German groups want Reiterdenkmal back

WINDHOEK: Attorneys acting on behalf of the Kriegsgräberfürsorge, the Traditionsverband ehemaliger Schutz- und Überseetruppen and the Memorable Order of the Tinheads group, issued a letter to the government requesting them cease building operations of the Genocide Memorial statue.

The letter dated 21 February 2014, addressed to the Ministry of Works and Transport (MWT) from Andreas Vaatz and Partners informs them that they are in the process of investigating the circumstances surrounding the events of the removal of the Reiterdenkmal statue on 25 December 2013.

The letter which was read out to the public by Minister of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture Jerry Ekandjo at the unveiling of the Genocide Memorial Statue and Sam Nujoma Statue on Thursday, also states that Vaats is in the process to take such steps as may be necessary to protect the rights of its clients and interested parties.

“We however hold further instruction that presently building operations are taking on exactly the same place where the Reiterdenkmal was dissembled, the extent of which is unknown to our clients.

“In this regard, please be advised that, if the building presently underway at the place in question is not aimed at restoring and reinstating the Reiterdenkmal, our clients are of the intention to do all things necessary, including legal proceedings in the High Court of Namibia to secure the reinstatement of the Reiterdenkmal to exactly the same place where it was removed,” the letter reads.

The letter continues to say that if the building operations currently underway at the site are unrelated to the reinstatement of the Reiterdenkmal, proceeding with such building operations at the governments’ own peril, risk having to be demolished in future to cater for the reinstatement of the Reiterdenkmal.

Commenting on the letter, Ekandjo said that if there are Namibians who are sympathysing with “murderers”, they should know that “no force on earth will put the horse back.”

“That horse will never rise,” he said.

Pohamba also questioned who the groups represented by the attorneys is, and whether they are Namibian-born Germans .

Nampa could not established whether the groups are German based or based in Namibia.

(edited)WINDHOEK: Three German organisations are threatening to sue the Namibian government over the removal of the Reiterdenkmal statue here.

The Kriegsgräberfürsorge, the Traditionsverband ehemaliger Schutz- und Überseetruppen and the Memorable Order of the Tinheads group, through local law firm Andreas Vaatz and Partners, have said they will do all things necessary, including legal proceedings in the High Court of Namibia, to secure the reinstatement of the Reiterdenkmal to exactly the same place where it was removed from.

The Reiterdenkmal statue of a German soldier with a rifle on a horse was inaugurated on 27 January 1912 in honour of the soldiers and civilians who died on the German side of the OvHerero and Nama War of 1904–1908.

The German War Graves Commission (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge in German) is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of German war graves in Europe and North Africa. Its objectives are among others ‘acquisition, maintenance and care of German war graves’; and ‘preservation of the memory to the sacrifices of war and despotism’.

The Traditionsverband ehemaliger Schutz- und Überseetruppen, in its statutes, with particular reference to former German protectorates overseas, has set itself the tasks of among others preserving the memory of war victims; and commitment to the care of monuments.

A letter from Andreas Vaatz and Partners dated 21 February 2014 addressed to the Ministry of Works and Transport said the groups are in the process of investigating the circumstances surrounding the events of the removal of the Reiterdenkmal.

The letter was read out loud by Minister of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture Jerry Ekandjo on Thursday during the unveiling of two new statues at two spots where the Reiterdenkmal was situated before its final removal on 25 December 2013.

The Namibian cabinet decided in 2012 to remove the Reiterdenkmal as it had lost its historical significance and importance after Namibia gained independence.

The Reiterdenkmal was replaced with the Genocide Memorial and a statue of former Namibian president Sam Nujoma, and these were unveiled by President Hifikepunye Pohamba in front of the new Independence Memorial Museum, a stone’s throw away from the Alte Feste Museum, which currently houses the Reiterdenkmal in its courtyard.

The German groups said the Namibian government risks the demolishing of anything built on the place where the Reiterdenkmal was to cater for the reinstatement of the Reiterdenkmal.

Commenting on the letter, Ekandjo said that if there are Namibians who are sympathising with ‘murderers’, they should know that ‘no force on earth will put the horse back’.

Pohamba also questioned who the groups are, and whether they are Namibian-born Germans.

SOURCE: NAMPA