Minister of State Pieper acknowledges moral and historical responsibility to Namibia

30.09.2011 - Press release

A Namibian delegation is currently in Berlin to take receipt of the skulls of members of the Herero and Nama ethnic groups who lost their lives during the period of German colonial rule in South West Africa. Minister of State Pieper today (30 September) issued the following statement in connection with this visit:

“The transfer of these skulls today to Namibian hands reminds us of a dark chapter in our divided German-Namibian history. This ceremony gives us cause to bring to mind once again the atrocities committed at that time and to recognize the immeasurable suffering of the people affected. We should together seek ways in which our reflections on this sad period can help us foster the present positive, forward-looking approach to relations between our countries and peoples.
We Germans acknowledge and accept this heavy legacy and the ensuing moral and historical responsibility to Namibia. The German Bundestag has likewise taken note of this responsibility of Germany’s to Namibia and the resulting special relationship between the two states in two resolutions (in 1989 and 2004). The German Government is fulfilling this duty through particularly close bilateral cooperation – and development cooperation – with Namibia.
I would also like to express my own personal deep regret and shame for what was done to the ancestors of the tribal representatives now in Berlin. I pay tribute to all those who died more than a hundred years ago fighting for the autonomy of their peoples. I would now, on behalf of the German Government, like to ask the Herero, Nama and Damara for reconciliation and reach out to the people of Namibia.”

The skulls will be handed over today (30 September) to the Namibian Government by representatives of the Charité hospital in a ceremony designed to respect the historical and cultural significance of the event. The ceremony will be hosted by Professor Einhäupl, Chairman of the Charité’s Executive Board. Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office Cornelia Pieper will give a speech as the representative of the German Government.

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