Agence France-Presse, May 28, 2021
Germany for the first time on Friday recognised it had committed genocide in Namibia during its colonial occupation, with Berlin promising financial support worth more than one billion euros to aid projects in the African nation.
German colonial settlers killed tens of thousands of indigenous Herero and Nama people in 1904-1908 massacres — labelled the first genocide of the 20th century by historians — poisoning relations between Namibia and Germany for years.
While Berlin had previously acknowledged that atrocities occurred at the hands of its colonial authorities, they have repeatedly refused to pay direct reparations.
“We will now officially refer to these events as what they are from today’s perspective: genocide,” said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in a statement.
He hailed the agreement after more than five years of negotiations with Namibia over events in the territory held by Berlin from 1884 to 1915.
“In light of the historical and moral responsibility of Germany, we will ask forgiveness from Namibia and the victims’ descendants” for the “atrocities” committed, Maas said.
In a “gesture to recognise the immense suffering inflicted on the victims”, the country will support the “reconstruction and the development” of Namibia via a financial programme of 1.1 billion euros ($1.34 billion), he said.
The sum will be paid over 30 years, according to sources close to the negotiations, and must primarily benefit the descendants of the Herero and Nama.
However, he specified that the payment does not open the way to any “legal request for compensation”.