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Black People in Nazi Germany
Hans Massaquoi
Racial Science
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Black people in Nazi Germany
A propaganda slide depicting friendship between an Aryan woman and a black woman as a loss of racial pride. The caption reads, "The result: racial pride fades."

Black Germans

Around 5,000 Black people, mainly men, lived in Germany in 1933. Most of them came from German colonies in Africa. Some were married to German women and had children with them.

The Nazis were unsure how to treat their Black residents. Although they were considered to be inferior, they only formed a very small group of people. But Nazi propaganda was also aimed at Black people. Germans were told that marrying a black person was betraying one’s race.

Eventually, more than three thousand Black Germans were put into concentration camps. Most of them were not arrested because of the color of their skin, but because they were Communists or Jehovah’s Witnesses, or because they played forbidden jazz music.

The so-called « Rhineland bastards »

France occupied the German Rhineland after the First World War. The French occupation army included Black soldiers from the French colonies. Some of these men had children with German women. These children were known as the "Rhineland bastards." The Nazis thought it was scandalous that White German woman could have children with Black soldiers from an enemy army. In 1937, 385 of these children were rounded up and sterilized in clinics. They would never be able to have children.

1936 Olympic games

The 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin were supposed to be a showcase for German "Aryan" racial superiority. Open racism towards Jews, Gypsies and Blacks was hidden for a short time. Germany did win the most Gold medals during the games, but many Black athletes performed extremely well. Among them were eighteen African-Americans. The most famous was Jesse Owens, who unpleasantly surprised Hitler and the Nazis by winning some of the most important track and field events. He embarrassed famous Nazi athletes by winning four gold medals, including the 100 meter dash.
Photo credit: USHMM, courtesy of Marion Davy.
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This day in history
Today: 22 January 2019
Then: 22 January 1941

British and Australians take Tobruk in North Africa.

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