Germany on Friday acknowledged for the first time that it committed genocide in Namibia at the beginning of the last century.
Berlin has already pledged more than a billion euros for aid projects in the Southwest African country on Thursday.
“We will officially refer to these events from now on as what they were from the contemporary perspective: genocide,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement. It was issued to welcome an agreement with Namibia after five years of negotiations.
“As a gesture of recognition for the immeasurable suffering inflicted on the victims, we want to support Namibia and the descendants of the victims with a substantial €1.1 billion program for reconstruction and development,” Maas said.
Namibia was a colony of the German Empire from 1884 to 1915. Between 1904 and 1908, thousands of people from the Herero and Nama ethnic groups were killed by colonial forces after the peoples revolted against German colonial rule.
Survivors were driven into the desert, where many were imprisoned in concentration camps. There, many Herero and Nama died of exhaustion, cold, and malnutrition. According to historians, 65,000 of the 85,000 Herero were killed and at least half of the 20,000 Nama.
The German government has in the past accepted “moral responsibility” for the atrocities in Namibia, which had been labelled as genocide by a minister. Until recently, however, Berlin has refused to apologize for fear of compensation claims.