During German rule in Namibia, called South-West Africa back then, colonial officers studying eugenics developed ideas on racial purity, and their forces tried to exterminate two rebellious ethnic groups, the Herero and Nama, some of them in concentration camps.
The events in Namibia between 1904 and 1908 foreshadowed Nazi ideology and the Holocaust that led to more than 100,000 deaths.
According to a complaint filed on Thursday with the US district court in Manhattan, Germany has excluded the plaintiffs from talks with Namibia regarding what occurred, and has publicly said any settlement will not include reparations to victims, even if compensation is awarded to Namibia itself.
“There is no assurance that any of the proposed foreign aid by Germany will actually reach or assist the minority indigenous communities that were directly harmed,” the plaintiffs’ lawyer Ken McCallion said.
“There can be no negotiations or settlement about them that is made without them.”
The proposed class-action lawsuit seeks unspecified sums for thousands of descendants of the victims, for the “incalculable damages” that were caused.