The Kaiser's Holocaust: Germany's Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism
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On 12 May 1883, the German flag was raised on the coast of South-West Africa, modern Namibia - the beginnings of Germany's African Empire. As colonial forces moved in , their ruthless punitive raids became an open war of extermination. Thousands of the indigenous people were killed or driven out into the desert to die. By 1905, the survivors were interned in concentration camps, and systematically starved and worked to death. Years later, the people and ideas that drove the ethnic cleansing of German South West Africa would influence the formation of the Nazi party. "The Kaiser's Holocaust" uncovers extraordinary links between the two regimes: their ideologies, personnel, even symbols and uniform. The Herero and Nama genocide was deliberately concealed for almost a century. Today, as the graves of the victims are uncovered, its re-emergence challenges the belief that Nazism was an aberration in European history. "The Kaiser's Holocaust" passionately narrates this harrowing story and explores one of the defining episodes of the twentieth century from a new angle. Moving, powerful and unforgettable, it is a story that needs to be told.
the SS. He warned that, like all colonial projects, the settlement of Poland posed a potential danger of ‘bastardisation of German immigrants’. These dangers could only be overcome, Reche prophesied, if the areas in which Germans were to be settled were ethnically cleansed.9 Finally, there was Theodor Mollison, who assisted Eugen Fischer in his work on the Rehoboth Basters and who had undertaken fieldwork in German East Africa. In 1937 Mollison wrote to a colleague, ‘If you think that we
of veterans and their families. Against this bulwark, future waves of Slavic barbarians would crash and be repulsed. Like many aspects of Nazi colonialism, the ‘Eastern Wall’ was a concept that had first emerged during the years of the Second Reich. On the western side of the wall, a new world was to be brought into existence. The first phase of Nazi colonisation envisaged the repopulation of European Russia with ethnic Germans. It was suggested that this aspect of the plan might be completed
all be redesigned. National Socialism, like much of the right-wing German Völkisch theorising from which it was born, remained convinced of the existence of a mystical link between the soil and the Volk. The Slavic peoples of Russia and her satellites had shaped the landscape only as much as their lowly racial status would allow. The ‘East’ – as it was usually vaguely described in Nazi documents – was a landscape completely unsuited to the character of the higher German race. A wholesale
broadcasting any stories of their past history – all the villagers require is music, music and plenty of it. Cheerful music is a great incentive to hard work, give them plenty of opportunities to dance and the villagers will be grateful to us.20 In the Nazi East, there were to be no missionaries and no schools. Those Russians, Poles, Ukrainians and others permitted to remain would be slaves with no hope of manumission or education. The only technological advances made available to them would be
Leutwein’s system of gradual colonialism had failed disastrously. The settlers dismissed South-West Africa as a colony in which the whites were beholden to the blacks in ways that ran counter to the very principles of colonialism. Viewing the colony through the prism of late nineteenth-century racism, they sought not merely the rapid advancement of their interests and prosperity, but the immediate and utter subjugation of the Africans. In the summer of 1900, members of the white population in