German war graves commission to upgrade grave sites

19 Jul 2015 13:40pm
OKAHANDJA, 19 JUL (NAMPA) – The German War Graves Commission says it is committed to assisting in the upgrading of grave sites in Namibia.
The commission is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of German war graves in Europe and North Africa. Its objectives are the acquisition, maintenance and care of German war graves; tending to next of kin; youth and educational work; and preservation of the memory to the sacrifices of war and despotism.
President of the German War Graves Commission, Markus Meckel, after a visit at the grave of the late OvaHerero chief Samuel Maharero at Okahandja on Saturday told Chief Tjinaani Maharero and members of his clan that the commission is interested in looking for opportunities to assist Namibia in remembering war victims.
“One hundred years after German colonialism, we are ready as a German organisation to look for reconciliation - but first we need trust and the truth. The commission is interested in looking for opportunities to remember your victims.
“We are ready to do something if you are interested in that kind of remembrance. If you need help here, I think we could talk about it and look for ways to do something in the way you want to remember. It is very important to show respect. It is our responsibility that such things never happen again,” he noted.
The commission is responsible for more than 800 war graves in 48 countries. It has built new cemeteries in Russia and Poland, amongst many other countries where Germany brought war, according to Meckel.
He laid a wreath at the grave of Samuel Maharero as well at the grave of his late son, Willem Maharero.
Meckel also acknowledged that the Germans did “terrible things to other people”, including the genocide in Namibia which took place between 1904 and 1908 in the then German South West Africa.
Meanwhile, Chief Tjinaani Maharero commended Meckel for his visit, noting that he cancelled his visit to Botswana to meet with him. Maharero expressed his gratitude to the commission for assistance in the upkeep of the grave sites of the Herero leaders in the town.
“We will exchange contact details and seek for help for the development of this cemetery. There are also many other grave sites in other parts of the country, as well as in Botswana and South Africa, of those who fled the war. With your help maybe we can bring them back to the land of their ancestors,” he added.
Meckel is a theologian and politician. He was involved with the opposition in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and co-founded the Social Democratic Party in the GDR 1989.
In 1990, after the free elections, he served as foreign minister of the GDR in the government of Lothar de Maizière. He was active in German politics and served as a member of the German Parliament for many years.
Meckel also visited the war graves at the Swakopmund Memorial Park Cemetery on Friday and was expected to unveil a plaque at the ‘All Believers House Of Prayers’ which is a venue for community events in Ombujomumbonde in the Otjozondjupa Region on Sunday.
The German Embassy is financially supporting the project.