The Holocaust’s forgotten black victims – the ‘Rhineland Bastards’

By Martin Smith | 23 April 2014

An African-German girl in a school photo. Pic credit: USHMM

Most people know about the Nazi Holocaust, the murder of 6 million Jews and 6 million others: Russians, Gypsies, Slavs, socialists, disabled people and LGBT people.

Alongside the big narrative of the Holocaust there are a myriad of small, individual stories and testimonies that help illustrate and shed light on the cruelty and barbarity of the Nazi regime.

One such account is the story of what happened to Germany’s tiny black population.

Primo Levi once wrote, “this is a story interwoven with freezing dawns”. Some may know their story, I certainly didn’t.

Tucked away inside Hitler’s anti-Semitic diatribe, Mein Kampf, there is the following passage:

It was, and is, the Jew who brought negroes to the Rhine, brought them with the same aim and with deliberate intent to destroy the white race he hates by persistent bastardisation, to hurl it from the cultural and political heights it has attained, and to ascend them as its masters.

This was not entirely a figment of his imagination; there were a small number of young black children of African heritage living in the Rhineland.

Like most west European countries, by the 17th century, Germany had a small black population. The modern state of Germany was founded in 1871.

The number of black people living in Germany increased from 1870 onwards. They came mainly from Germany’s small colonies in Africa and south east Asia; they were students, artisans, entertainers, former soldiers, low-level colonial officials, such as tax collectors, who had worked for the imperial colonial government.

Black population

The black population of Germany at the time of the Third Reich was 20,000 – 25,000 out of a total population of over 65 million.

Even before the Nazis took power in 1933, Germany’s black population faced racial discrimination and violence. Most government, religious and colonial officials refused to register interracial marriages or births. The state promoted eugenics, and popularised arguments about the inferiority of dual-heritage children.

Following the defeat of Germany in the First World War, the Allies stripped Germany of its colonies. Also as part of the war reparations (under the Versailles Treaty) the Allies occupied the Rhineland in western Germany.

Firpo Carr in Germany’s Black Holocaust: 1890-1945, estimates that over 200,000 French troops occupied the Rhineland region. They included a number black colonial troops.
Some of these African Rhineland-based soldiers married German women and raised their children as German; other German women had children by African soldiers outside of marriage.

Estimates vary, but there were over 800 dual-heritage children living in the Rhineland region. The Nazis and some sections of the press labeled these children “Rhineland Bastards” or “Rhineland Mischlingers” (mixing their blood with “alien” races).

African-German child with his schoolmates, under the Nazi regime. Pic credit: USHMM

African-German child with his schoolmates, under the Nazi regime. Pic credit: USHMM

The term “Rhineland Bastard” is of course vile. It both articulated the Nazis’ biological construction of race and colonial conceptions of race and racial mixture that were seen as posing a threat to “white” superiority.

The isolation, segregation and attempted eradication of Germany’s black population was carried out in stages. This mirrors (obviously on a tiny scale) the methods used by the Nazis in their attempts to wipe out Europe’s Jewish population.

Some of these children and their families fled Germany after the Nazis took power; others were killed in the round-ups that followed.

The Nazis enacted a new law providing a basis for forced sterilisation of disabled people, Gypsies, and blacks on the 14 July 1933. If you want to read further about this horrific practice go to Benno Muellar-Hill’s Murderous Science: Elimination by Scientific Selection of Jews, Gypsies, and Others in Germany, 1933-1945.

Under the Nazis, African-German mixed-heritage children were marginalised, isolated socially and economically, and not allowed to attend university. Racial discrimination prohibited them from seeking most jobs.

Then followed the Nuremberg laws of September 1935. These prohibited miscegenation – mixed marriages between Aryans and others. Any young Afro-German woman who got pregnant was forced to have an abortion.

Commission Number 3

An organisation named “Commission Number 3” was created by the Nazis to deal with the so-called problem of the “Rhineland Bastards”. This was organised under Dr Eugen Fischer of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. It was decided that the African-German children would be sterilised under the 1933 Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring.

The programme began in 1937, when local officials were asked to report on all “Rhineland Bastards” under their jurisdiction.

All together, some 400 children of mixed parentage were arrested and sterilised. The Nazis went to great lengths to conceal their sterilisation and abortion programme.

What happened to these Afro-Germans is very complex – their experiences were not uniform. Some of these children were subjected to medical experiments and others mysteriously “disappeared”.

Hans Hauck, a black Holocaust survivor and a victim of Hitler’s mandatory sterilisation programme, explained in the film Hitler’s Forgotten Victims that when he was forced to undergo sterilisation as a teenager, he was given no anaesthetic. Once he received his sterilisation certificate, he was “free to go”, so long as he agreed to have no sexual relations whatsoever with Germans.

Tina Campt, in her path-breaking book, Other Germans: Black Germans and the Politics of Race, Gender, and Memory in the Third Reich, interviewed several black Rhineland survivors.

She published testimony from one male member of this Rhineland group. In his complex statement he recalls being sterilised under the Nazi programme, then later he became a member of the Hitler Youth movement. He then joined the German army, was captured by the Russians and spent several years as a German prisoner of war in Russia.

Not enough research has been done to unravel what happened to Germany’s black population. We know that most – alongside other black Europeans and many black soldiers – ended up in Nazi concentration camps and were murdered.

