Reflections on Black German History

Reflections on Black German History

Arriving In The Future: Black German Stories of Home and Exile

Asoka Esuruoso & Philipp Khabo Koepsell

“Unsere Geschichte nicht erst nach 1945 begann. Vor unseren Augen stand unsere Vergangenhait, die eng verknupft ist mit der kolonialien und nationalsozialistischen deutschen Geschichte.” Our history did not begin after 1945. Before our eyes stands our past, closely bound with colonial and national socialist German history.

–Farbe bekennen: Afro-deutsche Fraunen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte (Showing Our Colors: Afro German Women Speak Out)

For centuries people of African descent have been born and raised in Germany. The Black experience in Germany has been documented for over 300 years with the first known research on the African experience in Germany presented in Latin by the West African scholar Anton Wilhelm Amo, in his dissertation “The Rights of Moors in Europe” (De jure Mauro in Europa) written in 1729. He was a Ghanaian brought to Germany in 1703 ‘as a present’ form the Dutch West India Company to count Anton Ulrich von Wolfenbuttel. The count despite all expectations would eventually send Amo to the University of Halle to receive and education in Enlightenment philosophy where Amo would later teach before being appointed a member of the State Council of the Prussian crown by Fredrick William I. Amo was not alone. There are records of Black African legions being brought to Germany by Julius Caesar. Many Africans were shipped to Germany as “tokens” by German merchants during the Middle Ages. More would arrive during Germany’s colonial period, many of their own independent agency as the son’s of wealthy and powerful African families. French African solders would be stationed on German soil after the First World War only to be followed by the African American solders who would be stationed there after the Second. Students from the African Diaspora would study at German Universities. Countless refugees, asylum seekers, immigrants, professors, academics, scientists, artists, writers, workers, performers, and more, much more from the African Diaspora would come to live, work, study, and be born upon Germany’s soil. Yet despite their presence Afro German stories are still unnoticed within Germany’s dominant society and literature and stereotypical clichés continue to dominate images of the Black Diaspora within greater German society…

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