Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Marko Dumančić (Director), Andreas Eckl, Kate Brown, Jennifer Walton-Hanley

Degree Program

Department of History

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The genocide of the Herero tribe in German Southwest Africa illuminates the horrors of colonialism broadly and of German settler colonialism more specifically. I contend that the perpetrators of this event can be separated into two broad subgroups, the Old Africans and the Metropole Soldiers, distinguished by their intentions, exploitative and exterminatory respectively, concerning the indigenous tribes. Those intentions were formed over varying lengths of time but are the result of either firsthand experience with the racial hierarchy in the colony or relying on information and misinformation relayed to the metropole. Utilizing primarily letters, diaries, journals, and postcards, I argue that the often misconstrued and even blatantly false information that settlers sent back to Germany created a disconnect between colony and metropole and ultimately fed the German military’s exterminatory policies. Though often seen as a single perpetrator group, these two subgroups should be viewed as ideological competitors with notably different worldviews and end goals.


African History | Arts and Humanities | European History | History | Holocaust and Genocide Studies | Indigenous Studies | Military History | Race and Ethnicity | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences