Killing Africans for racial experiment


Nairobi – The mass murder of Jews by the Nazi from mid-1930s to 1945 remains a sensitive topic, yet similar atrocities committed by the German imperial forces during the 20th century in concentration camps in Africa are usually swept under the carpet.

The genocide, where German soldiers forced African tribes into concentration camps to die, chop off victims’ heads and compel their women to boil the heads and scrap off the skin and package the skulls to Germany’s research institutes are chilling experiences that shaped the world history.

At the German research institutes, their scientific team, led by Dr Eugen Fischer, skull study deduced that “black brains are inferior to whites”.

His findings that were published in 1914 later became Adolf Hitler’s blueprint documented in his book “Mein Kampf” to justify mass murder of Jews and sterilisation of blacks during Nazi regime leading to the two major world wars.  

The National Geographic channel is currently airing in Kenya and East Africa a 60-minute television documentary titled: “The genocide of the second Reich” that looks at the killings of three quarters of the Namibian population in German concentration camps.

During the German-Namibian war of 1904-1908, 80 percent of the Ovaherero were wiped out and nearly half of the Namas were murdered in cold blood for resisting the occupation of their land by the Europeans.

Formerly called German Southwest Africa, Namibia was a German colony from 1884 to 1919.

According to one of the descendants of Ovaherero genocide victims, Dr Zed Ngavirue, African tribes were ill prepared for the attack on their own soil and the consequences thereafter. 

“Here was a scenario where Namibian tribes with a population the size of a single German town where fighting against soldiers with modern sophisticated weapons,” Dr Ngavirue, the first director general of Namibia’s National Planning Commission and former ambassador to the European Union and Benelux countries.

University of Cologne history professor Larissa Forscher said that because African tribes were forced to extreme conditions they had little options but to die.

“This is the first time Germans used a concentration camp ever in the world history. The aim was to make the tribes live and work in extreme conditions with little or no food forcing slow death,” said Professor Forscher.

Historian Jeremy Sylvester says that kept records reminisce of horror, “When you take a look at the existing records, that’s when you see the terror of the war because every day the records show that the figures of people declining.”

However, Namibian historian Casper Erischson said that the war was beyond African context.

“It was a battle of the future of races, the battle for German survival. It was a battle of white power, white supremacy against African resistance and other colonies,” Erischson said

Years later, the German ruler Adolf Hitler would use the same experiments and findings to wage war on Jews and other races considered inferior.

Hitler would embrace Dr Fischer as one of his top aides to stamp German authority in European and world politics.

For years German government refused to take responsibility and remained unremorseful to genocide against African tribes and compensations has been snail-paced. 

“In Namibia today, there are statues glorifying German soldiers hanging above graves of their African victims,” says Casper Erischson, a Namibian historian, adding that “The long years of oppression derailed Namibia that’s why they are one of the last countries to gain independence in 1990.”

Even after the war ended and White South Africans took control of Namibia, many German soldiers settled in the country and were compensated with large tracts of land forcefully snatched from the indigenous tribes.

The whites make only 1 percent of the population but control much of the economy.

Meanwhile, descendants of the German soldiers who settled in Namibia distance themselves from the genocide and subsequent consequences arguing that they are constantly fingered yet they cannot own up to what their forefathers did several years ago.

August 2014
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