Latest News Editor's Choice


Opinion / Columnist

Seeking ethnic solutions in Zimbabwe is going global - Part four

30 Apr 2016 at 15:29hrs | Views
We are in Germany today! Understanding the concept of multi-culturalism in German political landscape
 
Is she now going crazy to think that African problems can find answers in western countries like Germany? African problems, problems relating to ethnic tensions are solved in African continent and not in Europe for goodness sake! The writer does not think so at all. There is a lot that peoples can learn from other cultures, good or bad. Germany has a history of World Wars within one century: twentieth century. From that dark past, Germany has transcended to be one of the most successful economic giants globally and politically an envy to most progressive countries regarding their social, economic and multi-culturalism.

Racism is a buzz-word for Germany in any part of the globe. Germany was one of many European countries that scrambled for space in Africa. As luck would have it, German South West Africa and Tanganyika were initially German colonies at the beginning of the 20th century Millennium. The genocide that took place in German South West Africa is still a bad taste in the mouth of the Herero peoples of Namibia. European rule in all the colonies in Africa was replete with bloodshed and uttermost brutality. It was the living space (lebensraum) that the Germans wanted in these newly found colonies that led to perpetration of crimes such as genocide.

The Herero peoples since 1883 resisted the Colonisation of their territory and the uprisings were met with absolute brutality. The actual genocide took place between 1904 and 1907 when the Herero's were defeated by the Germans at the battle of Waterberg. Several and untold atrocities were meted on the Herero and Namaqua people, were forced in to the Kalahari Desert as a way to exterminate them by starving them to death in those harsh conditions of the Desert. There are still horrible pictures of the Herero population that perished in the desert.

The second genocide now on the German soil and in some countries in Europe was meted on the German Jews when racist Hitler came to power in January 1933. He was obsessed with race and its ideas, all evident in his speeches and writings and this race ideology was incorporated officially into government legislation. Posters in public places and the social media were contracted to propagate this notion of supremacy.

Hitler believed in the purity of race and the superiority of the German people against other world nations. He even went further by believing that the German race could be improved by limiting the reproduction of German people who were considered inferior. With the help of German scientists, such people were selectively sterilized never to reproduce.
Among other people who were deemed inferior were the Roma peoples, (Were insulted and called Gypsies) the handicapped, mentally ill people, those born deaf and blind, Germans with African American background. (Those children born by black US soldiers with German mothers during the First World War also called mulatos, or half casts, "mischlinge" a better insult)

The Jews were considered poisonous race in the German society. At schools teachers practiced what was called racial science that meant establishing pupils and students: who were Aryans race and who were inferior Germans? Their eyes were checked to find out if they were blue, their nose were measure to see if they were long enough, their height was checked if they were tall enough, it just went on. Jewish and Roma children would be laughed at by other children not for any other reason either than the fact that they were Jewish or Roma.

The definition of Nazism is a combination of a variety of totalitarian ideas and fascism and their goal was to establish a totalitarian state with modern bureaucratic governance. This was possible because Hitler himself was an extremely charismatic person who had the backing of the military. His government was absolutely dominant of the German population whose purpose was to monopolize all human activities be it private or public. Nazism was anti-ideology, anti-democratic, anti-communist, anti-Semitic, anti-capitalist and anti-western.

Sure most Germans were not aware of the danger of having Hitler as their "Fuehrer" because some of the reforms he made were appealing to the German people, like remodelling the working class to focus on "higher levels" than traditional class struggle. This led to Germans dangerously moving to extreme levels of nationalism, racism and military might. There was mass creation of jobs, to the satisfaction of the majority of the population and some improved standards of living albeit for a short time.

Here, it has to be mentioned why and how Hitler and the Nazis came into power in the first place. Reason why Nazis came to power are variable: Germany was a mixture of a modern industrialized society and some remnants of feudalism. After the loss of WW1 the German nationalism in the minds of most Germans became strong. They decided to legitimatize the biological racial ideas of supremacy: they were Aryans; the general people accepted and respected this race notion. Again it became stressful to them to live with the idea that they lost the WW1 and their economy was in ruins. There was mass unemployment in most German towns and cities.

