By - BlackAndWhiteCoexist
What was the official Nazi policy towards black people? Were they covered under the Nuremburg Laws?
So the Nuremberg race laws were very explicit about their target, which was the Jewish population in Germany. The law was extended some time after with prohibitions on marriage or sexual relations that could interfere with the racial purity idea.
However, it was sometimes still unclear whether or not those laws also apply to other “non-aryans”. So what we find when we look at the history during the Nazi era is that decisions were made very locally and very subjectively by various people who happen to be in power in various positions. And this is why while it would have been impossible for a Jewish boy to enter the Hitler Youth we know of cases of black youth who joined the Hitler Youth. These rules whether or not they applied were always decided right on the spot because the law itself did not name black people as the target. But for black people there was this in-between position that they could navigate to make it through this.
And so all of the afro Germans that have left Memoirs or who have given video interviews discussing their time under the Nazis, all of them will talk about hardships that they face. They'll talk about their disappointment at not being allowed to join their classmates as members of the Hitler Youth. They'll talk about their disappointment in that but they will just as quickly turn to the stories of Germans who intervened on their behalf.
It's interesting you bring up that it was the Jews solely being the target. When they started expanding, the other target that was very deliberately the Slavs - specifically the Poles, but also the Russians. But I also think that the reason they were targeted was very specific (expansionism+anti-communism). Do you think it was just a simple matter of blacks not being relevant to the Greater Germany plans at the time?
Yes you are absolutely right. There were many other target groups, the Slavs, Sinti, Roma, homosexuals, disabled. In the case of blacks your mentioned point was definitely a thing. For the Nazis black people were easy to target because of their skin colour and they just didn’t fit into the racial purity ideology. But the colour aspect allowed them to accumulate black people easily. Mostly in the field of arts - posing as stereotype. Also the Germans always thought they might need black people again once they win back their colonies. But even historians are not certain what would have happened with black people in Germany if the Germans had won the war.
How are you covering the mixed-race children (often called the "Rhineland Bastards") who were often falsely assumed to the the product of rape from the French Occupation of the Rhineland? Will you be getting into the programs that did explicitly target them?
Yes. I will address it, since especially between WWI and WWII there were three different populations of black people in Germany and they were all seen and treated differently. The so called “Rhineland Bastards” were propagated to be the children of raped white women by French occupiers - they represented great anger and frustration, humiliation of that WWI defeat. Germany - the occupier now finds itself occupied. Then there were the so called “colonial subjects” who came to Germany with the idea of then returing with knowledge to German colonies and be of good help in higher ranked positions. They were stranded in between the desired and undesired black people among the white German population especially after the war was lost. And last but not least there were Afro-American artist who were celebrated and who were experiencing the peak of their artists careers. It’s a very interesting aspect on how it all changed once the Nazis gained power. I will defiantly make that part of the documentary. :)
I'm no expert but I've read that over 3/4 of the population of the rhineland bastards were rounded up in the late 30s and never seen again?
Is this true?
Hi. Those are definitely numbers I would love to check with my historians and scholars. What I am certain of is that there was a special commission (Special Commission 3) that was assigned to prevent the procreation and reproduction by “Rhineland Bastards”. That is when the sterilisation program was initiated. An estimate number of 500 children of mixed parentage were arrested and sterilised at that time.
How many black people were even living in Germany during that time?
It is unfortunately very hard to name specific numbers since many paths weren’t traced. However, there is an estimate of about 20.000 - 25.000 black people in Germany during that time. Even today there are only rough numbers on the black German population as after WWII the collection of racial data was not pursued.
Would the area of Germany that a black German was living in contribute to their survival during these times? For instance if you were living in a predominantly catholic area in the south compared to the north.
Yes, absolutely. I have one eye witness who was growing up in Hamburg. A city that was always used to seeing people of colour due to the harbour. Even though there were rarely any other black children around when she was growing up people protected her during that time. Whereas in other areas like the Rhineland black people were afraid of going to the doctors knowing they might come back sterilised. So decisions were often made locally and some were very lucky and were saved because of that.
Were there any black Wehrmacht soldiers?
There were some volunteer battalions fighting for the Wehrmacht mostly abroad (for example the Free Arabian Legion). However, when black Germans were called in for enlistment most of them were turned down because a black Wehrmacht soldier was unimaginable. In our case we have two eye witnesses telling us about exactly that story. How they didn’t make it into the “Hitler Youth” / “BDM - Bund Deutscher Mädchen”. For most young boys the “Hitler Youth” led directly to the SS.
