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[flagged] Germany′s Namibian genocide apology could miss the mark (dw.com)
12 points by Tomte 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 27 comments





As an Eastern European, when do we get an apology and reparations from: Mongolia, turkey, Russia? In fact Germany as well for the 2nd world war?

How are rules around these apologies and reparations decided? Seems it’s super popular right now but there’s basically an endless history of one human group occupying and killing another. I’d much prefer forgiving and moving on, but that seems to be off the table.

So can Eastern Europe get some cash and apology?


The difference between Eastern Europe and some parts of Africa is that there were no apologies or reparations of any kind until now.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_reparations


I’m sorry how does Germany ceding territory and paying reparations to the Soviet Union help any current Eastern European country?

Not to mention my post was also about mongols, ottomans, and Soviet occupations.


How does anything you said contradict the idea that the descendants of the survivors of Germany's genocide in Namibia should at least receive a genuine apology if Germany wants to account for past crimes its legal predecessor committed and benefited from?

We can talk about other incidents you think are similar in nature and how we should deal with those. Multiple things can be bad at the same time. Can you be any more precise than "the Mongols" and "the Soviets"? Which incidents would you like to talk about, who were the victims, what was done to them, who did it and who today do you think benefits/suffers from what happened?


The people who were supposed to apologise are not in power.

Most people whose hackles rise at the sheer sight of the word "reparations" are strangely okay with (or more cynically, completely oblivious about) how much Germany had to pay for both world wars.

Because they were caught in the act as they were doing it.

Although I know from your comment history that the question is unlikely to be genuine: you do have a point that many Germans like to forget that the entire point of the Eastern Front was to create "Lebensraum" (living space), which meant depopulation (either via deportations or mass executions). Especially the Slavic population was considered "sub-human".

That said, most Germans aren't even consciously aware Germany ever had colonies or what that meant. The awareness of war crimes in WW2 is much more widespread, despite the concerted post-war effort to shift the blame away from the Wehrmacht (both by Germans and by the Western Allies who benefited from West Germany not purging its entire military as Europe entered the Cold War).

Without necessarily understanding every nuance and knowing of every single war crime Germany committed during WW2, Germans in general and the German government specifically have spent more than seven decades acknowledging the Third Reich's wrongdoings and contributing financial aid to various forms of reparation. Germans and their government have done no such thing for Africa: the exploitation and massacre of Africans is barely even taught in history classes.


Fair enough, but that doesn’t answer my main point that history is full of really bad things, 99% of which no one has ever been held to account for (btw, why would we, no one is alive any more, so unless you believe in collective guilt it’s hard to blame anyone).

As an Eastern European who’s countries been fucked over countless times, these reparation discussions are bordering on insulting.


"Bad things happened to me and nobody talked about that so why should people talk to you just because bad things happened to you too" is not enlightened rationality, it's just spite.

It actually sounds like you have been the victim of injustices but feel disgust towards other victims of injustices because you don't want to be thought of as a victim. This is a perfectly normal reaction, but you might want to talk to a therapist. I'm not saying this to insult you. Mental health is a seriously overlooked issue and many people avoid seeking professional help because they don't want to be seen as vulnerable, even if it ruins their lives.

EDIT: Interesting that someone would read the first paragraph and conclude that I'm talking about personal beliefs. Or accusing me of calling people "mentally ill", which literally reinforces my point of people avoiding therapy for its stigma.


So the people who do not share your beliefs should be treated by therapist? That's a serious claim you know...

Its worse, people who don’t want to think of themselves as victims, and want to just move on should see a therapist as they are mentally ill.

This sums up the west nicely as of 2021.


Personally I don't feel the need to "what about" a ~century-old genocide that's understood to be the training ground for the Holocaust.

This is the “all lives matter” tactic applied to colonialism.

Genocide (or rather genocide guilt) isn't a problem you can just pay to shut up and go away. That's almost hilariously absurd.

The difference between reparations and gifts of pity/guilt is not just in the wording - if you're unwilling to call what you're doing reparations (along with all that that entails), then frankly any amount of money you're offering is an insult.


So, what should be done?


In my opinion? Actually offer reparation, or just don't bother. Blow hot or blow cold, but lukewarmness disgusts me.

As I just said elsewhere in the comments, it's similar to having a company wrong you and then offer an out-of-court settlement. Offering settlements like that is most often a way to buy silence and dodge the actual work that goes into making amends (of which money is the least part).

"We know we wronged you but oh no [our PR/our stock/other possible claims/the cost of possibly having to change our processes so it doesn't happen again]" is insulting enough when it's only coming from a company that screwed you over materially; it's so much worse when it's an attempted apology for actual genocide.

An example I'd consider reasonably well done (if understandably contentious then and even now) would be the reparations for the Holocaust. Note how it wasn't just throwing money at the problem to assuage guilt, but also an entire nation re-assessing itself, its past and its future (see: vergangenheitsbewältigung).


Regarding the vergangenheitsbewaltigung, keep in ming that it was instituted by the people who either actively committed crimes or elected the people who lead the holocaust or at least by people who stood by doing nothing. So personal guilt (sincere or insincere, mind you) was an important factor in this process.

