A hundred years ago, three quarters of the Herero people of the German colony of Namibia were killed, many in concentration camps. Today, the descendants of the survivors are seeking reparations from the German government. This film tells for the first time this forgotten story and its links to German racial theories.
Monday 15th August 2005 marked the day that the BBC and Channel 4 simultaneously decided to broadcast documentaries focused on reparations for the Maafa (The Enslavement of (Mama) Africa). On an evening seemingly themed by the topic of reparations for African communities Channel 4?s The Empire Pays Back and BBC2?s Namibia: Genocide and the Second Reich uncovered buried secrets and facts about european involvement in the Maafa and the fight by African communities for justice and reparations. This is a summary of the second programme.
Described by the BBC as the story of Germany's forgotten genocide. This powerful documentary by David Adetayo Olusoga took a sensitive and uncompromising look at the tragic circumstances leading to the massacre of three quarters of the Namibia population in German concentration camps built in Africa. The programme included graphic reconstructions and did not shirk from showing disturbing scenes which revealed the savagery of european colonial ideology put into practise. The documentary also showed the 2004 footage of Germany's ambassador to Namibia expressing regret for their killing of thousands of Namibia's Hereros during the colonial era. Unsurprisingly, the Germans refused to agree to the justifiable calls for reparations.
The programme also explored the current call for land reforms where most of Namibia's commercial land is still owned by european farmers who make up 6 percent of the country's population of 1.8 million. Throughout it included interviews and powerful testimony from African survivors, descendants and reparation movement representatives thus making this a compelling programme which both educated the audience whilst treating the sensitive subject matter with the respect it deserved.
The term Second Reich (Zweites Reich) is sometimes applied retrospectively to this period. The term was popularised by German nationalist historian Arthur Moeller van den Bruck in the 1920s, and drew an explicit link with the earlier Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (the "First Reich"), as well as underlining his desire for the establishment of a "Third Reich". This term was subsequently adopted during the time of Nazi rule for propaganda purposes - and therefore its use among historians after World War II has generally been discouraged, as many consider it to give legitimacy to Nazi historiography.