'Black Germans Do Not Exist'. (Cover Story)

By Boateng, Osei | New African, May 2001 | Go to article overview

'Black Germans Do Not Exist'. (Cover Story)


Boateng, Osei, New African


Conventional history says the African presence in Germany goes back only a few decades. But that is not what the African-American historian, Paulette Reed Anderson, has just discovered. Her new work, Rewriting The Footnotes - Berlin and The African Diaspora, published in March, has proved conclusively that Africans have been living in Berlin since the mid-1880s, and in fact, 2,000 of them were killed in the Nazi concentration camps.

"To this day, German historiography has taken insufficient notice of them; people of African descent or Black Germans. This is the case although they have a history dating back more than one hundred years in our country," says the German Commissioner for Foreigners' Affairs, Barbara John, in the introduction to Paulette Reed-Anderson's Rewriting The Footnotes -- Berlin and The African Diaspora.

"In contrast to popular opinion," Barbara continues, "African immigrants did not first come to us in recent decades; the roots of Black Berliners go back much further and are closely connected to the history of the slave trade and colonial history, but also to the history of liberation and human rights movements.

"And so it is that the largely ignored subject of the Black victims of National Socialism [Nazism], has only been reappraised in the last few years. Like the Jewish Germans or German Gypsies and Romany, Black Germans were also robbed of their human dignity during the period of the Nazi tyranny, deprived of their German nationality; many were deported and murdered in concentration camps."

When Hitler came to power in 1933, Germany had a sizable black population. By the time he was defeated in 1945, only a few scores remained -- 2,000 of them had indeed been killed in the Nazi concentration camps with the Jews and others.

The offspring of the Black Germans were even sterilised under the "Nuernberger Laws" (or Citizenship Laws) of September 1935 passed to "protect German blood and German honour". Under these laws, marriages between Aryans and non-Aryans were banned, and black Germans and their spouses lost their German citizenship and the right to claim state support such as unemployment benefits.

The sterilisation was to prevent the Black Germans from having children with "Aryan" Germans. Such a child was considered "impure" or not German enough.

Thanks to Paulette Reed-Anderson, this despicable history of German mistreatment of its black population is now coming out. And Paulette deserves every bit of the encomiums that Barbara John pours on her in the introduction to Rewriting The Footnotes.

Barbara tells how Paulette "searched for and found material in libraries, archives and institutes for this publication. She has brought together information stretching back over more than a century on the traces of the African Diaspora, people from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States who lived in Berlin and have left their imprint on the history of the city. They include internationally renowned personalities, artists, musicians and scientists."

"The lack of recognition of their written cultural heritage," Paulette writes herself, "has had adverse effects on the place of [people] of African descent in German society and the development of [their] cultural identity. No basis for an inter-cultural discussion about the written contribution of [Black Germans] has been established, because the prevailing impression is that people of African descent have no written tradition in the German language and thus have achieved nothing that is noteworthy."

But Paulette has discovered a good volume of work by Africans in Germany dating as far back as the imperial and colonial periods (1871-1914). The writers include Anton Wilhelm Amo, from Axim, Ghana; Amur bin Nasur bin Amur Ilomeiri, a Tanzanian; Mary Church Terrell, an African-American; Paul Mpundo Njassam Akwa, Adolf Ngoso Din, Martin Dibobe (all Cameroonians); and letters by Mdachi bin Scharifu, a Tanzanian, and Thomas Manga Awka, a Gameroonian. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

'Black Germans Do Not Exist'. (Cover Story)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.