My understanding is that the genocide in Namibia was perpetrated more than a 100 years ago. None of the Germans alive today, which for a non negligible portion, do not have their ancestors from Germany nor Namibia, participated in it.

Surely, this means that the same exact process cannot be replicated. For example, I don't think that the German administration is being manned by anti-herero functionaries. I don't think that we could have Nuremberg style trial of living criminals.

The rest of the vergangenheitsbewaltigung: monuments, museum, emphasis on this genocide in history class, remembrance day, etc. are not really "reparations", at least in my understanding of the term.

So when you talk about reparations, if it is not money, what do you have in mind precisely?


To stretch the company/settlement analogy a little, I personally think it's rather clear that offering an out-of-court settlement rather than facing civil judgment is still cowardly/insulting (with an added helping of weaselling) if it comes from the successors of the company execs/staff that committed the wrong rather than the actual perpetrators.

> The rest of the vergangenheitsbewaltigung: monuments, museum, emphasis on this genocide in history class, remembrance day, etc. are not really "reparations", at least in my understanding of the term.

I'm not sure what understanding of "reparations" excludes those things? Both from a pure legal perspective and from a transitional justice perspective, monetary restitution is just one possible aspect of reparation.

Plus it's particularly interesting in this case because addressing the Namibian genocide should have been a part of non-monetary reparation efforts. In many ways the Namib desert was the sandbox for the Holocaust.


> I'm not sure what understanding of "reparations" excludes those things? Both from a pure legal perspective and from a transitional justice perspective, monetary restitution is just one possible aspect of reparation.

Another comment in this thread says that giving money to the Namibian government was wrong because it was not going in the hand of those who suffered the consequence of the genocide which seems to indicate that for reparations to be considered "valid" it must be addressed directly to the wronged people. I don't see how a museum in Germany is going to repair the degradation of the descendant of the Namibian people who where massacred.

But anyway, let's assume that all these things could be considered reparations.

> To stretch the company/settlement analogy a little, I personally think it's rather clear that offering an out-of-court settlement rather than facing civil judgment is still cowardly/insulting (with an added helping of weaselling) if it comes from the successors of the company execs/staff that committed the wrong rather than the actual perpetrators.

But all the actual perpetrators (the killers or those who gave them orders) are dead. Justice in the case of dead perpetrators is moot. What remain is civil actions against the company itself. But as far as I know, there are no judicial framework to trial countries for "historical" acts. If this was the case, it would open many questions. What are the "historical" acts that can be brought to that court? Another commenter was talking about the invasion of eastern Europe by the Golden Horde ; should it be a candidate of a trial? Of course not but it means that there are some criteria that will be hard to get an agreement on.

Anyway, my beef with this is that the goalpost is not defined. And probably some people have qualms taking extensive (and expansive) steps to a moving goalpost.


[flagged]


It's similar to companies offering out-of-court settlements. If they were serious/sincere about acknowledging their wrongdoing, then they'd go to court and face the consequences. It's understandable that many if not most people would just take the settlement (especially considering how expensive legal proceedings can be), but it's also fully understandable that there are people who would see it for exactly what it is: an attempt to buy their silence/forgiveness.

Oh, absolutely. I could fully understand if the tribes decided that they want to accept the money despite thinking its insulting. It's not nothing. But considering the amount would in practice be a symbolic gesture at best, it's also fully understandable that they reject it because they understand that the gesture is hollow and not forgiving after accepting the money would only allow others to say they're ungrateful.

How could it be not symbolic? You can't un-kill the dead. Even an all-out revenge massacre wouldn't fail the "symbolic" predicate.

That's why I said it would be a symbolic gesture at best. You can't un-genocide the genocide. But I also said it isn't even that really because it's a hollow gesture.

Germany's GDP is nearly $4 trillion. Germany's federal budget for 2021 is roughly $450 billion. Giving away a little over $1 billion once, is barely even noticeable. I'm not saying Germany should offer $4 trillion to Namibia or even $450 billion. But $1 billion once, with no genuine apology, is an insult.

To contrast this consider that under the EU's GDPR companies can be fined for up to 4% of annual revenue for violations of data privacy. If Germany were a company and the federal budget its annual revenue, that would translate to $18 billion. Again, I'm not saying this exact amount would be appropriate. But if you want to buy forgiveness, you should at least inconvenience yourself to do so to show you mean it.


But it isn't buying forgiveness because noone of those paying was involved in the atrocities in question. It might be called an unsolicited bribe given in hopes of reducing any multi-generational grudges that might be held. Turns out it seems to have the opposite effect, by putting a spotlight on an ugly bit of history. Lesson learned: don't bother. If the receiving side considers it a negotiation it's on them that they attach a price tag to the lives of their ancestral community.

I have no idea why people are downvoting you. From what I know all you said is correct. The money will be given to the Namibian government and not to the descendants of the genocide (the Nama and Herero) who don't have a large representation in government. All the negotiations have been with the government without the involvement of the Nama and Herero.



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