A black inmate at Dachau,  photographed immediately after liberation. Pic credit: USHMM

A black inmate at Dachau, photographed immediately after liberation. Pic credit: USHMM

Like their Jewish counterparts they did not go meekly to their deaths – they resisted the best they could. A tiny handful survived and were able to tell their story.

One such black survivor was Johnny Voste, a Belgian resistance fighter who was arrested in 1942 for alleged sabotage and then shipped to Dachau concentration camp.

He told that one of his jobs was stacking vitamin crates in the camp. Risking his own life, he distributed hundreds of vitamins to camp detainees, which saved the lives of many who were starving and weak. His motto was: “No, you can’t have my life; I will fight for it.”



  1. d said:

    What does this mean?
     stacking vitamin crates in the camp. Risking his own life, he distributed hundreds of vitamins to camp detainees,

    Can you further explain how that saved their lives?
    Were the crates full of dead people and he put live ones in them?

    Just a Little confused.

    30 January 2015 at 6:57pm
  2. tash said:

    It saved their lives because the vitamins provided desperately needed nutrients to the starving camp detainees, who were weakened by lack of food and extreme vitamin deficiency.

    30 January 2015 at 7:23pm
  3. Lola said:

    Could you provide references for the information in your article for sources not mentioned in your article? It would be very much appreciated. Thank you.

    31 January 2015 at 5:32am
  4. Sterling Tilley said:

    My wife’s grandfather was an Afro-German. The stories that my mother in law tells is that her father refused to discuss how he lost his parents. Somehow he made it to the U.S. But, none of it is clear how. I would love to know if there are some records that could help us identify any possible relatives. Perhaps even find an organization of descendants.

    31 January 2015 at 1:12pm
  5. Einice said:

    Very informative. Thank you!

    31 January 2015 at 1:21pm
  6. tash said:

    Hi Sterling – that’s a fascinating story. I’m not sure what records there would be, but if you or your wife are interested it would be worth checking out… Because the Holocaust in all its aspects was a deliberate policy of the Nazis and harnessed the full power of the state, there is a fair bit of surviving documentary evidence as there was actual paperwork to go with the horror at the time. I don’t know how much there is documenting the Afro-German victims, but there may be some. You could try USHMM as a place to start or perhaps get guidance on what the sources of info on Afro-Germans would be…

    If you find out more, we’d be very interested to hear about it. Best wishes.

    31 January 2015 at 2:26pm
  7. Sterling said:

    Thanks! This story has motivated me to start searching.

    31 January 2015 at 3:32pm
  8. cashaww said:

    The photo of the little boy wearing the sweater with the Nazi symbol, if it is the same little boy, did he not go on to become an editor for Jet or Ebony magazine? If it is he, his memoirs were published, and I think this is the same photo they used. I found his story was mind blowing.

    31 January 2015 at 5:02pm
  9. tash said:

    Hi cashaww – thanks for your comment. I’d never heard that story before, but I’ve just had a look around and you’re absolutely right!

    Here’s that little boy, who grew up to be Hans J Massaquoi, managing editor of Ebony magazine, again – this time on the cover of his autobiography (scroll down to see it):

    As you say, completely mind blowing!

    31 January 2015 at 5:11pm
  10. LaSonya said:

    Thank you for enlightening those of us that were unaware an empowering us with new knowledge to share.

    31 January 2015 at 5:27pm
  11. THELMA said:


    31 January 2015 at 7:58pm
  12. John said:

    The young boy in the 2nd pic is Hans Massaqoui. He wrote a great book (Destined to Witness) about surviving the war. I believe there was a movie made in the 90’s. Great story…

    31 January 2015 at 11:08pm
  13. Margrit said:

    I have The Book…Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany..I am also a Black German, And I have tolled Germans and American People about this.. HITLER GATHERED GERMAN BLACK PEOPLE AND PUT THEM IN THE CONCENTRATION CAMP.I have been laugh at and tolled I don’t know what i am talking about.THE Rhineland is not to far from where I was born at. My Mom said to me at one time..IF HITLER WOULD HAVE GOTTEN HES HANDS ON US, YOU AND I WOULD NOT BEE HERE TODAY… sad but true!!!!

    31 January 2015 at 11:56pm
  14. Margrit said:

    HI tASH!!

    1 February 2015 at 2:38am
  15. LW said:

    To: “Margrit”

    There is a book called “Hitler’s Black Victims: The Historical Experiences of European Blacks, Africans and African Americans During the Nazi Era” on Amazon. Black people in Africa were the first victims of the German Holocaust. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany started the first Holocaust in Africa. The name of the book is “The Kaiser’s Holocaust: Germany’s Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism” on Amazon.

    1 February 2015 at 11:28am
  16. Deborah said:

    This was the most remarkable information I have read in some time. I had no idea there were the Rhineland people. Stands to reason though being Africa had people everywhere. I will certainly read the literature associated with this article.

    1 February 2015 at 3:09pm
  17. L. Williams said:

    WOW! Than you. Never heard this before.
    Ebony and Jet? What years?

