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Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon - Jan Klimkowski - 02-04-2009

I've read Gravity's Rainbow eight times forwards and twice backwards.

It is my favourite work of art.

It is also an amazing artistic journey through deep black material and suppressed and repressed ideas.

Academia defines Gravity's Rainbow as a leading example of postmodernism. And academia thus attempts - often successfully - to castrate its power.

Most of the book ostensibly takes place in the Zone that existed in the last few months of WW2: the time of the V2 rocket, of stateless refugees, of barbarism and small human kindnesses.

Amongst the many key notions in the book are:
- the WASP Puritan concept of Elect and Preterite,
- Paranoia/Connectedness,
- various Jungian concepts and their practical usage in tools such as the Tarot,
- behaviourist science and human experimentation,
- IG Farben and war as business and theatre,
- the practice genocide of the Herero people in Sud-West Afrika in 1904, written out of Their history books but the symbolic heart of Gravity's Rainbow,
- the hunting & the gathering of the Nazi scientists and the archetypal meanings of the rocket.

Quote:But the Rocket has to be many things, it must answer to a number of different shapes in the dreams of those who touch it - in combat, in tunnel, on paper - it must survive heresies shining, unconfoundable... and heretics there will be. Gnostics who have been taken in a rush of wind and fire to chambers of the Rocket-throne... Kabbalists who study the Rocket as Torah, letter by letter - rivets, burner cup and brass rose, its text is theirs to permute and combine into new revelations, always unfolding... Manichaeans who see two Rockets, good and evil, who speak together in the sacred idiolalia of the Primal Twins (some say their names are Enzian and Blicero) of a good Rocket to take us to the stars, an evil Rocket for the world's suicide, the two perpetually in struggle.

But these heretics will be sought and the dominion of silence will enlarge as each one goes down... they will all be sought out. Each will have his personal Rocket. Stored in its target-seeker will be the heretic's EEG, the spikes and susurrations of heartbeat, the ghost-blossomings of personal infrared, each Rocket will know its intended and hunt him, ride him a green-doped and silent hound, through our World, shining and pointed in the sky at his back, his guardian executioner rushing in, rushing closer....

p727, Gravity's Rainbow

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon - Magda Hassan - 03-04-2009

I have not read any Thomas Pynchon and I am obviously missing out on a great experience.

I am intrigued about the reference to:
Quote:the the practice genocide of the Herero people in Sud-West Afrika in 1904, written out of Their history books but the symbolic heart of Gravity's Rainbow
What happened here?

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon - Jan Klimkowski - 03-04-2009

Magda Hassan Wrote:I have not read any Thomas Pynchon and I am obviously missing out on a great experience.

I am intrigued about the reference to:
Quote:the the practice genocide of the Herero people in Sud-West Afrika in 1904, written out of Their history books but the symbolic heart of Gravity's Rainbow
What happened here?

Magda - if I may, with complete and utter respect, you are a highly knowledgeable and resourceful researcher, and a great student of history. That you, and I suspect most other members of DPF, know little about the Herero genocide reveals precisely who writes the history books.

Never forget? It's always been a joke line.

In Gravity's Rainbow, Pynchon used original archive research to reveal the horror of the first genocide of the Twentieth Century. He reveals the facts, and passes them through the prism of art and storytelling.

Three decades later, the calculated, meticulous, genocide of the Herero people is still not present in the history books.

The Herero people are an African preterite.

I'll post a couple of introductory histories of this forgotten tragedy below.

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon - Jan Klimkowski - 03-04-2009

Quote:Herero genocide

First published:
Creation 27(3):52–55
June 2005

by Marc Ambler

Like most visitors to Namibia,1 one of the memorable pictures I carried away was of the noble-looking Herero people. Their women wear colourful, voluminous Victorian-style dresses and hats [pictures available in Creation magazine], and the men wear uniforms on ceremonial occasions. How terribly sad it was to learn that 100 years ago, their great-grandparents had been the victims of the first genocide of the 20th century.

During the colonial land-grab of African countries by European nations after the 1884–85 Berlin Conference,2 Germany annexed Namibia, then known as South-West Africa. German settlers quickly ran roughshod over the historical rights and claims of the Herero tribal inhabitants, and for the next 20 years plundered their lands, houses and livestock. Of this period, the governor, Theodor Leutwein, wrote that the German settlers had an ‘inborn feeling of belonging to a superior race’.3 Thus racism was rife. The Herero were regularly referred to as ‘baboons’; the men were commonly beaten to death for minor infringements, and the women were made sex slaves by the soldiers and settlers.

In these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that an uprising occurred. On 12 January 1904, fighting broke out between Herero tribesmen and the settlers, in the town of Okahandja, where there was a German fort.

The response of the Berlin government to this insurrection by a colonized people who had dared to resist the might of the German nation was fast and ruthless. Kaiser Wilhelm II dispatched 14,000 troops to the region under the command of Lieutenant-General Lothar von Trotha. Von Trotha was renowned for the ruthless efficiency with which he had helped to suppress the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, and to quash resistance to his nation’s occupation of German East Africa (today’s Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania).

Von Trotha’s written goal was: ‘I believe that the [Herero] nation as such should be exterminated.’4 He stated: ‘The exercise of violence and crass terrorism and even with gruesomeness was and is my policy. I destroy the African tribes with streams of blood and streams of money. Only following this cleansing can something new emerge, which will remain.’5

That the German settlers and a high-ranking officer like General von Trotha would hold to these ‘superior race’, ‘survival-of-the-fittest-through-“cleansing”-of-the-weakest’ views is hardly surprising. Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (which is subtitled By Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life) had been translated into German in 1875, and his evolutionary theories had for decades been avidly promoted to all and sundry by the popular books and theatrical presentations of Ernst Haeckel.6 The German nation had also been subjected for many years to the ‘God-is-dead’ atheism of Nietzsche.7

This, too, was a consequence of Darwinian thought. Nietzsche believed that Darwinian evolution would eventually produce the Übermensch, ‘a superman whose distance from the ordinary man was greater than the distance between man and ape’.8 Then a ‘super-race’ of such beings would impose its will on the weak and the worthless.

Decades later, Hitler would proclaim the same Darwinist superiority views to justify his own subjugation of the ‘lesser’ peoples of Europe.9

In the light of this attitude of racial superiority, it is interesting to compare probably the two most famous documents to come out of the Herero war. In his infamous Vernichtungsbefehl (annihilation order), von Trotha stated: ‘[E]very Herero, with or without a gun, with or without cattle, will be shot. I will no longer accept women and children, I will drive them back to their people or I will let them be shot at.’10
The response of the ‘lesser’ people

In contrast, a letter of Herero chief Samuel Maharero to his people shortly after the outbreak of war11 states that Englishmen, Boers, missionaries and people of other tribes were not to be harmed.12 History has shown that both instructions were diligently carried out.

