The German government yesterday returned human remains of the Herero and Nama genocide victims from present-day Namibia. The remains had been stored in German’s hospitals, museums, and universities for decades for scientific experiments to prove the racial superiority of white Europeans.
As I read about this moving development, I realized that one key factor is strikingly at the core of all major genocides of the 20th century—Impunity.
Between 1904 and 1908, Germans massacred thousands of Herero and Nama people in what has been called the “first genocide of the 20th century.” No single German was ever brought to account.
A few Years later, the Ottoman Empire systematically exterminated Armenians by starvation in deserts—A mantra that Germans had used against Herero well before. Again, the Turks went unpunished.
Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of Armenians?
Boasting about impunity, Adolf Hitler said on August 22, 1939 ‘’ who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of Armenians?’’ and from there the impunity became a pattern.
If you think that the Germans’ Concentration camps and Dr. Mengele’s human experiments on Jews, were the Nazis invention during the World War II, you’re simply wrong.
Concentration camps were an old formula successfully tested by colonial Germany in Africa, before being replicated by Hitler in Europe over 30 years later.
The same is true for the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
There was no need to reinvent the wheels in 1994.
The methods senior Hutus used to massacre the Tutsi back in 1959, the 60s, the 70s, and 90s were simply replicated to a larger scale by the second generation Hutu in 1994. Bariyeri (Street Checkpoints to track Tutsi), Ibitero (Killing squads) and dumping victims’ corpses into rivers are some of those methods.
It is, therefore, crystal clear that impunity is ultimately a key factor that all genocide share in common. Had the Germans been held accountable to the genocide of Herero, perhaps the Holocaust would have been mitigated. The same can be said of the Genocide of Tutsi Rwanda.
While I commend the German government efforts to revisiting its one-century old pattern of impunity, German should move a little further to publically apologize and pay reparations to the descendants of Herero and Nama genocide victims. End
By Albert Gasake