“As a port and commercial city, Hamburg played a key role in the colonial past of the German Empire and thus also in the genocide in German-Southwest Africa,” said Culture Senator Carsten Brosda (SPD) on Friday at the Senate reception of senior representatives of the ethnic groups of the Herero and Nama in the town hall.
“I can only ask for forgiveness,” said the culture senator.
German colonial troops led a war of extermination between 1904 and 1908 in Africa. In the first genocide of the 20th century, up to 100,000 Ovaherero and Nama were killed or driven to certain death in the desert. The survivors were expropriated, interned, abused, raped and forced into hard labor.
On the occasion of the “2nd Transnational Herero and Nama Congress”, representatives of the two ethnic groups from Namibia called for Hamburg to face its colonial past. “We call on German civil society to put pressure on their government,” said Esther Muinjangue of the Ovaherero Genocide Foundation.
Ovaherero descendants demand apology
The Hamburg merchants had appealed in 1883, on the eve of the Berlin West Africa Conference, with a memorandum to the Reichstag to build German colonies in Africa. Adolph Woermann, then President of the Chamber of Commerce, dominated the regular service with his German East Africa line for decades and later also carried out troop transports to the colonies.
The Ovaherero descendants demand recognition of guilt and a reasonable apology. Specifically, they take offense at the “Trotha House” of the Helmut Schmidt University in Jenfeld. With the building erected in the Nazi era, Lothar von Trotha is still honored as one of the main figures responsible for the genocide on the Herero and Nama.
Also to Adolph Woermann is remembered today in Ohlsdorf with two street names. The Herero organization proposes a renaming to recognize personalities of the African Liberation Movement.
Brosda appeals to civil society
At the beginning of March, the city extended the research center at the University to work on the colonial heritage for five years. On Friday, Carsten Brosda agreed that the Senate intends to work with the federal government to include all levels in the workup of colonial history. “And that includes the level of civil society.”
The victims’ associations do not feel represented by the Namibian government. Germany is negotiating with the Namibian side for an official apology for the genocide. In addition, before a New York district court for a year a lawsuit by representatives of the Herero and Nama against the Federal Republic of Germany, in which they demand official participation in the negotiations and reparations for the genocide. Germany rejects such payments.
– Source: Hamburger Abendblatt