Unmarked POW graves restored

Clean-up operation

07 June 2021 | Local News

Bayron van Wyk; Volunteer; “The graves are in a much better state...”

Swakopmund • [email protected]


Ten residents recently volunteered to restore the deplorable unmarked shallow graves of prisoners of war (POWs), where the Ovaherero and Nama victims of the German-led genocide were buried by their colonisers in Swakopmund.

Bayron van Wyk said that there is a noticable improvement in the condition of the graves since the clean-up, which took place on Africa Day.

“The graves are in a much better state than they were a year ago.”

Meanwhile, negotiations have been taking place for decades between the Namibian and the German governments on restitution for the genocide of the Ovaherero, Nama and San people by the European state.

“Just recently, the German government announced the end of the negotiations between the two countries, with an envisioned apology and ‘reconciliation package’,” Bayron said.

However, many of the Ovaherero and Nama traditional leaders oppose the deal, saying they were not consulted.

“One wonders what form this ‘reconciliation package’ will take when the most key stakeholders – the Ovaherero and Nama – have been left out of official genocide reparations,” Bayron commented.

The Genocide Association of Namibia (GAN) organised the efforts to clean and restore the unmarked graves of the POWs at what was one of the colonial concentration camps in Namibia.

It has become an annual event since 2020 on both Independence Day and on Africa Day.

It is believed that the genocide of the Ovaherero, Namas and San, which took place between 1904 and 1908, was the first such event of the twentieth century in the world.

It is estimated that between 24 000 and 100 000 Ovahereros as well as 10 000 Namas were killed during this period by the perpetrators.

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