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From the herero to the Holocaust? : some remarks on the current debate

[journal article]

Kundrus, Birthe

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Abstract The debate over continuities between the atrocities of WWII and the genocide perpetrated against Herero and Nama by German colonial forces from 1904 to 1908, as postulated by Henning Melber (2005) is the focus of this article. This linkage however, does a disservice to both historical periods and reduces the violence of the colonial period to a mere precursor of the violence of National Socialism. Though structural parallels can be recognized in the involvement of Germans in a racial war, in the portrayal as innocents, in the gradual escalation of violence, and in the physical and ideological dehumanization of victims, this does not necessarily reflect continuity through direct and conscious modeling of policies or generation of long-term specific effects. In fact, Germany was not the only colonial power to perpetrate violence in the colonies. Examination of differences in the course of events, the victims, the situative dispositions, and the specific logic of these two wars highlights the fact that these are structural parallels rather than direct continuities. Although only the German Reich perpetrated such mass crimes, it is more likely that if a European colonial experience was activated, it was one of many factors that influenced the Nazi regime.
Keywords genocide; World War II; Third Reich; Nazism; colonialism; Africa; racism; violence
Classification Peace and Conflict Research, International Conflicts, Security Policy; General History
Free Keywords Holocaust; Federal Republic of Germany; Genocide; Political History; Nazism; World War II; Colonialism
Publication Year 2005
Page/Pages p. 299-308
Journal Afrika Spectrum, 40 (2005) 2
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works