In a decisive battle at Hamakari, near Waterberg, on 11 August 1904, von Trotha’s troops surrounded the Herero tribespeople on three sides and brutally defeated them. In a cynical ploy, he left open only the way into the Omaheke area of the Kalahari Desert. The battle plan was that those who escaped the German bullets should die of thirst. Waterholes for 150 miles (240 km) around the desert were either patrolled or poisoned, and those Herero who came crawling out of the Omaheke, desperate for water, were bayoneted. This left the Herero ‘with but one option: to cross the desert into Botswana [then called Bechuanaland], in reality a march to death. This, indeed, is how the majority of the Herero perished.’13

Due to missionary pressure and a growing shortage of labour in the colony, von Trotha’s extermination campaign was eventually stopped by Berlin, and the surviving Herero people were put into concentration camps. ‘Put to slave labor, overworked, hungry, and exposed to diseases such as typhoid and smallpox, more Herero men perished in these camps. Herero women, meanwhile, were turned into sex slaves.’14

The result of this policy was that from 1904 to 1908 the Herero were reduced ‘from a tribe of 80,000 persons to 15,000 starving refugees.’15

Following the war, all Herero persons over the age of seven were forced to wear a metal disc around their necks with their registration number, designating them as free labour. This was an ominous foretaste of the Jewish Holocaust star years later, when Hitler similarly enslaved those he considered to be members of inferior races.
Genocide and ‘race branding’

There are powerful links between the Herero genocide, the Holocaust 40 years later, and the Rwandan genocide of the 1990s.16


Francis Galton, the anti-Christian cousin of Charles Darwin, visited South-West Africa in the early 1850s. He went on to develop his theory of eugenics, a term he coined in 1883. This pseudo-science helped promote the racial superiority views which played such a major role in the fate of the Herero people years later.

Making his rounds of the Herero concentration camps was Herr Doktor Eugen Fischer. It was here that Fischer did his first ‘medical’ experiments on race, genetics and eugenics, using as his guinea pigs both Herero full-bloods and the mulatto offspring of Herero women and German men. Under his supervision, the preserved bodies and severed heads of Herero who had been hanged were sent to Germany for dissection.4

Fischer went on to become the head of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. He co-authored the book The Principles of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene,17 which became the standard textbook in Germany on this subject. Hitler cited it in his Mein Kampf [My Struggle], which became the basis for the destruction of millions of people in his own pursuit of ‘racial purity’.

Hitler appointed Fischer as rector of the University of Berlin in 1933, where he taught medicine to Nazi doctors. Fischer is sometimes referred to as the father of modern genetics. One of his prominent pupils was Josef Mengele, the so-called ‘Angel of Death’, who went on to repeat his teacher’s cruel experiments on Jewish children, and directed the operation of the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

In his book When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda, Professor Mahmood Mamdani writes: ‘[T]here is a link that connects the genocide of the Herero and the Nazi Holocaust to the Rwandan genocide. That link is race branding, whereby it became possible not only to set a group apart as an enemy, but also to exterminate it with an easy conscience.’18

(An article in Creation magazine called ‘The evolution of the Hutu-Tutsi slayings’19 referred to the Rwanda massacres. It documented how Belgian theistic evolutionary occupiers had persuaded one of the tribes that they were superior, being ‘more highly evolved’.)

Clearly such ‘race branding’ as Mamdani refers to is based on belief in evolution and the idea that different races are at different stages of development in the ‘survival of the fittest’.

This belief has produced, as its logical offspring, the murder of tens of millions of innocent mothers, fathers, sons and daughters in the 20th century, beginning with the Herero genocide.

When the creation/gospel message that we are all closely-related descendants of Adam in need of a Saviour is rejected, there is, it seems, no limit to the evil that results. The remedy seems obvious.
About the author

Marc Ambler is a businessman in Cape Town, South Africa. He is active in ministry in his local church and a director of Answers in Genesis–South Africa. Return to text.
References and notes

1. Formerly the German and then South African Protectorate of South-West Africa, it achieved full independence in 1990 under the auspices of the United Nations.
2. Convened by German chancellor Otto von Bismarck for the purpose of dividing up the African continent and allocating its countries to the major European powers. Fourteen European nations were represented, but there was not one African representative at the conference.
3. Gewald, J.B., Herero Heroes, James Curry, Oxford, UK, p. 145, 1999.
4. Ref. 3, p. 173.
5. Ref. 3, p. 174.
6. See Grigg, R., Ernst Haeckel: Evangelist for evolution and apostle of deceit, Creation 18(2):33–36, 1996.
7. Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) was a German philosopher noted for his vehement attacks on Christianity.
8. Encyclopaedia Britannica 24:938, 15th ed., 1992.
9. This is thoroughly documented in Weikart, R., From Darwin to Hitler, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2004.
10. Ref. 3, pp. 172–173.
11. This letter to his people was later claimed by the German occupiers, without basis, to have been written by him as a call to arms the day before the war broke out.
12. Ref. 3, p. 157.
13. Mamdani, M., When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda, Princeton University Press, USA, p. 11, 2001. [The author is professor of Government and Director of the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University. Citing someone in support of a correct conclusion does not mean that we necessarily endorse that person’s views on other issues, even if related—Ed.]
14. Ref. 13, p. 12.
15. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 8:494, 15th ed., 1992.
16. This theme has been explored in ref. 13.
17. German title: Menschliche Erblichkeitslehre und Rassenhygiene, co-authored with Edwin Baur and Fritz Lenz in 1921. ‘Race hygiene’ was the German equivalent of eugenics.
18. Ref. 13, p. 13.
19. Creation 21(2):47, 1999.

Quote:‘I too travel to heaven in a wagon.’

In his book Herero Heroes, Jan-Bart Gewald describes the death of one of the Herero Christian leaders, as witnessed by a Rhenish missionary, Friedrich Meier.1

Weak from disease and maltreatment, Kukuri was transported to his execution on the back of an ox-cart. He did not show the slightest trace of fear, but instead looked as if he was going to a wedding! At one stage, he said to Meier, ‘Pastor, like Elijah, I too travel to heaven in a wagon.’2

When they arrived at the site, it was still being prepared. Meier feared for Kukuri’s tranquility and asked him to stop looking at the gallows. He replied, ‘Why should I not look at it? Is it not “my wood” [my cross]?’ The two of them prayed together that beautiful hymn, ‘So then take my hand and lead me’. Then Kukuri said, ‘It would appear that you still fear that I am afraid, but when a father calls his child, does that child then fear to go to him? Give my wife, who is in Okahandja, my greetings and tell her that I have died in the faith of the Lord Jesus; so too tell my children if you should ever see them.’ He then said, ‘Lord Jesus, help me.’

