1904: Heinrich, a Herero

The Times of London reported thus, on Aug. 30, 1904:




It is intended to hold Courts-martial in German South-West Africa for the trial of natives who have been implicated in the massacre of German colonists or who have rendered assistance to the insurgents. The first of these trials resulted in the condemnation of a Herero named Heinrich, alias Egbert, who had been concerned in the murder of a German farmer, and who had also acted as a spy in the interest of the rebels. Heinrich, who is described as “a schoolmaster and Evangelist,” was sentenced to death, and, according to intelligence just received, was hanged at Swakopmund on August 2. This case will produce a painful impression in German missionary circles, which have lately been in bad odour with the Government owing to the criticisms they had passed upon the conduct of some of the whites.

This “Heinrich” was thereby the first judicial execution for the January 1904 Herero raid that touched off the Herero genocide. Germany would secure the military scene just nine days later by routing Herero warriors at the Battle of Waterberg … and then proceed to drive almost the whole of the Herero nation into the deserts on pain of instant execution. (Jolly postcards were made of such scenes.)

Estimated body count: tens of thousands. Germans feel just awful about it.

On this day..

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