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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 October 2007, 23:07 GMT 00:07 UK
German family's Namibia apology
Members of the von Trotha family with Namibian officials
Members of the von Trotha family visited Omaruru
The descendants of a German officer responsible for mass killings in 1904 in Namibia have met the representatives of the Herero people to seek pardon.

Descendants of Lothar von Trotha, who ordered the killing of Herero people, expressed deep shame over their ancestor's actions and apologised.

Tens of thousands were killed or died of starvation when the general tried to crush an uprising over land ownership.

Germany's government offered a general apology but refuses to pay reparations.

The chiefs of six Herero royal houses met representatives of the von Trotha family in the central Namibian town of Omaruru.

"We, the von Trotha family, are deeply ashamed of the terrible events that took place 100 years ago. Human rights were grossly abused that time," Wolf-Thilo von Trotha said as he addressed the gathering.
Our family cannot become involved in the demand for reparations from a government
Ulrich von Trotha

"We say sorry, since we bear the name of General Lothar von Trotha. We however do not only want to look back, but also look to the future."

The von Trotha representatives travelled to Omaruru at the invitation of Herero Supreme Chief Alfons Maharero, the grandson of Samuel Maharero, who led the uprising in 1904.

Chief Maherero used the occasion to draw attention to the unresolved demand for reparations from the German government.

"We demand a dialogue with the present German government to obtain restorative justice," he said.

Another member of the von Trotha family, Ulrich von Trotha, emphasised that his family was on a private visit.

"Our family cannot become involved in the demand for reparations from a government," he told AFP news agency.

The German government has expressed "regret" at the killings, and a visiting minister apologised in 2004 in general terms, but she avoided specifically saying sorry for the massacres.

Our correspondent says the German government feels that a formal apology might bring new demands for reparations, and says its obligations to Namibia are fulfilled by its current role as Namibia's main aid donor.



SEE ALSO
Namibia's Herero people claim reparations
11 Jan 02 |  From Our Own Correspondent
German bank accused of genocide
25 Sep 01 |  Business
Timeline: Namibia
02 Aug 01 |  Africa

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