Kukuri climbed the ladder and the rope was put around his neck. As he was falling, the noose slipped, so that he landed on the ground, unconscious. Two soldiers lifted him up and, on orders from the major in charge, shot him dead. Thus did Kukuri enter into the presence of his Lord.

1. Gewald, J.B., Herero Heroes, James Curry, Oxford, UK, p. 198, 1999.
2. Cf. 2 Kings 2:11.

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon - Jan Klimkowski - 03-04-2009

Quote:NAMIBIA 1904

- before the genocide
- the genocide
- after the genocide
- witness
- issues


before the genocide

Africa is almost certainly the birthplace of the human species. From it the earliest people ventured into Asia and then across the long-vanished land bridge to the Americas, or across the Pacific island chains to Australasia. They also spread to the lands north of the Mediterranean Sea. Many thousands of years later their European descendants gained glory and wealth by rediscovering the southern hemisphere, and plundering it. They - we - have often treated it, and its inhabitants, with brutality, indifference and contempt. White Europeans forced black Africans to become slaves. White Europeans deprived black people of their homes and communities and cultures. White Europeans sent their missionaries to change black people's religion to their own. And in the 19th century white Europeans began moving into Africa to occupy the land as well. The land was desirable for itself: it provided new territory, new possessions and new trade, both for individuals and their countries. The land had other values, too: it provided bases for further take-overs and further military threats; and, above all, it contained riches.

Along the coastline of Namibia runs the Namib desert, a 1,200 mile long strip of unwelcoming sand dunes and barren rock. Behind it is the central mountain plateau, and east of that the Kalahari desert. Namibia's scarcest commodity is water: this is a country of little rainfall, and the rivers don't always run. But the very sand of the Skeleton Coast is the dust of gemstones; uranium, tin and tungsten can be mined in the central Namib, and copper in the north; and in the south there are diamonds. Namibia also has gold, silver, lithium, and natural gas. For most of the region's history, only metal was of interest to the native tribes. These tribes lived and traded together more or less peacefully, each with their own particular way of living, wherever the land was fertile enough. The San were nomads, hunters and gatherers. The Damara hunted and worked copper. The Ovambo grew crops in the north, where there was more rain, but also worked in metal. The Nama and the Herero were livestock farmers, and they were the two main tribes in the 1840s when the Germans (first missionaries, then settlers, then soldiers) began arriving in South West Africa.

Before the Germans, only a few Europeans had visited it: explorers, traders and sailors. They opened up trade outlets for ivory and cattle; they also brought in firearms, with which they traded for Namib treasures. Later, big guns and European military systems were introduced. The tribes now settled their disputes with lethal violence: corruption of a peaceful culture was under way.

In the 1880s Germany made South West Africa their own colony, and settlers moved in, followed by a military governor who knew little about running a colony and nothing at all about Africa. Major Theodor Leutwein began by playing off the Nama and Herero tribes against each other. More and more white settlers arrived, pushing tribesmen off their cattle-grazing lands with bribes and unreliable deals. The Namib's diamonds were discovered, attracting yet more incomers with a lust for wealth.

Tribal cattle-farmers had other problems, too: a cattle-virus epidemic in the late 1890s killed much of their livestock. The colonists offered the Herero aid on credit. As a result the farmers amassed large debts, and when they couldn't pay them off the colonists simply seized what cattle were left. In January 1904, the Herero, desperate to regain their livelihoods, rebelled. Under their leader Samuel Maherero they began to attack the numerous German outposts. They killed German men, but spared women, children, missionaries, and the English or Boer farmers whose support they didn't want to lose.

At the same time, the Nama chief, Hendrik Witbooi, wrote a letter to Theodor Leutwein, telling him what the native Africans thought of their invaders, who had taken their land, deprived them of their rights to pasture their animals on it, used up the scanty water supplies, and imposed alien laws and taxes. His hope was that Leutwein would recognise the injustice and do something about it.

the genocide

The German Emperor replaced Major Leutwein with another commander, this time a man notorious for brutality who had already fiercely suppressed African resistance to German colonisation in East Africa. Lieutenant-General Lothar von Trotha said, 'I wipe out rebellious tribes with streams of blood and streams of money. Only following this cleansing can something new emerge'. Von Trotha brought with him to German South West Africa 10,000 heavily-armed men and a plan for war.

Under his command, the German troops slowly drove the Herero warriors to a position where they could be hemmed in by attack on three sides. The fourth side offered escape; but only into the killing wastes of the Kalahari desert. The German soldiers were paid well to pursue the Herero into this treacherous wilderness. They were also ordered to poison the few water-holes there. Others set up guard posts along a 150-mile border: any Herero trying to get back was killed.

On October 2, 1904, von Trotha issued his order to exterminate the Herero from the region. 'All the Herero must leave the land. If they refuse, then I will force them to do it with the big guns. Any Herero found within German borders, with or without a gun, will be shot. No prisoners will be taken. This is my decision for the Herero people'.

After the Herero uprising had been systematically put down, by shooting or enforced slow death in the desert from starvation, thirst and disease (the fate of many women and children), those who still lived were rounded up, banned from owning land or cattle, and sent into labour camps to be the slaves of German settlers. Many more Herero died in the camps, of overwork, starvation and disease.

By 1907, in the face of criticism both at home and abroad, von Trotha's orders had been cancelled and he himself recalled, but it was too late for the crushed Herero. Before the uprising, the tribe numbered 80,000; after it, only 15,000 remained.

During the period of colonisation and oppression, many women were used as sex slaves. (This had not been von Trotha's intention. 'To receive women and children, most of them ill, is a serious danger to the German troops. And to feed them is an impossibility. I find it appropriate that the nation perishes instead of infecting our soldiers.') In the Herero work camps there were numerous children born to these abused women, and a man called Eugen Fischer, who was interested in genetics, came to the camps to study them; he carried out medical experiments on them as well. He decided that each mixed-race child was physically and mentally inferior to its German father (a conclusion for which there was and is no respectable scientific foundation whatever) and wrote a book promoting his ideas: 'The Principles of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene'. Adolf Hitler read it while he was in prison in 1923, and cited it in his own infamous pursuit of 'racial purity'.

