BERLIN – Germany apologized on Friday for its role in the massacre of the Herero and Nama tribes in Namibia over a century ago and officially labeled the massacre a genocide for the first time, agreeing to fund projects worth over one billion euros.
German soldiers killed some 65,000 Herero members and 10,000 Nama members in a 1904-1908 campaign after a revolt against land grabs by settlers in what historians and the United Nations have long called the first genocide of the 20th century.
While Germany has previously acknowledged “moral responsibility” for the killings, it has avoided making a formal apology for the killings in order to avoid compensation claims.
In a statement announcing an agreement with Namibia after more than five years of negotiations, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the events of the German colonial period should be named “without sparing or obscuring them”.
“We will now also officially call these events what they were from today’s perspective: genocide,” Maas said.
“In light of Germany’s historical and moral responsibility, we will ask forgiveness from Namibia and the descendants of the victims,” he said.
Germany has agreed to fund € 1.1 billion of reconstruction and development projects that would directly benefit communities affected by the genocide, he said.
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Namibian media reported on Thursday that the money will fund 30-year infrastructure, health care and training programs.
Germany, which lost all of its colonial territories after World War I, was the third colonial power after Britain and France. However, its colonial past has been ignored for decades as historians and politicians have focused more on the legacy of Nazi crimes, including the Holocaust.
In 2015 he began formal negotiations with Namibia on the issue and in 2018 he returned skulls and other slaughtered tribal remains that were used in colonial-era experiments to assert claims of the European racial superiority.