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The Kaiser's Holocaust: Germany's Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism
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The Kaiser's Holocaust: Germany's Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  294 ratings  ·  48 reviews
On 12 May 1883, the German flag was raised on the coast of South-West Africa, modern Namibia - the beginnings of Germany's African Empire. As colonial forces moved in , their ruthless punitive raids became an open war of extermination. Thousands of the indigenous people were killed or driven out into the desert to die. By 1905, the survivors were interned in concentration ...more
Paperback, 394 pages
Published August 4th 2011 by Faber Faber (first published August 25th 2010)
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Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont
In Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, there is a museum dedicated to the mass murder of the Tutsis in April, 1994. The whole thing is terribly well done, terribly moving, particularly the last part, where some of the dead children are identified.

The beginning is also well done, the part where the genocide is put in the context of the other great ethnic tragedies of the previous century: Srebrenica and the Balkan wars is mentioned, as is the Shoah, the Nazi destruction of the Jews, and the massacre
This book does a lot in a limited amount of space. It sets up and gives a thorough background on the various Peoples inhabiting what was to become German South-West Africa. Some groups of whom had been strongly influenced by Dutch settlement on the Cape and were very European in their culture.

Then it gives an account of the development of the German colony from a basic trading post operating under the German flag, to an increasingly costly undertaking that was draining German resources and
Chris Coffman
Sep 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book, which documents a seemingly obscure place and time, is in fact the long-lost key to the origins of one of the two great catastrophes of the twentieth century.

Since the end of the Second World War and the revelation of the scale of the criminal obscenity of the so-called Final Solution, the question has been debated, is there a meaningful distinction between Nazis and Germans? Was the German nation in effect the first victim of the Nazi Party, or did the Nazi Party represent authentic
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: south-africa, germany

One of the great stumbling blocks during the lengthy, eight year process leading up to the Union of South Africa in 1910 was whether or not to give non-Europeans the right to vote, or any political rights at all. In 1909, JBM Hertzog, whilst discussing the draft constitution of the proposed union in the Transvaal Parliament, is recorded as having said that, the native was undeniably a human being, but he was not yet entitled to political rights because he was still a
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This carefully researched and well written book argues that the Nazi death camps were descended directly from the Nambian death camps of Kaiser Wilhelm II. The memory of Germany's empire has become separated from European history. But Hitler's statement that he would treat the Slavs like 'colonial people' was a shorthand understood by a generation of Germans who were children when the Kaiser was on a mission to eradicate Africans. This book is the fascinating of German racial ideologies and the ...more
Jul 24, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Namibian part of this book deserves a four or five-star rating. Unfortunately too much of the last half of the book is devoted to a retelling of the rise of Nazism, covering well-trodden history with only occasional and often tenuous links to the ostensible topic of the book.

Actually, this straying into later history is prefigured in the opening pages, describing the death of Goering and the Nuremberg trials. Even though it was too long in the context of the book, this section does
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A really important but difficult book to read, as the authors David Olusoga and Caspar W Erichson, present the story of one of the last Colonial conquests in Africa, the Germans rape of South West Africa, the country now known as Namibia. The German colonial authorities, it turns out were not satisfied with taking all the arable land from the indigenous people, they planned, almost from the start, to wipe them all out entirely as peoples, and completely destroy their culture. The means they ...more
Aidan Mcquaid
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As someone with a passing interest in Europes colonial adventures this book was a real eye opener.Rather than a story of German expansion in Western Africa it told the story of how entire native populations were almost wiped out with little pity and how the road to Nazi Germany began.The ideas of racial purity so central to Nazi ideology began in German South West Africa and culminated in Hitlers final solution.A fascinating if disturbing read.
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is much covered in this detailed history of Germany's colony in South West Africa. As well as the genocide that occurred at the beginning of the twentieth century, this book looks at how many of the policies and ideas used in the colony were adopted by the Nazi party when it came to power in Germany. Overall it is a well-researched book which I would highly recommend.
Oct 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: factual, a-kindle, atw80
I thought the arguments set out in this book were really well done. It was an expose of the inhuman treatment that the Germany of the Kaiser meted out to the African population in their sole African colony of South-West Africa(now Namibia), which included the birth of death camps, later refined by the Nazis, but set in the historical context of general European colonialist attitudes. It then threw this forward to the impact the period had on the development of Nazi racial theories after the ...more
Aug 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love early Namibian history, having read other accounts. This book is unfortunately full of contradiction. The author clearly sets out to make a point- that the fact that Hermann Goring's father was 1st administrator of the colony, it convinced Goring jnr to suggest Nazi Germany's final solution. Odd considering young Hermann was only born after his fathers return to Germany.

