German general's family to meet Herero

5th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

5 October 2007, Windhoek (dpa) - A visit to Namibia by the descendants of the infamous German colonial-era army commander Lothar von Trotha, who tried to crush uprisings by native Herero, is intended to help heal wounds of the past. Von Trotha's German Schutztruppe advanced on Herero in 1904 and, by way of an extermination order to quell Herero uprisings, caused the deaths of thousands of the fleeing tribesmen. But, not all descendants of the Herero have received the reconciliatory gesture with open arms.

5 October 2007

Windhoek (dpa) - A visit to Namibia by the descendants of the infamous German colonial-era army commander Lothar von Trotha, who tried to crush uprisings by native Herero, is intended to help heal wounds of the past.

Von Trotha's German Schutztruppe advanced on Herero in 1904 and, by way of an extermination order to quell Herero uprisings, caused the deaths of thousands of the fleeing tribesmen.

But, not all descendants of the Herero have received the reconciliatory gesture with open arms.

The visit is a reciprocation of a meeting in Germany between the von Trotha family and Herero Chief Alfons Maharero, a descendant of Samuel Maharero, who led the tribe's army during the battle.

"We, the members of the Von Trotha family, are ashamed of the terrible events that took place 100 years ago," Wolf-Thilo von Trotha told a Herero welcoming delegation upon his arrival in the country earlier this week.

"We deeply regret what happened to your people and also to the Nama and Damara (tribes) - the cruel and unjustified death of thousands of men, women and children."

But while the Ovaherero Genocide Committee of 1904 has hailed the visit as a chance to help heal the wounds of the past and see reconciliation in practice, Herero Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako announced in parliament that he would not share a table with the von Trotha's.

"If the von Trotha family want to clean their name, they must tell the German government what their parent did wrong," he said during a debate on national reconciliation on Tuesday.

Local papers reported that a week ago Riruako had stirred emotions unnecessarily by warning on the Oshiherero Radio Service that the von Trotha's should not come to Namibia lest they get killed.

Riruako has been trying to force the German government to agree to reparations for the atrocities committed against his people during the colonial era. So far his attempts to have the German government convicted on genocide charges in court in the United States have not been successful.

The German government has repeatedly pointed out that it is fulfilling its historical obligations by being Namibia's single biggest donor, but that it would support the country as a whole and not a single ethnic group.

German colonial forces also fought heavy battles against other Namibian tribes such as the Nama and Damara.

President of the DTA opposition party Katuutire Kaura, who was part of the welcoming committee for the 10-member von Trotha family, said he believed Riruako felt snubbed because the von Trotha's did not visit him personally, but had followed the invitation of the six royal houses to attend the annual White Flag celebrations at Omaruru.

The title and position of paramount chief of the Herero did not exist during the German colonial time between 18841919. Von Trotha became commander of the imperial German force in May 1904.

Namibia later came under the administration of apartheid-era South Africa before gaining independence in 1990.

DPA

Subject: German news

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