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.
In total, between 24,000 up to 100,000 Herero perished along with 10,000 Nama. The genocide was characterized by widespread death by starvation and thirst by preventing the fled Herero from returning from the Namib Desert.
Some sources also claim the German colonial army to have 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 of genocide in the 20th century. The German government recognized and apologized for the events in 2004.
Today, Maherero day is the traditional Herero festival held annually in Okahandja in memory of those who died in the German massacre in 1904.
German scientist Eugen Fischer came to the concentration camps to conduct medical experiments on race, using children of Herero people and mulatto children of Herero women and German men as test subjects. Together with Theodor Mollison he also experimented upon Herero prisoners. Those experiments included sterilization, injection of smallpox, typhus as well as tuberculosis. The numerous cases of mixed offspring upset the German colonial administration and the obsession with racial purity.
Eugen Fischer studied 310 mixed-race children, calling them "Rehoboth bastards"of "lesser racial quality".Fischer also subjected them to numerous racial tests such as head and body measurements, eye and hair examinations. In conclusion of his studies he advocated genocide of alleged "inferior races" claiming that "whoever thinks thoroughly the notion of race, can not arrive at a different conclusion". Fischer later became chancellor of the University of Berlin, where he taught medicine to Nazi physicians. One of his prominent students was Josef Mengele, the doctor who made genetic experiments on Jewish children at Auschwitz.
Felix von Luschan, director of the Ethnology Museum in Berlin, was an ethnologist obsessed with collecting human skulls and skeletons. He drew up guidelines for travelers to German colonies, instructing them how to pack skulls, skeletons and human brains for shipment. This 'currently respected director' boasted, you could get a human skeleton for a piece of soap....One year after the extermination war began, Felix Luschan asked a notorious racist by the name of Lieutenant Ralf Zürn 'commander of Okahandja', if he was aware of any way in which the Museum might collect a larger number Herero skulls? The Lieutenant had already supplied him with a skull, wrote back saying this would be possible 'since in the concentration camps taking and preserving the skulls of Herero prisoners of war will be more readily possible than in the country, where there is always a danger of offending the ritual feelings of the natives'.
... Namibia's Herero community is seeking reparations from Germany for the suffering experienced during colonial rule. The Herero say that German policy at the time amounted to genocide. Many Herero who rebelled, became prisoners of war. Starvation and torture were widespread. Of an estimated 65,000 Herero, only 15,000 survived. Today, the pain is still felt acutely. "Our fathers and mothers were killed like animals. It's a sad story, all the atrocities, the way the Germans killed people, starved them to death, and took them into concentration camps," says 65-year-old Ujama Karuhumba who lives in Okahandja. ....
Germany has offered an apology for the massacres that occurred, and proposed a multi-million dollar development deal for Namibia.
However, the Herero Genocide Committee is seeking millions of dollars in compensation from the German government, based on the atrocities committed. Esther Utjiua who chairs the committee, says Germany wants no mention of the word "genocide".
"For two years, we've been asking the German government to talk about the issue of genocide, and come to an agreement on reparations that can be acceptable to both sides." After a state visit to Germany at the end of last year by Namibia's President Hifikepunye Pohamba, talks between the two countries on bilateral development co-operation were postponed.
At a recent fund-raising dinner in the capital, Windhoek, influential members of the Herero community outlined ambitious plans to raise money and write more books about the events of 1904. A young student made an impassioned plea to the assembled guests: "It is against the background of the German atrocities that the Herero community is seeking compensation from the German government. I'm saying 'Push on' until the long overdue victory has been attained". Phil Ya Nangoloh of Namibia's National Society for Human Rights says he fully supports the Herero claim for reparations. "There is enough documentation to prove that genocide has taken place, as defined in the Genocide Convention. A token sign of reparation must be given to the people who suffered this genocide".
Source BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk
THE HERERO HOLOCAUST? The Disputed History Of The 1904 Genocide http://www.namibweb.com/hererohol.htm