Referring to the meeting of the German Special Envoy, Mr. Ruprecht Polenz, with the Chairperson of the “Nama Genocide Technical Committee”, the honorable Mrs. Ida Hoffmann, and her delegation as well as the ensuing media reports and to clarify the real course of events the Germany Embassy releases the following statement:
Following The Honorable Mrs. Hoffmann´s previous expression of interest to meet the German Special Envoy, Mr. Ruprecht Polenz, this Embassy had informed the Honorable Mrs. Hoffmann in early October 2016 that Mr. Polenz had agreed to meet with her in her capacity as Chairperson of the” Nama Genocide Technical Committee” in the context of the so-called “Genocide Conference” held in Berlin in mid-October 2016. Unfortunately, due to scheduling problems on both sides the proposed meeting could not be arranged. Following that, this Embassy informed the Honorable Mrs. Hoffmann that the German Special Envoy would be pleased to meet her during his next stay in Windhoek in November 2016. Consequently, this Embassy arranged for the Honorable Mrs. Hoffmann to meet the German Special Envoy on November 24, 2016 on the premises of the German Embassy in Windhoek. The Honorable Mrs. Hoffmann requested to be accompanied by members of the “Nama Genocide Technical Committee” to which this Embassy expressed no objections.
As it is usual practice, all members of the Honorable Mrs. Hoffmann´s delegation had been selected exclusively by Mrs. Hoffmann in her capacity as head of the delegation. Thus, this Embassy strongly rejects the delegation´s accusation as reported in the Namibian media, that “the German Envoy showed complete disrespect and a lack of seriousness because the Embassy had invited only lower ranked people instead of their leaders”.
During the meeting which took place in the German Embassy on November 24, 2016, the German Special Envoy, Mr. Polenz, expressed his appreciation of the opportunity to meet the Honorable Mrs. Ida Hoffmann and her delegation and to inform each other about the parties´ respective positions regarding the matter in discussion, namely the ongoing negotiations between the governments of Namibia and Germany regarding the common colonial past during the years 1904 – 1908.
The German Special Envoy strongly re-affirmed the German position whereby the German Government does acknowledge the fact that the war-time events during the years 1904 – 1908 included severe atrocities and crimes committed by the German colonial forces which – had the events taken place today – would constitute a genocide.
At the same time the German Special Envoy expressed his deeply felt conviction that every human life is of equal value and every loss is, thus, equally deplorable. Out of respect for all victims the German Special Envoy rejected the notion to compare one genocide – like what happened in Namibia – with other crimes against humanity. This, the Special Envoy stressed, does apply in particular to any comparison with the Holocaust because of substantially different motives driving the German Nazi leadership when persecuting all Jews all over Europe and implementing the industrialized mass-killing of human beings to annihilate Jews only because they were Jews.
Already during Mr. Polenz´ statement some members of Mrs. Hoffmann´s delegation started to interrupt Mr. Polenz. Others quickly joined with loud shouting, aggressive gestures and moves to leave the conference room. They were immediately informed by the German Ambassador that they – like all other non-embassy persons – are not allowed to move around within the embassy premises without being accompanied by embassy staff. Some members of the delegation, however, ignored this information and aggressively stormed through the embassy towards the exit. They were then, of course, able to leave the German Embassy immediately according to the regular security procedures. Thus, this Embassy strongly rejects the accusation by the delegation as reported in Namibian media today, “…that the conference room was locked and the Ambassador tried to keep them hostage”.
The German Embassy deeply deplores the course of events which prevented an important exchange of information including differing positions in a serious and professional manner adequate to the importance of the matter.
Distributed by APO on behalf of British High Commission Windhoek.