    1 February 2015 at 3:42pm
  18. Betty zimmerman said:

    My name is a German Jewish name an I am black, I always new it.was something strange about my name or why were there black people with the name, except for slavery. Got to go

    1 February 2015 at 5:58pm
  19. Betty zimmerman said:

    The picture my father

    1 February 2015 at 5:59pm
  20. Ijeoma H said:

    Unbelivebale,never had about this. Very useful Information. Will try and get this Book. Thanks for posting.

    1 February 2015 at 6:01pm
  21. Reg Pitts said:

    For more on Hans Massaquoi see here:

    1 February 2015 at 6:14pm
  22. Marie said:

    They were suffering from malnutrition and Ricketts. The vitamins were a short term remedy to give the body the vitamin nutrients to survive but not that long until the vitamin supply was removed.

    1 February 2015 at 6:35pm
  23. adrian said:

    GREAT ARTICLE!! I learned so much. This is not in our history books at all. Not even a word! I had no idea about Hans masseqoui! What a history!

    1 February 2015 at 10:50pm
  24. Linda Aaskov said:

    Fascinating & this is the first time I’ve ever heard of this…I must do some research.

    1 February 2015 at 10:51pm
  25. Valari Adams said:

    Amazing…I’m going to follow up to find out more. Thanks for sharing!!!

    1 February 2015 at 11:11pm
  26. Gill Avila said:

    Under what circumstances would vitamins be shipped to a death camp? And for whom?

    2 February 2015 at 1:42am
  27. DEREK D.T.BROWN said:


    2 February 2015 at 2:37am
  28. DEREK D.T.BROWN said:


    2 February 2015 at 2:39am
  29. DEREK D.T.BROWN said:


    2 February 2015 at 2:43am
  30. Renee Crawford said:

    I’m reading Destined to Witness now, quite fascinating as I had no idea myself until someone mentioned this to me and loaned me their copy. Now I want to know more…

    2 February 2015 at 4:36am
  31. Barbara Albin said:

    Hitler was an evil man who wanted to eliminate everyone who was not Aryan, so this included Blacks, Developmentally Disabbled, Physically Disabbled, Catholics, Gays, Gypsies, etc. the reason 6 million Jews are mentioned is that it was 2/3 of the total Jewish population in Europe. We were always taught the number was 12 million and historians believe the number may even be larger. Many people who suffered the concentration camps would never talk about them. To learn more, visit a Holocaust Museum if there is one where you live.

    2 February 2015 at 6:15am
  32. Laura Feinstein said:

    An eye-opening piece. Thank you for posting.

    2 February 2015 at 7:19am
  33. Yona Avraham said:

    I am an African American Jew who has lived in Israel 15 years.I certainly knew about this subject and am surprised so many do not.Also as a reader of numerous Black publications growing up,I was well acquainted with Hans Massaquoi,who was on the staff of Ebony magazine for decades.There is an exhibit currently at The Ghetto Fighters Museum,founded by survivers of tbe Warsaw ghetto,on the role German doctors,pushing sterialization on so called inferiors,the American eugenics programs of the 1920’s and Darwinism,influenced Hitlers ideology of extermination of the Jews.It will be interesting to see if the exhibit includes how Blacks wefe targeted for sterialization in the US and in Germany.

    2 February 2015 at 7:28am
  34. rob said:

    hi sterling.
    also check this one:
    it’s the international tracing service. “The ITS preserves these historical records, answers the requests of survivors and family menbers of victims and makes use of the collections for research and education.”
    good luck

    2 February 2015 at 12:38pm
  35. Willie Williamson said:

    Thank you so much for the information. History is so important and we must continue to research in our efforts to put together those pieces that have been left out. That way the world will get a more complete picture-a people’s history- of how humans have related to each other in factual ways.

    2 February 2015 at 1:12pm
  36. Sue Kofi said:

    Fascinating. Would love to know any follow up of Sterling’s story (please!). Also the Hans Massaquoi information was stunning. I must find out more. Thank you.

    2 February 2015 at 1:15pm
  37. Ron said:

    It is certainly easy for one to rationalize all that has happened to the blacks in various parts of the world by ascribing them to available limited knowledge. But most of the more terrible conditions meted to blacks predated this report from Germany. That’s why Hitler’s policy was galling. Had he been more humane to the Jews these stories may not have been exposed at all. In my view, the entire world, including those who ostensibly showed a level of accommodation to the blacks, saw them as mere disposable cannon fodder of sorts.

    2 February 2015 at 1:31pm
  38. stephen kaufman said:

    Just to help those along. Reinhold Pommerin, a German (if I remember correctly), did a lot of the pioneering research in this area and has published. About 12 years ago, I published an article as well. From the article above, it appears that much additional work has been done since that time. The figure of 20,000 Blacks in Germany sounds a bit high as does the figure of 200,000 Black troops in the period following WW I.

    As the article indicates, Nazi policies both before and during the war were highly inconsistent, especially in France and some other occupied countries. Indeed, the United States dropped an American spy of Black Haitian descent into France. He was not arrested because he was Black, but because he was a spy. The most restrictive and punishing policies and actions were taken in Germany itself.

    I am intrigued with the original post and comments and look forward to catching up on the recent research.

    2 February 2015 at 1:38pm
  39. Carolyn Wigfall said:

    I am amazed! I had no idea!!

    2 February 2015 at 1:52pm
  40. BJ said:


    2 February 2015 at 5:18pm
  41. Mariam Byrnside said:

    D it says vitamins not victims

    2 February 2015 at 7:45pm
  42. Selvy Capers said:

    The boy in the second photo wearing the sweater with the nazi symbol is Hans J. Massaquoi. He wrote an autobiographical book entitled ” Destined To Witness: Growing Up Black In Nazi Germany. It is a simply amazing story!

    2 February 2015 at 8:58pm
  43. john singleton said:

    many blacks in germany were descendents of the blacks who had served with the german troops during the american revolution-when the british surrendered at yorktown they gave up the black troops to the americans however the german mercinaries took their black troops home to germany

    2 February 2015 at 10:07pm
  44. Aneles said:

    Here is the link to the obituary of the little guy in the sweater with the swastika sewn on it.

    2 February 2015 at 10:08pm
  45. tash said:

    Just a quick note to say thanks to all the people above who have taken the time to comment on this post, and especially those who have added new info, links and reading suggestions. I’ve definitely got some books to get hold of soon!

    Also massive thanks and respect to the 46,000 people who have shared this post so far, and passed on a little-known bit of history. The response to the post has been absolutely amazing.

    2 February 2015 at 10:17pm
  46. WINSTON DONALD said:

    very interesting as some folks would want to say only the Jews sufffered . Germany controlled South West Africa,part of Tanzania and Cameroon.

    2 February 2015 at 10:23pm
  47. serafina rotondi said:

    TO: “d”


    3 February 2015 at 12:26am
  48. tash said:

    Hi stephen kaufman – I’m going to be checking out your research! Thanks very much for your comment.

    3 February 2015 at 12:35am
  49. ric said:

    Thank you for sharing! This forgotten chapter should be a movie.

    “d” – Seriously? How old are you?

    3 February 2015 at 2:29am
  50. The Pardu said:

    I am curious about permission to repost this piece on my personal blog. ?????

    3 February 2015 at 4:54am
  51. Joi said:

    I’m not proud to say that as an African American woman. I never knew or was taught about any Blacks being in the Holocaust. Thank you for educating me. I definitely want to further my education on this subject

    3 February 2015 at 10:29am
  52. martin said:

    Hi the Pardu – You are welcome to re-post the story on your blog, but please acknowledge the Dream Deferred blog site. the author and include a live link to the post on this site.

    3 February 2015 at 12:05pm
  53. Sonya said:

    I never knew about this.somebody should collect all the information and put it in the book. this is information the whole world needs to know about.

    3 February 2015 at 5:55pm
  54. Churtee Phillips said:

    This story shock my core! Never knew this story. I will be sharing this story with my girls because so much of our history their not taught. As a parent it’s my responsibility to do so.

    3 February 2015 at 6:06pm
  55. harold rush said:


    3 February 2015 at 6:13pm
  56. Constance said:

    History is His Story and He has never told the entire truth. I love this story and will share this with my California Family. Knowledge is strength!

    3 February 2015 at 9:25pm
  57. Sibille Pernell said:

    I’m also a black German but I was born after the war.I had no Idea thank you.

    3 February 2015 at 9:32pm
  58. Alexandria said:

    I don’t have words…..the truth will always prevail, no matter how long it takes. Blessings!!!!

    4 February 2015 at 12:17am
  59. Wendy said:

    Thank you for this information. I am a black woman and with the exception of Hans Massaquoi’s book, there has not been much published about blacks in German at all. Today there was an article posted of just how many camps there were over a 100 with one or two in France spreading all through Europe. The truth will prevail.

    4 February 2015 at 1:20am
  60. Louis said:

    This is a great article. Harmed by the repeated slander that Jews went meekly to their deaths.

    4 February 2015 at 2:19am
  61. Deborah said:

    What ever happen to them?

    4 February 2015 at 6:06am
  62. tash said:

    Hi Louis – as we said in the article:

    “Like their Jewish counterparts they did not go meekly to their deaths…”

    It is important to remember that Jews, African-Germans and many other groups who were persecuted in the Holocaust still strove to survive and resist as best they could in the most terrible of cirtcumstances.

    4 February 2015 at 9:18am
  63. Lisa Graham said:

    i was never taught or informed about this part of my history! Any more information that that you can provide would be appreciated . Thank you!

    4 February 2015 at 1:11pm
  64. Patricia Mayo said:

    Thanks the reminder about this information. I remember reading some parts of this to my students at Strawberry Mansion a High School and PennyPack. I will definitely share this.

    4 February 2015 at 1:49pm
  65. Patricia said:

    Thanks Charles…

    4 February 2015 at 1:52pm
  66. herman hennink monkau said:

    Thank you!

    4 February 2015 at 3:30pm
  67. Bernice bareman said:

    ii smell a movie by Steven Speilberg coming out of this info!

    4 February 2015 at 5:11pm
  68. Jay said:

    Good info there are so many that do not know the truth.

    5 February 2015 at 3:13am
  69. Jennie Blackheart said:

    Could you please refrain from using the term “Gypsy.” It is considered a racial slur. The correct word is Roma.

