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History Illustrated is a weekly series of insightful perspectives that puts news events and current affairs into historical context using graphics generated with artificial intelligence.

On January 12, Germany rejected the accusation of genocide in Gaza recently against Israel at the International Court of Justice.

The next day, Namibia condemned Germany’s decision to, in effect, defend Israel’s intensive bombing of the occupied Palestinian territory, calling the decision ‘shocking’. So, why Namibia? Because Namibia knows.

In 1884, 13 European countries, as well as the United States, met at the Berlin Conference to decide on the rules for carving up and colonising Africa.

With that deal in place, Germany took over Namibia, and by the early 1900s, about 5,000 German settlers ruled over 250,000 Indigenous people.

The German colonists drove the ethnic Herero — nomads who kept cattle — off their ancestral lands and made them live in reserves. Locals seen to have broken the law were flogged or hanged, while Germans guilty of rape or murder often escaped with only light sentences.

The land grabs and the brutality led to a lot of anger, and in 1904, the Herero, led by Samuel Maharero, rose up against the colonial Germans, and, on January 12, they killed more than 120 people, mostly Germans.

Despite initial military successes, the Herero, the Nama and others soon fell to the fire of German machineguns and artillery. More than 90,000 were killed. Many of the survivors were subjected to concentration camps and forced labour.

In 2021, Germany accepted responsibility for what is considered the first genocide of the 20th century.

So today, we have Germany, having historically atoned for not one but two genocides, now defending Israel as it stands accused of committing its own genocide. The irony is surely not lost on the Namibians.

Source: Danylo Hawaleshka – Al Jazeera

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