and most outspoken places on earth, can be extremely dangerous. But he clarifies further:
“In Namibia, it is very rare for people who used to suffer, to speak about it publicly. In South Africa, everyone speaks. In Angola, everyone speaks… But not here.”
Then he continues:
“What we can see in Namibia is that many German people are still in control of big business. They are ruling the country. They have hunting farms and other huge estates and enterprises. Germans bring money to Namibia, but it stays with them, and it consolidates their power – it does not reach the majority. You cannot even imagine, how much local people working on their farms, are suffering. It is still like slavery. But it is all hushed up here.”
For many decades, the official history interpreted by Western mass media and academia, about the rise of Nazism in Germany went roughly like this: “Treaty of Versailles signed in 1919, was ‘too tough’. German nation got humiliated, impoverished, and as a result, extremism, including the extreme nationalism and Nazism, had risen. Consequently, Hitler and his clique managed to grab the power.”
How many thinkers: historians, philosophers and writers lamented: “How could a moderate and essentially peaceful nation of Goethe, Beethoven, Bach - Germany - produce such a monstrous ideology? How could it, without any warning, begin to exterminate millions of Jews, Roma (Gypsies), Slavs, handicapped people, and the leftists?”
But... Was Germany really a ‘moderate nation’? Think twice! In Europe, in the 1930’s and 40’s, Germany simply and painstakingly copied the crimes that it used to regularly commit in its colonies, particularly in what was known as ‘South-West Africa’, now Namibia.
The southern part of Africa is where the British and German empires built the first concentration camps on earth. It is where the people were treated as sub-humans, as animals, and it is where entire nations were exterminated.
Until now, there was no apology and hardly any acknowledgement of the history, coming from Europe.
In recent history, the West was openly supporting the apartheids in South Africa and in Namibia, as well as a brutal civil war in neighboring Angola.
The nightmares of Goering and Mengele had their preludes and aftershocks performed in this part of the world.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.