German Colonialism and Holocaust. What had Auschwitz to do with Colonialism?

Essay, 2017

11 Pages, Grade: 8

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1.0 Introduction

2.0 German Colonialism

3.0 Holocaust
3.1 Auschwitz

4.0 Conclusion

5.0 Bibliography

1.0 Introduction

In the following essay i would like to analyze two important parts of the German History: Co­lonialism and the Holocaust. If we look at the definitions of Colonialism we can find certain as­pects that seem similar in the Holocaust for example the characterization through a pigment dif­ference, or a difference of at least two races/ kinds of people. Within which you can often find a developmental gap as well and a leak of difference in education (although it is not always pro­ven and often imagined by the conquer). The unequal exchange of recourse (in the case of colo­nialism in Africa) as much as an extreme violence are to notice as well. The violence in cruelty will be find in both, colonialism and Holocaust - yet in very different ways as i would like to show in the following analysis.

If we talk about German colonialism in Africa the genocide of Herero and Nama Africans is wi­thin the first to be mentioned. The word Genocide is worth being analyzed in itself: It combines the words „genos" for roots and „caedere" for killing. The (partial) elimination of ,the other' species or race is what is described within the word and can be found in Africa as much as du­ring the NS-Time in Germany.

2.0 German Colonialism

German Colonialism started with the travels of Karl Peters in 1884, who made its way to Africa while trying to find new land for the German Reich (Yet, his arrival in Africa had not been planned by the german rulers). With the use of Alcohol and the promise of Safety for the native people, Peters made the head of a tribe sign a contract, written in a language they didn't speak and therefore could not have understood. What followed were bad consequences of that signa­ture, of which the Africans had not been aware of. Although the first germans came to Africa in a way of friendship, colonialism soon changed the ambience. The African would lose big parts of their land and therefore work on a low budget (if paid at all). An interesting phenomena is to be observed within that time: the German Colony would become a land of Germany that could be used as a grey zone in cases of the law. While within the German Reich it was already for­bidden to use a stroke or lash of a whip, it was very common in Africa. The German would ex­cuse their behavior by believing that the native american would only speak the language of the whip (which was also common in english colonies). The native African was described as more uncultured (in comparison to the germans), which lead to the building of schools in Africa. The education made by the germans has to be seen critical though since it gave a nice outlook to a fouling inside. But the germans did not all settle in Africa with bad intentions. Many found a new home in Africa and even today there are families with a history of Colonial times (that al­lowed even the mix of both ,races', since many generals took themselves african woman. even though in many cases it can not be said if the relation was connected via. love or violence).

The bad conditions (along with climate difficulties) soon lead to a rebellion of the African peop­le, especially the Herero and Nama tribes. As a reaction towards the rebellion, General von Tro- tha gave the so called „Vernichtungsbefehl“, an extermination command:

„Innerhalb der Deutschen Grenze wird jeder Herero mit oder ohne Gewehr erschossen. Ich nehme keine Weiber, keine Kinder mehr auf. Treibe Sie zu ihrem Volk zuruck oder lasse auch auf sie schiefien."

He (by himself) gave the command to murder every Herero within the german borders. When the german state reacted, it had already been too late. Survivors were being captured and brought to work camps such as the Shark Island, were they had no houses to live in (but simply the mountains), neither clothes. The work camps were also called „concentration camps", a term used by the english as well. The english had used concentration camps within the Boar War were many people worked themselves to death or starved (until the public awareness was brought by Emily Hobhouse).

Hitler will later say: „„Konzentrationslager sind nicht in Deutschland erfunden worden", con­centration camps were not made in Germany, to explain his KZ concentration camps.

But the concentration camps that were used during the Colonialism in Africa by the germans and the ones used by the english can be compared. And that leads to the point that murder wit­hin colonialism was not only a german phenomena (even though Trotha's command remains unique). Professor Dr. David Simo from the university of Kamerun would say that the germans were harsh, but yet calculable because of their rules.

Nether the less 3/4 of Herero and 1/2 of Nama died during the German Colonialism. Apart from the shootings after the rebellion, almost every 5th prisoner did not survive.

Only after 100 years of denying the cruelty in the german colonialism and after many demons­trations in favor of the Herero and Nama, the german government finally apologized officially for the crimes: „der Vernichtungskrieg [...] von 1904 bis 1908 [war] ein Kriegsverbrechen und Volkermord".

Up to today the descendants are suing Germany for the crime and asking for a payback. Due to the late arrangement for the peace with populations in 1948 the chances did not seem very high so far.

3.0 Holocaust

The Holocaust, other than Colonialism has been a specially german crime within history.

It differs for example in the amount of time since it happened within a shorter period of time in comparison to colonialism. While Colonialism started in slower steps, with for example german settlers, the Holocaust and NS-regime also happened in several steps, yet much faster.

A pigment difference can only be found until a certain point since there had not been a big dif­ference of the white people and the native population but within the german population itself. The biggest aim and victim of Hitlers time were the jewish population, yet to be seen as much of white men as any other germans. Therefore Hitler created his own ,race' the „Arier". So cal­led pure germans with blonde hair and blue eyes. Mixed blood was only allowed until a certain point and every mix was to be seen as worse, worth less, than the german Arier.

By making up his own race Hitler was able to make ,the other' the victims. Therefore the big­gest difference was to be found within Religion (Jewish belief). But not only did Hitler execute Jewish people, also homosexuals, disabled people and for example polish people had to die.

Before the execution of the ,Others', there were also several steps taken. One of them to be men­tioned may be the declaration of the „Nuernberger Gesetze" (Laws of Nuernberg) about the je­wish race. The jewish had to live every time more and more within reduced circumstances and a propaganda of Hitlers believes made even neighbors to enemies. Everyday things just as swimming were not allowed for the jewish population anymore (as can be seen at the example to the movie of Anne Frank).

It started with a high discrimination and lead to the execution. Soon Jewish population would be placed within Ghettos or deported to concentrati-on camps, so called „KZ"s.

3.1. Auschwitz

One example for the German KZ's is Auschwitz, which was basically not only one place but a high complex network of several stations of the death camps. Auschwitz-Birkenau is the biggest part of it.

Jewish people would arrive with trains into the concentration camp and often right after the ar­rival be selected. Anyone that would not be able to work was directly send to death, yet in a way that the arrivers wouldn't notice right away were they were going.

Within the concentration camps there had also been medical experiments (now within the afri­can Colonies there had also been medical experiments on native people, yet the amount was way smaller and for the aim of finding a treatment for african illnesses, while in case of the KZ- Doctors it is not always clear of they did not make experiments for their own entertainment and torture). To name one of them is Dr. Horst Schumann, who used radiation to burn the genitals of prisoners within the KZs. Other doctors were in charge of gassing (using the right gas). Especially the use of crematories and the gassing of people is to be mentioned as a huge diffe­rence to the way people were executed within the colonies in Africa.

Because of the highly complex in organization and planning the execution of ,the Other' within the KZs, the german concentration camps in Africa and the genocide of the Herero and Nama have to be differentiated from Hitlers concentrations camps (Konzentrationslagern).

At least when it comes to coming to terms with the past, the Germans worked it out fast and better within their very own part of the history. The beginning of it were the „Frankfurter Pro- zesse“, which were several law tribes within the period of two years, started by Fritz Bauer (who was jewish). 22 people were accused, 360 witnessed came to court, such as 54 relatives. Today there are several memorials such as the „Holocaust-Mahnmal“ in Berlin the history can be seen in several museums.

The german colonialism is now also getting more awareness within for example an exhibition of the German Colonies in the german national history museum (which took place between 2016-2017).

4.0 Conclusion

During the german Colonialism in Africa, especially due to General Trotha and the Sharkisland, many Herero, Nama and others were killed. In Southafrica almost every 5th person that had been captured died. A similar 5th of the amount of people in the „Konzentrationslager“ during the Holocaust we murdered/died. Both can be seen as terrible crimes and Genocides.

(German) Colonialism as much as Hitlers Ideas had a bigger territory in mind and an expansion for the Germans.

Yet, due to different reasons in ideology and plan, the Holocaust remains a unique happening during the Nazi-Germany Period. The aim that Hitler had in mind is not comparable to the ac­tions of the generals in the colonies.

Apologies for the happenings, such as an education in that field to prevent similar actions for the future have been very specified for the Holocaust in Germany. The apology to the Herero and Nama came rather late. A reason for that may be the similar Colonialism of other countries.

6.0 Bibliography

Online Sources:

„Volkermord der Herero und Nama verklagen Deutschland" nama-verklagen-deutschland-a-1128885.html

„Was britische Kos von deutschen unterschied“ schied.html

„Hereros in Deutsch-Sudwestafrika" kermord-1.2454826-2

General information about the Holocaust:



Fritz Bauer Institution:

Auschwitz Museum:

Historisches Museum:

Deutsche Kolonien: Afrika brennt.

Deutsche in Ostafrika:

Namibia: Eine Heimat - Zwei Welten.

Auschwitz from Above:

„Der gelbe Stern“:

„Man nannte uns Kaninchen“ (Medical Experiments):

Das Tagebuch der Anne Frank (Trailer): Further information can be found in the following videos and movies: Das Tagebuch der Anne Frank

Sophie Scholl

Die weifie Rose

Die Welle

Or literature/books:

„Als Hitler das Rosa Kaninchen stahl“

„Das Tagebuch der Anne Frank“

„Von Bismarck zu Hitler“


11 of 11 pages


German Colonialism and Holocaust. What had Auschwitz to do with Colonialism?
Vytautas Magnus University
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auschwitz, colonialism, german, holocaust, what
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Maike Egidi (Author), 2017, German Colonialism and Holocaust. What had Auschwitz to do with Colonialism?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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