Between 1904 and 1908, the German Kaiserreich in the former colony "German South West Africa" led an inhuman war of extermination against the Ovaherero and Nama people, of which the Damarara and the San also were victims. Measured by the criteria of the UN Genocide Convention of 1948, the German 'Schutztruppe' committed an atrocity and set of massacres that can undoubtedly be termed a genocide- the first of the 20th century. In 1984, the UN Whitaker Report officially deemed the German massacre of the Ovaherero and Nama people a genocide.
Since the independence of Namibia in 1990 the descendants of the victims of the genocide in a free Namibian government have had the ability to articulate the horrors of this history and to begin a process of coming to terms with the past. The descendants of the victims demand a process of 'restorative justice', which would include symbolic and material reparation.
Reparation has a central importance for the further development of contemporary Namibia. On the one side, it is important for the national reconciliation process between the different ethnic groups in Namibia, including the descendants of German and other white settlers. On the other side, the genocide is closely connected with unresolved land issues in today's Namibia. Many of the descendants of the victims of the genocide live today in bitter poverty, because in the German colonial period their land and livestock were robbed and taken over by white settlers.
The German government is the legal inheritor of the German kaiserreich and is therefore legally responsible for the crimes of the colonial period. Until today they have, however, refused to offer an official apology for this genocide: real and sustainable reconciliation between Namibia and Germany cannot take place like this.