Subject: FW: Blacks in Nazi Germany
Date: Sun, 28 Mar 2004 09:58:20 +0000
Did you know that
in the 1920s there were 24,000 blacks living in Germany? Neither did
I. Here's how it happened and how many of them were eventually caught
unawares by the events of the Holocaust.
Like most West
European nations, Germany established colonies in Africa in the late
1800s in what later became Togo, Cameroon, Namibia, and Tanzania.
experiments began there most notably involving prisoners taken from
the 1904 Heroro Massacre that left 60,000 Africans dead following
a 4 year revolt against German colonization. After the shellacking
Germany received in World War I, it was stripped of its African colonies
in 1918. As a spoil of war, the French were allowed to occupy Germany
in the Rhineland, a bitter piece of real estate that has gone back
and forth between the two nations for centuries. The French willfully
deployed their own colonized African soldiers as the occupying force.
Germans viewed this as the final insult of World War I.
92% of them voted in the Nazi party. Hundreds of these African Rhineland-based
soldiers inter-married with German women and raised their children
as Black Germans. In "Mein Kampf." Hitler wrote about his plans for
these "Rhineland Bastards ." When he came to power, one of his first
directives was aimed at these mixed children.
his obsession with racial purity, by 1937, every identified mixed
race child in the Rhineland had been forcibly sterilized to prevent
further "race polluting" as he termed it. Hans Hauck, a Black Holocaust
survivor and a victim of Hitler's mandatory sterilization program,
explained that when he was forced to undergo sterilization as a teenager,
he was given no anesthetic. Once he received his sterilization certificate,
he was "free to go" so long as he agreed to have no sexual relations
whatsoever with Germans.
Black Germans attempted to escape their fatherland, heading for France
where people like Josephine Baker were steadily aiding and supporting
the French underground, many ran into problems elsewhere. Nations
shut their doors to Germans, including the Black ones. Some Black
Germans were able to eke out a living during Hitler's reign of terror
by performing in vaudeville shows.
But many Blacks,
steadfast in their belief that they were German first, Black second,
opted to remain in Germany. Some fought with the Nazis (a few even
became Lutwaffe pilots)!
many Black Germans were arrested, charged with treason, and shipped
in cattle cars to concentration camps. Often these trains were so
overloaded with people (equipped with no bathroom facilities or food)
that after the four day journey, box car doors opened to piles of
the dead and dying.
Once in the concentration
camps Blacks were given the worst jobs conceivable. Some Black American
soldiers who were captured and held as prisoners of war recounted
that while they were starved and forced into dangerous labor (violating
the Geneva Convention), they were still better off than Black German
concentration camp detainees who were forced to do the unthinkable:
man the crematoriums and work in labs where genetic experiments were
carried out. As a final sacrifice, these Blacks were killed every
three months so that they would never be able to reveal the inner
workings of the Final Solution.
In every story
of Black oppression, no matter how enslaved, enshackled or beaten
we are, we find a way to survive and rescue others. Case in point,
was Johnny Voste, a Belgian Resistance fighter who was arrested in
1942 for sabotage and shipped to Dachau. One of his jobs was stacking
vitamin crates. Risking his own life, he distributed hundreds of vitamins
to camp detainees which saved the lives of many because they were
starving, weak, and ill, conditions exacerbated by extreme vitamin-deficiencies.
His motto was: 'No, you can't have my life: I will fight for it.'
According to Essex
University's Delroy Constantine-Simms, there were Black Germans who
resisted Nazi Germany, such as Lari Gilges, who founded the Northwest
Rann - an organization of entertainers that fought the Nazis in his
home town of Dusseldorf - and who was murdered by the SS in 1933,
the year Hitler came to power. Little information remains about the
numbers of Black Germans held in the camps or killed under the Nazi
regime. Some victims of the Nazi sterilization project and Black survivors
of the Holocaust are still alive and telling their story in films
such as Black Survivors of the Nazi Holocaust. But they must also
speak out for justice, not just history.
Unlike Jews (in
Israel and in Germany), Black Germans receive no war reparations because
their German citizenship was revoked (though they were German-born).
The only pension they get is from those of us who are willing to tell
the world their stories and assist/continue their battle for recognition
After the war,
scores of Blacks who had somehow managed to survive the Nazi regime
were rounded up and tried as war criminals. Talk about the final insult.
There are thousands of Black Holocaust stories from the triangle trade,
to slavery in America, to the gas ovens in Germany. We often shy away
from hearing about our historical past because so much of it is painful.
However, we are
in this struggle together for rights, dignity, and yes, reparations
for wrongs done to us through the centuries. We need to always remember
so that we can take steps to ensure that these things never happen
to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany, by Hans J. Massaquoi
PLEASE PASS THIS
ON AND ALWAYS REMEMBER....
Written by A.
"I do beseech
you to direct your efforts more to preparing youth for the path and
less to preparing the path for the youth." - - Ben Lindsey
"We can easily
forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life
is when men are afraid of the light." - - Plato