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Black Assimilation Nazi Style

Black Assimilated Nazi

When the Nazi party came to power in 1932, the racist policies of the German white dominated corporate culture impacted German blacks as well as the Jews. The racial purity laws enacted under Nazi rule virtually wiped out the African Germans. It is estimated that between twenty five thousand to fifty thousand Afro Germans lived in Germany prior to the Nazi party coming to power. While popular propaganda claims that the Jews were the focus of Nazi Germany prejudice, the fate of the African German population is widely ignored. Despite these facts, Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi wanted to assimilate into the Nazi Germany culture.

Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi is a retired managing editor who once worked for Ebony magazine. He was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1926. His father was an African from Liberia who was the son of a former African tribal king and Liberia’s first consul general to Germany. His mother was a German nurse’s aid named Bertha Massaquoi. He grew up privileged until his father and grandfather returned to Liberia in 1929. His mother did not want to expose her son to the tropical climate of Africa and so she chose to stay in Germany and raise her son.

According to Mr. Massaquoi, he wanted so badly to fit into the culture around him that he had his babysitter, an old lady without much political sophistication, sew a swastika on his school sweater. Despite the fact that the people involved in this organization would be more than happy to eradicate the black population, this black boy wanted to fit in. It is an unfortunate circumstance of black people everywhere to want to fit into a culture that would be more likely to work towards their subjugation than recognize the black population as honest equals.

At school, his teacher enjoyed the irony of the black boy with the swastika that she used her camera to take a photograph. He wore it proudly until his mother ripped the famous Nazi symbol off his clothes and explained why he could never join the Hitler Youth organization, a Nazi Germany version of the Boy Scouts of America. Nevertheless, with no other black people to identify with or serve as a role model, Massaquoi developed a fascination with Nazism. But as racism began to take root in Germany Mr. Massaquoi began to realize his predicament. As Mr. Massaquoi grew to adulthood he was prevented from joining the military, he was prevented from obtaining an education, and he was excluded from a professional career. He was relegated into becoming a machine apprentice.

When the war ended in 1945, Germany was a ruin and awash with soldiers from the Allied forces. Massaquoi played the saxophone in clubs that catered to American soldiers in order to earn the money necessary to keep his mother and himself from starving. He eventually left Germany for Liberia, where he lived with his father for two years. After his father’s death, Massaquoi immigrated to the United States and now lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. Says Mr. Massaquoi, “Racism is almost seen everywhere throughout the world. You see it in Rwanda, in Burundi. You see it in Kosovo. You see it in Northern Ireland. You name it, there’s racism. Racism is a universal thing, and I think all people, all decent people in the world, have to stay extra vigilant to make sure the kind of excesses that happened in Nazi Germany will not reoccur.”

When does the vigilance against excess racism by good people start though? Do we wait until it gets excessive and do our best to beat it back to manageable levels or do we take the steps to stop it whenever it appears to be taking root? And who is to say when racism is excessive and when it is manageable? I’m sure we can deduce some institutionalized systemic forms of racism when we see a proliferation of nooses hanging from a variety of vantage points and hear people suggest the primary means of countering this act is to look the other way or simply close our eyes. Quit giving the noose hanger the attention they covet. But let someone paint a swastika on a wall and people will loose their minds. One is a hate crime and the other is a harmless prank. Why do we differentiate these two symbols from the very absolute ends of the same spectrum?

These days, here in America, black people are constantly being judged as undeserving for employment and educational opportunities. And the only evidence people have to justify their judgment is the color of people’s skin. Let a person with a white mindset tell the story and black people are never the most qualified of candidates for a career or education. Does this type of racism qualify for decent people’s attention? Or do we have to wait until we get to the point where the black student or worker has to vacate their position anytime a white candidate applies? Who is to say what racism is acceptable and what racism is excessive? It is interesting to note that such a somewhat complacent concept associated with combating the propagation of racial tyranny would come from a black man who at one time wanted to be a member of the Nazi Party of Hitler’s Germany.

Saturday, December 15, 2007 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black People, Ebony Magazine, Justice, Racism, Thoughts |


  1. BPeacemaker,

    Great post. I think that for one instead of letting those that are the brunt of the racism define its parameters we are letting the perpetrators of the racism let us know when it is excessive. And so far they have no intentions of deeming anything as “too excessive.”