The Nama suffered at the hands of the colonists too. After the defeat of the Herero the Nama also rebelled, but von Trotha and his troops quickly routed them. On April 22 1905 Lothar von Trotha sent his clear message to the Nama: they should surrender. 'The Nama who chooses not to surrender and lets himself be seen in the German area will be shot, until all are exterminated. Those who, at the start of the rebellion, committed murder against whites or have commanded that whites be murdered have, by law, forfeited their lives. As for the few not defeated, it will fare with them as it fared with the Herero, who in their blindness also believed that they could make successful war against the powerful German Emperor and the great German people. I ask you, where are the Herero today?' During the Nama uprising, half the tribe (over 10,000) were killed; the 9,000 or so left were confined in concentration camps.

after the genocide

After the First World War, South West Africa was placed under the administration of South Africa. South Africa imposed its own system of apartheid (now banned in Namibia by law). In the late 1940s a guerrilla movement called SWAPO (South West African People's Organisation) was founded to fight for independence. In 1968 the United Nations recognised the name Namibia, and the country's right to independence, but it was another 20 years before South Africa agreed to withdraw and full independence was gained. By then the country was ravaged by war.

Today most of Namibia's 1.7m people are poor, living in crowded tribal areas while powerful and wealthy ranchers still own millions of acres seized by their predecessors over 100 years ago.

Some of the descendants of the surviving Herero live in neighbouring Botswana, but others remained in their homeland and now make up 8% of Namibia's population. Many of them are in the political opposition party. Most Herero men work as cattle-handlers on commercial farms. Although as opposition members they don't get government support, the Herero on their own initiative recently asked Germany to give them compensation for the atrocities the tribe suffered, which the president of Germany recently acknowledged were 'a burden on the conscience of every German'. In fact Namibia gets more aid from Germany than any other country; but most of the money goes to non-Herero majority interests: it's the governing Ovambo (not reached by early colonists, and modern Namibia's main tribe) who led the struggle for liberation and, in 1990, independence.

The 25,000 or so present-day rich German settlers are among those who deny that there was a genocide, fearing that reparation might mean losing their valuable land.

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon - Jan Klimkowski - 03-04-2009

There are photos at this link:

Quote:Herero and Namaqua Genocide

The Herero and Namaqua Genocide occurred in German South-West Africa (modern day Namibia) from 1904 until 1907, during the scramble for Africa. It is thought to be the first genocide of the 20th century.[1] On January 12, 1904, the Herero people under Samuel Maharero rose in rebellion against German colonial rule. In August, German general Lothar von Trotha defeated the Herero in the Battle of Waterberg and drove them into the desert of Omaheke, where most of them died of thirst. In October, the Nama also took up arms against the Germans and were dealt with in a similar fashion. In total, between 24,000 and 65,000 Herero (all values are estimated as being 50% to 70% of the total Herero population), and 10,000 Nama (50% of the total Nama population) perished. Two characteristics of the genocide were death by starvation and the poisoning of wells used by the Herero and Nama populations that were trapped in the Namib Desert.

In 1985, the United Nations’ Whitaker Report recognized Germany’s attempt to exterminate the Herero and Nama peoples of South-West Africa as one of the earliest attempts at genocide in the 20th century. The German government apologized for the events in 2004.[2]

The Herero were originally a tribe of cattle herders living in a region of German South West Africa, presently modern Namibia. The area occupied by the Herero was known as Damaraland.

During the scramble for Africa, the British made it clear that they were not interested in the territory; so, in August 1884, it was declared a German protectorate and, at that time, the only overseas territory deemed suitable for white settlement that had been acquired by Germany. From the outset, there was resistance by the Khoikhoi to the German occupation, although a tenuous peace was worked out in 1894. In that year, Theodor Leutwein became governor of the territory and it underwent a period of rapid development, while Germany sent the Schutztruppe, or imperial colonial troops, to pacify the region.[3]

European settlers were encouraged to settle on land taken from the natives, which caused a great deal of discontent. Over the next decade the land and the cattle that were essential to Herero and Nama lifestyles, passed into the hands of Germans arriving in South-West Africa. [4] German colonial rule was far from egalitarian; natives were used as slave labourers and their lands were frequently seized and given to colonists.

Note: Though diamonds are often cited as one of major German interests in the area and primary reasons for committing genocide, reports of their discovery only emerged in 1908. Though German colonists did seize and exploit much Herero/Nama soil, as far as current documentation can tell, diamonds did not play a role in Germany’s decision to annihilate the natives of this land. [5]


In 1903, some of the Nama Tribes rose in revolt under the leadership of Hendrik Witbooi, and about 60 German settlers were killed.[3] A number of factors led the Herero to join them in arms in January 1904.

Not surprisingly, one of the major issues was about land rights. The Herero had already ceded over a quarter of their thirteen million hectares to German colonists by 1903,[6] and that was prior to the completion of the Otavi railroad line running from the African coast to inland German settlements.[7] Completion of this line would have rendered the German colonies much more accessible, and would have ushered in a new wave of Europeans into the area. [8] Discussion of the possibility of establishing and placing the Herero in native reserves was further proof of the German colonist’s sense of ownership over the land.[9]

A new policy on debt collection, enforced in November 1903, also played a role in the Herero uprising. For many years the Herero population had been in the habit of borrowing money from white traders at great interest. For a long time much of this debt went uncollected, as most Hereros lived modestly and had no means to pay. To correct this growing problem, Governor Leutwein decreed with good intentions that all debts not paid within the next year would be voided.[10] In the absence of hard cash, traders would often seize cattle, or whatever objects of value they could get their hands on, in order to recoup their loans. This fostered a feeling of resentment towards the Germans on the part of the Herero people, which escalated to hopelessness when they saw that German officials were complicit in this scheme.[11]

Underlying these reasons was the racial tension between the two groups. White Europeans viewed themselves as inherently superior to native Africans: the average German colonist viewed them as a lowly source of cheap labour and others welcomed their extermination.[12] To illustrate the gap between the rights of a European and an African, the German Colonial League held that in regards to legal matters, the testimony of seven Africans was equivalent to that of one white man.[13]

Thus, the Herero felt that their actions were justified when they revolted in early 1904. Led by Chief Samuel Maharero, they killed about 120 Germans, including women and children, and destroyed their farms. The rebels surrounded Okahandja and cut links to Windhoek, the colonial capital.

The timing of their attack was ideal. After successfully asking a large Herero tribe to surrender their weapons, Governor Leutwein was convinced that they and the rest of the native population had given up their will to fight and withdrew half the German troops stationed in his colony.[14]

Leutwein was forced to request reinforcements and an experienced officer from the German capital, Berlin.[15] Lieutenant-General Lothar von Trotha was appointed Commander in Chief of German South-West Africa on 3 May, arriving with his force of 14,000 troops on June 11.

The civilian Leutwein was subordinate to the Colonial Department of the Prussian Foreign Office, which reported to Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow. Trotha, on the other hand, reported to the military German General Staff, which was only subordinate to William II, German Emperor. Leutwein desired to defeat the most determined Herero rebels and negotiate a surrender with the remainder to achieve a political settlement.[16] Trotha, however, wanted to crush native resistance.

