Berlin, May 28 (EFE).- Germany on Friday officially recognized the massacre of tens of thousands of members of the Herero and Nama ethnic groups during its colonial-era occupation of modern-day Namibia as a “genocide” for the first time.
The declaration comes after five years of negotiations, and was accompanied by an announcement of a financial support package to help the affected communities worth 1.1 billion euros.
German foreign minister Heiko Maas called the agreement a “great success”.
“I am pleased and grateful that it has been possible to reach an understanding with Namibia on the darkest chapter of our common history,” Maas said in a statement.
The aim of the negotiations, the minister explained, was to find a “common path” towards a “true reconciliation in the memory of the victims” as bilateral relations between the two countries had been burdened “for a long time” by the issue.
“In light of Germany’s historical and moral responsibility, we will apologize to Namibia and the descendants of the victims,” the foreign minister added.
Maas pointed out that the “acknowledgement of guilt” and the “request for forgiveness” is an “important step”, although he said he was aware that true reconciliation “cannot be decreed”, just as the matter cannot be closed as a result of this agreement.
Reviewing the crimes committed in this way will nevertheless contribute to building the future together, he said.
As a “gesture of recognition” for the “incalculable pain” caused by the German imperial army, the foreign minister argued, Germany has launched a “substantial program” of 1.1 billion euros “for reconstruction and to support economic development” in the African country.
The representatives of the Herero and Nama, who were in close contact with the Namibian negotiator (but did not participate directly in the talks), demanded individual compensation, which Berlin refused from the outset. This was the main stumbling block to any agreement.