Not all survivors have had equal opportunities to have their story heard in Holocaust commemorations. One group of victims who have yet to be publicly memorialised is black Germans. All those voices need to be heard, not only for the sake of the survivors, but because we need to see how varied the expressions of Nazi racism were if we are to understand the lessons of the Holocaust for today. When Hitler came to power in , there were understood to have been some thousands of black people living in Germany — they were never counted and estimates vary widely.
The Holocaust in a few pictures, 1939-1945
Blacks during the Holocaust Era | The Holocaust Encyclopedia
Many black people who lived in Germany under the Nazi regime were persecuted, alienated and murdered during this period. The Nazis viewed them as a threat to the purity of the Germanic race. In the s, around 24, Black people were living in Germany. African-German mixed race children were economically and socially marginalised in German society, and not allowed to attend university. Under the Nazis black people no longer had jobs and were excluded from many aspects of life. When the Nazis came to power, one of the first directives was aimed at mixed-race children. Prisoners of war POWs faced mistreatment at the hands of the Nazis, who did not uphold the regulations imposed by the Geneva Convention the international agreement on the conduct of war and the treatment of wounded and captured soldiers.
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In the summer following the end of World War I, the American population was rapidly shifting. White immigrants from Europe were entering the country, leaving their impoverished homelands. Meanwhile, African Americans were fleeing the racism and poverty of the South for new opportunities in northern cities. For many, that meant Chicago. Between April and November of , white people in cities and towns across the country instigated race riots, attacking and often killing their black neighbors.
After all, African Americans are still struggling to achieve general recognition of the barbarity of the Middle Passage, the inhumanity of slavery, the oppression of Jim Crow, and the battle for modern civil rights. For many in that community, the murder of six million Jews and millions of other Europeans happened to other minorities in a faraway place where they had no involvement. The dots are well known to many scholars — but are rarely connected to form a distinct historical nexus for either the Holocaust or the African American communities. This is understandable. The saga behind these connections started decades before the Third Reich came into existence, in a savage episode on another continent that targeted a completely different racial and ethnic group for death and destruction.