Bundestag president calls on Germany to recognize Namibia massacre as genocide

The speaker of the German parliament has said that a mass killing of indigenous Namibians by German imperial troops a century ago constituted a “genocide.”

In an article written for the German newspaper "ZEIT," Norbert Lammert, the president of Germany`s parliament, said anyone who refers to the Turkish massacre of Armenians in 1915 as `genocide` must also acknowledge that atrocities committed by German imperial troops a decade before in what is now Namibia should also be described as such.

"Measured against today`s standards of human rights, putting down the Herero rebellion was genocide," Lammert wrote.

German South-West Africa, presently known as Namibia, was a colony of the German empire for 31 years during a period that ended July 9, 1915. When several thousand members of the Herero and Nama tribes rose up against the Germans` colonial rule, they were brutally rebuffed. Between 1904 and 1908, tens of thousands of people were killed in an effort to squash the rebellion.

Lammert said that the Herero and Nama were not only killed in fighting, but also fell victim to sicknesses. Some died after being deliberately left to die of starvation or thirst, and others died in concentration camps or as a result of forced labor.

Irritated by German settlers grabbing their land and cattle and taking their women, the Herero people started an uprising in January 1904 with warriors. The revolt was joined by Nama tribe joined one year later

The colonial rulers responded ruthlessly and signed a notorious extermination order against the Hereros.

Figures show German troops massacred around 70,000 Hereros, which amounted to about 80 percent of its population. The troops also wiped out half of the people of the Nama ethnic group.

A large number of victims were beheaded and their skulls sent to German researchers in Berlin for "scientific" experiments. 

In recent years, the German government has formally handed back dozens of the skulls, many of which were stored on dusty shelves at clinics.

The United Nations officially called the killings genocide as early as 1948. However, successive German governments have refuses to do so to this day. 

The calls for an official recognition of a genocide has grown even stronger after the German parliament or Bundestag recognized a mass killing of Armenian as `genocide`. The German rule in Namibia ended in 1915.

Earlier this week, a delegation from the Namibian activists` group "Volkermord verjährt nicht" (Genocide doesn`t have a statute of limitations) presented a petition to Gauck calling the German government to recognize the Herero massacre as genocide. Several prominent members of the opposition in parliament were among the signatories.