The Genocide

Trotha's troops defeated 3,000–5,000 Herero combatants at the Battle of Waterberg on 11-12 August, but were unable to encircle and eliminate the military threat.[16] The survivors retreated with their families towards Bechuanaland, after the British offered the Hereros asylum under the condition not to continue the revolt on British soil.

Some 24,000 Hereros managed to flee through a gap in the netting into the Kalahari Desert in the hope of reaching the British protectorate. German patrols later found skeletons around holes (25–50 feet deep) that were dug up in a vain attempt to find water. Maherero and 1,000 men crossed the Kalahari into Bechuanaland.

On 2 October, Trotha issued an appeal to the Hereros:

I, the great general of the German troops, send this letter to the Herero people... All Hereros must leave this land... Any Herero found within the German borders with or without a gun, with or without cattle, will be shot. I shall no longer receive any women or children; I will drive them back to their people or have them fired upon. This is my decision for the Herero people.[17]

Unable to achieve a conclusive victory through battle, Trotha ordered that captured Herero males were to be executed, while women and children were to be driven into the desert.[16] Leutwein complained to Bülow about Trotha's actions, seeing the general's orders as ruining any chance of a settlement and intruding upon the civilian colonial jurisdiction.[18] Having no authority over the military Trotha, the chancellor could only advise William II that Trotha's actions were "contrary to Christian and humanitarian principle, economically devastating and damaging to Germany's international reputation".[18] The German Empire defended its actions on the world stage by saying that the Herero could not be protected under the Geneva Conventions defining human rights because Germany claimed the Herero were not true humans, but "subhumans".[citation needed]

After a political battle in Berlin between the civilian government and the military, William II countermanded Trotha's decree of 2 October on 8 December, but the massacres had already begun. When the order was lifted at the end of 1904, prisoners were herded into concentration camps and given as slave labourers to German businesses. Many prisoners died of overwork and malnutrition.

It took until 1908 to fully re-establish German authority over the territory. At the height of the campaign, some 19,000 German troops were involved. At about the same time, diamonds were discovered in the territory and this did much to boost its prosperity. However, it was short-lived. The German colony was taken over and occupied by the Union of South Africa in 1915, in one of the colonial campaigns of World War I. South Africa received a League of Nations Mandate over South-West Africa in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles.

Concentration Camps

Survivors, mostly women and children, were eventually put in concentration camps, such as that at Shark Island, similar to those used in British South Africa during the Second Boer War. The German authorities gave each Herero a number and meticulously recorded every death, whether in the camps or from forced labor, even including the name of each dead person in their reports. German enterprises were able to rent Hereros in order to use their manpower, and workers' deaths were permitted, and even reported to the German authorities. Forced labour, disease, and malnutrition killed an estimated 50–80% of the entire Herero population by 1908, when the camps were closed.

An official report on the camps in 1908 described the mortality rate as 45.2% of all prisoners held in the five camps. The prisoners were fenced in, either by thorn-bush fences or by barbed wire and people were typically crammed into small areas. The Windhoek camp held about 5000 prisoners of war in 1906. Food rations were minimal, consisting of a daily allowance of a handful of uncooked rice, some salt and water. Rice was an unfamiliar foodstuff to the Herero and Namaqua people, and the uncommon diet may have contributed the high death rate. Diseases in the camps were rampant and poorly controlled. A lack of medical attention, unhygienic living quarters, and lack of clothing as well as a high concentration of people in a small area contributed to the spread of diseases such as typhoid which then spread rapidly. Beatings and abuse were also part of life in the camps and the sjambok was often used to beat prisoners who were forced to work, a September 28 1905 article in the South African newspaper Cape Argus detailed some the abuse, with the heading: "In German S. W. Africa: Further Startling Allegations: Horrible Cruelty". In an interview with Percival Griffith, "an accountant of profession, who owing to hard times, took up on transport work at Angra Pequena [Lüderitz]", related his experiences. "There are hundreds of them, mostly women and children and a few old men ... when they fall they are sjamboked by the soldiers in charge of the gang, with full force, until they get up ... On one occasion I saw a woman carrying a child of under a year old slung at her back, and with a heavy sack of grain on her head ... she fell. "The corporal sjamboked her for certainly more than four minutes and sjamboked the baby as well ... the woman struggled slowly to her feet, and went on with her load. She did not utter a sound the whole time, but the baby cried very hard."[19]

During the war a number of people from the Cape (in modern day South Africa), strapped for money, sought employment as transport riders for German troops in Namibia. Upon their return to the Cape some of these people recounted their stories, including those of the imprisonment and genocide of the Herero and Namaqua people. Fred Cornell, a British aspirant diamond prospector, was in Lüderitz when the Shark Island camp was being used. Cornell wrote of the camp: "Cold - for the nights are often bitterly cold there - hunger, thirst, exposure, disease and madness claimed scores of victims every day, and cartloads of their bodies were every day carted over to the back beach, buried in a few inches of sand at low tide, and as the tide came in the bodies went out, food for the sharks."[19]

The concentration camp on Shark Island, in the coastal town of Lüderitz, was the worst of the five Namibian camps. Lüderitz lies in southern Namibia, flanked by desert and ocean. In the harbour lies Shark Island, which then was connected to the mainland only by a small causeway. The island is now, as it was then, barren and characterised by solid rock carved into surreal formations by the hard ocean winds. The camp was placed on the far end of the relatively small island, where the prisoners would have suffered complete exposure to the strong winds that sweep Lüderitz for most of the year. The first prisoners to arrive were, according to a missionary called Kuhlman, 487 Herero ordered to work on the railway between Lüderitz and Kubub. In October 1905 Kuhlman reported the appalling conditions and high death rate among the Herero on the island. Throughout 1906 the island had a steady inflow of prisoners, with 1,790 Nama prisoners arriving on September 9 alone. In the annual report for Lüderitz in 1906, an unidentified clerk remarked that "the Angel of Death" had come to Shark Island. German Commander Von Estorff wrote in a report that approximately 1 700 prisoners had died by April 1907, 1 203 of them Nama. In December 1906, four months after their arrival, 291 Nama died (a rate of more than nine people a day). Missionary reports put the death rate at between 12 and 18 a day, as many as 80% of the prisoners sent to the Shark Island concentration camp never left the island.[19]

Dutch historian Jan-Bart Gewald of the University of Cologne has written that the Germans set up special camps for their troops and that many children were born of German fathers and Herero mothers. After most Herero males had been killed, the surviving women were forced to serve as prostitutes for the Germans.[20] Trotha was opposed to contact between natives and settlers, believing that the insurrection was "the beginning of a racial struggle" and fearing that the colonists would be infected by native diseases.[18]

Recognition, denial and compensation

According to the 1985 United Nations’ Whitaker Report, some 65,000 Herero (80 percent of the total Herero population), and 10,000 Nama (50% of the total Nama population) were killed between 1904 and 1907. Other estimates give a total of 100,000 killed. However, German author Walter Nuhn estimates that in 1904 only 40,000 Herero lived in German South-West Africa, and therefore only 24,000 could have been killed [21]. Recent publications consider the total of 24,000-40,000 people killed to be the most reliable estimate.