    5 February 2015 at 3:29am
  70. martin said:

    This is a complex argument, the Council of Europe has changed its terminology 10 times since 1993.
    In academia the term that is used in Holocaust studies is Roma, Gypsy and Traveller victims of the Holocaust. I felt that that was to long for the article. The reason I did not just the term Roma is it excludes other communities the Nazis murdered. It is not actually ‘racist’ slur to use the term Gypsy as long as it is capitalised and is used in a positive way. Finally, as you will see from this link, we regularly use “Roma” especially in modern contexts as you will see here:

    5 February 2015 at 12:30pm
  71. Tre said:

    Great read!!

    5 February 2015 at 1:36pm
  72. Carylon Alexander said:

    Of course there were Blacks in Germany then, I simply never thought of what Hitler might have done with them. More research on this. I’d love to know more about the survivors and their descendents.

    5 February 2015 at 3:31pm
  73. Gregg said:

    Wow ever heard of it

    5 February 2015 at 5:36pm
  74. Kenneth Alix said:

    Thanks, because wasn’t aware of holocaust actual had black Jews and also survivors telling their stories. That is Amazing !!! ⛪️⛪️⛪️⛪️⛪️

    6 February 2015 at 5:49am
  75. Mae said:

    I was and am amazed how these ignorant people
    Who are holocaust deniers and pro Hilter supporters, don’t realize that the Arian Race meant ,Blue eyed blondes. If this isn’t their coloring,which includes middle easterners, blacks, Hispanics, etc. they Too would have been a sitistic

    6 February 2015 at 2:53pm
  76. Shannon said:

    My husband was adopted from Germany in the 60s. He has his adoption papers but still had no in site as to why he could have been given up, now we know that being a Afro-German in this period in history came with detrimental political/societal issues that we never knew existed. Thanks for the info.

    6 February 2015 at 4:49pm
  77. Cheryl said:

    This is awesome information I am currently preparing Black History (Heritage Program) at my church. I have recently decided to prepare a booklet on as many informational tidbits for the culmination service for distribution to congregates this will be an interesting item to include.
    Thank you for the enlightenment.

    6 February 2015 at 5:39pm
  78. Joyce said:

    Enlightening and a part of history needing to be explored!

    7 February 2015 at 5:03pm
  79. Konfor Masanje said:

    This is a fascinating story. Always known that many Kamerunians (Cameroonians) were taken to Germany before and after WWI, I have never read what became of them. This story needs to be kept alive. I will enquire from Dr. Nfor Susungi, a Cameroonian historian, specialized in German Colonial History in Cameroon, if he has any information on this.

    9 February 2015 at 2:49am
  80. Alice Sanchez said:

    THANK YOU SO MUCH. I think this should be taught in school, added right along with all other HOLOCAUST history. PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW THIS!

    9 February 2015 at 6:00am
  81. Frank Fernandez said:


    9 February 2015 at 3:49pm
  82. angy moss said:

    This is so fascinating!Our heritage is so vast.can u recommend some other things to read that refer to article?

    10 February 2015 at 1:04am
  83. Leasha Dixson said:

    Having lived in Germany for several years, I always assumed that the Black Germans that I met were ‘war babies’, or those from the relationships of my fellow American soldiers. To know that some of these were probably descendants of Blacks who were killed during the Nazi massacre is so fascinating! I have been to one the camps while I was there; had I known about the Africans who were killed there, I would have done some real research! Thank you for enlightening me!

    10 February 2015 at 1:12am
  84. Candice L said:

    A little left of topic, but why wasn’t African Americans, like Josephine Baker, killed during WWII? Was it because of her celebrity or was she protected somehow?

    Very interesting topic and eye-opening.

    10 February 2015 at 2:03am
  85. Mary Turner, Starkling said:

    !am eighty one years old, black female.I know a bit of this history re Jews because of a very brave teacher who insisted all her students must learn about Black History AND the Holocaust.I off times wonder about sir name STARKLING (nee) with it being German.

    10 February 2015 at 7:18am
  86. Charlene said:

    Thanks so much for sharing this information,I had no idea there were black people who died in the Holocaust. I need to do more research and share with my son.

    10 February 2015 at 9:02am
  87. Margaret T. said:

    A book I recently read and was also very revealing is “Les Noirs dans les camps nazis” by Serge Bilé (2005). The Germans in their colonies in West Africa already tried out methods of extermination in the early 1900s. And the Nazis were specially cruel with black American soldiers captured in combat.

    11 February 2015 at 2:12pm
  88. Jacqueline Henriquez said:

    Wow! I will be sharing this story and booklist with many. Thank you for sharing.

    11 February 2015 at 4:48pm
  89. Leitha Parmer Groth said:

    As a widow and mother of black German Moor descendent and now studying my Hebrew roots, I am very interested in this subject that had been hidden from the masses. GOD speed in your uncovering and more revealing of this matter.plz keep me posted.Blessings

    11 February 2015 at 10:10pm
  90. Dan Okwiri said:

    Interesting. Blacks still continue to suffer in the 21st century.

    12 February 2015 at 8:58pm
  91. elaine buchsbaum said:

    tears and more tears…thak you

    16 February 2015 at 11:56pm
  92. shirley Farkas said:

    Love to know a lot more.
    My grandfather’s family lived the Holocaust.

    18 February 2015 at 11:00am
  93. Stephen Brooks said:

    Can you send a comprehensive list of books and films about Blacks and the holocaust . I have studied the holocaust for years and never found any information about Blacks in Germany. Thank You

    25 February 2015 at 10:48pm
  94. Robbie said:

    There is increasing material on the lives of Black residents in Germany during the Holocaust. Have a look for Tina Campt’s Other Germans or my own work Black Germany: The Making and Unmaking of a Diasporic Community – there is an entire chapter devoted to the varied experiences of Black Germans during the Third Reich. I think (hope) it is of interest.

    26 February 2015 at 12:00pm
  95. Ric Euteneuer said:

    Wikipedia has a surprisingly good article on the themes here

    with copious references, including a programme on DW (the German BBC World Service equivalent), and book by an Afro-German

    1 March 2015 at 4:35pm
  96. Ola Miller said:

    someone asked the question why have they never heard of this. When I read the article it apaled me deeply, it saddens my heart. But it also reminded me that the history of black Americans rather in these United States or abroad that we cannot get to the truth when it comes to the true reporting and killing of people of color. will be history books of white America ever tell the truth.

    2 March 2015 at 5:47am
  97. barbara johnsonb said:

    We have a agro-German organization here in Philadelphia. It’s quite an active organization. Last month they had a scholarship dinner hindering founder of the Phil’s German organization.

    9 March 2015 at 11:46pm
  98. barbara johnsonb said:

    Please forgive spelling. Using my kindle. I meant honoring.

    9 March 2015 at 11:48pm
  99. David Poland said:

    Thanks for this additional info. Deaf also were proud Germans…for a while…and made a movie showing their proud German Deaf culture, which was destroyed by the hearing Nazi officials who feared Deaf were disabled and made them look lower. Can’t have that. Also they tricked mom’s who were hearing into believing that the doctors were going to “cure” their kids of deafness, instead starved them or gave them overdoses of meds, but not efficient enough…eugenics and business go hand in hand (See Galton, Eugenics and the Normal Curve)…so they began lining up the little Deaf German kids in the hospitals and gassing them, then burned the bodies in ovens and took their gold teeth in a jar to Berlin. It was found out that was what was occurring and grieving angry mothers told their pastors and priests who then demanded Hitler stop this as God will punish him. He did…oh he did! He sent the gas and the ovens to Auschwitz…and then began killing the Jews. He continued the sterilization…but after the war most Deaf who demanded reparations did not get it. Why not? Because the US was on the board…and well…the US is where Hitler got the idea for sterlizations methods. See, the doctors came to California and learned all about how we were sterilizing kids who were mentally retarded, or were blind, or deaf, or …had dark color hair. Yeah. Look that up.
    And if you want to read the words of the victims who survived…including Jews who were deaf…read Deaf People in Hitler’s Europe.

    It is not only about race, it is about pushing people to be perfect. To be tops. And to beat other nations to the top first. And it is not over yet…

    23 March 2015 at 5:55am
  100. Craig said:

    “D” – Really? Let’s see, Nazi’s got Vitamins shipped in for their staff of murderers. As the crates came in, slave labor had to stack and store. A brave soul was able to skim some much needed vitamins since these victims weren’t getting ANY nutrition. He gave these vitamins to the victims ensuring they had a better chance of survival. Now, if you aren’t reading this correctly, and you are seeing “Victims” instead of “Vitamins” maybe you should reread the article a few times.

    24 March 2015 at 1:53pm
  101. Alverne Ball said:

    Great article. My writing partner and I just completed a screenplay entitled, Rhineland Bastards, and it is now in the Academy Nichols Fellowship competition. It was my discovery of this missing part of history that compelled me to write the story for the screen because I believe the more we know of our history the stronger we become.

    24 March 2015 at 1:55pm
  102. Carmen Broomfield said:

    My grandfather was Afro-German. His mom was a white german woman who ended up in Texas.He used to sing songs to us in german and introduced us to all sorts of german foods that I probably would never had tried. I wanted to take German in high school to honor him but he died when I was in the 7th grade. This story blew my mind but explained so much. Thank you!!

    24 March 2015 at 2:07pm
  103. Glenn Krasner said:

    Thank you so much for sharing this article. I am positive that most Jewish Americans, non-Jewish Americans, black Americans, and everybody else under the heading of “American” are completely unaware of this topic, as I was. You have done us a great service for sharing this information, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. May God bless you, always! Glenn in the Bronx, NY.

    24 March 2015 at 3:37pm
  104. yanga1sa said:

    Thanks for the great read and the beginning of more research. I moved to South Africa in 2003. At some point I saw a documentary about the Herero people of Namibia. In that documentary Herero elders spoke about how the Germans piloted and perfect the methodologies they used in the Concentration Camps to exterminate the jews. They spoke about what was happening but the world wasn’t interested…until they were, until x million jews were exterminated by the same means. The Herero people of Namibia were the first Holocaust victims and inextricably tied to the jews through this atrocious acts by the Nazi

    24 March 2015 at 6:36pm
  105. Cándida said:

    Alucinante la historia, pero no me extraña nada, el poder que tiene otros seres humano para eliminar tan sencillamente al que no le cae bien, porque sigue sucediendo hasta el día de hoy, gracias por los que lo pueden escribir para que no se olvide la historia.

