The First German Genocide Enters the Popular Stages: Colonial Theatricality in Berlin, 1904-1908.

Lisa Skwirblies


This article discusses the representation of the first German genocide on the popular stages in turn-of-the-century Berlin. In the colonial war 1904-1908, the German military exterminated eighty percent of the Herero and Nama people in the former colony Southwest Africa, which is today Namibia. While this genocide has only recently gained larger attention in the German public sphere through an official apology from the German government, the colonial war and its genocide had been highly popular topics of representation at the time itself. Through the analysis of two case studies this article argues that the theatrical strategies through which the colonial war was represented on stage had profound epistemological consequences for how the colonial war and the lives of the Herero were perceived in the German public sphere at the beginning of the twentieth century.

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Popular Entertainment Studies ISSN 1837-9303