The German administration never conducted a census before 1904. Only in 1905 did a counting take place which revealed that 25,000 Herero remained in German South-West Africa.[citation needed]

Many modern historians believe the Herero were the first ethnic group to be subjected to genocide in the 20th century.[22] Larissa Förster, a Namibia expert at the Museum for Ethnology in Cologne, explains, “It was clearly a command to eliminate people belonging to a specific ethnic group and only because they were part of this ethnic group.”[23] It has also been linked to later events in Nazi Germany.[24] Other researchers,[who?] accused by those who disagree with them of being historical revisionists, use the term "Herero Wars". While acknowledging the massacres, they deem the evidence insufficient to call it a genocide and reject comparisons to Auschwitz as sensationalism.[citation needed]

In 1998, German President Roman Herzog visited Namibia and met Herero leaders. Chief Munjuku Nguvauva demanded a public apology and compensation. Herzog expressed regret but stopped short of an apology. He also pointed out that reparations were out of the question.

On August 16, 2004, the 100th anniversary of the start of the genocide, Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Germany’s development aid minister, officially apologized for the first time and expressed grief about the genocide committed by Germans, declaring, “We Germans accept our historic and moral responsibility and the guilt incurred by Germans at that time.” In addition, she admitted that the massacres were equivalent to genocide, without explicitly mentioning the concentration camps and slavery that also existed, both of which were well documented by the Germans themselves. Furthermore, she ruled out paying a special compensation, declaring that the German government already paid a yearly sum of €11.5 million as development aid for Namibia.[2]

The Hereros filed a lawsuit in the United States in 2001 demanding reparations from the German government and the Deutsche Bank, which financed the German government and companies in Southern Africa.[25][17]

The descendants of Lothar von Trotha and the von Trotha family travelled to Omaruru in October 2007 by invitation of the royal Herero chiefs and publicly apologized for his actions. Wolf-Thilo von Trotha said, “We, the von Trotha family, are deeply ashamed of the terrible events that took place 100 years ago. Human rights were grossly abused that time.” [26]

Former Nambian ambassador to Germany, Peter Katjavivi demanded in August 2008 that the skulls of Herero and Nama prisoners of the 1904-08 uprising, which were taken to Germany for scientific research to "prove" the superiority of white Europeans over Africans, be returned to Namibia.

Katjavivi was reacting to a German television documentary, which reported that its investigators had found over 40 of these skulls at two German universities, among them probably the skull of a Nama chief who had died on Shark Island near Luederitz.[27]

Fictional representations

One chapter of Thomas Pynchon's novel V. (1963) is about the Herero genocide. A group of characters of Herero descent are also present in his Gravity's Rainbow (1974), which hints more than once at the Herero Massacre.


A short documentary in production, From Herero To Hitler: Planting the Seeds of a Future Genocide, will examine how events in German South-West Africa relate to the actions of Nazi Germany.[28]

See also

* Genocides in history
* German war crimes


1. ^ Levi, Neil; Rothberg, Michael (2003). The Holocaust: Theoretical Readings. Rutgers University Press. pp. 465. ISBN 0813533538.
2. ^ a b "Germany admits Namibia genocide" (HTML). BBC News. 2004-08-14. Retrieved on 2008-04-23.
3. ^ a b “A bloody history: Namibia’s colonisation”, BBC News, August 29, 2001
4. ^ Bridgman, Jon M. (1981). The Rise of the Hereros. California University Press. pp. 57.
5. ^ Chalk, Frank; Jonassohn, Kurt (1990) The History and Sociology of Genocide: Analyses and Case Studies. Yale University Press. pp. 230.
6. ^ Bridgman, 60.
7. ^ Chalk & Jonassohn, 230.
8. ^ Drechsler, Horst. (1980). Let Us Die Fighting. Zed Press. pp. 133.
9. ^ Drechsler, 132.
10. ^ Bridgman, 59.
11. ^ Bridgman, 60.
12. ^ Bridgman, 60.
13. ^ Drechsler, 133.
14. ^ Bridgman, 56.
15. ^ Clark, p. 604
16. ^ a b c Clark, p.605
17. ^ a b “Germany regrets Namibia ‘genocide’”, BBC News, January 12, 2004
18. ^ a b c Clark, p. 606
19. ^ a b c Prevent Genocide International.
20. ^ Mail&Guardian: The tribe Germany wants to forget
21. ^ Walter Nuhn: Sturm über Südwest. Der Hereroaufstand von 1904. Bernhard & Graefe-Verlag, Koblenz 1989. ISBN 3-76375-852-6.
22. ^ Allan D. Cooper (2006-08-31). "Reparations for the Herero Genocide: Defining the limits of international litigation" (HTML). Oxford Journals African Affairs.
23. ^ "Remembering the Herero Rebellion" (HTML). Deutsche Welle. 2004-11-01.,1564,1084266,00.html.
24. ^ "Imperialism and Genocide in Namibia" (HTML). Socialist Action. 04 1999.
25. ^ "German bank accused of genocide" (HTML). BBC News. 2001-09-25.
26. ^ "German family’s Namibia apology" (HTML). BBC News. 2007-10-07.
27. ^
28. ^ Rosemarie Reed Productions, LLC - Films for Thought: From Herero to Hitler: Planting the Seeds of a Future Genocide

[edit] Bibliography and documentaries

* Clark, Christopher (2006). Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600–1947. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard. pp. 776. ISBN 067402385-4.
* Exterminate all the Brutes, Sven Lindqvist, London, 1996.
* A Forgotten History-Concentration Camps were used by Germans in South West Africa, Casper W. Erichsen, in the Mail and Guardian, Johannesburg, 17 August, 2001.
* Genocide & The Second Reich, BBC Four, David Olusoga, October 2004
* German Federal Archives, Imperial Colonial Office, Vol. 2089, 7 (recto)
* The Herero and Nama Genocides, 1904-1908, J.B. Gewald, in Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity, New York, Macmillan Reference, 2004.
* Herero Heroes: A Socio-Political History of the Herero of Namibia 1890 - 1923, J.B. Gewald, Oxford, Cape Town, Athens OH, 1999.
* Let Us Die Fighting: the Struggle of the Herero and Nama against German Imperialism, 1884-1915, Horst Drechsler, London, 1980.
* The Revolt of the Hereros, Jon M. Bridgman, Perspectives on Southern Africa, Berkeley, University of California, 1981.

