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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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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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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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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Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law

Posted in Books, Europe, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2017-03-07 01:51Z by Steven

Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law

Princeton University Press
March 2017
224 pages
5 1/2 x 8 1/2
7 halftones
Hardcover ISBN: 9780691172422
eBook ISBN: 9781400884636

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

Nazism triumphed in Germany during the high era of Jim Crow laws in the United States. Did the American regime of racial oppression in any way inspire the Nazis? The unsettling answer is yes. In Hitler’s American Model, James Whitman presents a detailed investigation of the American impact on the notorious Nuremberg Laws, the centerpiece anti-Jewish legislation of the Nazi regime. Contrary to those who have insisted that there was no meaningful connection between American and German racial repression, Whitman demonstrates that the Nazis took a real, sustained, significant, and revealing interest in American race policies.

As Whitman shows, the Nuremberg Laws were crafted in an atmosphere of considerable attention to the precedents American race laws had to offer. German praise for American practices, already found in Hitler’s Mein Kampf, was continuous throughout the early 1930s, and the most radical Nazi lawyers were eager advocates of the use of American models. But while Jim Crow segregation was one aspect of American law that appealed to Nazi radicals, it was not the most consequential one. Rather, both American citizenship and antimiscegenation laws proved directly relevant to the two principal Nuremberg Laws—the Citizenship Law and the Blood Law. Whitman looks at the ultimate, ugly irony that when Nazis rejected American practices, it was sometimes not because they found them too enlightened, but too harsh.

Indelibly linking American race laws to the shaping of Nazi policies in Germany, Hitler’s American Model upends understandings of America’s influence on racist practices in the wider world.

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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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Black Germany: The Making and Unmaking of a Diaspora Community, 1884–1960

Posted in Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2014-01-20 07:44Z by Steven

Black Germany: The Making and Unmaking of a Diaspora Community, 1884–1960

Cambridge University Press
September 2013
379 pages
18 b/w illus.
235 x 158 x 22 mm
Hardback ISBN: 9781107041363

Robbie Aitken, Senior Lecturer in Imperial History
Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom

Eve Rosenhaft, Professor of German Historical Studies
University of Liverpool, United Kingdom

This groundbreaking history traces the development of Germany’s black community, from its origins in colonial Africa to its decimation by the Nazis during World War II. Robbie Aitken and Eve Rosenhaft follow the careers of Africans arriving from the colonies, examining why and where they settled, their working lives and their political activities, and giving unprecedented attention to gender, sexuality and the challenges of ‘mixed marriage’. Addressing the networks through which individuals constituted community, Aitken and Rosenhaft explore the ways in which these relationships spread beyond ties of kinship and birthplace to constitute communities as ‘black’. The study also follows a number of its protagonists to France and back to Africa, providing new insights into the roots of Francophone black consciousness and postcolonial memory. Including an in-depth account of the impact of Nazism and its aftermath, this book offers a fresh critical perspective on narratives of ‘race’ in German history.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. The first generation: from presence to community
  • 2. Should I stay and can I go? Status and mobility in the institutional net
  • 3. Settling down: marriage and family
  • 4. Surviving in Germany: work, welfare and community
  • 5. Problem men and exemplary women? Gender, class and ‘race’
  • 6. Practising diaspora – politics 1918–33
  • 7. Under the shadow of national socialism
  • 8. Refuge France?
  • Epilogue
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Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Europe, History, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Monographs on 2011-05-27 21:41Z by Steven

Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany

HarperCollins
480 pages
2001
ISBN: 9780060959616

Hans J. Massaquoi (1926-2013)

This is a story of the unexpected. In Destined to Witness, Hans Massaquoi has crafted a beautifully rendered memoir—an astonishing true tale of how he came of age as a black child in Nazi Germany. The son of a prominent African and a German nurse, Hans remained behind with his mother when Hitler came to power, due to concerns about his fragile health, after his father returned to Liberia. Like other German boys, Hans went to school; like other German boys, he swiftly fell under the Fuhrer’s spell. So he was crushed to learn that, as a black child, he was ineligible for the Hitler Youth. His path to a secondary education and an eventual profession was blocked. He now lived in fear that, at any moment, he might hear the Gestapo banging on the door—or Allied bombs falling on his home. Ironic, moving, and deeply human, Massaquoi’s account of this lonely struggle for survival brims with courage and intelligence.

