Genocide- Miranda Immele
What is Herero Genocide?
Okahandja, Namibia, August 2004, Herero Day commemorations
Witness describes the manner in which Herero prisoners were treated
"Things proceeded in a particularly brutal manner. Herero prisoners were terribly
maltreated, whether they were guilty or not guilty. About 4 Herero were taken
prisoner, because they were supposed to have killed a railway worker.
The courtmartial ordered them to be freed and declared them to be not
guilty. However one could not release them as they bore too many marks of
shamerul abuse on their bodies. For example, people
had beaten an eye out of one. After the court martial had declared them to be
innocent, some of the Germans outside immediately resumed the abuse with the
words, 'the court has declared you to be innocent, we however want to string you
Survivors of the massacre, the majority of whom were women and children, were eventually put in places like Shark Island Concentration Camp, where the German authorities forced them to work as slave labour for German military and settlers. All prisoners were categorised into groups fit and unfit for work, and pre-printed death certificates indicating "death by exhaustion following privation" were issued. The British government published their well-known account of the German genocide of the Nama and Herero peoples in 1918.
Many Herero died later of disease, overwork, and malnutrition. Estimates of the mortality rate at the camps are between 45% and 74%.Food in the camps was extremely scarce, consisting of rice with no additions. As the prisoners lacked pots and the rice they received was uncooked, it was indigestible; horses and oxen that died in the camp were later distributed to the inmates as food. Dysentery and lung diseases were common.Despite those conditions, the Herero were taken outside the camp every day for labour under harsh treatment by the German guards, while the sick were left without any medical assistance or nursing care.
Shootings, hangings, beatings, and other harsh treatment of the forced labourers were common.A September 28th 1905 article in the South African newspaper Cape Argus detailed some of the abuse with the heading: "In German S. W. Africa: Further Startling Allegations: Horrible Cruelty". In an interview with Percival Griffith, "an accountant of profession, who owing to hard times, took up on transport work at Angra Pequena, Lüderitz", related his experiences.
Another hand eyewitness accounts of conditions in the camps
"And then the scattered Herero returned from the Sandfeld. Everywhere they popped up -not in their original areas-, to submit themselves as prisoners. What did the wretched people look like?! Some of them had been starved to skeletons with hollow eyes, powerless and hopeless, afflicted by serious diseases, particularly with dysentery. In the settlements they were placed in big kraals, and there they lay, without blankets and some without clothing, in the tropical rain on the marshlike ground. Here death reaped a harvest! Those who had some semblance of energy naturally had to work. It was a terrible misery with the people; they died in droves. Once 24 came together, some of them carried. In the next hour one died, in the evening the second, in the first week a total of ten - all to dysentery - the people had lost all their energy and all their will to live.Hardly cheering cases were those where people were handed in to be healed from the effects of extreme mistreatment there were bad their total extermination cases amongst these. "