The Erasure of People of African Descent in Nazi Germany

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2017-04-19 21:15Z by Steven

The Erasure of People of African Descent in Nazi Germany

Black Perspectives
2017-04-19

Jaimee A. Swift
Howard University, Washington, D.C.


Afro-German during the Third Reich. Photo: Propaganda-Pravada.

Recently, Donald Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer made some peculiar and offensive comments comparing Syrian leader President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical attacks to those of Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler. In attempts to justify Trump’s random missile strikes against Assad, Spicer asserted that what Assad did was completely inhumane—so inhumane that he claimed not even Hitler used chemical weapons against his own people, when in fact he did. Spicer would later on apologize for his Hitler comparison.

His comments were met with much backlash, and many have claimed they were disrespectful to the Jewish community and therefore diminished the horrible plight of the millions of innocent Jewish lives lost at the hands of Hitler and the Nazi regime. What is critical in understanding Spicer’s offensive statement is assessing not only his erasure of the violence enacted on the Jewish community during the Holocaust, but also the effacing of the experiences of Afro-Germans, African-Americans, and persons of African descent during the Nazi era. Both national and global discourses have excluded the narratives about and perspectives on Afro-Germans in German society. While the German constitution forbids racism, prejudice, and other forms of discrimination, there lacks a substantive and stable legal reform on combatting racism, as a “generally accepted definition of racism does not exist in Germany.” The intentional void of state-sanctioned discourses on race in Germany because of the legacy of the Nazi era ignores the historical remnants and current manifestations of systemic racism against Afro-Germans, which is embedded in every facet of German society…

…In their article “Making the Black Experience Heard in Germany,” authors Jamie Schearer and Hadija Haruna detailed how during World War II, thousands of African-American GIs occupied Germany and had relationships with German women, thus producing bi-racial or multiracial children. German professor Maria Hoehn also discussed the percentage of Black children birthed to African-American GIs and white women in Germany and how animosity arose from many Euro-Germans surrounding the presence of Black children or Besatzungskinder (occupation children) or “Rhineland bastards” in the country. Hoehn explained:

“They would always identify them as ‘Black Occupation children.’ Or as mischling kinder, or mixed-race children. In the immediate postwar period, there were over 90,000 babies born of American soldiers, and about three-and-a-half thousands of them were African American. What is interesting is that almost the whole focus of the debate on occupation children was on those black children rather than the larger group of children.”…

Read the entire article here.

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My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past

Posted in Autobiography, Biography, Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2017-04-02 14:38Z by Steven

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past

The Experiment
2016-04-05
240 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781615192533
Paperback ISBN: 9781615193080

Jennifer Teege and Nikola Sellmair
Translated by Carolin Sommer

At age 38, Jennifer Teege happened to pluck a library book from the shelf—and discovered a horrifying fact: Her grandfather was Amon Goeth, the vicious Nazi commandant depicted in Schindler’s List. Reviled as the “butcher of Płaszów,” Goeth was executed in 1946. The more Teege learned about him, the more certain she became: If her grandfather had met her—a black woman—he would have killed her.

Teege’s discovery sends her into a severe depression—and fills her with questions: Why did her birth mother withhold this chilling secret? How could her grandmother have loved a mass murderer? Can evil be inherited?

Teege’s story is cowritten by Nikola Sellmair, who also adds historical context and insight from Teege’s family and friends, in an interwoven narrative. Ultimately, Teege’s search for the truth leads her, step by step, to the possibility of her own liberation.

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DW launches new multimedia project ‘Afro.Germany’

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Arts, Europe, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive on 2017-03-24 17:36Z by Steven

DW launches new multimedia project ‘Afro.Germany’

Afro.Germany
DW (Deutsche Welle)
2017-03-10

Gaby Reucher

What is it like to be a Black person living in Germany? What does it mean to be excluded from your own society? Prominent guests met to discuss these questions and more, underlining the launch the new project.

I used to want to be white,” says Jana Pareigis, speaking with rapper Samy Deluxe.  She wanted to know if it was like that for him, as well. “As a child, yes,” he says. “But as a teen, I wanted to really be Black.”

The dialogue is a scene from the movie “Afro.Germany,” in which TV host Jana Pareigis traveled throughout Germany visiting Black people and hearing their stories about what it’s like to be Black in Germany. They shared stories from their childhoods, and explained how they identified themselves and why they are proud of their skin color.

Among those interviewed are prominent figures like football star Gerald Asamoahand artist Robin Rhode. Pareigis also spoke with refugee Issa Barra from Burkina Faso, as well as Indira Paarsch, who was given up for adoption by her white mother when she was a baby because she was “too black.”

Pareigis also shares anecdotes from her own life – she herself was adopted by white parents. As a child in kindergarten, her dark skin attracted attention. Even until today, people touch her hair without asking…

Read the entire article here.

