Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Reparations Story

It's typically not a story which gets brought up in a German high school environment for a history lesson.....but roughly a century ago (1904 to 1908)....Germans occupied a region of southern Africa which is today Namibia (population of 2.3 million).

It's not a period which is positive on Germans.

Over this four-year period, genocide occurred.  The numbers?  Generally, it's guessed that between 30,000 and 130,000 died during the four-year period.  Most came from two particular tribes, the Herero and Namaqua tribes.

The curious thing is that this wasn't a full-up war situation.  It's more of a case where the tribes were pushed into compounds or camps....disease started food...and people died through exhaustion or disease.

All of this occurred during the Kaiser Wilhelm II's period....not from the Wiemar Republic, the Nazi era, or the Bundestag period since 1945.

In 2004, the German government came forward and noted an apology, and agreed that genocide had occurred.  Compensation or reparations?  No.

So, this week, we came to an interesting development.....Namibia has hired a few lawyers and surveying the idea of taking Germany to court.

The suggested amount?  Twenty-eight billion Euro.  You can do the math, it comes out to roughly 14,000 Euro per resident of Namibia.

The odds of winning?  Unknown.

It might take ten years, and maybe in the end....Namibia wins nothing. Or maybe they could walk out shocked in that Germany agrees to some deal (maybe one billion Euro a year for twenty years).

Namibia is a curious country.  You could fit two Germanys into the landscape of Namibia.  Back a decade ago, there were reported to be 60,000 Germans a year to vacation in Namibia....I'd take a guess that it's double that number today.  Roughly fifteen-percent of the economy of the country....feeds off travel and tourists. The other two sectors that produce vital income for the country are mining and agriculture.  But with 2.3 million residents....there is a limit to what they can do.

What would Namibia do with the 28 billion Euro if they did win it?  It's not laid out in any fashion. Some folks within the country would be fearful of corruption and that the money would just disappear in a matter of years with no real outcome.

Maybe the Germans might be smart and offer some deal where educational costs (from schools to university system) would be covered for twenty years....calling it a grant rather than reparations.  In such a way, both parties would walk away satisfied.

Bottom line?  This will eventually move up to front-page news, especially if the Germans lose the case.

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