As a port city of trade and commerce, Hamburg played a central role in German colonial history between 1884 and 1918. A majority of German settlers and colonial soldiers embarked on their journey to Africa via Hamburg. These included 15,000 soldiers of the “protection force” which under the command of Lothar von Trotha took up the fight against the anti-colonial resistance of the Herero in “German South West Africa”, present-day Namibia. The Herero resistance was sparked by the expropriation, suppression and exploitation suffered at the hands of the white colonial rulers.
The decisive battle took place at Waterberg in 1904, in which the Herero were defeated and pushed back by German troops into the Omaheke desert. Watering places were sealed, and soldiers had orders to shoot any who returned. In this way, 80 percent of the Herero were killed. The debate regarding the historical responsibility for this genocide has strongly influenced German-Namibian relations in recent years. Descendants of the Herero and Nama demand that Germany finally accept its colonial responsibility in direct negotiations by agreeing to pay reparations.
In the documentary theatre project “Hereroland”, the Thalia Theater in Hamburg together with the College of the Arts (COTA) and the National Theatre of Namibia in Windhoek explore the personal stories and perspectives of this genocide in Germany and Namibia. The theatre project will conduct exclusive interviews with the descendants of the Herero and German settlers in Namibia and research yet unpublished historical documents in both countries. On the basis of this material, the organisers aim to investigate the history of the Herero uprising from various sociological, ethnic, and above all, personal perspectives, and engage in a renewed discussion on the German responsibility for its own colonial history using theatrical techniques. The project will especially highlight the key historical role that Hamburg played as a Hanseatic city in the colonial era of the German Empire.
Artistic directors: David Ndjavera, Gernot Grünewald; Stage director: Michael Köpke; Costume design: Cynthia Schimming; Dramaturgy: Christina Bellingen; Dramaturgical assistance : Aldo Behrens; Video: Jonas Plümke; Production director: Jana Lüthje; Live-Music: Rudolf Dantago Schimming, Ben Kandukira
Participants: Jonas Anders, Otja Henock Kambaekua, Oliver Mallison, Jörg Pohl, Toini Ruhnke, Glenn-Nora Zeupareje Tjipura, Gift Uzera, Lizette Vezemboua Kavari, West Uarije
11.-13. June 2020: National Theatre of Namibia, Windhoek – performances