ATVing over Mass Graves

During Martha’s class is probably the most outraged and depressed I’ve ever been, I don’t know if it’s just the topic of the rape, murder, and genocide of hundreds of thousands of people or the talking about that for four hours a day. Today, we talked about human remains. I gave you a snippet of the horror yesterday, but today it got so much worse. Today, we talked about how bodies were taken back to Europe to be examined under the guise of Social Darwinism, people’s heads and facial features were measured and blacks were deemed more closely related to apes so by Victorian white logic that meant that they had less intelligence. Because now the width of your nose was a factor in your IQ. Not only that, but they were sold to universities as an underground source of bodies for dissection. Related to this was the stealing of corpses from graveyards for the poor for the same purpose. Because back then medical ethics wasn’t a thing. In addition to their uses to science was the use of human remains in art, being collected by soldiers and civilians as table centerpieces and wall decorations.

“Oh, Harry is this letter opener made out of ivory?” “No Marge, that was a collar bone from my day’s in the war!” “Oh, how lovely! Would you be able to get one for me?” At least that’s how I imagine old Victorian white people who lacked the basic sense of humanity to understand the gravity of their conversation talking. Not only were the bones treated like someone’s window dressing, but in one case a soldier lent his ‘art’ to a museum under the stipulation that he and his family could get their ‘property’ back at any time. That’s post World War II. A human person still views a human skull as their own property. These remains were also prepared by the natives who were being kept in the concentration camps, so a child might have to crack open her mother’s skull and prepare the brain in formaldehyde so some old white guy could examine it and decide that she’s stupider than everyone who lacks melanin.

You wouldn’t think it could get any grosser but then you learn that uninformed tourists are at the whim of profit-mongering Germans who still own the land that many of the mass graves from these concentration camps are on. Such that camping on Sharks Island, home to a death camp, is still possible. And that if you go ATVing with Desert Adventures in Swakopmund then chances are high that you’ll drive over someone’s body. Woermann Brock supermarkets don’t even attempt to hide their history, boasting that they’ve been here since 1894. It’s a well-known fact that for the entire time there were people being worked to death in concentration camps, Woermann Brock was using that labor and their death count was a point of pride. And so it is that natives are still suffering at the continued profit of white land-owners who only own the land because of the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people. These companies would love nothing more than to benefit from the continued ignorance of tourists. They would love to bury the knowledge that might cost them their payday.

And after the intensity of that grueling class, the afternoon was pretty easy-going. I walked to a corner store with Dana and Kendra for some basics and grabbed ice cream while we were there to munch on the walk back. At sunset, a bunch of us ran off to try and take pretty photos in the golden hour. While everyone else had their lenses pointed to the sky I took photos of the flowers, which the Sun would be rid of by the end of the month.

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