White Ghosts

The colonial war against the Herero

On the 12th January 1904 the first shot rang out in Okahandja, the most important military station on the Swakopmund to Windhoek railway line in German Southwest Africa. On this day the uprising of the Herero against their German colonial rulers began.

Kaiser Wilhelm II sent his regiments to the African colony in 1904 to quell the revolt by the Herero. A few months before, they had begun to defend themselves against the confiscation of their land by the colonial rulers. As a result of this, General von Trotha issued the order, "to shoot every Herero found on sovereign German territory". During the three years in which this colonial war was prosecuted, an estimated 65,000 Herero lost their lives – more than two thirds of the people in total.

In Namibia, people remember the events from 1904 to 1907 in a completely different manner to those in Germany. Something which still has great significance in Africa is of almost no interest to anyone in Germany.
Why have the Germans forgotten and suppressed their past in Africa so thoroughly, and why do the Herero celebrate these events which are described as genocide nowadays and during which they take over and imitate the uniforms and badges of rank of their onetime adversaries?


White Ghosts

3:30 minutes – the beginning of the film

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