Politician named after Adolf Hitler wins election in Namibia


A politician named after Adolf Hitler has won a seat at a Namibian election – but says he has no plans for world domination. 

Adolf Hitler Uunona was elected with 85 per cent of the vote in the former German colony, which is still home to a small German-speaking community and where a number of streets, places and people still bear German names.   

After winning the seat on the ticket of the ruling SWAPO party – which has ruled Namibia since independence from apartheid South Africa in 1990 – the politician told Bild 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,’ his namesake said. 

‘As a child I saw it as a totally normal name. Only as a teenager did I understand that this man wanted to conquer the whole world.’ 

Adolf Hitler in 1935

Left: Adolf Hitler Uunona, who won a seat at a Namibian regional election; right: the real Adolf Hitler at a Nazi party congress in 1935 

German soldiers with captured indigenous people in Namibia in 1905, when the country was part of the short-lived German colonial empire

German soldiers with captured indigenous people 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 goes by Adolf Uunona but that it would be ‘too late’ to change his name officially. 

‘The fact I have this name does not mean I want to conquer Oshana,’ he said, referring to the region where he won the election. ‘It doesn’t mean I’m striving for world domination.’   

Uunona won 1,196 votes in the recent election compared to 213 for his opponent, giving him a seat on the regional council. 

Just as in 2015, when he was elected to the same seat, his name was abbreviated to ‘Adolf H’ in the official certified results.  

This year SWAPO party won 57 per cent of the vote across the country, a sharp decline from the 83 per cent they took in the previous regional elections. 

Once known as German South West Africa, Namibia was a German colony from 1884 until the empire was stripped of its possessions following World War I.  

The real Hitler would later use the humiliation of the post-war Treaty of Versailles as a propaganda tool to win support for the Nazis in the 1920s and 1930s. 

While Germany has spent 75 painstaking years trying to atone for the war and genocide that it unleashed under Hitler’s rule, its colonial atrocities in Namibia are little discussed – but pressure for reparations has been growing in recent years.   

German soldiers slaughtered some 65,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama tribespeople in a bloody campaign to suppress a local revolt between 1904 and 1908.  

The killings came after German occupiers forced native tribespeople off their land and recruited them for forced labour, leading to an uprising in which Herero people killed 123 German settlers. 

A German bakery in Swakomund, Namibia, is seen in 2008 in a remnant of the German colonial settlement which took place there in the late 19th and early 20th centuries

A German bakery in Swakomund, Namibia, is seen in 2008 in a remnant of the German colonial settlement which took place there in the late 19th and early 20th centuries 

German colonial architecture in Luderitz, Namibia, in a country where traces of the colonial past are still visible in names of places and streets

German colonial architecture in Luderitz, Namibia, in a country where traces of the colonial past are still visible in names of places and streets 

A German flag is on display next to a street vendor in Windhoek, Namibia, ahead of a World Cup match involving the German team in 2010

A German flag is on display next to a street vendor in Windhoek, Namibia, ahead of a World Cup match involving the German team in 2010

In addition to the slaughter, thousands of Hereros were driven into the desert and died of thirst and starvation, and the rest were sent to prison camps. 

Last year, a German government minister described the massacre as a genocide while on a visit to the African country. 

The German government says it has a ‘special responsibility’ towards Namibia ‘on account of the two countries’ shared colonial past’. 

But in August, Namibia turned down Germany’s £9million offer of reparations for the colonial massacres, stating that it needs to be ‘revised’.     

A small German-speaking community still lives in the country today, and around 120,000 Germans visit Namibia every year.  

That community has occasionally been associated with displays of neo-Nazi sentiment, including a celebration of Hitler’s 100th birthday in 1989. 

Three years earlier, a group of German speakers took out an advert commemorating the death of Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess and paying tribute to ‘the last representative of a better Germany’.  

In 2005, a German-language newspaper ran an advert voicing ‘joy and satisfaction’ over the death of Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal. 

The German ambassador to Namibia demanded that the newspaper apologise, which it subsequently did.  

In 2011, members of a Namibian delegation in Berlin stand over a set of skulls of Namibian tribespeople who were victims of German colonial atrocities in the early 20th century

In 2011, members of a Namibian delegation in Berlin stand over a set of skulls of Namibian tribespeople who were victims of German colonial atrocities in the early 20th century 

Back in Namibia, a crowd awaited the return of the skulls while one car was emblazoned with a message saying that 'Germany must pay' for the genocide

Back in Namibia, a crowd awaited the return of the skulls while one car was emblazoned with a message saying that ‘Germany must pay’ for the genocide 

Native Herero people in chains during Germany's brutal suppression of an uprising in Namibia in the early 20th century

Native Herero people in chains during Germany’s brutal suppression of an uprising in Namibia in the early 20th century 

The 20th century’s first genocide: German massacres in Namibia  

A depiction of the conflict between Herero fighters and German colonialists in 1904

A depiction of the conflict between Herero fighters and German colonialists in 1904 

German soldiers killed tens of thousands of indigenous Herero and Nama people in colonial Namibia between 1904 and 1908 in what has been labelled the first genocide of the 20th century. 

Namibia, then known as German South West Africa, was one of the few German possessions overseas – after its 1871 unification meant it arrived too late to capture much of the colonial spoils. 

The German occupiers forced native tribespeople off their land and recruited them for forced labour, leading to an uprising in which Herero people killed 123 German settlers. 

The German Reich sent reinforcements in response, and its soldiers carried out a brutal four-year campaign of slaughter in which 65,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama people are thought to have been killed.  

In addition to the slaughter, thousands of Hereros were driven into the desert and died of thirst and starvation, and the rest were sent to prison camps.

In the Battle of Waterberg in August 1904, around 80,000 Herero fled including women and children. 

Germany recently handed over a cache of skulls and other remains of massacred tribespeople, which were used for experiments to push long-debunked claims of European racial superiority.  

The German colonial empire was disbanded after World War I when the country was stripped of its possessions, and the colonial past has since become largely overshadowed by the horrors of Hitler’s rule. 

Namibia was later handed to South Africa by the League of Nations and finally achieved independence from the apartheid state in 1990.  

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