The Herero

Genocide- Miranda Immele

What is Herero Genocide?

Herero Genocide was a campaign of racial extermination and collective punishment that the German Empire undertook in German South-West Africa against the Herero people. It's seem to be known as the first genocide of the 20th century.
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Okahandja, Namibia, August 2004, Herero Day commemorations

On January 12, 1904, the Herero people, led by Samuel Maharero, rebelled against German colonial rule. In August, German general Lothar von Trotha defeated the Herero in the Battle of Waterberg and drove them into the desert of Omaheke, where most of them died of thirst. In October, the Nama people also rebelled against the Germans only to suffer a similar fate.
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In total, from 24,000 up to 100,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama died. The genocide was characterized by widespread death by starvation and thirst because the Herero who fled the violence were prevented from returning from the Namib Desert. Some sources also claim that the German colonial army systematically poisoned desert wells.
In 1985, the United Nations' Whitaker Report classified the aftermath as an attempt to exterminate the Herero and Nama peoples of South-West Africa, and therefore one of the earliest attempts at genocide in the 20th century. The German government recognized and apologized for the events in 2004, but has ruled out financial compensation for the victims' descendants.
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The Hereros were herdsmen who migrated to the region in the 17th and 18th centuries. After a German presence was established in the region in the 1800s, the Herero territory was annexed (in 1885) as a part of German South West Africa. A series of uprisings against German colonialists, from 1904–1907, led to the extermination of approximately four-fifths of the Herero population. After Herero soldiers attacked German farmers, German troops implemented a policy to eliminate all Hereros from the region, including women and children.
The Genocide of the Herero People of Africa By Germans

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


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Concentration Camps

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. "


With the closure of concentration camps, all surviving Herero were distributed as labourers for settlers in the German colony. From that time on, all Herero over the age of seven were forced to wear a metal disc with their labour registration number, and banned from owning land or cattle, a necessity for pastoral society.
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Survivors and where they are today

From my research I wasn't able to find survivors, at least in the United states, or simply have not spoken up about it if there happens to be survivors. There seems to be a memorial site, and plenty gravestones to recognize those have lived through this time though.

Memorial for the Herero Genocide Victims

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