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News from our Graduate Students: PhD candidate Kristina Pilz

Posted in Articles, Europe, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2017-03-12 18:13Z by Steven

News from our Graduate Students: PhD candidate Kristina Pilz

University of Washington
Department of Germanics
2017-03-08

Kristina Pilz


Kristina Pilz

BlackWhite — Experiences and Writing Practices in Contemporary Afro-German Literature

I am excited to continue working on my dissertation that describes innovative writing practices in contemporary Afro-German literature. My project focuses on rhetorical, intertextual and aesthetic strategies as creative devices for a diasporic literary history. My analysis includes fictional/non-fictional texts comprised of Afro-German poetry and autobiographies…

Read the entire article here.

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A history of Black people in Germany

Posted in Africa, Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2017-03-11 21:13Z by Steven

A history of Black people in Germany

The African Courier
2016-07-20

Gyavira Lasana


Portrait of the family of Mandenga Diek, Berlin, about 1920 – with his wife Emilie Diek (nee Wiedelinski) and daughters Erika and Doris. Many in today’s Black community have roots dating to more than 100 years ago │©SWF

The journey has been an arduous one. The historian Paulette Reed-Anderson informs us that in 1682, a ship bearing slaves from Africa docked in Hamburg. Twenty-five years later (1707), African musicians are employed in Prussian military units and Mohrenstrasse is christened in Berlin. By 1877, however, the first of the dreadful Völkerschauen (‘ethnographic exhibitions’) were staged in Hamburg and Berlin.  Seven years later, 1884, Germany was in full colonial mode, annexing Cameroon, Togo, South-West Africa and the so-called German East Africa. But by 1904, the colonies would revolt and Germany would respond with massacres against hundreds of thousands of Herero, Nama and other Africans…

Read the entire article here.

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Black German: An Afro-German Life in the Twentieth Century

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2017-03-07 18:32Z by Steven

Black German: An Afro-German Life in the Twentieth Century

Liverpool University Press
2017-03-01
216 Pages
210 x 147 mm
29 B&W illustrations
Paperback ISBN: 9781781383117

Theodor Michael

Translated by:

Eve Rosenhaft, Professor of German Historical Studies
University of Liverpool

This is the first English translation of an important document in the history of the black presence in Germany and Europe: the autobiography of Theodor Michael. Theodor Michael is the last surviving member of the first generation of ‘Afro-Germans’: Born in Germany in 1925 to a Cameroonian father and a German mother, he grew up in Berlin in the last days of the Weimar Republic. As a child and teenager he worked in circuses and films and experienced the tightening knot of racial discrimination under the Nazis in the years before the Second World War. He survived the war as a forced labourer, founding a family and making a career as a journalist and actor in post-war West Germany. Since the 1980s he has become an important spokesman for the black German consciousness movement, acting as a human link between the first black German community of the inter-war period, the pan-Africanism of the 1950s and 1960s, and new generations of Germans of African descent.

Theodor Michael’s life story is a classic account of coming to consciousness of a man who understands himself as both black and German; accordingly, it illuminates key aspects of modern German social history as well as of the post-war history of the African diaspora. The text has been translated by Eve Rosenhaft, Professor of German Historical Studies at the University of Liverpool and an internationally acknowledged expert in black German studies. It is accompanied by a translator’s preface, explanatory notes, a chronology of historical events and a guide to further reading, so that the book will be accessible and useful both for general readers and for undergraduate students.

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First Look: Amandla Stenberg, George MacKay in Amma Asante’s ‘Where Hands Touch’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Posted in Articles, Arts, Europe, Media Archive on 2017-02-11 20:21Z by Steven

First Look: Amandla Stenberg, George MacKay in Amma Asante’s ‘Where Hands Touch’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety
2017-02-08

Leo Barraclough, Senior International Correspondent


Courtesy of Tantrum Films/Pinewood Pictures

Variety has been given exclusive access to the first-look image from Amma Asante’sWhere Hands Touch,” which stars Amandla Stenberg (“The Hunger Games”) and George MacKay (“Captain Fantastic”) in a story of forbidden love in Nazi Germany.

Fifteen-year-old Leyna (Stenberg), daughter of a white German mother and a black father, meets Lutz (MacKay), the son of a prominent SS officer, and a member of the Hitler Youth. “They fall helplessly in love, putting their lives at risk as all around them the persecution of Jews and those deemed ‘non-pure’ slowly unfolds,” according to a statement. “Does their love stand a chance amidst violence and hatred?”…

Read the entire article here.