A probable source for much of this information is Isabell Hull's Absolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial Germany (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005). Parts of this entry are nearly word-for-word summaries of Hull's analysis.

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon - Jan Klimkowski - 03-04-2009

Quote:Germany admits Namibia genocide
BBC, 14 August 2004

Germany has offered its first formal apology for the colonial-era massacre of some 65,000 members of the Herero tribe by German troops in Namibia.

German minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul told a commemorative ceremony that the brutal crushing of the Herero uprising 100 years ago was genocide.

But the German government has ruled out compensation for victims' descendants. A group of Herero has filed a case against Germany in the United States demanding $4bn in compensation.

"We Germans accept our historic and moral responsibility," Ms Wieczorek-Zeul, Germany's Development Aid Minister, told a crowd of some 1,000 at the ceremony in Okokarara. "Germany has learnt the bitter lessons of the past."

But after the minister's speech, the crowd repeated calls for an apology.

"Everything I said in my speech was an apology for crimes committed under German colonial rule," she replied.

The Herero rebelled in 1904 against German soldiers and settlers who were colonising south-west Africa.

Driven into desert

In response, the German military commander, General Lothar von Trotha, ordered the Herero people to leave Namibia or be killed. Herero were massacred with machine guns, their wells poisoned and then driven into the desert to die.

Ms Wieczorek-Zeul repeated that there would be no compensation, but she promised continued economic aid for Namibia which currently amounts to $14m a year.

Germany argues that international laws to protect civilians were not in force at the time of the conflict.
Herero chief Kuaima Riruako said the apology was appreciated but added: "We still have the right to take the German government to court."

However, correspondents say the lawsuit filed in the US three years ago against the German government and two German companies is seen as having a limited chance of success.

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon - Jan Klimkowski - 03-04-2009

Here's the wiki entry on Nazi anthropologist, eugenicist and racial hygienist, "Professor" Eugen Fischer:

Quote:Eugen Fischer (July 5, 1874 – July 9, 1967) was a German professor of medicine, anthropology and eugenics . He was one of those responsible for the Nazi German scientific theories of racial hygiene that legitimized the extermination of Jews, sent an estimated half a million Gypsies to their death in the Porajmos, and led to the compulsory sterilization of hundreds of thousands of other individuals, deemed racially defective, such as the Rhineland Bastards, the mentally ill, and the mentally challenged.

[edit] Biography

Born in Karlsruhe, Grand Duchy of Baden, Fischer joined the Nazi Party soon after it was established. A book, Human Hereditary Teaching and Racial Hygiene, co-written by him and Erwin Baur and Fritz Lenz, served as the "scientific" basis for Nazism's attitude toward other races. He served as the head of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, until 1933, when Adolf Hitler appointed him rector of a Berlin University of Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Berlin, now Humboldt University[1].

Under the Nazi regime, Fischer developed the physiological specifications used to determine racial origins. He and his team experimented on Gypsies and African-Germans, taking blood and measuring skulls to find scientific validation for his theories.

Fischer retired from the university in 1942. After the war, he completed his memoirs, which critics claim whitewash his role in the genocidal program of the Third Reich. He died in 1967.

That history is shameful. However, it's also incomplete.

Quote:During the period of colonisation and oppression, many women were used as sex slaves. (This had not been von Trotha's intention. 'To receive women and children, most of them ill, is a serious danger to the German troops. And to feed them is an impossibility. I find it appropriate that the nation perishes instead of infecting our soldiers.') In the Herero work camps there were numerous children born to these abused women, and a man called Eugen Fischer, who was interested in genetics, came to the camps to study them; he carried out medical experiments on them as well. He decided that each mixed-race child was physically and mentally inferior to its German father (a conclusion for which there was and is no respectable scientific foundation whatever) and wrote a book promoting his ideas: 'The Principles of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene'. Adolf Hitler read it while he was in prison in 1923, and cited it in his own infamous pursuit of 'racial purity'.

European History Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 3, 429-464 (2005)
DOI: 10.1177/0265691405054218

Quote:From Africa to Auschwitz: How German South West Africa Incubated Ideas and Methods Adopted and Developed by the Nazis in Eastern Europe
Benjamin Madley

Yale University, USA

The German terms Lebensraum and Konzentrationslager, both widely known because of their use by the Nazis, were not coined by the Hitler regime. These terms were minted many years earlier in reference to German South West Africa, now Namibia, during the first decade of the twentieth century, when Germans colonized the land and committed genocide against the local Herero and Nama peoples. Later use of these borrowed words suggests an important question: did Wilhelmine colonization and genocide in Namibia influence Nazi plans to conquer and settle Eastern Europe, enslave and murder millions of Slavs and exterminate Gypsies and Jews? This article argues that the German experience in Namibia was a crucial precursor to Nazi colonialism and genocide and that personal connections, literature, and public debates served as conduits for communicating colonialist and genocidal ideas and methods from the colony to Germany.

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon - Jan Klimkowski - 03-04-2009

Quote:(The FASEB Journal. 2008;22:332-337.

German science and black racism—roots of the Nazi Holocaust
François Haas1

New York University Institute of Community Health and Research, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA

1 Correspondence: 400 East 34th St., RR114, New York, NY 10016, USA. E-Mail:


The Nazi’s cornerstone precept of "racial hygiene" gave birth to their policy of "racial cleansing" that led to the murders of millions. It was developed by German physicians and scientists in the late 19th century and is rooted in the period’s Social Darwinism that placed blacks at the bottom of the racial ladder. This program was first manifested in the near-extermination of the African Herero people during the German colonial period. After WWI, the fear among the German populace that occupying African troops and their Afro-German children would lead to "bastardization" of the German people formed a unifying racial principle that the Nazis exploited. They extended this mind-set to a variety of "unworthy" groups, leading to the physician-administered racial Nuremberg laws, the Sterilization laws, the secret sterilization of Afro-Germans, and the German euthanasia program. This culminated in the extermination camps.—Haas, F. German Science and Black Racism—Roots of the Nazi Holocaust.


Nazi policy was actually presaged prior to WWI in Germany’s African colonies. The native populations were regarded as inferior and treated in kind, and racism was institutionalized. Indigenous populations were coerced into forced labor in Togo, Cameroon, and South West Africa (Namibia), but conditions reached their peak in the latter under Namibia’s first governor, Heinrich Ernst Goering (father of Hitler’s deputy Herman Goering).

