Archive for May 7, 2010
“Black Survivors of the Nazi Holocaust,”
BLACK GERMAN HOLOCAUST VICTIMS:
So much of our history is lost to us because we, African-Americans often don’t write the history books, don’t film the documentaries, or don’t pass the accounts down from generation to generation.
One documentary now touring the film festival circuit, telling us to “Always Remember” is “Black Survivors of the Holocaust” (1997). Outside the U.S.., the film is entitled “Hitler’s Forgotten Victims” (Afro-Wisdom Productions). It codifies another dimension to the “Never Forget” Holocaust story–our dimension.
Did you know that in the 1920’s, there were 24,000 Blacks living in Germany? Neither did I. Here’s how it happened, and how many of them were eventually caught unawares by the events of the Holocaust.
Like most West European nations, Germany established colonies in Africa in the late 1800’s in what later became Togo, Cameroon, Namibia, and Tanzania. German genetic experiments began there, most notably involving prisoners taken from the 1904 Heroro Massacre that left 60,000 Africans dead, following a 4-year revolt against German colonization. After the shellacking Germany received in World War I, it was stripped of its African colonies in 1918.
As a spoil of war, the French were allowed to occupy Germany in the Rhineland–a bitter piece of real estate that has gone back and forth between the two nations for centuries. The French willfully deployed their own colonized African soldiers as the occupying force. Germans viewed this as the final insult of World War I, and soon thereafter, 92% of them voted the Nazi party into power.
Hundreds of the African Rhineland-based soldiers intermarried with German women and raised their children as Black Germans. In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote about his plans for these “Rhineland Bastards.” When he came to power, one of his first directives was aimed at these mixed-race children. Underscoring Hitler’s obsession with racial purity, by 1937, every identified mixed-race child in the Rhineland had been forcibly sterilized, in order to prevent further ‘race polluting,’ as Hitler termed it.
Hans Hauck, a Black Holocaust survivor and a victim of Hitler’s mandatory sterilization program, explained in the film “Hitler’s Forgotten Victims” that, when he was forced to undergo sterilization as a teenager, he was given no anesthetic. Once he received his sterilization certificate, he was “free to go” so long as he agreed to have no sexual relations whatsoever with Germans.
Although most Black Germans attempted to escape their fatherland, heading for France where people like Josephine Baker were steadily aiding and supporting the French Underground, many still encountered problems elsewhere. Nations shut their doors to Germans, including the Black ones.
Some Black Germans were able to eke out a living during Hitler’s reign of terror by performing in Vaudeville shows, but many Blacks, steadfast in their belief that they were German first and Black second, opted to remain in Germany. Some fought with the Nazis (a few even became Luftwaffe pilots). Unfortunately, many Black Germans were arrested, charged with treason, and shipped in cattle cars to concentration camps. Often these trains were so packed with people and (equipped with no bathroom facilities or food) that, after the four-day journey, box car doors were opened to piles of the dead and dying.
Once inside the concentration camps, Blacks were given the worst jobs conceivable. Some Black American soldiers, who were captured and held as prisoners of war, recounted that, while they were being starved and forced into dangerous labor (violating the Geneva Convention), they were still better off than Black German concentration camp detainees, who were forced to do the unthinkable- -man the crematoriums and work in labs where genetic experiments were being conducted. As a final sacrifice, these Blacks were killed every three months so that they would never be able to reveal the inner workings of the “Final Solution.”
In every story of Black oppression, no matter how we were enslaved, shackled, or beaten, we always found a way to survive and to rescue others. As a case in point, consider Johnny Voste, a Belgian resistance fighter who was arrested in 1942 for alleged sabotage and then shipped to Dachau. One of his jobs was stacking vitamin crates. Risking his own life, he distributed hundreds of vitamins to camp detainees, which saved the lives of many who were starving, weak, and ill–conditions exacerbated by extreme vitamin deficiencies. His motto was “No, you can’t have my life; I will fight for it.”
According to Essex University’s Delroy Constantine- Simms, there were Black Germans who resisted Nazi Germany, such as Lari Gilges, who founded the Northwest Rann–an organization of entertainers that fought the Nazis in his home town of Dusseldorf– and who was murdered by the SS in 1933, the year that Hitler came into power.
Little information remains about the numbers of Black Germans held in the camps or killed under the Nazi regime. Some victims of the Nazi sterilization project and Black survivors of the Holocaust are still alive and telling their story in films such as “Black Survivors of the Nazi Holocaust,” but they must also speak out for justice, not just history.
Unlike Jews (in Israel and in Germany), Black Germans, although German-born, have received no war reparations because their German citizenship was revoked. The only pension they get is from those of us who are willing to tell the world their stories and continue their battle for recognition and compensation.
After the war, scores of Blacks who had somehow managed to survive the Nazi regime, were rounded up and tried as war criminals. Talk about the final insult! There are thousands of Black Holocaust stories, from the triangle trade, to slavery in America, to the gas ovens in Germany.
We often shy away from hearing about our historical past because so much of it is painful; however, we are in this struggle together for rights, dignity, and, yes, reparations for wrongs done to us through the centuries. We need to always remember so that we can take steps to ensure that these atrocities never happen again.
For further information, read: Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany, by Hans J. Massaquoi.
Add comment May 7, 2010
It was no shock to turn on the radio yesterday and hear the tea party station better known as WTTK, Sevrin and McPhee beating the same old drum. That anyone who doesn’t support AZ supports illegal aliens that is laughable, a great talking point from Fix News, well except for Beck (could the world be coming to an end!) but it ignores one of their supposed core principals as independent Libertarians .
The law is illegal on two fronts, one only the federal government can set immigration policy and no state can do that. Two this law violates the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, tell me it isn’t so tea party crowd I thought the Constitution was your new wholly grail. I guess the truth is as long as it is violated and impacts anyone but YOU then that is okay.
The first time you stop an American citizen and they refuse to show ID, and a driver’s license we all know is no proof of citizenship, what can the police officer really do? I am protected against illegal search and seizure by law enforcement, it is a Constitutional right, and I would suspect that when this happens to a citizen they will sue.
AZ is already in a fiscal free fall, suffering as most states do from this bad economy, finding a scapegoat when times are like this is an old ploy steeped in a very nasty history that I would think no one wants to revisit.
The co-author of this bill ( and I use that term since FAIR is taking credit for helping) is state senator Russell Pearce, who has been sanctioned in the past for sending neo-nazi emails to supporters. As I mentioned Kris Kobach a legal rep for Federalist for Americas Immigration Reform (FAIR) is closely associated with and often a co-rally sponsor with J.T. Ready ( see pictures of rallies and ones with senator Pearce http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/bastard/2007/09/russell_pearces_willie_horton.php) a blogger for NewSaxon.org a racist myspace page where he writes under the tag line ” for whites, by whites”. This uh “gentleman” is also claiming to have helped with the structuring of this bill, so with all that being true or not really senator Pearces’ record is alarming enough why would I want this person controlling immigration policy?
There are true illegal immigration issues in this country and the federal government is long overdue in fixing the problems seriously, I have every confidence that this administration will do so while treating American citizens with respect in their own country.
However shame on WTKK for attacking the City Council and us without the facts, or perhaps they do have them and are comfortable with them, in that case I ask the citizens of this city. Is this really the kind of radio content that should be tolerated in a city as diverse as Boston?
Because AZ has become nostalgic for the racists practices of the sixties is WTKK intent on bringing that hate speech to Boston, and more importantly does Rush know what your up to? I am sure he sees that as his job.
You are entitled to free speech but that doesn’t mean you can yell fire in a crowded theater, encouraging people to support an initiative without all of the facts is no different. J T Ready nor Senator Pearce have to like me or my beautiful brown skin, but I can reject their efforts to govern me if I feel their ability to do so is clouded by their views and racists behavior.
McPhee intimates that we should just trust the police to do the right thing, I guess if I was a caucasian in this country out of habit I might feel the same, as a woman of color I do not. A quick read of today’s papers and the charging of a twenty four year veteran of the police force with assault shows that longevity doesn’t always breed wisdom.
So WTKK commentators if you don’t want you and your tea party set called racist, then be mindful what you support, remember what your mothers taught you “you are judged by the company you keep”. These folks in AZ have chosen their path and language not I, and if you choose to stand with them then you are subject to that kind of scrutiny.
Let’s all try to treat people the way you would want to be treated!
Add comment May 7, 2010
Well I am new to the blogesphere but I am moved to speak out because of the turbulent times this country is in. For all of those who are fearful or mis-informed I hope to provide dialogue that is respectful informative and from time to time funny if I can.
We are all in this world together and we need to find a path that we can follow together. “If not me who, if not now when”
“Well behaved women rarely make history!” Laurel Ulrich
Add comment May 7, 2010