    24 March 2015 at 7:13pm
  106. Nicole said:

    My friend made a short film about this history when she was in film school at Florida State University. It is called “Our Rhineland”

    24 March 2015 at 10:04pm
  107. MARILYN JOI said:


    25 March 2015 at 12:18am
  108. Silke said:

    Hey everyone,

    off the top of my head here some names and or works to look into for research and/or critical analysis on Afro-Germans during and after WWII:

    WWII experiences:

    Massaquoi, who has already been mentioned a couple of times.

    Marie Nejar (aka. Leila Negra) – singer (For the German speakers: you can find her autobiography)

    Ika Hügel-Marshall – author of “Invisible Woman”

    research by Sara Lennox – UMass (who also helped Ika Hügel-Marshall find her father)

    Theodor Wonja Michael


    May Ayim (May Opitz)- “Hope in My Heart: The May Ayim Story”; “Blues in Black and White: A Collection of Essays, Poetry and Conversations”
    Also co-editor of:
    “Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out”

    Audre Lorde – The Berlin Years

    interesting for critical analysis:
    Toxi (film)
    Leni Riefenstahl – Nuba

    While Germany was separated into East and West and Namibia fought against South Africa, quiet a few Namibian children were brought to the GDR to be educated there. (I won’t go into detail, complex story.) They are usually referred to as the “GDR Children of Namibia”. Lucia Engome has published on her experience as one of these children.

    If you google the terms, you should find information in English. There is more in German, sadly not everything has been translated.

    (There is also a lot on the former Colonies of WWI and the Genocide of the Herero and Nama)

    A very good collection of texts on different topics/times would be:
    “Black Berlin” – Diallo/Zeller (German)


    If you know German speaker, you might want to enlist their help to contact
    UMass is a good address to start looking for help. I am sure you will find researchers who would be more than willing to.
    Fatima El Tayeb (UC SanDiego)
    Old conference, but list of speakers might be interesting:

    some pre WWII:

    Peter Altenberg – Ashantee; Frida von Bülow; Else Sonnenberg; Hans Paasche

    WEB DuBois; Nayo Bruce; Friedrich Maharero

    25 March 2015 at 3:26am
  109. Ty said:

    My father was German and my mother was a Black American. I grew in Stuttgart until I was 14 then moved to America. I am 42 now. My grandfather was an officer in the SS, and I loved him very much and he gave me more love than I ever wanted. I know many will not understand, but I know the history of my family and my Fatherland can be terrible, but that is what it is history and Americas is not all pretty.

    25 March 2015 at 5:09am
  110. tash said:

    Nicole – thanks for posting that very moving film.

    Silke (and others further up the thread) – thanks for the useful sources for those wanting more info.

    25 March 2015 at 8:42am
  111. Dawn said:

    Thanks this was a wonderful piece of history.

    25 March 2015 at 11:14am
  112. Connie said:

    This is interesting. I believe a part of my family is from the German trade. I remember my mother (deceased) speaking about our generation name started out as Shultz, then somehow when my ancestor reached US soil, the name changed to Schoates & Choates, I was a child when I was told this & really didn’t think anything else bout it until now reading this article & reading comments, I’m curious now. Thanks for the leads

    26 March 2015 at 12:24am
  113. Muhammad Abdullah said:

    I think this is a compelling case for Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. PBS series, Finding Your Roots

    26 March 2015 at 12:36am
  114. Blk Ron said:

    Man, I just got a history lesson 2day. Never knew any of this. And Nicole ur friends movie was exceptional.

    26 March 2015 at 2:05am
  115. Happy Camper said:

    I’m glad that my high school history teacher mentioned a lot of this when she was teaching us about World War 2.

    26 March 2015 at 11:03pm
  116. Judith said:

    Extremely grateful for this “RICH”..information…Interestingly enough we learnt about the holocaust (Jewish) high school

    2 April 2015 at 4:58pm
  117. dorothy Rose said:

    Since April and May include days of remembrances, surrenders, and memorials, an article of this importance should be sent to a number of newspapers and magazines, and should include a list of the websites and books listed here so that people can further understand the horror and complexity not only of the Holocaust, but of the mindsets of the German invaders who set up colonies in other countries.

    8 April 2015 at 9:56pm
  118. Che said:

    Information about a great book by the Black male child pictured in this story

    4 June 2015 at 5:22pm
  119. Rodney Leon said:

    I agree with everything except the end of the first sentence. LGBT wasn’t even a category in the 1930s.

    29 September 2015 at 3:49pm
  120. paul branch said:

    Would be nice if history wasn’t sanitized to make whites look like decent people. Then everyone wouldn’t be so awestruck at the truth when it’s finally revealed. Sad thing is they’re still white washing it.

    24 October 2015 at 6:57pm
  121. Cbgb said:

    Rodney Leon – I have no doubt the writer used the term LGBT to describe a category of humans deemed unacceptable/disposable by the Nazi regime. We do know homosexuals, degenerates, the physically & mentally impaired, Blacks, Slavs, Hutterites, Jehovah’s Witnesses & other hated religious dogmas, Gypsies, Mexicans, Jews, anarchists, ad infinitum were exterminated. I have no doubt what we now know as LGBT fell under the “degenerate” umbrella. It is simply the case of referring to those particular Holocaust victims in present day terms.