The werhmacht one of the most diverse volunteer armies that has ever been assembled. Shit is wild son. There are quite a few pictures of black soldiers of the free Arabian legion.
Yes. There are some really good articles about it too. E.g.: [https://militaryhistorynow.com/2016/05/04/hitlers-foreign-legions-nine-non-german-regiments-that-fought-for-the-nazis-in-ww2/](https://militaryhistorynow.com/2016/05/04/hitlers-foreign-legions-nine-non-german-regiments-that-fought-for-the-nazis-in-ww2/)
Some people joined the ~~werhmacht~~ Waffen SS because they were fervently anti communist.
Edit: Got the Nazi military organizational structure wrong.
This is nuts...you know that those were volunteer SS units and not Werhmacht.
I guess it's easier to swallow saying all these foreigners were in the regular Army.
Oh that's right, it was the Waffen SS. It's not really easier to say, it was a mistake. I will admit, I am not an expert on the Nazis.
I've got a B.A. in Communications, living in Texas, USA. As someone unfamiliar with the industry, how can I get involved with historical documentaries such as these? I would love to work on projects such as yours professionally.
A B.A. in Communications is definitely a good start. ;) Maybe you can look into production companies in your area and see what kind of Documentary focus they might have. Especially in historical documentaries - which are always filled with intense research time - production companies as well as filmmakers are grateful for any help they might get. That could at least open doors for you and give you an on the job insight. But you can also look into documentary film master programs - I know there are a couple good ones out there as well. Or you can shoot me your E-Mail address. I am always looking for additional help in researching and team support. ;)
I like the look of the film, what gear do you use? Any behind the scenes pics from your setup?
Thanks! I am glad you like what you see. :) We are shooting with an ARRI Amira but other than that mostly with natural morning light. Unless it’s an indoor interview location. See behind the scenes picture attached ;) (not the best quality but it hopefully gives you an idea)
We’re there such a thing as “black Nazis?” Some have speculated this...
Well what I have found out during my research and talking to eye witnesses and historians is that since especially young black Germans grew up with the same ideologies like everyone else they sure liked what their classmates and friends did. And they never really came to that point of questioning their German identity, however, they soon found out that they were not in any way loved by Hitler when they were not taken into the “Hitler Youth” and other Nazi groups. I know this doesn’t answer the question a 100% but that is all I found out so far. :/
I understand that the Nazis took inspiration from Jim Crow South. Did it have any impact on the black population in Germany, was it negligible, or was it a matter of local decisions?
Good question. While talking to our historians we also discussed the Jim Crow aspect, however more on the story line on how black GI’s entering Germany were now seen as liberators when other black Germans were only tolerated until then. How it affected Afro-Americans and their experience in a country that was full of hope with their appearance. That leads to a comment I mentioned earlier how black people were seen so differently. A liberating black GI was absolutely seen differently from an Afro-German. How their return to the US affected the fight on Jim Crow laws that is another big topic.
Sorry to be pedantic but the "effected" is not correct, it's "affected". I say this as an ESL myself. Just a friendly correction.
oh. thanks about that! :) Very much appreciated.
>How their return to the US effected the fight on Jim Crow laws that is another big topic.
It actually did not help, as much as it appears/decade laters now that the smoke has cleared. The 1980's probably saw the most effective times, and that was limited to GIs who married White German women. Which trickled down to improve life for ordinary German Blacks who IR date.
Nonetheless their return to the USA did hinder things, often times, since many of those German women they brought back, would come to the USA then become '*Americanized*' after 4-5 yrs...which entailed those German white women being rewarded by a Pop Culture society for joining the powerful USA culture called **publicly frowning upon Black males**. By the 90's, that proverbial USA '*liberation*' GI was non-existent in Germany.
Interesting. Yes. Reading your comment shows how big of a topic the return of black GIs and the brought back white women is on it's own. I will not be able to cover that in any case to the extend it would deserve to be covered within my documentary including all the voices that would need to be heard for the full story picture but it sure is a story that should be looked into deeper.
Thank you, for your remarks.
You have taken on a great, necessary task with your extensive work on this topic.
Ever notice how (decade after decade) when you experience immigrant women living in America, as anti-Racism advocates, they never have a German accent?
How *did* black people survive Nazi Germany?
Black people were not specially a target of the Nazis at the beginning, especially because there were high hopes on winning back former German colonies. During the rise of the Nazi regime and the fear of racial impurity however, black people were either forced to go under the radar or they were accumulated into the arts helping German propaganda and stereotypes. How? They were performing a role. The role a white man saw in a black man - the “child-like uneducated African”. And that is the role they had to play in human zoos as well as propaganda movies. Else they were fearing being sterilized or sent to concentration camp.
