From Windhuk to Auschwitz – old wine in new bottles? Review article
Taking up an older debate a number of authors have over the last decade explored a possible link between the colonial violence in Namibia, in particular during the Herero-Nama War (1904–08), and the Holocaust. The argument that continuities extend “from Windhuk to Auschwitz” refers to structural and ideological similarities and even personal linkages over the forty years in question. Critics of such claims of historical continuity emphasise that pointing to similarities cannot replace in-depth source-based analysis that could describe how methods, structures, ideas, and personnel were transferred from German South West Africa to Nazi Germany. This review article provides an analysis of two books which undertook to spell out the alleged route “from Windhuk to Auschwitz” and embeds them within a wider debate on the singularity of the Holocaust that goes beyond academic circles.
The books under review are Von Windhuk nach Auschwitz? Beiträge zum Verhältnis von Kolonialismus und Holocaust, by Jürgen Zimmerer (Münster, Lit, 2011) and The Kaiser’s Holocaust. Germany’s forgotten Genocide, by David Olusoga and Caspar Erichsen (London, Faber & Faber, 2010).
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