Enemies had to be invented so that all the blame had to be put-paid on them: the Jews, the Roma, liberals of German origin, pacifists of German origin, free masons, Jehovah's Witness, homosexuals, communists. But their main enemy remained the Jews; they were even labelled as the ones who made the Germans lose the First World War! That humiliating peace treaty forced-fed on the Germans to accept defeat was the fault of the Jews after all, they said!

All these ideas surfacing in the German "Third Reich" of Adolf Hitler as the Fuehrer, (he wanted Germany to be a Third Reich) he had planned this long back when he was in a prison cell. In 1923, he and other Nazis staged a failed coup that was to be called the "Beer Hall Putsch" in as far back as 1924 all his ideas were written in his famous book "Mein Kampf" a book he wrote single handed.

Hitler planned to collect thousands of Jewish artefacts and build a museum after the war, of an extinct race: Jews. This was the magnitude of his hatred against the Jewish peoples of several nations in Europe and elsewhere.  

His worldviews were summarised in his book "Mein Kampf" as follows: a racist interpretation of world history where the Aryan race is presented as creating culture and the Jews race as the destroying culture, a social Darwinist view of life that says the strong survive and the weak should perish, love of militarism, only in war does man show his true abilities, his belief that Germany become a world power. It was the anti-Semitism that translated into hostility towards Jews, an explanation of all that went wrong with Germany

The sequences that followed, we all know the magnitude of killings that went on from 1941 to 1945. Jews from several countries in Europe faced genocide that shocked the world to this date. There were extermination camps (Vernichtungslager) and death camps (Todeslager) where six million Jews perished and one million of them were children. It started with mass shooting that ended when the officers who actually did those mass killings some of them went mad or the committed suicide for reason of stress related, and post traumatic depression disorders.

Some experiment was made to kill them by gassing them instead of mass shooting. They started by using Carbon monoxide (test gas) to kill disabled, mentally ill, inferior Germans later the cyanide-gas was found to be the better option. This mass killing was called the "final solution" of the Jews. Included in those death and extermination camps were people who were also classified as undesirable some of which were Germans too, Germans who opposed Nazism, beggars, criminals, vagrants' and hawkers.
 
Now coming back to my essay: what does all this information about the two genocides perpetrated by Germany: one in African soil and the other in Germany itself (and other European countries) to do with our ethnic problems in Zimbabwe? I would like to recap issues on genocide in both countries Zimbabwe and Germany: the genocide in Germany particularly against Jews was well planned firstly by Adolf Hitler in his autobiography "Mein Kampf."  When Adolf Hitler came to power he just perfected his plan together with his ruling elite behind the back of the entire German population. Hitler used the army to carry out genocide in these camps. The majority of the German population were coerced to support the Hitler regime and its Nazis ideology.

Hitler's top notch henchmen, among many other officers were Heinrich Himmler, who was head of Gestapo and Waffen SS; Herman Goering, Joseph Goebbels, Reinhardt Heydrich, Adolf Eichmann, Rudolf Hess Albert Speer just to mention who few at the top.

Adolf Hitler never set his foot in any of the death- and extermination camps. All the dirty work was done by his minions. On cue, his minions went on a killing spree until some of them got mad, and some committed suicide because they could not live with their consciences. Equally President Robert Mugabe sent his minions to do the dirty work for him.  On cue, the Fifth Brigade went on a killing spree in Mathebeleland and Midlands. He later concurred: Well it was a moment of madness!

To this day he still has his killing squad intact! (Where is Itai Dzamara, a resent evidence of his ruthlessness against dissenting voices?) On several occasions President Mugabe has gloated openly that he never killed anybody! He says his hands are clean. The whole Vice President Mphoko said: the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe is so innocent; he reads his three Catholic rosaries everyday! Whatever that means! But he (VP Mphoko) on the aside is a full Seventh Day Adventist!