Any idea about the date of release yet?
Unfortunately not yet. We are still in development and pitching the teaser as well as the documentary idea this October to potential co-producers, VODs and buyers and will hopefully get to finish the production by Summer 2020. I will keep you updated on release dates for sure. :)
Surprising topic. I never knew or rather learnt there were people of black or rather African descent in Germany between 1934 and 1945. How did you come about to explore this particular point of reference of German history?
That is exactly what intrigued me. I have Afro-German friends that still get the question of “Where are you REALLY from?”. Even though their families are Germans in a fourth and sometimes even fifth generation. That in combination with meeting the right people at the right time allowed me to dig deeper into that “unknown” aspect in German history. It is actually a story full of unexpected surprises and at the beginning - when I told people about the idea and the story line - I constantly found them with open mouths added by a “no way”, “no way!”. “NO WAY?!”. I am excited to be able to work on it. :)
Why that title?
That is a very good question. While digging deeper into the topic we found that “the gaze” of white people towards people of color was such a constant and strong aspect that we thought we would implement it in a very present way. Black people were always the other among a white population. They were starred at in human zoos, colonial propaganda films and everywhere they would be seen. A merely superficial judgment that is even present today. That is why we decided to go with that title. What do you think about it?
I'm a white male from Germany and I find the title engaging. I am very interested in history and I've always wondered about the fate of POC in the Third Reich since it's not something that is ever discussed it seems (probably because there are so few primary sources?).
Speaking as someone with a non-US cultural background, I feel neither attacked not belittled by the title, nor do I feel like it's trying to be deliberately controversial. Just "adding my mustard"
Thanks for the mustard. :)
Your title actually made me interested in your documentary. It reminds me of Franz Fanon's *Black Skins, White Masks* (a black psychiatrist discusses the ways white supremacy shapes the black psyche.
Thanks. Yes, you are right. :) I came across Franz Fanon while studying the idea on how white supremacy is being shaped. Very interesting book - definitely a reading recommendation. Also the books of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak are very interesting on that regard - maybe you know them already. :)
Glad I guessed the source since the naming scheme sounded familiar.
I definitely need to finish Fanon's book. Thank you for recommending Spivak - I'll look into her work as well.
Honestly I want to watch it, the title has a nice sort of shock factor to it.
Thanks :) I am glad you are intrigued by the title.
I think its going to anti appeal to a lot of people purely because of the name. I am by no means a trump suporter but I refuse to watch anything deliberately provocative. It just adds to the growing resentment of each other when we should be allies against the rich.
There is no need for us to 'get people talking' in this day and age. People are already talking, we just arent communicating. More and more black people are getting the take away that its individual white people and not a multi tiered flawed system that steps on us all that cause systemic opression.
I think if you name your film something like that hoping to capture people's attention, you will just ultimately risk tuning them out. We already have enough media telling us white people are the bad guys, we need more that tell us how to be the good guys. Not just in relation to 'not taking up space' but in ways that benefit the whole of hummanity.
E: p.s I will probably watch it still just because I know what its about and it sounds interesting, I just think its a shame others wont because black people being alive in historically white washed times is something ive always been faccinated with since morgan freeman was in robbin hood.
I absolutely agree with what you are saying and I understand your thoughts. We definitely want the documentary out there to be seen and not to polarise just by the name. The necessity of again judging someone on a pure appearance is exactly something we want to question and discuss with the documentary and not support more stigmata like “the bad white man” or in general a finger pointing attitude. Racism is something that effects the entire society. It’s a construct that needs to be talked about. However, I think what “Black skin / white gaze” does is describe a status quo then and now. We will definitely take in your feedback though and think of other possibilities. Really appreciate your thoughts! Many thanks.
Actually, as a black person (black and Japanese American), I think the title is perfect. I know the feeling of White Gaze ™; I think POC who are minorities all around the world do. If you were going to change the title, I’d say add a little more information, like “Black Skin / White Gaze: Black Germans in Nazi Germany”. Just so people know EXACTLY what this is about. That way, even if they are turned off by the initial (yet true and relatable) title, then the second part delivers more specific information as to what the documentary is about. Thank you so much for choosing this topic!
Yes you are right. That is a reason why we decided to go with that name initially. That constant "Gaze", now and then and talking to our eye witnesses and descendants about that it just hasn't changed for them at all. How is this possible?? I really like your feedback about the additional phrasing. Thanks for that!
