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A Sad Fiasco: Colonial Concentration Camps in Southern Africa, 1900–1908

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Volume 29

War and Genocide

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A Sad Fiasco

Colonial Concentration Camps in Southern Africa, 1900–1908

Jonas Kreienbaum
Translated from the German by Elizabeth Janik

289 pages, 9 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-326-4 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (September 2019)

eISBN 978-1-78920-327-1 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook! $34.95info on epub formatRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“…a measured, meticulously researched and enterprising account of two colonial concentration camp systems… This impressive book helps its readers to grasp more clearly a tragic phase of modern history.” • African Studies Quarterly

“Kreienbaum provides a solid and concise overview of the two colonial wars before presenting a stimulating investigation not only of the daily functioning of colonial concentration camps but also of the motives behind their establishment… The book thus constitutes a worthwhile and thought-provoking read for historians interested in British and German colonial history, internment history or the discussion of similarities and dissimilarities between colonialism and the Third Reich.” • Patterns of Prejudice

“This meticulous study is a must read for scholars and students interested in (African) prison/camp history and German and British colonialism… Those with an interest in forced labour will take away as much as those reading for information on the postcolonial ‘continuity thesis’.” • Journal of Namibian Studies

“A convincing and readable study … analytically compelling and based on rich primary-source research.” • Militärgeschichtliche Zeitschrift

“In agreeably sober language, Jonas Kreienbaum uses a broad selection of material to convincingly reconstruct the aims, practices, and functions of colonial concentration camps.” • Historische Zeitschrift

“Kreienbaum … not only engages at length with the opposing positions in a longstanding debate, but also approaches his research questions expertly, based on a wealth of primary sources consulted in state and missionary archives in Germany, Namibia, South Africa and Great Britain as well as contemporary scholarship.” • Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft


Only in recent years has the history of European colonial concentration camps in Africa—in which thousands of prisoners died in appalling conditions—become widely known beyond a handful of specialists. Although they preceded the Third Reich by many decades, the camps’ newfound notoriety has led many to ask to what extent they anticipated the horrors of the Holocaust. Were they designed for mass killing, a misbegotten attempt at modernization, or something else entirely? A Sad Fiasco confronts this difficult question head-on, reconstructing the actions of colonial officials in both British South Africa and German South-West Africa as well as the experiences of internees to explore both the similarities and the divergences between the African camps and their Nazi-era successors.

Jonas Kreienbaum is a lecturer at the Historical Institute of the University of Rostock. He holds a doctorate in modern history from Humboldt University Berlin and has worked extensively on colonial history, decolonization, and mass violence.

Subject: Genocide HistoryColonial HistoryHistory: 20th Century to Present
Area: AfricaGermany


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