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21 August 2011

The DDR's Manchurian Candidates

They have returned to Namibia, grown up, and some have moved on. They were GDR-Children of Namibia.
GDR-Children of Namibia are a group of approximately 400 black Namibian children that grew up in GDR. During the liberation struggle of SWAPO against South African occupation of Namibia they were relocated from 1979 onwards from various refugee camps to GDR and only came back in 1990 at the onset of Namibian independence. They were mostly unprepared for their return.
As recently as 2005, they have appeared on the German media radar. Where some would think that their fate in return would have been impossible, they overlook the nature of traditional German culture of faith and compassion: their transition back to Namibia as young adults was enabled by the ethnic Germans of Namibia.
In autumn 1989, as Germany rejoiced at the end of the country's 40-year division, many of the students at the "High-School of Friendship" in Stassfurt, near Magdeburg, felt their hearts sink.
For over 400 children and teenagers dispatched to East Germany from Namibia over the previous decade, the collapse of communism meant one thing: an uncertain future in a country they could barely remember.
What began as an airlift of refugees was exploited by the East German regime as an opportunity to construct the elite of what they hoped would be a nascent pre-Soviet Namibia colonized by Marxist-Leninism.
Erich Honecker's government earmarked what it called "Solidarity Funds" to support the Marxist movement with aid and military supplies, and also hatched a plan intended to be of political and military benefit to both countries. But 1990 marked an abrupt end to the Party-led project to take in and educate Namibian children, with the ultimate aim of creating an elite class to lead the SWAPO liberation movement.
Their fate, it seems was mixed.
The self-proclaimed "Ossi" Africans -- referring to the nickname for eastern Germans -- have experienced mixed fates. Some are now working as lawyers and businessmen, while Lucia herself is training as a journalist. Some, though, were less fortunate. And few returned to live in Germany.

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