    Also, if a young black German child is so willing to fit in with the ruling class who just so happens to be the Nazi’s then how fast do you think that our children would be willing to do what it takes to join the ruling class in America which just so happens to be white. So it is no surprise that we have so many white mindset individuals running around so willing to subjugate other blacks.

    Aligning one’s self with the ruling class is a very seductive prospect in a person’s attempt at belonging. As most humans do not strive to belong to the losing team, it is all of our goal to belong to those that are the haves or winners. And that is what is being taught to our children in school and even at home. Go to college learn to work within the confines of the system and you will get the crumbs of a society that holds you at arms length.

    We need to listen closely to what this German black man is saying and take heed. Get a handle on our children as we shouldn’t be teaching them to respect the status quo. They need to be able to deny the status quo and figure out a means to create a new mode of operation.


    Comment by theblacksentinel | Saturday, December 15, 2007 | Reply

    • How are you even gonna compare nazi Germany to America? First of all, and second I was raised in Atlanta, and lived in majority black neighborhood went to all black schools, and was highly influenced by black culture to the point of wanting to be black to fit in.
      People adapt to their surroundings, we can’t mutate so we have to if we want to fit in, at a young age especially. I even got into fights because I was white. Well that just made me want to be black all the more. Well when I grew up I realized how my idea of black culture and any culture to was more of a stereotype. Is that racist?… No, I was just blinded by ignorance.

      You can’t put a label on someone because of their color. Every race in America has many different influences that make them who they are. Not the color of their skin. I hope oneday more people will realize this and not try and stereotype to the point of ignorance. Immerse yourself in other cultures and you’ll realize no one person is the same.

      Comment by Steven | Friday, March 2, 2012 | Reply

      • Thanks for the feedback Steven,

        But you really sound naive. Of course we can put a label on someone because of their color. It happens everyday. I has happened everyday ever since black people were brought here to America against their will. It would be nice if it didn’t happen. It would be nice if people felt more like you and would be willing to judge people on the integrity of their character and not the characteristics of their physical appearance. But the fact is quite evident that race and racial labels are part of our culture and will be for a very long time if not forever.


        Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Friday, March 2, 2012

  2. “We need to listen closely to what this German black man is saying and take heed. Get a handle on our children as we shouldn’t be teaching them to respect the status quo. They need to be able to deny the status quo and figure out a means to create a new mode of operation.”

    This is how a society transgresses!

    too many whites go along… cuz they think the gubment is on their side… when in reality it’s all abou the money and keep ing those have-not’s having none… and fooling the rest to think they are apart of the whole while stealing from them too.

    Exeptional post. BrotherP.

    Comment by Damien | Monday, December 17, 2007 | Reply

  3. I have a family member who is black, of course, and he grew up in Nazi Germany and served in the Luftwaffe. I have no idea when this man tried to sign up, but the Nazi’s had corps all over the world and in Africa blacks had Nazi Uniforms as well, same with some Indians.

    You have to be careful when it comes to history – remember the winner always, always bastardizes the truth about the enemy.

    I’m not saying that the Nazi’s or Nazism was as good as mothers milk, but from what I learned from someone who was there it was not the trench of hell either. In fact if you were black during the 30’s you were probably better off in Nazi Germany than you were in the U.S.

    The Nazi party killed, in estimate from official numbers, 500 black males charged with state crimes. – How many blacks has the U.S killed?? Seriously a LOT a whole bunch!

    Comment by Omar | Tuesday, March 4, 2008 | Reply

  4. Thanks for the feedback Omar,

    From what I heard from Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi’s story the Nazis weren’t accepting in black people to serve in their corp. That was one of the points of his story. One of the reasons Jessie Owens’ Olympic wins in Germany is so phenomenal is because of the widely accepted belief that the blond haired, blue eyed, Aryans were superior and that black people were too inferior to be acceptable soldiers, citizens, whatever. Maybe this is just more American propaganda.

    And maybe the Nazis did kill an estimated five hundred black men. I really couldn’t argue one way or the other. It would be nice to know how many black men were in Germany during the thirties. It would help to determine the xenophobia of the German people at the time.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Tuesday, March 4, 2008 | Reply

  5. Hi BrotherPeaceMaker, thanks for the very interesting post. I went to school in Germany, and from what I know – both Germany before and after WW2, I can say the following about racism in Germany.