I agree..the name is too (well this sounds like a pun, but I mean it): black and white
Exactly this. My mom went on a college trip to Thailand in the 70s, and she was stared at the whole time, the black guy that went with them experienced the same. Anybody with blonde/red hair who goes to primitive places in Africa/South America, will experience the same. I wish it wasn’t considered insensitive to be visually inquisitive toward somebody you’ve never been around. Isn’t it a little degrading toward 3rd world peeps for saying they aren’t conscientiously advanced enough to be judged on par with a white for gazing at someone different?
You're misunderstanding the term slightly. "Gaze" in this context doesn't mean the actual physical looking at someone, but more how a group is viewed socially. It implies a self-centric view of the world and reduction of the object of the gaze to a few shallow traits or stereotypes. If a movie for example is shot from a "male gaze" it often features very two-dimensional female characters that have no personality of life of their own and only serve as eye candy with plenty of gratuitous butt and boob shots. Think old James Bond movies.
In this case, the "white gaze" has to do with reducing POC to this exotic Other from the colonies for example, or to a propaganda tool.
Thanks Grunherz, I couldn't have said that any better! :)
Ah. This makes sense.
In this context, Nazis, white people already are the bad guys. Are y’all really so fragile that having the word ‘white’ in a film about racial laws of a white country tunes you out? Should we replace the word white supremacy too because it tunes you out?
You’re right, about the lack of communication tho, it just isn’t on our part. We have these discussions all the time, y’all just don’t want to hear it. Honestly don’t know why I waste my time with this.
You can’t keep blaming the rich for everything.
Tldr: I know this is long but if you cannot read it in full, then you cannot hope to know my true intent. Therefore, if you cannot finish it, its better not to respond. I am not.interested in a fight
Maybe we are just tired of constantly being refered to as nazis for the fault of a handful of white people.
The rich are at fault for the most part, and the 'conversations' you have are accusatory by nature with anecdotal evidence and a general lack of understanding of systematic opression.
Rich white people are by nature opressive. It was not white farmers that sought to colonise Africa, it was merchants. And it was not england that enslaved people, it was powerful men who created the colonies. Here in england regardless of skin color relative freedom has always existed. During the time of the atlantic slave trade most people were peasents sho were indentured servants at best. Any slaves brought here were instantly freed.
There has always been a racial divide between black and white dont get me wrong, I am not so stupid as to pretend that there arent white people who see your people as lesser, but it is those people who go on to make the laws and the systems that opress you. The rest of us either do not care or want to do somthing about it.
The question then becomes, if you are then going to hate me or act agressive towards me purely because of my race, why should I help your race? I wish to help your race because youbare allies against our true enemy, but I am not going to do that of I am seen as an enemy myself.
You can appeal to my morals or my ethics or my logic. If you appeal to my morals its a case of showing me that you care for me and asking me to care for you. If you appeal to my ethics it is a case of showing me the funemental wrongs of the situation (which in this case I already know) if you appeal to my logic kts a case of showing me our enemies are the same.
The rhetoric your people currently employ is blame everybody else but yourselves. It is not your fault that powerful men took your ancestors, put them in chains and then once released underfunded the communities you were a part of and created laws against you.
It is your fault that in the days of information and technology where you can prove finally that what was done to your people was wrong on so many levels that you blame an entire race rather than the powerful men who spent years manipulating and turning us against us.
If you respond to that manipulation with agression you confirm the older generations pre existing bias and show you are just another angry black person. A threat to their way of life just as the opressors told them.
I do not care about you or your people one way or another until you find a way to make me care. It is not enough to say that you have been wronged when I too as an individual have been wronged. Humans by nature are selfish and self serving creatures. We tell ourselves we want to do the right thing, but in reality we want to do the convenient right thing.
You do not need white people to feel bad for you, you need them to feel angry at the very same system that ensalves them and tells them they are free. You do not need to shame them for a past they were never a part of, you need to enlighten them about the wrongs that they too experiance at the hands of the system.
The path to freedom for us all is and always has been unification. You cannot stop a war without first letting go of the tools of war. I am no more at fault for the actions of my race than you are. We all have bias, but our biases are individual to ourselves and you cannot hope to know mine from one look at my skin amd the idea that you can is a reflection of your own bias.
I am not your enemy unless you want me to be, but I am nlt necessarily your friend either. To me you are simply a person that I am conversing with until you give me something to care about. Your attitude towards me heavily changes wether or not I care enough to do something for you. Call me racist all you like, downvote me if it makes you feel better but that wont take down systematic opression. Only unity will.
