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Thread: The Herero Uprising (1904)

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    The Herero Uprising (1904)


    Just after the Anglo Boer War during 1903, the German colony that later became Namibia, Deutsch Südwestafrika, experienced a severe drought. Water and grazing for the cattle became scarce. The Herero people who did not practice scientific farming, quickly ran out of grazing and let their cattle graze on the lands of the white farmers. The German farmers would then chase the cattle off their land.

    In early 1904, the Herero started a brutal uprising and insurgency against the German farmers. The Herero fighters were very well armed. They had modern firearms that they received from a Swedish Adventurer Karl Johan Anderson and even had two field artillery pieces.

    The Herero’s simultaneously attacked farms, trade depots and train stations. The farms were burned down and mostly the men brutally killed. Although the Herero insurgents had firearms, the preferred to club their victims to death with knobkerries, splattering their brains all over and then butchering their organs out and cutting off their sexual parts. Women and children were mostly allowed to flee, but in several cases women and children were also killed and babies nailed to kitchen tables. Even the Cape Times of the day, that was not sympathetic towards the Germans, reported on the horrific killings. By the 12th of January 1904 the Herero insurgents have killed 140 German and 7 Boer farmers.

    The German garrisons under Lt.Gen.Lothar von Trotha went on the offensive and drove the Hereros back to the Waterberg region. He apparently issued a proclamation (no original exists only one copy) to the Herero:

    “I, the great general of the German soldiers, send this letter to the Hereros. The Hereros are German subjects no longer. They have killed, stolen, cut off the ears and other parts of the body of wounded soldiers, and now are too cowardly to want to fight any longer. I announce to the people that whoever hands me one of the chiefs shall receive 1,000 marks, and 5,000 marks for Samuel Maherero. The Herero nation must now leave the country. If it refuses, I shall compel it to do so with the 'long tube' (cannon). Any Herero found inside the German frontier, with or without a gun or cattle, will be executed. I shall spare neither women nor children. I shall give the order to drive them away and fire on them. Such are my words to the Herero people."

    He also wrote to Governor Theodor Leutwein:

    "My intimate knowledge of many central African tribes (Bantu and others) has everywhere convinced me of the necessity that the Negro does not respect treaties but only brute force.”

    On the 11th and 12th of August 1904 the Hereros were decisively defeated at the Battle of Waterberg. After the battle all men, women, and children who fell into German hands, wounded or otherwise, were mercilessly put to death. Then the Germans set off in pursuit of the rest, and all those found by the wayside and in the sandveld were shot down and bayoneted to death. The rest of the Hereros were chased off into the Omaheke desert. Von Trotha also sent troops ahead to man waterholes and whenever Hereros would arrive for water the soldiers would beat them away and drive them further into the desert. Other Hereros were rounded up and put in Concentration camps. According to the Whitaker Report, the population of 80,000 Herero was reduced to 15,000 "starving refugees" between 1904 and 1907.

    The Herero NEVER started another insurgency against the Germans ever again.


    May we take a leaf so to speak.

    I find it particularly relevant in light of:

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    History books are biased but Lothar von Trotha was excessive to starve the whole population in a desert. Wouldn't think anyone would justify him today, his aristocratic contemporaries didn't home in Germany.

    But he did not intend German soldiers to aim at women or children or to exterminate a race of men.

    This proclamation is to read to the troops at roll-call, with the addition that the unit that catches a captain will also receive the appropriate reward, and that the shooting at women and children is to be understood as shooting above their heads, so as to force them to run. I assume absolutely that this proclamation will result in taking no more male prisoners, but will not degenerate into atrocities against women and children. The latter will run away if one shoots at them a couple of times. The troops will remain conscious of the good reputation of the German soldier.
    Instead of a deliberate genocide this was a heavy handed response - like the Japanese attacks on native Formosans.

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