The first genocide of the 20th century, though not well known, was committed by Germans between 1904-1907 in the country we know today as Namibia, where they exterminated thousands of Herero and Nama people and subjected the surviving indigenous men, women, and children to forced labor. The perception of Africans as subhuman – lacking any kind of civilization, history, or meaningful religion – and the resulting justification for the violence against them is what author Elizabeth R. Baer refers to as the “genocidal gaze”, an attitude that was later perpetuated by the Nazis.
In The Genocidal Gaze: From German Southwest Africa to the Third Reich, Baer uses the trope of the gaze to trace linkages between the genocide of the Herero and Nama and that of the victims of the Holocaust. Baer explores the threads of shared ideology in the Herero and Nama genocide and the Holocaust – concepts such as racial hierarchies, racial shame, final solution, that were deployed by German authorities in 1904 and again in the 1930s and 1940s to justify genocide. She also notes the use of shared methodology – concentration camps, death camps, intentional starvation, rape, indiscriminate killing of women and children – in both instances.
“An essential book, a necessary reading and a path breaking piece of scholarship.” (Patrice Nganang, co-author of German Colonialism Revisites)
“A brilliant contribution to genocide studies and post-colonial studies scholarship.” (Carol Rittner, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Holocaust and Genocide Studies Stockton University)
“Important and timely.” (Jeremy Silvester, Museums Association of Namibia)