In Zimbabwe, the genocide was perpetrated by the Zanu ruling elite against the people of Mathebelelands and Midlands. Gugurahundi was a master-mind of a few Zanu elite that used a specially military, trained by North Koreans' to be called the Fifth Brigade to decimate the defenceless victims. There was a Grand Plan of 1979 that hatched idea of eliminating a certain section of people who were of a tribe and those peoples of Mashonalands who were of Zapu political party. Among other of those in the elite was Enos Nkala of Ndebele ethnic group. This aspect of Enos Nkala as part of the killing machinery should be underlined as it creates a complex mix of what this Zanu killing cabal consisted of.
Mugabe's top notch among many other officers were: the then Prime Minister Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the commander–in-chief; Emmerson Mnangagwa, Minister of State for Security; Sydney Sekeramai, Minister of Defence Forces; Enos Nkala who held several portfolios; Simbi Mubako former home Affairs minister; the entire high command, General Solomon Mujuru, Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces under the Prime Minister's Office; Josiah Tungamirai as Air Force Marshall; Colonel Perence Shiri, Commander of the Fifth Brigade
The peoples of Mashonalands generally were not aware of the genocide, when it happened, very little information filtered to those other parts of the country for them ever to comprehend the magnitude of loss of life in other parts of new Zimbabwe, killings in most barbaric style. If at all they knew, independence was still too good and intoxicating for them to worry about the "other" who were then called dissidents, a word that was synonymous to Ndebele tribe.

The victims of mass killings in German genocide were buried in mass graves but later they decided to incriminate them.  Before they were incriminated they removed gold teeth from their tooth fillings, sometimes the hair was cut for use as mattresses. The victims of Gugurahundi were buried in mass graves and disabled mine shafts. Their belongings such as cattle were stolen by the soldiers. Some shallow graves do resurface to this date as raw evidence of the Gugurahundi atrocities.

To be able to kill them, the Jews had to be dehumanised first, reduce them from being people to something less, were told to go to gas chambers because they wanted to remove lice from their bodies. In the same manner, the Gugurahundi atrocities were committed by first of all dehumanising the peoples of Mathebeleland and Midlands by calling them cockroaches. All is evidenced in the Chronicle Newspaper article of March 5 1983. He was reported uttering those exact words, likening the dissidents to cockroaches and bugs, the bandit menace had reached such epidemic proportion that the government had to bring DDT (Five Brigade) to get rid of the bandits. These are the words said by VP Emerson Mnangagwa
This is evidence that the patterns of genocide are the same everywhere. German genocide had many levels and dimensions as it did not target Jews only: decimation of Jews, decimation of Roma, decimation of inferior Germans, decimation homosexuals, decimation of Germans who opposed the Nazism, decimation of pacifists, decimation of free masons, disabled people and decimation of Jehovah's Witness. In Zimbabwe it was the decimation of the peoples of Mathebelelands and Midlands and Zapu members of the party also of Shona ethnic groups.

In German, there is a word for analyzing and learning to live with the past in particular the holocaust: Vergangenheitsbewältigung. Immediately after the WW2 in 1945 Germany had the task to build democratic Germanys. There were two German countries that were created at the ashes of the WW2: one was the Federal Republic of Germany and the other was Democratic Republic of Germany. The two Germans needed to deal with their past and how they were going to economically, socially and culturally develop at the glare and scrutiny of the international community.

Politically the two countries had limited space to articulate their freedom. The separation of the two Germans created another dimension of conflict: the cold war. Because West Germany was then part of the Nato allies and the East Germany was part of the Soviet allies, this geopolitical also ideological conflict was then never about Germany but about the immerging super powers, The Soviet Union and its Eastern Block allies on one hand and the USA and its Western allies on the other hand, the battle ground was Germany and the German control.

To remain focused on our own essay, how did Germany solve its ethnic dimensions, and what we can learn from it, it is best to recognise the political, economic and social developments of the two countries after the WW2 as separate states. It would be advisable to subdivide the topics into more parts once more. Part 4.1 will deal with East German and part 4.2 will analyse West Germany, part 4.3 will do the conclusion, what do we as a nation of Zimbabwe learn from other nation's painful histories.
I pen off for now

Ugogo omncane
Chirikadzi

Nomazulu Thata is a political activist, an engineering metallurgist by profession, author of two books, a chemistry teacher and lecturer in her present occupation. Her essays are purely personal and do not reflect any political party affiliation. She can be contacted on Nomazulu.thata(at)web.de



Source - Nomazulu Thata
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

Subscribe

Email: