American Jews tell their story of survival, pain, and tragedy regarding Germany’s horrendous mass genocide known as the Holocaust.
But more often than not, the story of those Black Africans brutalized and experimented on in Nazi Germany fall by the wayside, as if burned to ash in the fires of Hitler’s secret past.
Before the German tyrant Adolf Hitler mobilized his deviant and apparently bewitched Nazi soldiers to attempt to exterminate European Jews, records show that he tested his inhumane tactics on Germans of African descent.
Clarence Lusane, author of “Hitler’s Black Victims,” (a historical compilation of the events and philosophies surrounding the Holocaust) suggests African people were used in preparation for the Jewish Holocaust.
From 1904 to 1907, Germany engaged in a war against the Herero people of Southwest Africa. Although the Herero attempted to live peaceably with Germany, which occupied various parts of Southwest Africa, foreign soldiers constantly provoked them by raping their women, and stealing and lynching those who protested against their acts. As a result, a massive Herero revolt took place, initiating a years long war.
Germany sent over one of their most brutal, bloodthirsty war assassins, Lt. Gen. Lother von Trotha. In his attacks, he killed any Herero people in his path and banished the remaining population to the then Omaheke Desert. He also ordered his troops to poison the water supplies to the desert.
By the end of the bloodbath, the Herero population had been cut from 80,000 to 15,000. The remaining Herero who fell into the hands of Germans were then sent off to concentration camps, where they endured barbaric treatment and eventually death.
“In the camps, the Herero were subjected to medical experiments including sterilization and injections of smallpox, typhus, and tuberculosis,” Lusane writes. “This type of experimentation can be seen as a testing ground for later medical procedures that would be used against Blacks, Jews, Gypsies, and others during the Nazi Holocaust.”
Further, the German- erected concentration camps in Africa had a 45 percent mortality rate and African women were forced to become sex slaves. Mixed race children were born of these unrighteous unions, thus compelling the Germans to conduct “racial tests” on the offspring to determine which racial characteristics were dominant.
In 1918, Germany was stripped of its colonies; then France came in and occupied what is known as the Rhineland. Here is where many soldiers of African descent intermarried with German women and produced mixed-race offspring. Hitler later referred to these children as the “Rhineland bastards.” However, Germany had outlawed mixed marriages years before within its colonies and within the country.
The Black presence in Germany in the 1920s is largely overlooked and classified as insignificant by many present-day European centered-scholars.
In the 1920s, there were between 10,000 and 25,000 Blacks (Afro-Germans) living in the country. The numbers are only estimates because racial records were not accurately kept. During this era, many Black people also moved to Europe, finding far less discrimination in Germany than in the United States.
Additionally, after World War I, many French Senegalese soldiers migrated to Germany.
But as Aryan purity moved to the forefront of German policy, involuntary sterilization without anesthesia was forced upon mixed-raced children and Blacks.
Hans Hauck, a Black survivor recounts the events: “We were lucky that we weren’t victims of euthanasia; we were only sterilized. We had no anesthetic. Once I got my vasectomy certificate, we had to sign an agreement that we were not allowed to have sexual relations whatsoever with Germans.”
Passports were taken away and Blacks who attempted to escape Nazi rule were forced to remain within the borders.
“The goal of the Nazi government was to create a pure German ‘racial state’ that did not include Jews, Gypsies, or others who were not Aryan, including Blacks,” Lusane writes. “As can be imagined, after Hitler came to power and the Nazis rapidly began to pass laws that discriminated against Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Communists, and people of African descent, many Blacks wanted to leave Germany for good. While some were able to escape to France and some went back to parts of Africa, most could not get out.”
Those who were forced to remain, did not necessarily experience the full throttle of the mass murders Jews endured at the time, but many were subjected to slave labor, more experiments, and, were forced to assist in the concentration camps.
Lusane suggests that Blacks were not completely wiped out at this time, because the country had a vested interest in Africa in hopes of regaining colonial power. Germany was already receiving flak for its treatment of Jews and did not want to bother with criticism regarding Blacks.
He also adds that Afro-Germans fought in the name of the nation in World War I, so consequently, some “elders” looked disdainfully on complete extermination of Blacks at that moment. However, according to the author, extermination of all unwanted races was planned to be carried out in the future. Many Afro-Germans faced criminal charges and were stripped of their citizenship. Countless numbers were killed.
The Nazi hatred of Blacks permeated throughout the country, and although no system was yet set up for their extermination, Hitler and his clan spread propaganda against Blacks, calling them a third-class, inferior race.
During the war, foreign-born and German-born Blacks faced more gruesome challenges than White enemy soldiers.
“Black prisoners of war faced illegal incarceration and mistreatment at the hands of the Nazis, who did not uphold the regulations imposed by the Geneva Convention,” says the “Holocaust Encyclopedia.” “Black soldiers of the American, French, and British armies were worked to death on construction projects or died as a result of mistreatment in concentration or prisoner-of-war camps. Others were never even incarcerated, but were instead immediately killed by the S.S. or Gestapo.”
After the war, Black survivors were rounded up and tried as war criminals. Some lived long enough to tell their stories. But Germany refuses to acknowledge their shameful history and treatment of Blacks during the Holocaust.