Germany returns colonial-era remains to Namibians
BERLIN — A Namibian delegation on Wednesday took possession of the remains of 27 countrymen whose bones were taken by German colonial forces more than a century ago for pseudoscientific racial experiments.
At a church ceremony in Berlin, two skulls in glass boxes along with a coffin covered with a Namibian flag were placed in front of the altar ahead of the handover.
The repatriation of the remains is a reminder of Germany’s short-lived past as a colonial power in Africa which included the bloody suppression of a Herero and Nama uprising between 1904 and 1908 that left tens of thousands dead.
“We intend to do something today we should have done many years ago, namely to give back mortal human remains of people who became the first victims of the first genocide of the 20th century,” German Lutheran Bishop Petra Bosse-Huber said.
Germany is returning 19 skulls, five full skeletons and bone and skin fragments that were stored in hospitals, museums and universities for decades.
In the early 20th century, German scientists tried to prove the “racial superiority” of white Europeans over black Africans by, for example, analyzing the facial features of the skulls.
“These skulls tell the story of brutal, godless colonial past and its consecutive suppression of the Namibian people. They say, ‘Never again!’” Lutheran Bishop Ernst Gamxamub from Namibia said during his sermon.