Prologue

To write of ones self, in such a manner as not to incur the imputation of weakness, vanity, and egotism, is a work within the ability of hut few; and I have little reason to believe that I belong to that fortunate few.
—Frederick Douglass

I could not agree more wich the above sentiments, expressed so eloquently over a century ago by the great abolitionist in the preface to his autobiography, My Bondage, My Freedom. If, like Mr. Douglass, I nonetheless decided to risk being thought of as weak, vain, and egocentric by making public the story of my life, it was mainly because of the persistent urging of persons whose literary judgment I felt was above reproach, such as my longtime friends Alex Haley, the author of Roots; Ralph Giordano, of Cologne, Germany, author of Die Bertinis; and my former employer and mentor. Ebony publisher John H. Johnson. Each convinced me that my experiences as a black youngster growing into manhood and surviving in Nazi Germany—an eyewitness to, and frequent victim of, both Nazi racial madness and Allied bombings—followed by my years in Africa were so unique that it was my duty as a journalist to share this rather different perspective on the Holocaust. Alex felt that because I was both an insider in Nazi Germany and, paradoxically, an endangered outsider, I had a rare perspective on some of the Third Reich’s major catastrophic events. He also urged me to record my equally unique experience of finding my own African roots.

Four fundamental aspects set the private hell I endured under the Nazis apart from both the pogroms suffered by my Jewish compatriots in Germany and from the racial persecution inflicted on my African-American brothers and sisters in the United States.

As a black person in white Nazi Germany, I was highly visible and thus could neither run nor hide, to paraphrase my childhood idol Joe Louis. Unlike African-Americans, I did not have the benefit of inherited survival techniques created and perfected by countless ancestors and passed down from generation to generation of oppressed people. Instead, I was forced to traverse a minefield of potential disasters and to develop my own instincts to tell me how best to survive physically and psychologically in a country consumed by racial arrogance and racial hatred and openly committed to the destruction of all “non-Aryans.”

Nazi racists, unlike their white American counterparts, did not commit their atrocities anonymously, disguised in white sheets and under the protection of night. Nor did they operate like some contemporary American politicians who advance their racist agendas by dividing black and white Americans with cleverly disguised code words about “unfair quotas,” “reverse discrimination,” and “states’ rights.” Racists in Nazi Germany did their dirty work openly and brazenly with the full protection, cooperation, and encouragement of the government, which had declared the pollution of Aryan blood with “inferior” non-Aryan blood the nation’s cardinal sin. For all practical purposes—except for the courageous and unflagging support I received from my German mother, who taught me to believe in myself by believing in me and my potential—I faced the constant threat that Nazi ethnic-cleansing policies posed to my safety alone. I faced this threat without the sense of security and reeling of belonging that humans derive from being members of a group, even an embattled one. Because of the absence of black females and the government-imposed taboo of race mixing, I had no legal social outlet when I reached puberty. Unlike the thousands of Africans and so-called “brown babies”—children of black GI fathers and German mothers—who reside in the Federal Republic of Germany today, there simply was no black population to speak of in Germany during the Hitler years, certainly none that I encountered. Not until long after the war did I learn that a small number of black Germans—the tragic so-called “Rhineland bastards” fathered by World War I French and Belgian colonial occupation troops—were exterminated in Hitler’s death camps.

Because Germans of my generation were expected to be fair skinned and of Aryan stock, it became my lot in life to explain ad nauseam why someone who had a brown complexion and black, kinky hair spoke accent-free German and claimed Germany as his place of birth. So let me state here once again, for the record, that I was born in 1926 in Hamburg, Germany’s second-largest city, because my grandfather, then consul general of Liberia to Hamburg, had brought with him his sizable family. His oldest son became my father after an intense courtship with my mother, a German nurse. Shortly before Hitler’s rise to power, my grandfather and father returned to Liberia, leaving my mother and me to fend for ourselves in an increasingly hostile racist environment…

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