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Herero Wars

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Hererowars.jpg
German troops in combat with the Herero in a painting by Richard Knötel

The Herero Wars were a series of colonial wars between German forces and the Herero tribe of southwestern Africa.

The Herero tribe were originally a tribe of graziers living in the region of modern Namibia. Formerly, Namibia was called German South West Africa and the area occupied by the Herero was known as Damaraland.

During the Colonization period the British made it clear that they were not interested in the territory so in August 1884 it was declared a German Protectorate; at that time the only overseas territory deemed suitable for white settlement that had been acquired by Germany. From the outset there was resistance by the Khoikhoi to the German occupation although a sort of peace was worked out in 1894. In that year von Leutwein became Governor of the territory and it entered a period of rapid development.

White settlers were encouraged and settled on land appropriated from the natives which caused a great deal of discontent. In 1903 some of the Khoi and Herero Tribes rose in revolt and about 60 German settlers were killed. Troops were sent from Germany to re-establish order but only succeeded in dispersing the rebels. In October 1904 General Lothar von Trotha issued orders to kill every male Herero and drive the women and children into the desert. As soon as the news of this order reached Germany it was repealed but by this time the rest of the native population was in full-scale revolt. When the order was lifted at the end of 1904, prisoners were herded into camps and given as slave labour to German businesses, where many died of overwork and malnutrition.

It took until 1908 to fully re-establish German authority over the territory by which time some 100,000 Africans had been killed. At the height the campaign some 19,000 German Troops were involved.

At about the same time diamonds were discovered in the territory and this did much to boost its prosperity. However it was short-lived. The country was annexed by the South Africa in 1915 during World War I, see South West Africa Campaign

On the 100th anniversary (August 16, 2004), the German government officially apologized for the atrocities. "We Germans accept our historic and moral responsibility and the guilt incurred by Germans at that time," said Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Germany's development aid minister. In addition, she admitted the massacres were equivalent to genocide.


See also

Herero massacre


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