Black History in Nazi Germany

“Rhineland bastards”

Blacks in Nazi Germany
Afro-German Hans J. Massaquoi tried to join the Nazi youth, per

There’s a guy named John Hightower who posted a story on his Facebook page called Black History in Nazi Germany, a story. John is about a decade older than I. We attended the same church, Trinity AME Zion, and the same high school, Binghamton Central, plus I know or knew a number of his relatives.

I wanted to find the location of the piece he shared. Initially, I found it on the Facebook page of  Great Plains Black History Museum in Omaha, NE. It has a lot of interesting artifacts. Its Mission Statement: “To preserve, educate, and exhibit the contributions and achievements of African Americans with an emphasis on the Great Plains region. To provide a space to learn, explore, reflect, and remind us of our history.”


But that’s not the original source. Finally, the librarian found it on AAREG, the African American Registry. Here’s just a segment.

“On this date (Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27) from 1933, the Registry looks into the Black history of Nazi Germany. The Nazis seized power on January 30, of that year with Adolph Hitler’s appointment as chancellor…

“Hitler had a white vision of a Master Race of Aryans that would control Europe. He used powerful propaganda techniques to convince not only the German people but countless others, that if they eliminated the people who stood in their way and the degenerates and racially inferior, they, ‘the great Germans’, would prosper. This included mandatory Sterilization for Black Youth.

“Before World War I, there were very few dark-skinned people of African descent in Germany. But, during World War I, the French brought in Black African soldiers during the Allied occupation. Most of the Germans, who were very race-conscious, despised the dark-skinned ‘invasion’.”

You should read the whole thing.


Related, check out the bibliography from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in a section called Blacks.

Part of the introduction: “Though Hitler’s racial policies toward Jews, Sinti, and Roma, have been well documented, researchers have given less attention to actions against Blacks…

“Individuals of African descent living in Germany were socially and economically ostracized. They could not attend university; they lost their jobs; they sometimes lost their citizenship. Mixed race marriages were forbidden, and doctors illegally and secretly sterilized between 385 and 500 biracial children, most of them offspring of French Black soldiers and German women, children derisively referred to as the ‘Rhineland bastards.’

“Blacks, including African Americans, were also imprisoned or sent to internment or concentration camps. There, they were often treated more harshly and subjected to medical experiments or extreme brutality. The SS and Gestapo commonly mistreated Black prisoners of war, working them to death in concentration camps or killing them immediately rather than imprisoning them.”

Most of these references direct the reader to their local library, as well it should.

Finally, check out the AAIHS article, The Erasure of People of African Descent in Nazi Germany, the source of the picture.

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Guilt: not an American tradition

Germans feel guilty for something that happened long before they were born. As far as I am aware Americans do not actively feel bad about what happened to the Native Americans.

guilt1From Quora, in answer to What do Germans feel about Holocaust movies, international student Johannes Adams gave an intriguing answer. His parents are German, though he was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. He’s a citizen of both Germany and the US and is fluent in both German and English.

Shame is an emotion that almost all Germans will feel when considering the last 100 years.We are ashamed of what our country, our forefathers and possibly even our grandparents did. And for good reason.

The Holocaust will forever remain a crime that words cannot, and should not be able to describe.

But here for me exists the main problem, and please bear with me even if it sounds morally disturbing and despicable. The German people have embraced their past, doing their best over the last 70 years to make amends to humanity and work towards a peaceful world .

We Germans accept the crimes of our people and country, allowing the collective guilt that exists already to pile up without an argument. We carry it, without protest, we feel guilty for something that happened long before we were born. As far as I am aware Americans do not actively feel bad about what happened to the Native Americans, in my experience my friends get quite hostile and defensive when I broach this topic. I think every current country and its people have something to be ashamed of, but usually these things are omitted from text books and generally hushed up.

But for the Germans, we continue to be told by all how horrible we were…

Germans should continue to feel differently towards the Holocaust even as history will continue to obscure and grey the horrid events of the past. Likewise I believe that the general trend of making 3rd generation Germans feel bad for things that they had nothing to do with must stop.

On the primary point: I think he is right that Americans don’t, and apparently never have, collectively felt guilt over the genocide of the American Indians or slavery or internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II. It’s just not who Americans were/are. They are a “let’s move on” sort of people.

The truth and reconciliation process, in South Africa after apartheid, and in Rwanda after the terrible genocide of the mid-1990s, isn’t the American way, I don’t think. Had it been so, perhaps the problems of previous generations might have been ironed out, and we would not live in a country so racially polarized, still.

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