Compiled S. Davis/J. Adams/K. Thomas
The fate of Black people from 1933-1945 in Nazi Germany and German – occupied territories ranged from sterilisation to straight murder.
Between 1885 and 1910 all of Africa was carved up by the more dominant European nations in particular, Britain, France and Germany. Of particular note is the Berlin Conference of 1884 where the European nations ‘carved-up’ Africa with a disregard of the different languages, social structures and cultures of the people who lived there.
Following Germany’s defeat in the First World War (1914 – 1918) her colonies were confiscated by the Allies. France deployed colonial troops to occupy the Rhineland. This describes the racism that :
heightened anti-Black racism in Germany. Racist propaganda against Black soldiers depicted them as rapists of German women and carriers of venereal and other diseases. The children of Black soldiers and German women were called “Rhineland Bastards.”, brought about a fear among the Germans who elected Hitler in 1933 of being contaminated.
…..Mein Kampf (My Struggle), Hitler charged that “the Jews had brought the Negroes into the Rhineland with the clear aim of ruining the hated white race by the necessarily-resulting bastardization.” ……
With the Nazi rise to power they became a target of racial and population policy. By 1937, the Gestapo had secretly rounded up and forcibly sterilized many of them. Some were subjected to medical experiments; others mysteriously “disappeared.”
Afro-Germans During the Holocaust United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Allied troops including French colonial troops and African soldiers stationed in the occupied territories often married and had children with German women. The Nazis fiercely opposed the mixing of the races, and believed in the superiority of the ‘Aryan race’ (white race). On coming to power Hitler ordered the sterilisation of every African or German mixed race man in the Rhineland and beyond.
Many black Germans were arrested and ended up in concentration camps, where they were made to work in the crematorium and labs. These detainees were killed every three months to prevent them from revealing the true horrors of the camps.
Despite the huge numbers of African Germans massacred and mutilated during ‘the Final Solution’, unlike the Jews, none of their descendants received reparations because Hitler had revoked citizenship rights of every black German.
Black soldiers in the British, American and French armies were also mistreated and murdered in the camps.
Read more on the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website
When Hitler came to power in 1933, he started first to incarcerate political opponents, socialists, communitists, trade unionists. Following the model the British set up during the Boer War that took place at the turn of the 20th centrury in South Africa, the Nazis set up concentration camps. Nearly 28,000 Boers perished in the British concentration camps, of those 24,000 children and young people died. They either starved to death or died from poor sanitation and disease.
Within 6 months 27,000 political opponents had been put in the concentration camps by the Nazis. Many perished, all suffered.
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
For more information US Holocaust Memorial Museum
People with Disabilities
People with disabilities were also classed as undesirables. The Nazis started a program to euthanase children with disabilities living in institutions. The program extended to older children and adults.
The Euthanasia Program represented in many ways a rehearsal for Nazi Germany’s subsequent genocidal policies. The Nazi leadership extended the ideological justification conceived by medical perpetrators for the destruction of the “unfit” to other categories of perceived biological enemies, most notably to Jews and Roma.
Euthanasia Program US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Roma and Sinti
Europe’s Roma and Sinti people (often labelled as ‘Gypsies’ historically) were targeted by the Nazis for total destruction. The Porrajmos, or Porajmos, which translates to ‘the Devouring’, is the term used to describe the Nazi genocide of Europe’s Roma and Sinti population. Read more from the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.
The coding system for Roma and Sinti people was a brown. A quarter of the Roma and Sinti people, about 200,000 people perished under Nazi rule. International Remembrance Day of Roma Victims of the Porrajmos 2nd August.
Classification in Nazi Concentration Camps
Germans had a colour coding system for ‘undesirables’. Those they thought of as undesirable were forced to wear a coloured badge and in the camps they were tattooed with a number. A process of dehumanisation. It takes away a person’s identity. It marks a human being out for extermination, enforced hard labour, sterilisation, castration, cruel pseudo scientific butchering experiments.
|Pink – homosexuals||Red – political activist|
|Light Blue – stateless||Red/yellow – political Jew|
|Green – criminals||Yellow – Jew|
|Black – anti- social||Brown – Gypsies|
|Grey – pacifist|
Image at the top: American troops, including African American soldiers from the Headquarters and Service Company of the 183rd Engineer Combat Battalion, 8th Corps, US 3rd Army, view corpses stacked behind the crematorium during an inspection tour of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Among those pictured is Leon Bass (the soldier third from left). Buchenwald, Germany, April 17, 1945.