    As long as you behave in a German way – work hard and accurately, for example – and not make a point of your own ethnical background, most Germans will appreciate your presence. I am myself half Dutch, half Latin American, and have been regarded as a Turk on the streets of Aachen during my highschool days. Also, I have visited the Hofbräukeller in Munich on a Saturday night, and been suspiciouly oogled by locals. My way of dealing with this was simply not to stick out but simply try to be quiet and not make a point of my Latin heritage. It works, as Germans are too unfamiliar still with other races, and they certainly were that way during the 3rd Reich.

    Comment by Adriaan | Wednesday, December 17, 2008 | Reply

  6. I found a couple of photos of some black german kids saluting hitler to become part of the hitler youth group. It proves that the nazi’s didnt totaly hate blacks. Also i found some pictures of some nazi regiments in the middle east and parts of africa with black nazi soldiers.

    Comment by Edmound haffer | Monday, April 20, 2009 | Reply

    • And the fact that I have seen pictures of Hitler being saluted by Jewish kids proves that Germany wasn’t all that bad for Jewish people. The level of reasoning some people display is truly bizarre.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Monday, April 20, 2009 | Reply

  7. “Racism is almost seen everywhere throughout the world. You see it in Rwanda, in Burundi. You see it in Kosovo. You see it in Northern Ireland. You name it, there’s racism. Racism is a universal thing”

    And here you see it right on this page.

    Being mixed race myself I find it frustrating when reverse racism goes unchallenged. Yes racism exists, yes white people are often in positions of power over black people, I will not deny this but equality doesn’t mean fighting racism with more racism.

    Comment by Lisa | Thursday, May 21, 2009 | Reply

  8. Thanks for the feedback Lisa,

    “The level of reasoning some people display is indeed truly bizarre.”

    Truer words were never spoken. Where on this page have I suggested that white people shouldn’t have equal opportunities? Where on this page have I suggested that white people are less than black people? You sound like you’re mixed alright. Mixed up in the head that is.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Friday, May 22, 2009 | Reply

  9. Wow. Now I am going to hunt for everything I can find about African Germans during the rise of the Third Reich. What is strange to me is that I used to be a black skinhead.
    While I was on the other side of the fence, I had a couple of acquaintances who wore red laces in their Doc Martins (pledging their affinity to the ideology of the National Front) and even tattooed themselves with swastikas; one of which has a huge one, about the size of his hand, right on the side of his head. I knew of a black Nazi skinhead girl who lived in Texas, I believe, with the words “white power” and a swastika tattooed on her forehead. She dated (?) a huge red-headed skinhead whose name escapes me.
    There is a thought among that subculture that the only true skinhead is a Nazi skinhead. I supposed the desire to fit in (and perhaps to shock, mixed in with a bit of self-loathing and insecurity) is what drove these kids to do what they did. Being so close to that mindset, for me, makes the story of Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi that much more fascinating. Thanks for that.

    Comment by jeffmerch | Sunday, July 12, 2009 | Reply

  10. i dont think that black and jewish kids saluting hitler proved that they wernt totally hated. if anything, it proves that under the circumstances, many deutsch blacks and jews didnt have a choice. there were no leaders or strong influences of their own to follow. and also, aperson commented about people wanting to be a part of the ruling class…. think about that, people.

    Comment by Creeball | Wednesday, May 26, 2010 | Reply

  11. I live in Germany, now Hamburg and previously in Berlin and have worked as a graphic artist and translator on this material about people of colour in Germany. There were many different ways that people were treated here, the singer Marie Nejar was commissioned to appear in films as an “African servant” and she grew up in St Pauli during the Second World War. There have also been individuals like Fasia Jansen who was actually related to Massaquoi although they never met and lived close to each other in Barmbek-Hamburg. There were also Indian Germany and African and Arab-Germans who ended up in the camps.

    Massaquoi tells his story which he experienced and in isolation this is what he went through. It is the isolation and needing to create an identity that started with privilege in his grandfather’s villa to the working class streets of Barmbek then must have tested his resiliency and staunch need to be accepted, to be one of the group.

    If you travel through Germany you can meet 70+ older people who went through this harsh time and their stories are a good reason to learn German fluently.

    Comment by Zari Harat | Monday, November 14, 2011 | Reply

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