A politician named after Adolf Hitler won a seat in a Namibian election – but says he has no plans for world domination.
Adolf Hitler Uunona was elected with 85 percent of the vote in the former German colony, in which there is still a small German-speaking community and in which some streets, places and people still have German names.
After winning the seat on the map of the ruling SWAPO party, which has ruled Namibia since independence from apartheid in South Africa in 1990, the politician Bild declared that he had “nothing to do with” Nazi ideology.
‘My father named me after this man. He probably didn’t understand what Adolf Hitler stood for, ”said his namesake.
“As a kid, I saw it as a perfectly normal name. It wasn’t until I grew up that I understood that this man wanted to conquer the whole world. ‘
Left: Adolf Hitler Uunona, who won a seat in a Namibian regional election; right: the real Adolf Hitler at a NSDAP congress in 1935
German soldiers with captured natives in Namibia in 1905 when the country was part of the short-lived German colonial empire
The politician said his wife calls him Adolf, adding that he usually passes Adolf Uunona but that it is “too late” to officially change his name.
“The fact that I have that name doesn’t mean that I want to conquer Oshana,” he said, referring to the region where he won the election. “That doesn’t mean that I strive for world domination.”
Uunona won 1,196 votes against 213 votes for his opponent in the last election, returning to a seat on the regional council he had previously won in 2015.
His name was abbreviated to “Adolf H” on a list of candidates printed in a government gazette, but his name appeared in full on an official results website.
Namibia was once known as German South West Africa and was a German colony from 1884 until the loss of the empire after World War I.
The real Hitler later used the humiliation of the post-war Treaty of Versailles as a propaganda tool to gain support for the Nazis in the 1920s and 1930s.
While Germany has tried for 75 years to atone for the war and genocide it triggered under Hitler’s rule, its colonial atrocities are rarely discussed in Namibia – but the pressure for reparations has increased in recent years.
German soldiers slaughtered 65,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama tribesmen between 1904 and 1908 in a bloody campaign to suppress a local uprising.
The murders came after German occupiers evicted native tribesmen from their land and recruited them into forced labor, leading to a riot in which Herero people killed 123 German settlers.
A German bakery in Swakomund, Namibia, can be seen in 2008 in a remnant of the German colonial settlement that took place there in the late 19th and early 20th centuries
German colonial architecture in Lüderitz, Namibia, in a country where traces of the colonial past can still be seen in place and street names
A German flag is displayed next to a street vendor in Windhoek, Namibia, ahead of a German team’s 2010 World Cup match
The former headquarters of the German government in Windhoek, pictured in 1946. At that time, Germany’s atrocities in Namibia had been overshadowed by Hitler’s genocide
A cavalry contingent in so-called German South West Africa until the empire was dissolved after the First World War
In addition to the slaughter, thousands of Hereros were driven into the desert and died of thirst and hunger. The rest were sent to prison camps.
Last year, a German minister described the massacre as genocide while visiting the African country.
“It has become clear that the crimes and atrocities of 1904-1908 were what we now call genocide,” said Müller after meeting members of the tribes.
The German government says it has a “special responsibility” towards Namibia “because of the” common colonial past “of both countries.
In August, however, Namibia rejected Germany’s £ 9 million offer to redress the colonial massacre and said it needed to be “revised”.
A small German-speaking community still lives in the country today, and an estimated 120,000 Germans visit Namibia every year.
This community has been associated with neo-Nazi sentiments on occasion, including a celebration of Hitler’s 100th birthday in 1989.
Three years earlier, a group of German speakers published an advertisement on the death of Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess, paying tribute to the “last representative of a better Germany”.
In 2005 a German-language newspaper published an advertisement expressing “joy and satisfaction” about the death of Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal.
The German ambassador to Namibia asked the newspaper to apologize, which it later did.
In 2011, members of a Namibian delegation in Berlin stand over a row of skulls of Namibian tribesmen who fell victim to German colonial atrocities at the beginning of the 20th century
Back in Namibia, a crowd waited for the skulls to return while a car was adorned with the message that Germany will have to pay for the genocide