Between the desert of Omaheke which is inland

Between
the years of 1904 and 1907, during the German colonial war, Germany expanded
their empire throughout China, Africa and the Pacific. Even though they
expanded to all these places, the place with the most issues like genocide and
mass killings was Africa, specifically Southwest Africa. Germany destroyed
Namibia, which is a small country in Southwest Africa, and they are still
suffering the consequences of it. The German colonial war is significant to
both Namibia and Germany to this day because even though it happened over 100
years ago, there are still issues between them about the war with monuments and
their governments.

            General Lothar von Trotha, a German
military commander, was the leader of this historic event which is now known as
first genocide of the 20th century. Trotha was sent to what’s now
known as Namibia, to command German settlers to push the Herero people out of
their land. Herero people are people who reside in Namibia, Botswana and
Angola. German soldiers came in huge numbers and “began attacks against the
Herero and proceeded with slaughtering them and pushing them towards the desert
of Omaheke which is inland of Namibia” (Baltzois). This first started on October
2nd, 1904 when he issued an order to exterminate the Herero from
their land. A famous quote by him was “All the
Herero must leave the land. If they refuse, then I will force them to do it
with the big guns. Any Herero found within German borders, with or without a
gun, will be shot. No prisoners will be taken. This is my decision for the
Herero people” (The Genocide). The Germans started by taking the Herero’s cattle,
so they would have no way of making a living, or no food available to them.
This promised many Herero people “a slow death from starvation, thirst and
disease” (The Genocide). If Herero people wouldn’t cooperate with the Germans,
they were sent to labor camps to be slaves to the settlers from Germany. Trotha’s
thought process was “Herero man to be executed on the spot, while the women and
children to be led to the desert to die slowly” (Baltzois). Since the Germans
killed so many Hereros it was considered a genocide. In the article The
Genocide it said, “Before the uprising, the tribe numbered 80,000; after it,
only 15,000 remained.” It wasn’t until recently, that Germany would acknowledge
the genocide and take actions to fix it.

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            After Namibia got their country back
many years after the genocide, there is a little town called Swakpomund, that was
established by the Germans and still stands today. It is located on the coast
of Namibia facing the Atlantic Ocean. Swakpomund is the center of German
speaking in all of Namibia and has a lot of well-preserved buildings and
artifacts from the German Colonial war. 
They also have a lot of streets and hotels named after German figures,
to keep a little bit of the country’s history, and appeal to the many German
tourists they get. This city is significant to the war because, even though
Namibia and Germany are just now coming to terms with the genocide, Namibia is still
allowing a city of Germans to live there. They are also allowing for things to
be named after some German people and keeping up monuments from the war.
Namibia is allowing a lot of German tourists to come visit every year, even
though things aren’t solved between them. Germany finally has come out and said,
“German officials say they are ready to acknowledge the genocide formally,
issue and apology and offer compensation” (Onishi). This is significant because
it’s been over 100 years, and Germany is just now drawing their attention to
it, and Namibia probably never thought that would happen. Germany is also
willing to offer compensation to those who lost family members from the war. Hopefully,
they can get on good terms, and have peace with one another.

            A pressing issue in the news lately
surrounding Namibia and Germany a monument out front of the State House, which serves
as the president’s summer house in Namibia. It is called the Marine Denkmal and
was erected in 1908. This monument commemorates who fought in the war against
Namibia. The statue was described as, “The statue, depicting a German marine
holding a rifle in his hands and standing guard over a dying comrade, has stood
undisturbed for decades in the most prominent spot in Swakopmund” (Onishi). But,
“a few months ago protesters spilled red paint over the monument” (Onishi).
There has been talk about whether to remove it and give it to the Germans, or
to keep it. One argument to keep it is that it’s a tourist attraction. The
Herero people think that people from the around the world come to Namibia to
see the monument. Another argument to keep it is that Germans who live in
Namibia go to the statue to commemorate the deaths of the troops that fought in
that war. Namibia also doesn’t want to remove it since it’s a big part of their
history. The war was really what shaped their country. Laidlaw Peringanda is an
activist who wants to remove the statue and he said “The open glorification of
soldiers responsible for the massacres of his Herero ancestors had irritated
him for years (Onishi). The Namibia government also thinks that it brings back
a bad past for the country, and it can be hard to look at it and think about
the past for the country. This monument is significant to the war because the
monument still stands there today. It has so much meaning behind it because it
was such a big part of not only Namibia’s history, but German history too. Even
though Germany annihilated Namibia, they are on the path to work things out,
and possibly become allies. I think it says a lot that Namibia is willing to
put everything behind them, especially when it’s been over 100 years for
Germany to do something. I also think that it is a tourist attraction for
Germans, because they are taught about the war in school, so to be able to go
see it, would be really cool for them. I think the fact that it still stands is
powerful because Namibia is able to put their differences aside, and let
German’s live there, and speak the language of their choice.

            After everything horrible that
Germany has done to Namibia, it only makes sense for them to finally address
it, even though it’s taken over 100 years. Trotha was relentless in taking over
their land and would do anything to win. The fact that Namibia is willing to
have a dominantly German speaking city, shows that they are willing to let go
of the issue and put aside their differences. Hopefully, the statue in front of
the state house will stay, because it is such a big part of both countries
history’s and always will be. It’s about time that Germany addresses the issue
and offers compensation to the Herero people who have lost a love one because
of this tragedy.