Concentration camps were firth documented being used by the British against the Boers. Genocide and maltreatment of the
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a word, this book is simply brilliant. It is a terrifically engaging and well-written historical text. But more importantly, it fills a tremendous lacunae in both African history as well as Nazi holocaust history. Anyone who ignores this book who wants to engage with the aspects that brought about the Third Reich without reading Olusoga's masterpiece should be entirely discounted. This is the context that deepens our understanding of World War II as well as colonialism and imperialism.
Sally Seymore
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was unbelievably informative. I must have been living in a cocoon as I had no idea of what the Germans did in SWA (now known as Namibia). This history is horrifying. It seems most of the Western world have skeletons in their cupboards but I believe the Germans more than most. A very brutal and self righteous nation to say the least. Every now and again I read historical accounts that seem to fill the gap in my knowledge system and this is one of them. A must read!
Mar 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Want to write a full review, but in the mean time I highly recommend this book. Very interesting exploration of Germany's colonial exploits in Africa, including genocide in what is now Namibia. The second half of the book traces connections between the colonial leadership's motives and tactics, and the rise of Nazism's expansionist, murderous regime. Sheds light on a largely forgotten tragedy.
Andy Walker
The relatively unknown story of the pre WWI genocide of the bushmen of German South West Africa and how this prefigured the Holocaust. Grim, very well told and with some truly shocking stories and illustrations. A book of the year, for sure.
Iselin Rønningsbakk
Very well written and well researched book about atrocities committed in Namibia at the start of the 20th century that I had never even heard about before I came across this book. A very interesting read!
To the point
Mar 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is well researched and well-written. For non-fiction it is engrossing,
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good analysis of the long-term context that gave rise to Nazism in Germany in the 1920's - 1930's. Olusoga makes the very convincing case that Nazism was simply an extreme permutation that arose out of the beliefs widespread in Europe that underpinned colonialism - Europeans had a right to expand into other countries and take land / resources, 'white man's burden', etc. Olusoga highlights that it is often lost but that Nazi expansion into Eastern Europe had the same goals as Germany's ...more
A Reader
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I recently spent a few weeks in Namibia. Namibia is one of the least densely populated places in the world and it is strikingly beautiful. Before I go, I knew only a few things about its history, mostly about Namibias anti-apartheid struggle. I had read in the past a few articles about colonialism, but they didn't paint it as the terrible thing that it really was. The overall message was that the colonialists brought Namibians, education, development, and of course, Jesus. Even today, for part ...more
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading "The Kaiser's Holocaust" was one of the most enriching literary experiences I have ever had. This was probably because I read it during a 10-day trip through Namibia, so I could actually visit a lot of the places referenced in the book and could also get a feel of the indelible marks that German colonialism has left on the country and its people.

I found out so much about a period of history that I knew next to nothing about and was stunned to see how the heinous Second Reich colonial
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Informative and at times alarming read of an oft-overlooked episode in colonial history. The events in Namibia in the early 1900s were eventually whitewashed from much of the official history and record-keeping of the era, but clearly the colonial experience in Namibia was a precursor of what followed during WWII.

To quote one of the final passages from the book:

'So much of what took place in German South-West Africa at the beginning of the twentieth century horribly prefigures the events of the
Aug 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nazism
Goring, Von Epp, Von Schiefflin, Leibensraum, Konzentrationslager - just a few names and words that pop up through this book that show the links between Germany's short-lived African empire and what was meant to be the thousand year empire of Hitler and the Nazis.

Germany came late to the scramble for Africa, and South-West Africa (current-day Namibia) was to be their South Africa, a place where Germans could settle, farm, and create a little Germany on the shores of another continent, much as
Matthew Griffiths
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent account of the links between Germany's imperial past and the Nazi era that is often not discussed when clearly based on this books arguments the links between them need to be more clearly examined so as to help us gain a greater understanding of both the atrocities of colonialism and the even greater atrocities of Nazism.

Of central importance to the books arguments are the concomitant development of the theories of Lebensraum and Scientific Racism. The development of both of these
Bas Kreuger
Mar 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A great book and a sad read. Olusoga and Erichsen have written a compelling history of the German colony in South-West Africa and the way the Herero and Nama were treated as uncivilzed "non-humans" (while they were devout Christians, well read and literate and related to the Dutch Boers of the Cape Colony). The German policy moved towards genocide with all the familiar elements like concentration camps, forced labour (with the purpose of working them to death), starvation etc that has become ...more
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As Herman Gilliomee's The Afrikaners relate to Afrikaners and South Africans, so this book relates to Germans and Namibians. A book they have to read to understand their own history and where they are now better. As a South African, I can't believe that that I didn't know this history of the country right on our border. Now I want to find out if there really are no copies of the Blue Book - the report on the German atrocities against the Herero and Nama - left. If the South African and British ...more
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very thorough account of the cruelty of German colonialism and the foundations that it laid for Nazism. Some sections feel a bit longer than they need to be, but overall the book is a solid contribution to any study of genocide, colonialism or Nazism.
Barbara Manning
Jul 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compelling reading, wonderfully accessible, just how history should be written.
Edward Sullivan
A thoroughly researched, compelling, and accessible history of a near-forgotten genocide and its links to the Holocaust.
D.E. Meredith
Dec 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating. Will be dipping into this again later.
Sha Ranney
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always felt that Nazism and Apartheid seemed to come out of nowhere when I had learned about them as a child. But both were extensions of what came beforehand. Kaisers Holocaust does a great job providing this context. Parts of this book were difficult for me to get through, but its rare that I have patience for historical reads anyway. If you have no issues reading history, this is a five star book. If not, it will feel like a longer read but is well worth it. We should all be aware of what ...more
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