Ah the good ol “we all just need to come together rhetoric” I hear whenever white supremacy is mentioned lmao. Can you explain to me how do we come together when you won’t even acknowledge your part of the problem? Ours is, according to you, not convincing you that it’s the rich that makes you hate us.....lmfaoooo.
Again nobody is calling you a Nazi and nobody called you racist, whyyyyyyy are you so defensive? I’m not going crazy about how there were literal black people trying to join Hitler youth because that has nothing to do with me other than the fact that I’m black. The word “black” doesn’t tune me out like you say it does to whites.
I read all of that and I’m genuinely astonished that you care so much about the white race being associated with a form of white tribalism called white supremacy. I don’t want to call this some r/fragilewhiteredditor shit but that’s honestly what it’s looking like.
Again, I have yet to call you racist or a Nazi because you don’t seem like a Nazi but good lord do you love crying about being associated with them when fucking nobody said you were. Please stop projecting.
Do you wish people to sugarcoat white supremacy so it doesn’t hurt your feelings? Let’s just drop the word white since that’s what’s setting you off so much. Somehow you’re on our side but if we even **infer** racial prejudice born out of whiteness then we’re apparently turning you away. **we are on your side but don’t mention white supremacy EVER**. Lmao we’re going to have a field day with this one over at r/blackfellas.
Your bit about how it’s black peoples fault for not uniting everyone in this Information Age is....typical actually we all have the information but it’s on us to convince you to be allies lol. It honestly reads like those trump supporters that say “this is why trump won” when you stop putting up with them. You kind of shot yourself in the foot there tho. How can you in one paragraph say that most of y’all don’t care about our skin color/are on our side but then cry at the first mention of white supremacy, especially when nobody call **you** a white supremacist.
You have basically said “ignore white racism” or else we won’t help you, and truth be told, it never seemed like you were willing to help in the first place if that’s your attitude. You can see a group of people who are disadvantaged because of their race, acknowledge its due to living in a white society.....and then say don’t blame white supremacy? Self proclaimed ally who says all the right things lol. This is why socialism will never take hold.
Again, you’re mad that whiteness is brought up in a discussion about white supremacy. Please please please do some self reflecting. Your original comment is right tho. There’s no need for talks. These talks are already happening y’all just don’t want to listen, you said it yourself, when white People see that title they tune out. So much for listening huh?
You didnt read what I wrote, you skim read. Therefore, I am disengaging. I cant be bothered justifying myself to you, and I am not going to listen to your rhetoric now, so congratulations in being a prime example of how your way does not work.
Edit: just for the record though, it is pretty obvious you hate white people. If this conversation were reversed, you would be a racist trump supporter with rhetoric like that. You are blinded by your hatred into thinking opinion is fact and another race is your enemy. You are as bad as someone who blindly hates muslims.
People are not terrorists just because they are arab, people are not criminals just because they are black, people are not doctors just because they are asian, no racial steriotype is justifiable just because a small group of that race caused you some greivance. This kind of rhetoric is bad from trump.supporters, is worse when it comes from people supposedly on the same side.
Again, nobody called you a Fucking Nazi. Your replies were just you crying about white supremacy. I know Muslims that hate radical Islam and don’t get defensive when it’s brought up because guess what? They’re not extremists, I know Jews that hate Zionism because guess what? They’re not zionists. Then why do so many white people act like they’re the ones being implicated when we talk about white supremacy.
I didn’t skim read I read everything you said and it was just a mixture of projection and crying. Nobody called you a fucking Nazi or a racist but you sure do act like one.
I don’t hate white people, but you make it easy to when you get like this.
Fuck off my notifications you fragile little boy.
I dont get defensive when you bring up white supremacy, white supremacy exists as I have already stated and that is why I know you havent read what I have beem saying.
You can never not see white people as the enemy. Too much shit has been done to you for that not to happen. Most of that hate was self inflicted because you make people angry at you so they want to hate you.
I disagree with seeing all white people as racist. We are all bias but I am no more bias than you. are. I do not care one way or another about you. I dont care what you think, feel, or do. As long as you dont affect my life,
Hey Stefanie! How did the idea come about?
It was actually a combination of many things. :)
When I was growing up and made my way across the Austrian border I was asked many times… so where are you from? Since I obviously look very Austrian I was never asked a second time: “Yes, but where are you REALLY from?” Some of my black friends however get this question all the time. Even though they are black Germans in a fourth and fifth generation. This casually racist question is fraught with ignorant denial: of German colonial history in Africa, of Nazi race laws; of all degrading experiences and legacies endured. That is something that always intrigued me.