Among the populations inhabiting this colony were the more than 80,000 Hereros (10) , who rebelled against their German overlords in 1904. The Germans sent an army under Lothar von Trotha who called the conflict a "race war." He declared in the German press that "no war may be conducted humanely against non-humans" (11) and issued an "annihilation order":

Quote: ...The Hereros are no longer German subjects. All Hereros must leave the country...or die. All Hereros found within the German borders with or without weapons, with or without animals will be killed. I will not accept a woman nor any child. ...There will be no male prisoners. All will be shot (11) .

That order set this racial genocide apart from other colonial mass murders and heralded the Nazi final solution (11) .

As would occur under the Nazis, these killings were often framed in public health rhetoric. Von Trotha wrote, "I think it is better that the Herero nation perish rather than infect our troops...." By the time his order was rescinded, an estimated 65,000 Hereros had been killed (12) . The remaining 15,000 (mostly women) were interned in Konzentrationslager.3 Germany’s first official use of this term occurred when Chancellor von Bülow rescinded the annihilation order and established camps for the survivors (11) which were designed to extract economic benefits from their forced labor under conditions that would lead to mass fatalities (12) . The Herero uprising was eventually followed by the Nama (called Hottentots at that time) and Kaffirs.

Fritz Isaac states under oath:4 ‘...I was sent to Shark Island by the Germans. We year. 3,500 Nama and Kaffirs were sent to the Island and 193 returned. 3,307 died on the Island’

Samuel Kariko states under oath: ‘There were only a few thousands of us left, and we were walking skeletons. ...The people died there like flies that had been poisoned. The great majority died there. The little children and the old people died first, and then the women and weaker men (13) ’

Almost half of the approximate 17,000 natives incarcerated in the concentration camps died (11) . These camps, abolished only in 1908 (10) , were a template for the Nazi extermination and forced labor camps such as Auschwitz and Buchenwald, respectively.

The African colonies and concentration camps also served racial scientific inquiry. Post-mortems were performed to study causes of death and bodies of executed prisoners were preserved and shipped to Germany for dissection (Fig. 1 , (14) ). A 1907 chronicle reported that: "A chest of Herero skulls was recently sent to the Pathological Institute in Berlin, where they will be subjected to scientific measurements (10) ."

Figure 1
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Figure 1. Head of a Nama man who died at Shark Island concentration camp, Namibia, which was sent to Germany for anthropological "research" (14) (with permission, E. Schweizerbart’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung

Probably the most well-known study was the physician Eugen Fisher’s evaluation of Basters,5 the mixed-blood children of Dutch men and Nama women. He argued that "Negro blood" was of "lesser value" and that mixing it with "white blood" would destroy European culture, and advised that Africans should be exploited by Europeans as long they were useful, after which they could be eliminated (15) .

Fisher went on to co-author the seminal Outline of Human Genetic and Racial Hygiene with Fritz Lenz and Edwin Baur. Echoes appear in Hitler’s Mien Kampf (Hitler had been given a copy while in jail and writing Mein Kampf) and eventually in the Nuremberg racial laws6 forbidding marriage and sexual relations between Germans and "unfit" groups (Jews, Sinti, Roma, and Africans) (3) , and in the sterilization laws. Fisher became Director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, and served on commissions that planned for the sterilization of Afro-Germans and provided scientific testimony on the racial heritage of German citizens (11) .

Fisher summarized the role of racial hygiene in the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung: "It is rare and special good fortune for a theoretical science to flourish at a time when...its findings can immediately serve the policy of the state (16) ."

Full article online here:

Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon - Jan Klimkowski - 03-04-2009

In Gravity's Rainbow, a few of the Herero survivors are taken to Germany in the decades after the genocide: as servants, for experimentation, to be trained as Uncle Thomas and returned?... (There is some historical evidence for this.)

It's 1945. A band of Hereros are loose in the Zone of collapsed Nazi Germany, children of their history.

Quote:They still call themselves Otukungurua. Yes, old Africa hands, it ought to be "Omakungurua", but they are always careful - perhaps it's less healthy than care - to point out that omu- applies only to the living and human. Otu- is for the inanimate and the rising, and this is how they imagine themselves. Revolutionaries of the Zero, they mean to carry on what began among the old Hereros after the 1904 rebellion failed. They want a negative birth race. The program is racial suicide. They would finish the extermination the Germans began in 1904.

A generation earlier, the declining number of live Herero births was a topic of medical interest throughout southern Africa. The whites looked on as anxiously as they would have at an outbreak of rinderpest among the cattle. How provoking, to watch one's subject population dwindling like this, year after year. What's a colony without its dusky natives? Where's the fun if they're all going to die off? Just a big bunch of desert, no more maids, no more field-hands, no laborers for the construction or the mining - wait, wait a minute there, yes it's Karl Marx, that sly old racist skipping away with his teeth together and his eyebrows up trying to make believe it's nothing but Cheap Labor and Overseas Markets.... Oh, no. Colonies are much, much more. Colonies are the outhouses of the European soul, where a fellow can let his pants down and relax, enjoy the smell of his own shit. Where he can fall on his slender prey roaring as loud as he feels like and guzzle her blood with open joy. Eh? Where he can just wallow and rut and let himself go in a softness, a receptive darkness of limbs, of hair as woolly as the hair on his own forbidden genitals. Where the poppy, and cannabis and coca grow full and green, and not to the colors and style of death, as do ergot and agaric, the blight and fungus native to Europe. Christian Europe was always death, Karl, death and repression. Out and down in the colonies, life can be indulged, life and sensuality in all its forms, with no harm done to the Metropolis, nothing to soil those cathedrals, white marble statues, noble thoughts.... No word ever gets back. The silences down here are vast enough to absorb all behavior, no matter how dirty, how animal it gets...

Some of the more rational men of medicine attributed the Herero birth decline to a deficiency of Vitamin E in the diet - others to poor chances of fertilization given the peculiarly long and narrow uterus of the Herero female. But underneath all this reasonable talk, this scientific speculating, no white Afrikaaner could quite put down the way it felt... Something sinister was moving out in the veld: he was beginning to to look at their faces, especially those of the women, lined beyond the thorn fences, and he knew beyond logical proof: there was a tribal mind at work out here, and it had chosen to commit suicide... Puzzling. Perhaps we weren't as fair as we might have been, perhaps we did take their cattle and their lands away... and then the work-camps of course, the barbed wire and the stockades... Perhaps they feel it is a world they no longer want to live in. Typical of them, though, giving up, crawling away to die... why won't they even negotiate? We could work out a solution, some solution...

It was a simple choice for the Hereros, between two kinds of death: tribal death, or Christian death. Tribal death made sense. Christian death made none at all. It seemed an exercise they did not need. But to the Europeans, conned by their own Baby Jesus Con Game, what they were witnessing among these Hereros was a mystery potent as that of the elephant graveyard, or the lemmings rushing into the sea.
Gravity's Rainbow, p317-8