The occurrences during what has come to be known as the Herero and Namaqua Genocide were brutal and have been seen as the first attempts at genocide. This piece will analyse the issue at large and also two primary sources relating to this tragedy in an attempt to shed light on the subject of the Herero situation in particular.
Firstly, to properly contextualise and analyse the two documents, we have to look at who wrote the documents themselves. The author of both documents was Lothar von Trotha, a German military commander and General who was sent to German South West Africa in 1904 to crush a rebellion against the German occupation by the Herero, natives to the land that the Germans inhabited. Lothar von Trotha was an esteemed German soldier and commander and specialised in the suppression of insurrection in German colonial territories having served in China and German East Africa in a similar capacity.
Trotha’s mission in German South West Africa was to put a stop to the uprising by the native African tribe, the Herero, that was caused by German occupancy of Herero land. In January 1904, the Herero had risen up against the German colonialists under the leadership of Samuel Maharero. After initial defeats and setbacks against the Africans, the Germans deployed Trotha who had successful experience in situations such as these and he arrived in German South West Africa in June 1904. After initial defeats, Trotha won a decisive victory at the Battle of Waterberg in August 1904 and succeeded in expelling or killing the majority of the Herero from German territory.
This is the historical and contextual background to the letters sent by Trotha in early to mid October of 1904, two months after the Battle of Waterberg and following German victory in German South West Africa. The addressees of the documents differ between each one.
The first document, Command of the Protective Troops, is addressed to Germans in German South West Africa and is used to...
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