    25 October 2015 at 7:03pm
  122. melodye mckinley said:

    I’m going to look this up on HANS AND Johnny voste very interesting history love this

    12 November 2015 at 2:41pm
  123. Charles Rogers said:

    Hi Folks – Let us not forget the American Holocaust were millions of Native Americans lost their lives.

    29 January 2016 at 7:53am
  124. Tony Greenstein said:

    A very sad but not surprising story. Black people, like Arabs, were even lower on the racial ladder than Jews. The Nazis made a film which included a vile characterisation of Black people living in Germany, with the Jews blamed for having brought them here.

    The tragedy is that the Israeli state, which calls itself a Jewish state, has treated African refugees (mainly living in South Tel Aviv and Eilat) in much the same way. A few months ago an Eritrean refugee was subject to a lynch mob attack and died in Beersheva bus station because he was thought to have attacked and shot a soldier. His crime was being Black.

    There have been riots against the refugees in Tel Aviv, they are called infiltrators and government ministers have incited violence against them. Miri Regev, the ‘Culture’ Minister in particular who called the refugees ‘cancer’ and when people objected, apologised to cancer patients for having compared them to the refugees.

    3 February 2016 at 12:34am
  125. ridoy said:

    Nice post.

    16 April 2016 at 11:37am
  126. David Okuefuna said:

    Back in 1997, I directed a 60-minute documentary for Britain’s Channel 4 network entitled Britain’s Forgotten Victims, which told the story of the Black Germans and other European people living before and during the Third Reich. This film was also licensed and broadcast in the US under the title Black Survivors of the Holocaust. The film includes moving interviews with some of the people mentioned in this article, including Hans Hauck and Theodor Michael, and through the testimony of friends and relatives, describes the experiences of people like Johnny Voste, Lari Gilges, Werner Egiome and many others. It is still being shown at festivals and special screenings – most recently, in at a gallery in London in April 2016 – so if this subject is of interest to you, do look out for it: I’m sure you’ll find it makes for fascinating viewing.

    2 May 2016 at 8:53pm
  127. Jacqualine Rippy said:

    Very compelling read that must be shared with everyone. Years ago, my father told me about a story conveyed by one of his older brothers who served abroad. According to my uncle, he knew several men of color who were living in Germany. Sure wish I had spoke with them more in depth, hence both are now deceased. In addition, I would also like to share your story on my personal website so that others could have access to it as well. Knowledge is Power!

    20 August 2016 at 10:00pm
  128. Wendy Sauber said:

    I am definitely going to read books shared. So much history we are not aware of. My husband’s father was from Senegal, Africa in the French army that attempted to liberate France which failed most were murdered but a few were prisoners in Germany like his father. He never talked about his experiences. Trying to find information most are in French!

    21 August 2016 at 4:53pm
  129. Maxine Mcneil said:

    My heart is breaken to see the Injustices that black people have experienced.
    The burden is to hard to bear most times.
    From transamerica slave trade to this.
    I was unaware that this happened to black people in Germany. The got the impression that it was just the Jewish and gypsies that were exterminated by Adolf Hitler and his supporters.
    Now fast forward to 2016 in America we have a Donald Trump with the same mentality running for president of the United States of America.
    Many times I ask myself why God allow these evil Wicked people to exist.
    But for these things never to happen again. We most keep it alive by making movies, videos and let history be known.
    Than you

    22 August 2016 at 5:29am
  130. Abby said:

    The topic of black victims of Hitler is very interesting. I never knew about black Holocaust victims and survivors, but it makes sense and should be discussed. My h.s. history classes were woefully inadequate on historical facts.

    23 August 2016 at 10:32pm
  131. Margaret Varner said:

    My mother’s aunts, uncles, and cousins all died in concentration camps during WWII. She always told me, “Don’t every let anyone tell you that it could never happen again.”

    31 August 2016 at 3:27am
  132. Heather O said:

    I’ve very recently started learning about this topic.

    There’s a novel out about it,and I’d like to use it with my students. Sadly, I can’t remember the name of it or the author. I just know that she is from the USA and that the story is set both in the past (Germany) and the present (USA).
    Can you help?

    3 November 2016 at 5:53pm
  133. martin said:

    Hi Heather, the only novel I know about black people growing up in Nazi Germany is Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan. However I’m not sure it is the one you mention. Half Blood Blues is only set in the 1930s and is based in three cities – Berlin, Paris and Baltimore. If you discover any other novels please send me the details I would very much like to read them.

    9 November 2016 at 8:14pm
  134. charles morrison said:

    The photo of that young boy is Hans Massaquoi. His father was an African Diplomat, his mother a German national…

    4 December 2016 at 8:29pm
  135. rp hainey said:

    Heather O

    I think this might be the one you’re thinking of.

    3 February 2017 at 9:14pm
  136. Lindsey Royal said:

    I study history most of my life. And thank you for this article, I have always wonder what happened to soldiers of color from all theatres of war. Are there any book on that. Because I never seen anything about that. I know that there were some. Please help. And please pray that we never have anything like war again.

    21 August 2017 at 11:20pm
  137. Stanley said:

    Hi I’m interested to find out if there is any info on the little black girl in the first pic. She look identical to my wife now and I would love to speak to anyone that might know anything or anyone linked to her.

    16 November 2019 at 9:22am

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