Declaration of the German Parliament of June 16, 2004
German Bundestag Printed Matter 15/3329
15th Legislative Period
Filed by the MPs of the parliamentary caucus of SPD and Bündnis90/Die Grünen
In commemoration of the victims of the Colonial War in the former German-South West Africa
The Bundestag may carry the motion:
2004 will see the 100th anniversary of the start of the bloody suppression of the uprisings in the former German-South West Africa through the imperial Schutztruppen (colonial forces). Between 1904 and 1908 that war resulted in the death of great parts of the Herero and Nama peoples.
On the occasion of the anniversary the Bundestag recalls the special character of the German-Namibian relations and stresses the undiminished relevance and importance of the parliamentary resolution of 1989, in which the Federal Government – on the basis of its special historic and moral responsibility towards Namibia – is called upon to build and maintain specially close and trusting relations with the country and its citizens.
Germany has to face its colonial past with all necessary clarity and in a determined manner. Even though, 100 years later, after more than three generations, the perpetrators are no longer alive and can no longer be held responsible, the German Bundestag acknowledges a special political and moral German responsibility towards Namibia: The military campaign against the African peoples in South West Africa as from 1904, and in particular the victims of the Herero and Nama population are today in the centre of this commemoration. The German Bundestag extends its deeply-felt regrets and its sorrow to the suppressed African peoples. In doing that we wish to make a contribution to restore the dignity and honour of tens of thousands of victims.
What has been done cannot be undone. We also reject any kind of comparison of this injustice with other colonial situations and as such limit its relevance. We are aware of the special importance of these events in German history.
We are also aware that the German colonial power never managed to completely control the entire territory claimed in South West Africa. The most atrocious violence was justified as exemplary, especially because the (colonial) rule was extremely incomplete. That reflects itself in the continued resistance of the suppressed African peoples. The effects were felt in the German Empire and there it led to severe domestic policy confrontations, which in 1906 led to the refusal of granting further war loans and finally to the dissolution of the Reichstag. The German colonial masters and the Schutztruppe failed to suppress and dispossess the population of the Ovamboland. Courage, stamina, clever adoption of skills of the colonial masters, and adaptation, as well as assistance by the African peoples in the region, finally succeeded. The Herero people continued to exist and managed to revitalise and build its culture.
Ever since the success of the liberation struggle of the peoples of Namibia the country took a positive development. The infrastructure was extended and a fair land reform was brought on its way. Internal security was achieved to a high degree and the society was democratised. Imbalances were levelled and the rule of law established. In the Southern African region Namibia’s development – irrespective of all remaining problems – is exemplary in many areas and gives reason for justified hope for the future.
Against the background of Germany’s historic and moral responsibility we now wish to continue in that line by consciously embedding our special relations with Namibia in a development that is based on a future perspective that serves the entire country.
The expulsion of indigenous population groups from their native lands was the precondition for the massive land acquisition of white settlers that followed suit. The project of a comprehensive land reform in Namibia, that includes commercial and communal farmland, based in particular on the “willing seller-willing buyer” principle, is a careful way of making future-oriented contributions to a larger group of the population to earn a living in the agricultural sector. The initiative of the Namibian government has resulted in remarkable successes, however, the dualism of the existing property law and opposing interests amongst the different population groups in the young Namibian Republic continue to confront the country with challenging tasks. A targeted and balanced support of land reform can contribute to improve the unequal opportunities that one part of the population is faced with due to the historically unequal preconditions that were enforced.
I. The German Bundestag welcomes
that on the basis of the resolution of 1989 Germany’s special historic and moral responsibility was clearly stated by the German Bundestag and on behalf of the now united German nation confirms that resolution with regard to this historic date;
that in the course of time, the Federal Republic of Germany has given high priority to building bilateral relations with Namibia since independence;
that Namibia is a priority country of German development cooperation and that the German side – since Namibia’s liberation in 1990 – has allocated more than 500 million Euro to finance that work;
that this special weight in the relations is emphasised and reflected in reciprocal visits by German and Namibian high ranking representatives.
II. The German Bundestag calls on the Federal Government
1. to further deepen the good bilateral relations between Germany and Namibia against the background of Germany’s historic and moral responsibility, and
2. to further pursue development cooperation with Namibia on a high level.
Berlin, 16 June 2004
Franz Müntefering and parliamentary caucus
Katrin Göring-Eckardt, Krista Sager and parliamentary caucus