This piece was originally designed to be included in That Line of Darkness: The Gothic from Lenin to bin Laden (Encompass Editions, 2013) but was excluded for reasons of space.
On returning home in the early 1850s after visiting South West Africa, Francis Galton, the father of eugenics, reported that he had seen “enough of savage races to give [him] material to think about all the rest of [his] life.” His conviction that the use of selective breeding to improve the human gene pool, combined with the belief by European powers in Social Darwinism, was taken to the extreme outer reach by the Germans when they laid claim to this area in 1884. Their initial goal was to appropriate the native Herero and Nama peoples and settle their land with German settlers. The degrading treatment visited on blacks in Jim Crow America was replicated by the Germans from saluting whites to a stark double standard in the justice system. Africans were deemed "baboons" and were treated like animals.
The indigenous peoples did not meekly submit to their fate; they rose up in rebellion and killed more than a hundred settlers. In response, the Germans waged all-out war and massacred the Herero with their Maxim guns. The motto of the “Cleansing Patrols” was to “clean out, hang up, shoot down till they are all gone” (Cited in Niall Ferguson, Civilization: The West and the Rest Penguin Books, 2012). Those not killed were put in concentration camps that were more like death camps. By 1904 the German colonial administration waged a war of annihilation against the Herero people. They also established a precursor of the Nuremberg laws by banning marriages between German settlers and African women and depriving males born of these unions of all rights and privileges accorded German citizens. They also subjected them to forced labour, and in an eerie connection with Nazi Germany the name of the first imperial commissioner was one Dr. Heinrich Göring, the father of Hermann who controlled the largest police force after 1933. It was in one of the African camps that the first medical experiments were conducted.
|The Germans slaughter the native peoples