Then last year I was lucky and met a wonderful Producer from Nigeria and we talked about African diaspora and the experience of black people in Germany.
That is when I started to work on the topic more intensely with my friend and co-author Jermain Raffington and an amazing young talent Langston Uibel. The three of us try to work on exactly that. How the story of colonialism shaped the stereotyped image of black people. How they were accumulated in the arts (within human zoos and colonial movies) for higher propaganda reasons and the desire to eventually win back colonies and how that stigmata is still so present today.
This! "Where are you reaaaaaallly from?"
I'm not sure I've ever met a genuine Neo-Nazi, but plenty of people over the years who were sympathetic. It seemed to me most of them were racist towards black, Asian or Islamic people, although that may just be because of the low Jewish population in Australia.
Do you think the Nazi ideology was co-opted by other racist groups, or always going to turn violent towards any 'non-aryans?'
I think racism has many sources. First of all it often comes with fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of loosing something you are used to. And that is combined - often - with the lack of information and education. White has often seen itself superior to people of colour. In many cases that lies in the routes of colonialism. I feel - and what my research and the discussion with experts taught me so far - is that we can only change that with constant confrontation and open discussions. Not the finger pointing ones… but the ones understanding both sites. Understanding why people might be afraid or jealous of someone. Why they might feel the need for a superiority towards other people - no matter what race, colour, gender, sexual orientation etc.
Thank you for your comment and I am happy that you feel you have many questions on the topic. We hope we will get to answer many of them in the documentary. :)
Your picked question is a tough one though because there were so many things I didn’t expect. Many stories I had not read about. Many angles I had no idea existed and especially hearing that from people that actually went through that time and who shared their experiences. Maybe one comment that we can’t seem to forget was a conversation we had on Nazi ideology and how a young black German would deal with that. And the answer we got was so different from what we had expected. Because they never saw themselves as “the other”. In no way they would have questioned Hitlers love for them and when they found out that Hitler didn’t love them and didn’t want them to be part of the whole Nazi movement they were deeply devastated. And that was something we did not expect. How could this be possible? But of course. For us now its clear. We know what happened and we know how badly it turned out but for them that was the first time they experienced “the otherness” and it broke their heart.
Please shoot if you have more questions. We would love to hear more :)
What was the most shocking/disturbing thing you discovered while doing research?
To be honest. When I found out that the idea of holocaust mechanisms was already initiated during German colonial times. I had no idea up until the moment of research. I thought it was something purely initiated by the Nazis but it wasn’t. That was a big eye opener for me.
It's actually a long-known reality that the Jewish Holocaust directly resulted from Hitler's hatred of Caucasian Jews for bringing darkskin [negroids] into Germany. Nazi's hated Black people long, long before the Caucasian Jews flooded Germany with Black people, hence alluded to in colonial-German history
Hitler was a great admirer of Margaret Sanger and her peculiar progress in the USA, during that time, as we all know how much Sanger publicly loathed Black people.
She answered a very similar question [here](https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/dfg7ad/im_a_documentary_filmmaker_producing_black_skin/f33rvsr/)
I'd like to know more about the way Nazism affected black Germans while awaiting your documentary. Can you recommend any books or papers on the subject?
Absolutely understandable :) I really like the “while awaiting your documentary” phrasing. ;)
Please find some book links attached:
\- The Other Germans: Black Germans and the Politics of Race, Gender, and Memory in the Third Reich
\- Hitler's Black Victims: The Historical Experience of Afro-Germans, European Blacks, Africans and African Americans in the Nazi Era (Cross Currents in African American History)
\- Black German: An Afro-German Life in the Twentieth Century
\- Mach nicht so traurige Augen, weil du ein Negerlein bist
\- Germany's Black Holocaust, 1890-1945: The Untold Truth!
\- Neger, Neger, Schornsteinfeger! Meine Kindheit in Deutschland.
Thank you for recommending these books. I've already found the first two in my library!
Of course. very welcome :)
Did any get sent to concentration camps for being black?
Yes some did. There were political prisoners but also black people that were sent to concentration camp because they somehow attracted attention to them. Like sleeping with married white women or being politically active. On the other hand there are also known cases of black Germans working in concentration camps. That is however very rare. One of my protagonists is a descendant of a concentration camp survivor and his survival story is one of a kind!
What kind of process goes into making a film like this? How long have you been working on it and has it been difficult to decide what angle to take on the stories in it? And what about funding, it is easy or difficult to find money to do something like this?
