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Much Like the Forgotten Genocide of the Herero and Namaqua People, Black Victims of the Jewish Holocaust are Also Forgotten

Afro-German girl in Nazi Germany (Public domain)

Afro-German girl in Nazi Germany (Public domain)

When one thinks of the victims of Nazi Germany, images of Jews, Roma, the disabled, political dissidents, European prisoners of war and others come to mind.  Black people usually do not come to mind, but they did exist, as their story is mostly forgotten.

January 27 marks the commemoration of the Jewish Holocaust, the day that the Nazi death camp Auschwitz was liberated.  As Raw Story reported, the European Jewish community is most often acknowledged in this remembrance of the millions who lost their lives, but Black Germans have yet to have their voices heard.

When Hitler came to power, between 20,000 and 25,000 Black people lived in Germany, including soldiers from African colonies and their German wives, and Africans who came as artists, students and entertainers.  In addition, there were hundreds of children fathered by Afro-French colonial soldiers in the Rhineland, which was occupied by France after World War I and annexed and returned to Germany in 1936.

In his 1923 book Mein Kampf, Hitler made his views on Black people abundantly clear: “It is a scarcely conceivable fallacy of thought to believe that a Negro…will turn into a German because he learns German and is willing to speak the German language and perhaps even give his vote to a German political party.”

“The fate of black people from 1933 to 1945 in Nazi Germany and in German-occupied territories ranged from isolation to persecution, sterilization, medical experimentation, incarceration, brutality, and murder,” according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  “After World War I, the Allies stripped Germany of its African colonies. The German military stationed in Africa (Schutztruppen), as well as missionaries, colonial bureaucrats, and settlers, returned to Germany and took with them their racist attitudes. Separation of whites and blacks was mandated by the Reichstag (German parliament), which enacted a law against mixed marriages in the African colonies.”

The Nazi Nuremberg laws were a Jim Crow-style system of laws that denied German Jews their personhood and citizenship under German law, and it forbade marriage or sexual relations between aliens and people of German blood.  According to Raw Story, Black Germans, many of whom did not have German citizenship, were provided passports that deemed them “stateless negroes.”  They were sent to perform forced labor, and Black children were excluded from public schools.  While there was no mass internment in concentration camps — around 20 Black Germans were interned, according to camp records, with at least one euthanasia victim — typically Blacks were locked up by the police for so-called deviancy or antisocial behavior, never to be released.  In 1937, 400 Rhineland children were sterilized against their will, while other Black Germans fled to avoid the same fate.  The Nazi preoccupation with racial purity and pollution led to the harassment and separation of interracial couples, the sterilization of the Black spouse in an interracial family after the couple had a baby, and the breakup of families.

Further, among its first actions, the Nazi regime suppressed Black political movement building, as Afro-German activists were involved in anti-racism and communist organizations.

Meanwhile, there is another genocide committed by Germany that is also forgotten.  For example, there was the mass murder of the Herero and Namaqua people in South-West Africa, now known as Namibia.  Between 1904 and 1908, 100,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama people — the majority of the respective populations — died in what is considered by historians as the first genocide and the first death camps of the 20th century.  German colonialists sent thousands of Namibians into concentration camps, the worst of which was known as Shark Island, or “Death Island,” off the coast of Lüderitz, Namibia. The Black people hauled off to Shark Island were sent there to die, which they did, due to starvation, thirst and hard labor.

Even today, as Germany grapples with the issue of allowing Syrian refugees into the country, the nation still has not come to terms with racism. This, as Black Germans — who number as many as a half million — for years have railed against the racism that has plagued their country.  As Time reported in 2009, German filmmaker Günter Wallraff went undercover dressed as a Black man to uncover German racism in his documentary, Black on White. 

“Germany is a developing country as far as racism is concerned,” Wallraff said. “There is something close-minded and ill-at-ease about it. Germany is harboring more prejudices than it is ready to accept.”

“What strikes you first of all about the way Germany treats Black people and racism is the avoidance of the subject,” Marina Jones, a doctoral fellow in the history of African-Americans and Germans at the German Historical Institute in Washington told Time. “As an Afro-German, you are often confronted with the situation that you look ‘different’ and people react differently, but then [people] also treat you with something like willful color blindness. You are often deemed a foreigner, so you are alien in your own country.”

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22 thoughts on “Much Like the Forgotten Genocide of the Herero and Namaqua People, Black Victims of the Jewish Holocaust are Also Forgotten

  1. Sonya Rice says:

    I have always wondered about the unknown victims of racism and geneocide. Thank you for revealing their lives, suffering from persecution, and deaths during the reign of terror known as the Holocaust.

  2. 28Nations where affected by the holocaust. We must not forget that Jews come in many shades of Black..

  3. This article appears to be suggesting that Germany has not been good about letting refugees into the country. This, of course, cannot be the case, since the fact is that thousands of refugees have poured into Germany at the invitation of President Merkel. These refugees have repaid Germany's kindness by harrassing, molesting and raping the German women, urinating and defecating in public and screaming obscenties at the German citizens. So, to suggest that Germany is the one with the racism problem is ludicrous. However, I did enjoy learning about the Black victims of the Holocaust.

  4. even the blacks in Israel are coninuously being maligned by the Jewsish cabinet.. they are treated with disdain and are seen as leeches by fellow Jews. this thing called racism affect us blacks more than any other race.

  5. I agree with what you're saying, refugees should show more respect, not only to Germany, but to all countries that they're allowed to settle in – there are good & bad in all groups though.
    However, I do still think the problem of racism is something not to be overlooked there. As a mixed race person. I have no plans anytime soon. A group of my friends (a mixed group of black, white & Asian) were greeted with monkey noises when visiting several bars in Berlin.They knew one false move, and they'd have been in trouble on several occasions. It sounds like a very arty/cultural place, but I won't be visiting anytime soon…

  6. Baldev Singh says:

    Amazing how Israel gets away with destroying and maligning blacks in Israel but trumpet real hard on atrocities committed against them. Check how they treat the Palestinians as well. Rather shameful. They look like cheating beggars with big coffers when they come on world stage to announce themselves as victims.

  7. In the early 1970's our government had considered placing all Black Americans in Concentration Camps. There has been so many ideas of getting rid of us, as Black Americans, but few realize we were descended from African Adam and African Eve, per our DNA meaning all people living today were descended from God's first People and we will not be be totally destroyed. Yes there were Blacks in Concentration Camps, but one never see images of this. We will continue to rise, as a People made in the image of God, wherther in Spirit or Flesh. We will rise.

  8. Revelation 2:9 King James Version (KJV)
    "I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan."

    Revelation 3:9 King James Version (KJV) "Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee."

    It's a long story, but there are real Jews and fake Jews. Actions speak louder than words so that we can discern the difference.

  9. Alan Ackbar says:

    The first genocide of the 20th century was close to German South West Africa across the border is South Africa carried out by the British against the Boers.

  10. This is not true. The israelis spent millions of dollars to bring black Ethiopian Jews to israel and these were people who lived in harsh conditions with little formal education and are now thriving in Israel.

  11. Mike Ervin says:

    more negative anti German propoganda obviously

  12. With that said; what is the image of God? Remember, God said ''let us create man in our image'' before Adam was created.

  13. Norman Gardner How many got killed en route? You should know that as well. But I understand, its way worse for black aboriginals in Australia

  14. Norman Gardner Didn't The Israelis admit to sterilizing the Ethiopian women?

  15. LaVerne Gray Eubanks The people who were sent to Israel by the Europeans and Americans are the gentiles. Read Genesis 10. You will notice that they are descendants of Japheth and Gomer not Shem, Abraham, Jacob, and Judah. They are Jewish by religious choice. Anyone can choose what religion they wish to belong to.

  16. Nikhil Pun Magar SPAM!

  17. Ms Hackett. You are correct but the one American-German woman I met on the plane while on my way there was extremely insulting. I must emphasize that she was an American. She kept tellng me about her proud German heritage and what they did to people like me. I really don't know what set her off. I ignored her and went on to enjoy my visit to the Black Forest. I went with a Swiss friend and spent most of my time in Switzerland. Unfortunately, racism is a universal problem. It is not limited to any one country.

  18. Norman Gardner what was the sense of bringing them to Israel just to exterminate them?

  19. in Auschwitz were mostly Polish people and the Jews were in Birkenau

  20. Nusiku Layne I'm sure that person only meant that they were glad to receive the information they hadn't known before. People some times misspeak or use the wrong words. Perhaps enjoyed wasn't the right word.

  21. Mike Ervin says:

    Julia Itari No people on this planet create more atrocities than africans,Fact

  22. Mike Ervin says:

    you are delusional.

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