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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We got diversity all wrong!!!

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, Media Archive on 2017-04-01 01:48Z by Steven

We got diversity all wrong!!!

Dirty Movies: Your platform for thought-provoking cinema
2017-03-30

Victor Fraga, Writer and Publisher
London, United Kingdom


Brigitte Mira and El Hedi ben Salem in Fear Eats the Soul (1974)

Liberals like myself like to embrace and demand diversity, but we often come up with flawed arguments; Fassbinder has taught me that this can backfire with catastrophic consequences – Victor Fraga reflects on the 1974 classic ‘Fear Eats the Soul‘, as the film reaches UK cinemas

Diversity is not as straight-forward as it seems. We liberals like to think that it is a mandatory requirement for a multicultural, modern and sophisticated society. Yet we often come up with arguments that only serve to perpetuate the most reactionary and short-sighted rhetoric. For example, during the Brexit debate, the discussion around immigrants was almost inevitably linked to their financial and social contribution, something along the lines: “EU citizens have been paying taxes for years, they don’t claim benefits, and so on”. This is a dangerous fallacy.

It’s as if our tolerance of foreigners was entirely contingent on money and, to a lesser extent, social functionality (“they are our nurses, our train drivers, etc”). We have thereby stripped tolerance of its fundamentally altruistic nature. It’s as if we suddenly decided that tolerance has nothing to do with kindness, hospitality or high-mindedness. I have learnt from Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 1974 classic Fear Eats the Soul (which is out in cinemas this weekend) that this is a very serious mistake with very pernicious ramifications. Tolerance founded upon economic/ vested interests will develop into an ulcer and kill…

Read the entire article here.

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How U.S. Law Inspired the Nazis

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Interviews, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2017-03-25 20:13Z by Steven

How U.S. Law Inspired the Nazis

The Chronicle Review
The Chronicle of Higher Education
2017-03-19

Marc Parry, Senior Reporter


Asian immigrants in the late 1920s await processing in an internment center in San Francisco. AP Images

It started with Mein Kampf. James Q. Whitman, a specialist in comparative law at Yale University, was researching a legal-history question when he pulled Adolf Hitler’s mid-1920s manifesto from the shelf. What jumped out at Whitman was the admiration that Hitler expressed for the United States, a nation that the future Führer lauded as “the one state” that had made progress toward establishing a healthy racial order. Digging deeper, Whitman discovered a neglected story about how the Nazis took inspiration from U.S. racial policies during the making of Germany’s Nuremberg Laws, the anti-Jewish legislation enacted in 1935. That history is the focus of Whitman’s new book, Hitler’s American Model (Princeton University Press). The interview that follows has been edited and condensed…

You also write that some Nazis felt that the American legal example went too far. The Nazis were very interested in the way Americans classified members of the different races, defining who counted as black or Asian or whatever it might be. And there, in particular, the most far-reaching Nazi definition of who counted as a Jew was less than what you found in almost any American state. The most far-reaching Nazi definition, which dates to 1933, held that a Jew was anybody who had one Jewish grandparent. There were a few American states that made the same provision with regard to blacks. But most of them went much further than that. At the extreme, American states had what’s called the one-drop rule. That is, one drop of black blood makes you black…

Read the entire interview here.

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Why the Nazis Loved America

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2017-03-25 01:14Z by Steven

Why the Nazis Loved America

TIME
2017-03-21

James Whitman, Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative and Foreign Law
Yale Law School


American Nazis parade on East 86th St. in New York City around 1939. Universal History Archive/UIG/Getty Images

Whitman is the author most recently of Hitler’s American Model.

To say America today is verging on Nazism feels like scaremongering. Yes, white nationalism lives in the White House. Yes, President Donald Trump leans authoritarian. Yes, the alt-right says many ugly things. But for all the economic pains of many Americans, there is no Great Depression gnawing away at democracy’s foundations. No paramilitary force is killing people in the streets. Fascism and Nazism have not arrived in the United States.

But there is a different and instructive story to be told about America and the Nazis that raises unsettling questions about what is going on today — and what Nazism means to the U.S.

When we picture a modern American Nazi, we imagine a fanatic who has imported an alien belief system from a far-away place. We also, not wrongly, picture captives in concentration camps and American soldiers fighting the Good War. But the past is more tangled than that. Nazism was a movement drawn in some ways on the American model — a prodigal son of the land of liberty and equality, without the remorse…

Read the entire article here.

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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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Op-Ed: When the Nazis wrote the Nuremberg laws, they looked to racist American statutes

Posted in Articles, Europe, History, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2017-03-14 23:04Z by Steven

Op-Ed: When the Nazis wrote the Nuremberg laws, they looked to racist American statutes

The Los Angeles Times
2017-02-22

James Q. Whitman, Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative and Foreign Law
Yale Law School

James Q. Whitman is a professor of comparative and foreign law at Yale Law School. He is the author of “Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law

The European far right sees much to admire in the United States, with political leaders such as Marine le Pen of France and Geert Wilders of the Netherlands celebrating events — such as the recent presidential election — that seem to bode well for their brand of ethno-nationalism. Is this cross-Atlantic bond unprecedented? A sharp break with the past? If it seems so, that’s only because we rarely acknowledge America’s place in the extremist vanguard — its history as a model, even, for the very worst European excesses.

In the late 1920s, Adolf Hitler declared in “Mein Kampf” that America was the “one state” making progress toward the creation of a healthy race-based order. He had in mind U.S. immigration law, which featured a quota system designed, as Nazi lawyers observed, to preserve the dominance of “Nordic” blood in the United States.

The American commitment to putting race at the center of immigration policy reached back to the Naturalization Act of 1790, which opened citizenship to “any alien, being a free white person.” But immigration was only part of what made the U.S. a world leader in racist law in the age of Hitler.

Then as now, the U.S. was the home of a uniquely bold and creative legal culture, and it was harnessed in the service of white supremacy. Legislators crafted anti-miscegenation statutes in 30 states, some of which threatened severe criminal punishment for interracial marriage. And they developed American racial classifications, some of which deemed any person with even “one drop” of black blood to belong to the disfavored race. Widely denied the right to vote through clever devices like literacy tests, blacks were de facto second-class citizens. American lawyers also invented new forms of de jure second-class citizenship for Filipinos, Puerto Ricans and more…

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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