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Planning for German Children of Mixed Racial Background

Posted in Articles, Europe, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Work on 2016-07-30 19:58Z by Steven

Planning for German Children of Mixed Racial Background1

Social Service Review
Volume 30, Number 1 (March 1956)
pages 33-37
DOI: 10.1086/639959

Hans Pfaffenberger (1922-2012), Professor of Psychology
University of Trier, Trier, Germany

Translated by Susanne Schulze

On January 1, 1955, there were approximately four thousand mischlingskinder2 in the West German Republic. This number is still increasing by 250 to 350 a year. More than 70 per cent of the children are living with their mothers, and about 5 per cent with other relatives—grandparents, aunts, etc. About 12 per cent are in institutions, about 10 per cent in foster homes. The remaining children have been adopted, either by American families or, in a few cases, by German families, or they have emigrated to the United States with their mothers, who have married. According to the social agencies responsible for them, 90 per cent of the children remaining in Germany are well cared for. In 10 per cent of the cases, special services have been found necessary, but these have been general services—better housing, convalescent care, etc.—unrelated to the special situation of these children as children of mixed racial background.

The approximately four thousand children of mixed racial background pose many problems for child welfare agencies, and it is good to know that many attempts are being made to find solutions and to suggest remedies. Not all of these suggestions, of course, are equally acceptable, and it seems that the time is ripe to examine some of them in relation to the situation of these children, as it is known through reliable reports, and in the light of some basic considerations.

EMIGRATION OR ADOPTION?

Many people are suggesting general solutions that would supposedly “clean up” with one stroke all of the emerging problems or at least would cover them up; for example, it has been suggested that the problem be solved through adoption abroad, through emigration of the mothers with their children, through emigration of the mischlingskinder, or through segregation of all these children in order to rear them together. Many strong objections to these general solutions may be raised. Recently several welfare organizations, as well as individuals with long years of experience, have warned against adoption abroad, including in the United States, especially when children of mixed racial background are concerned. A most careful investigation of the potential adoptive family seems definitely indicated.3 When we consider the social and economic circumstances of these children, as well as the attitudes of the community toward them, transplanting them to America through adoption or through marriage of the mother…

Read or purchase the article here.


1 From Newes Beginnen (New Beginning [periodical of the Workers’ Welfare Association, published by National Headquarters of the Organization, Bonn]), VIII (August, 1955).

2 Mishlingskinder refers to children of mixed racial background. The children considered in this article are those born to German women and nonwhite soldiers stationed in Germany.

3 See U. Mende, “Adoption deutscher Kinder durch amerikanische Staatsangehörige,” Unsere Jugend, May, 1955, S. 207; E. Hochfeld and M. A. Valk, “Experience in Intercountry Adoptions” (New York: International Social Service, American Branch, 1953).

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My Soul Has Found Its Home

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2016-07-20 13:33Z by Steven

My Soul Has Found Its Home

Jews of Colour Canada: Building community through identity and faith
2016-07-11

Shirley Gindler-Price
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Out of the 95,000 US Occupation babies born in Germany shortly after WWII, there were approximately 5000 of us, post WWII Afro-German children, so-called Negro mulatto babies, better known as German ‘Brown Babies.’ Born to German women and African-American soldiers, the SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany) deemed that we formed a special group, presenting a human and racial problem of a special nature. Our national and cultural heritage [and perhaps even our religious birthright] were seen to be in direct contrast to our skin color.

Born in Nuremberg, Germany, my mutti and I eventually moved to Ansbach, where at the age of two, I would be given up for adoption. As it was with so many other post WWII German ‘Brown Babies,’ I was adopted by an African American military couple stationed in Germany…

Read the entire article here or here.

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Black Lives in Germany: A Multigenerational Struggle for Acceptance

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Media Archive on 2016-07-20 13:32Z by Steven

Black Lives in Germany: A Multigenerational Struggle for Acceptance

The Root
2016-04-04

Damaso Reyes


Damaso Reyes

Biracial Afro-Germans search for their identity in a country where many think that to be German is to be white.

Who am I? It seems like a simple enough question, but it is one that thousands of Germans of African descent have to ask themselves every day. In a country that defines identity with a great deal of precision, those who fall outside the norm find themselves trapped in a kind of limbo, neither here nor there.

After World War II, tens of thousands of African-American GIs participated in the occupation of Germany. Many of these young men, barred from combat units by segregation, found homes in supply units. In a country where food was in short supply, not only were these soldiers “exotic,” but they held the keys, if not to the kingdom, then certainly to survival.

Like many of their fellow white soldiers, black troops made connections with German women. Soon thereafter, children were born, and German society has struggled with what to do with them for the seven decades since. Multigenerational Afro-Germans have struggled to find their place in a society that often doesn’t accept that they belong…

…For the second postwar generation of Afro-Germans, the struggle for recognition wasn’t any easier. It was this generation of Afro-Germans who came together and created the Initiative of Black People in Germany. Fifty-three-year-old Tahir Della, the son of a black GI and a white mother from Leipzig, is a member of the board of the organization, and he talked about how he thinks other Germans see their fellow citizens of African descent…

Read the entire article here.

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