Last year I posted on the Belgian atrocities in the Congo. An even more direct precursor of 20th century mass killing, occured in what is now Namibia and what was then the German colony of South West Africa. Here is 1904-7, German colonists killed up to 100,000 indigenous people as part of the colonization program.
The Herero and Namaqua Genocide is considered the first genocide of the 20th century. It occurred from 1904 until 1907 in German South-West Africa, during the scramble for African colonies by European nations. On January 12, 1904, the Herero people, led by Samuel Maherero, rebelled against German colonial rule. In August, German general Lothar Von Trotha defeated the Herero in the Battle of Waterberg and drove them into the desert of Omaheke, where most of them died of thirst. In October, the Nama people also rebelled against the Germans only to suffer a similar fate.
In total, between 24,000 up to 100,000 Herero perished along with 10,000 Nama. The genocide was characterized by widespread death by starvation and from consumption of well water which had been poisoned by the German colonial army in the Namib Desert.
In 1985, the United Nation’s Whitaker Report classified the aftermath as an attempt to exterminate the Herero and Nama peoples of South-West Africa, and therefore one of the earliest attempts of genocide in the 20th century. The German government recognized and apologized for the events in 2004.
More details at:
And in particular, as described by a German eye witness:
“I was present when the Herero were defeated in a battle in the vicinity of Waterberg. After the battle all men, women, and children who fell into German hands, wounded or otherwise, were mercilessly put to death. Then the Germans set off in pursuit of the rest, and all those found by the wayside and in the sandveld were shot down and bayoneted to death. The mass of the Herero men were unarmed and thus unable to offer resistance. They were just trying to get away with their cattle’
Another of history’s forgotten mass murderers: Lothar Van Trotta: