By Frederick H. Lowe
BERLIN–DW News, an international broadcaster based in Berlin, Germany, is airing a program about blacks living in Germany, which is not the all-white country you thought it was.
The program is called Afro.germany, and it is reported by DW News reporter Jana Pareigis. Pareigis traveled throughout Germany to meet and interview other blacks who live there. She interviewed rapper Samy Deluxe and WW2 survivor Theodor Michael.
That’s not to say that German blacks don’t get asked irritating questions by white Germans like “where are you from?” and “how did you learn to speak German so well?” It also well documented that some white football (soccer) fans grunt and gesture like monkeys when black players take the field or pitch.
I thought Germany was an all-white country until I read “Destined To Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany,” by the late Hans Massaquoi. I have read a number of books about World War 2, but I was shocked to learn that blacks lived in Nazi Germany and some were even members of the Nazi Party and the dreaded SS or Schutzstaffel. They considered themselves good and loyal Germans.
As a fourth grader, Massaquoi saw Adolf Hitler during a parade in Hamburg. Massaquoi, the son of a German mother and a Liberian father, also attempted to join the Hitler Youth. They laughed at him.
But there were other experiences. Massaquoi’s best friend’s father was a Nazi block captain, and Massaquoi ate almost every meal at his friend’s house.
Massaquoi moved to Illinois where he subsequently became managing editor of Ebony magazine. It was in Illinois where he experienced his first brush with American racism involving a white train conductor.
I had the honor of interviewing Mr. Massaquoi before he died. I wrote an article about him and his book for the Chicago Reader, a weekly newspaper. I later wrote his obituary for NorthStarNewsToday.com
I hope as NorthStarNewsToday readers you will enjoy DW’s broadcast about blacks in Germany, offered here.