Actually it is quite a ride! We started researching the topic over a year ago and are now at a point where we are very certain on the story angle. But that came with a lot of wrong taken paths, rethinking everything over and over again. What helps is a constant conversation about it with people who have not heard about your idea before. That will help you constantly developing your idea.
The funding aspect is also a very diverse one because there are many doubters but also supporters. You have to find people who believe in not only the topic but also in you as filmmaker. And we are hoping we will find a great addition to the already good base of supporters that we have so far. Once you have that you can start off pitching your idea to funds, broadcasters and co-partners.
I believe that our topic is essential to both social issues but combined with a contemporary relevance hoping it will come with some funds. :))
So all in all, how long is a process like this? A year? Two years? Three?
I would calculate at least two to three years for the overall production process. But that comes along with research (which is always very individual on the topic), the pre-talks with interviewees and experts, to the pre-production, production and post-production phase. After that there comes another big round of marketing of what you developed there. It hopefully comes with festival releases, Q&As and hopefully the opportunity to reach as many people as possible. For that I would add another year or two ;)
Wait, there were black people in Nazi Germany?
Yes. I know. :/ I get that reaction a lot. Not many people know about it and question how it is possible that they survived. But they did. And that is what the documentary is going to be about. ;)
Did you read a book called destined to witness by Hans massaqoui? What are your thoughts about it and will you incorporate its story in your film?
If not, I really really recommend it! I hope you visit berlin soon, I have so many questions!!!
Yes, I did. I am grateful that you mention the English book title in here. I only added the German title a bit earlier in another comment. Unfortunately Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi already passed away a couple years ago but left this incredible piece of insight into an unbelievable story of survival. I wish I would have been able to interview him for the documentary. But the experiences as a young Afro-German growing up in Nazi Germany will absolutely be part of the documentary. I am excited to hear more about your questions and also hope I will get to visit Berlin very soon. :)
Thank you for your quick response :) iam curious as to the reason you got motivated to make such a documentary. Very few people know that black people used to live in Nazi Germany and its quite a refreshing sight to see a new subject being discussed about that terrible time in the history of germany
My approach kind of changed over time. I look very Austrian and people believe me when I tell them that this is where I am from… but with some of my black German friends they would always doubt that. And there came a point when I got so annoyed and angry by that fact that I started researching why that could be and found so many mouth opening things that I could not stop researching. In addition to that I was lucky and met a very inspiring Nigerian producer last year and we talked about that specific phenomenon. That was when I started working on the documentary with my friend and co-author. Along the way I found many supporters and I was accepted in an international documentary development program (documentary campus masterschool) which also helped regarding working on the story line with deadlines, discussing the topic with many people who had never heard about it before etc. Now I am at a lucky stage of knowing where the documentary is going to go. How it is going to look like and which story angle we will focus on. I am excited to see what you think of the result. :)
That's a really incredible story. I highly recommend it.
FWIW, Hans' half-brother was a high-ranking minister in Liberia. I remember reading a newspaper article about 20 years ago where his name was mentioned, during a period of civil war in that country. "Hey, I know that name!"...
The really strange thing about reading the book was that even though I'm a white American, I had to keep reminding myself that Hans was German, not American.
And also interesting was that how little he was harassed by the ordinary people. Most Germans saw him as a novelty or foreigner, and there doesn't seem to be nearly as much racism as you'd expect from the period.
I love his encounter with the Nazi factory boss when he applies for an apprenticeship... :)
I totally agree with you. The book is absolutely recommendable and I am glad you mention some of his encounters. One of our eye witnesses talks about very similar experiences… being the “exotic other” was her daily routine and also being harassed was but since she was growing up in Hamburg people were used to seeing foreigners all the time due to the Harbour and that limited the amount of harassments. Even though she talks about hardships she also mentions how besides her disappointments there were Germans who intervened on her behalf. But then again in many other German areas black people were not as fortunate.
This is fascinating. To think that there was any number of black people in Germany in those days, is remarkable. Even without the Nazi racism, I wouldn't have thought of Germany to have many people of African ancestry.
Where in Austria are you from/located? Have you done much research at/into Mauthausen?
I am actually very close to Mauthausen and done lots of research into it. I am located in Salzburg and am also working on a Mauthausen storyline in the documentary - I have one black Mauthausen survivor being part of the story. Have you had a chance to visit it?
Not yet. I walk past the stone memorial outside Hitlers birth House almost everyday though. I would be interested in seeing it and learning more. I am looking forward to seeing what you put together in your documentary.
