The issue of forced labour in the 'Onjembo' : German South West Africa 1904-1908

TitleThe issue of forced labour in the 'Onjembo' : German South West Africa 1904-1908
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1995
AuthorsJ.B. Gewald
Secondary TitleItinerario : bulletin of the Leyden Centre for the History of European Expansion
Pagination97 - 104
Date Published1995///
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsAfrica, colonial conquest, Country, forced labour, Germany, Herero, Herero revolt, Namibia

In January 1904 the 'Onjembo', the Herero-German war, broke out. During the course of seven months the Herero were driven back from their ancestral homes and lands and forced to retreat into the northeastern reaches of the then German colony of South West Africa, the present-day Republic of Namibia. Following their defeat at Hamakari in August 1904, the surviving Herero were driven northeastward into the Omaheke region of the Kalahari desert basin. Prior to the battle of Hamakari German commanders had already received requests from settlers for the allocation, for labour purposes, of a number of the prisoners of war which they were expected to make. The German 'Reichskanzler' recommended that missionaries be asked to encourage the Herero to surrender and that those Herero who surrendered were "to be placed in concentration camps in various parts of the country where, under guard, they could then be used for labour". The prisoners were used by both military and civilian enterprises for a wide range of activities. In 1908 the camps were abolished and henceforth the former prisoners of war were subjected to stringent labour and pass laws. Notes, ref

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