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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: April 2017

Preface

Summary

This is the second book that I have written on the Herero genocide that occurred in then German South West Africa, now Namibia. I have also written a number of journal articles. The first book, Colonial Genocide and Reparations Claims in the 21st Century: The Socio-Legal Context of Claims under International Law by the Herero against Germany for Genocide in Namibia, 1904–1908, was published by Praeger Security International in 2009. That book illustrated the theoretical and legal viability of the Herero's claims for reparations against Germany as a result of its genocidal behaviour. It also examined the political and legal significance of the Herero claims for reparations from Germany as a result of the genocide. In the process of exploring the historical and legal legitimacy of this claim, several themes emerged. Firstly, it is crucial to appreciate the enduring legacy that the genocide has played upon Herero identity to the present day. The lasting effects of population decimation, land dispossession and political marginalisation continue to haunt the Herero and impede their economic, social, and political progress in modern-day Namibia. Secondly, as the historical legal analysis set forth here has illustrated, Germany's actions at the turn of the last century clearly violated not only present-day prohibitions against genocide, slave labour and crimes against humanity, but existing customary and treaty norms of the time. Thirdly, it is equally clear that international law in the 1900s not only proscribed crimes against humanity and genocide, but also provided reparations to survivors of such atrocities; reparations that form the basis of civil-damages cases today. Fourth and finally, the success or failure of the Herero's claims for reparations as a result of the 1904 genocide will have profound effects upon these historically victimised peoples and individuals and their aggressors.

This present book is a book of history. It deals with what occurred at the turn of the twentieth century and, crucially, why the genocide occurred. It also examines why, and by whom, the genocide was ordered. The historical events are important, as without them is not possible to fully appreciate the political climate of present-day Namibia, Herero claims of reparations and reaction thereto.