BERLIN, April 21 — Berlin’s Columbiadamm garrison cemetery has a stone known as the “Afrikastein” (Africa stone), which commemorates German soldiers who committed genocide against the Ovaherero and Nama people in what is now Namibia between 1904 and 1908. On the occasion of the Genocide Remembrance Day in Namibia, a group called “Beendet die Verehrung von Völkermörder” (Stop honouring perpetrators of genocide) redesigned the Afrikastein with a stencil and spray paint.
They added the slogan “Stop racist commemoration for Nazis and perpetrators of genocide” to the stone and used stickers to alter the “Namibia Memorial Plaque” at the foot of the stone, replacing the words “colonial war” with “genocide”. This action aimed to draw attention to the lack of an appropriate memorial for the Ovaherero and Nama in Berlin, while a genocide stone had been present for over a century. The activists also emptied their spray cans onto the palm tree that was engraved on the stone, which commemorated the Nazi murderers who died on the African continent during World War II.
The occasion for the action was Genocide Remembrance Day in Namibia, which takes place on April 22. Historians estimate that at least 65,000 of the 80,000 Ovaherero living at the time and at least 10,000 of the 20,000 Nama were murdered during the course of these extermination orders. After World War II, the Genocide Stone was also engraved with a palm tree on a red background with the words “AFRIKA 1941-1943”. This commemorates the Nazi murderers who died on the African continent during World War II.
The only memorial in Berlin that supposedly commemorates the victims of the genocide, the Ovaherero and Nama, is at the foot of this genocide stone. It took five years to create this “Namibia Memorial plaque,” erected in 2009. The result was a “trivialization of genocide” that is “not suitable for reconciliation with Namibia,” as many organizations stated in a joint press release. Instead of using the term “genocide,” the plaque describes it as a “colonial war” to avoid the possibility of reparation claims. The German government has only recognized the genocide of the Ovaherero and Nama since 2021. The Ovaherero and Nama were not allowed to sit at the negotiating table during the reconciliation agreement negotiated between the German and Namibian governments, and the German government has yet to offer reparations.
– Namibia Daily News