German war graves president to lay wreath at Maharero burial site

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Windhoek

The president of the German War Graves Commission, Markus Meckel, is to lay a wreath on the grave of Chief Samuel Maharero at Okahandja on Saturday, the Germany Embassy said in a press statement.

Chief Samuel Maharero led the uprising against German expansionism but died in Botswana.

Meckel, who arrived in the country yesterday, will also lay wreaths at the Swakopmund Memorial Park cemetery on Friday, the embassy said yesterday.

On Sunday, Meckel will inaugurate the All Believers House of Prayer in Ombu-jomumbonde near Otjiwarongo in Otjozondjupa Region.

The Ovaherero/Ovambanderu and Nama have been demanding reparation from the Germans for acts of genocide committed in the 1904 war.

The genocide was a campaign of racial extermination and collective punishment that the imperial German army undertook against the Ovaherero and Nama.

It is considered to have been the first genocide of the 20th century and took place between 1904 and 1907 in the then German South West Africa – modern-day Namibia.

During the genocide the chief German colonial army commander, General Lothar von Trotha, decreed the extermination of the Ovaherero.

As a result close to 100 000 Ovaherero and 10 000 Nama people died of thirst, starvation and in subsequent battles against the Germans.

Last week, a coalition of non-governmental and civic organisations handed a petition to German President Joachim Gauck in Berlin.

The petition was signed by over 2 000 German nationals, including eminent persons from across the political, cultural and academic spectrum. They called on the Federal German government to recognise the tragic events of 1904-1908 as genocide and to apologise to the affected communities.

Speaker of the German Parliament, Norbert Lammert, published a statement last week saying that “measured by today’s standards of international law, the putting down of the Herero uprising was genocide”, prompting widespread speculation that the German government is now poised to acknowledge the campaign of extermination against the Ovaherero and Nama people as a war crime and genocide.

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