Last month, Germany agreed to return the Benin Bronzes it plundered from the ancient Kingdom of Benin, present day Nigeria, with the statement “we are confronting our historic and moral responsibility”.
On Friday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas outlined in a statement that Germany will support Namibia and the descendants of the victims with $1.3 billion for reconstruction and development and ask for forgiveness.
“Our goal was and is to find a common path to genuine reconciliation in memory of the victims. This includes naming the events of the German colonial period in what is now Namibia, and in particular the atrocities in the period from 1904 to 1908, without sparing or glossing over them. We will now also officially call these events what they were from today’s perspective: a genocide,” Maas said.
Reconciling with reparations
Over the last decade, Germany has made it a priority to begin the reconciliation process with countries and groups it has wronged in the past. “The crimes of German colonial rule have long burdened relations with Namibia. There can be no closing of the book on the past. However, the recognition of guilt and our request for apology is an important step towards coming to terms with the crimes and shaping the future together,” Maas said.
Last year Germany continued their support of Holocaust survivors by providing more than half a billion dollars in aid to those struggling under the burdens of the coronavirus pandemic.
The United States has historically given some form of reparations to different groups of people it has wronged. It’s paid Japanese American survivors of internment camps and even set up a victim’s compensation fund worth billions of dollars for those affected by the September 11th attacks. But there is one group of people that the U.S. notoriously has not reconciled with or given any form of reparations to–Black people.
From 400 years of slavery, to Jim Crow laws and segregation, to the civil rights movement, the U.S. has a long history of oppressing Black people that it must atone for. This year is the Centennial anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, and the local government still has yet to reconcile with the survivors and descendants who lost everything.
It’s time the U.S. takes a page out of Germany’s book on how to atone for the wrongdoings against Black people.