German Colonial Genocide in Namibia

Infrastructure of Genocide and the Case of the Nama

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project description

The colonial war between German imperial troops and the Ovaherero, Ovambanderu and Nama tribes in what is now the country of Namibia culminated in a genocide that claimed the lives of some 100,000 people from 1904 to 1908. Although the German federal government has expressed its regret for these actions and officially recognised them as genocide, it has so far refused to consider demands for restitution. Instead, German officials arrived at an agreement with the Namibian government to provide development aid. The communities affected by the genocide were not party to the negotiations and have criticised the outcome.

For their research project “German Colonial Genocide in Namibia”, the artist group Forensis has teamed up with its sister agency Forensic Architecture in cooperation with European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, the legal scholar John Nakuta of the University of Namibia and Kambanda Veii, founding member of the Ovaherero Genocide Foundation, to investigate the injustice of the German colonial atrocity which is still felt by the local population. While the descendants of the former European colonists own the majority of arable land, the descendants of the dispossessed, who were bonded into forced labour, have lived in poverty for generations.

The project plans to use cutting-edge digital technologies to reconstruct the crime scene: using 3D landscaping and architectural models, the farms, gravesites and other locations will be investigated for clues. The project organisers also plan to locate the concentration camps which were built by the Germans in South West Africa and analyse the environmental destruction of the land caused by the colonisers. Interviews with the affected communities will augment the multidisciplinary investigation. The gathered evidence will serve as the basis for a renewed demand for land and monetary restitution. The results of the research project will be presented in various formats, e.g. a film, an online cartography platform, publications, and public programmes and exhibitions in Germany and Namibia.

Artistic director: Eyal Weizman
Forensic Architecture: Imani Jacqueline Brown, Agata Nguyen Chuong
Forensis: Ashkan Cheheltan, Tobechukwu Onwukeme

Field research in southern Namibia (Swakopmund, Shark Island), planned in summer 2023 (July – October, exact dates t.b.d.)
Presentation and exhibition in Windhoek, planned in summer 2023 (July – October, exact dates t.b.d.)


Forensis e.V.

Zossener Straße 55-58
10961 Berlin
e-mail: (external link, opens in a new window)