Namibia wants Germany to return its colonial-era skulls

22nd October 2008, Comments 0 comments

Namibia's government is demanding that German universities return dozens of skulls that they have had since the colonial era a century ago.

Namibia -- Namibia's government is calling for the repatriation of dozens of skulls that have been stored in German universities since the colonial era.

The Namibian government said it has given the National Monuments Council the task of ensuring Germany’s payment "for the repatriation of the remains and all related costs."

The skulls are those of indigenous Ovaherero, known also as Herero, and Nama victims of the tribal uprising against German colonial rule between 1904 and 1908.

Thousands of indigenous people had perished at the hands of the Schutztruppe after the extermination orders given by German colonial armed forces chief, General Lothar von Trotha.

Also, numerous African prisoners of war had died in concentration camps in Windhoek, Swakopmund and Luderitz.

To support his theory of the superiority of the European brain over that of the African, the German scientist Eugen Fischer had requested skulls of the dead for research.

At the end of July, the German public television channel ARD reported that the Berlin Charité alone had an inventory listing 47 skulls from the former German colony.

Earlier, traditional chiefs of the Ovaherero and the Nama tribes asked the Namibian government to facilitate the return of the skulls for a heroes burial at Heroes' Acre outside the capital Windhoek, Namibia.

However, the request for repatriation of the skulls by Namibia's ambassador in Germany fell on deaf ears regardingh the universities of Berlin and Freiburg. The archive of the Freiburg University defended the collection of human skulls and bones as "cultural heritage."


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