Oh then you definitely have to visit it someday. Also the Obersalzberg area (some might know the area due to Hitlers "eagles nest" as well as the "Berghof" - his main residence in the south of Germany) is very eye opening and the combination of educational and revitalising an area full of horror is extremely well conducted.
Was it true that many of the Afro-Germans were forcibly sterilized?
Yes. Unfortunately it is true when it comes to the so called "Rhineland Bastards". Children from French colonial occupants in the Rhineland area with white German women. These babies became a specific thorn in the side of the nation. And there was a big desire to identify all of the children who were the offspring of the Rhineland occupation and to sterilize that particular population. But also other black children knew that they should not go to the hospital during this time because there was a possibility of sterilisation due to the idea of racial purity.
Where do you get most sources from? Will I be able to watch this documentary online or?
We are luckily able to access eye witnesses, descendants as well as scholars and professors specialising in black German history, Colonial history and Racism and will hopefully cover every aspect of information with that. Since we are a black and white team developing the documentary we are also focusing on the necessity to incorporate black and white voices.
We are hoping to show the documentary both offline as well as online but can’t yet say where. We will definitely keep you updated on it’s development on here though. :)
This is maybe not directly related to the Third Reich, but it definitely relates to the titular "white gaze." As a German native, I've noticed how ubiquitous the name "Mohren Apotheke" is for pharmacies in Germany.
I don't know if you can answer this question since it doesn't fall *directly* into your area of focus, but what was it about that name and the perception of POC in German society at the time that made this such a popular choice, and especially for pharmacies above all else? Did you come across anything in your research about German colonialism and the white gaze that might shed some light on this?
I did come along that. Initially I thought of covering the story of black people in general. Starting from the so called “Hofmohren” time on. But that would have gone too far and there is just too little time to already tell that historical journey I am choosing to go for now. So I kind of didn’t dig into that any further as of the “Mohren Apotheke” image goes. I do have a book I can recommend you though if you are interested. It’s: “Wie die Deutschen Weiss wurden” by Wulf D. Hund. It kind of gives an overview on how it all started. Sorry I can’t explain that any better. :/
Thank you! That's already more than I had hoped! Thanks for taking the time <3
Oh, also, I'm really looking forward to the film! I hope you guys get a good deal and good distribution. All the best!
Thanks Grunherz. I will updated the Reddit feed once I know more about the project release.
Have you heard of August Agbola O'Browne (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_Agbola_O%27Browne)???
A black guy working in/for Polish underground during German occupation.
Not necessary a straight Nazi Germany related, but nevertheless interesting case from German-occupied Poland.
Wow, no. I did not. Thanks for sharing that! How did you find out about him?
A few years ago his story was re-discovered here, in Poland. I think that some government agency restored his grave in London
Wow. I will definitely look into that. Thanks!
My bad, it was not government agency, it was some Protestant church-related organization:
Thanks for the link!
Did the friendship between Jesse Owens and German athlete Luz Long, have any affect on the attitudes of white Germans towards blacks?
Did Jesse Owens winning, somehow help discredit Hitler's theory of the Aryan race being superior?
Jesse Owens played a very big role back then… but especially for black Germans. He was one of few role models that actually helped discredit Hitler’s theory just like you remarked.:)
Both my eye witnesses mentioned him when we asked for role models back then. Especially because after the Olympic Games people would often call them “Jesse Owens” as a nick name. It showed them what black people were capable of. Sorry for the late response. :) Took a little break.
What was your motivation on focusing on this specific segment of the German population? Sub Saharan Africans made up such a small portion of the German population and since they were so tiny there never seemed to have been a major focus on establishing a national policy of discrimination against them. Why not focus on other groups in Germany with much larger populations whose treatment in the holocaust has often been ignored by history and whom the Nazis actually directly targeted on a large scale? like the gypsies, disabled, or homosexual peoples.
That is actually exactly why we are focusing on it. The story of black Germans and colonial subjects is one that is rarely told and known of. How Germany ventured abroad to obtain colonies, how colonial subjects came to Germany sometimes after fighting bravely as an Askari soldier under German flag in WWI and then finding themselves stranded because Germany lost its colonies after the war. The changing perspective on black people during that time: from a desire of winning back colonies to the fear of racial impurity. And how it changed with the rise of the Nazis. Right now wer are still very fortunate to talk to eye witnesses about their experiences, their survival stories and how racism effected their live up until today. How to overcome that and how to be a proud German even though others might not see that for you.
Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely agree with you that there are so many unseen and untold stories about Nazi horrors out there but I think black people have the right to their own history. Their German history which is even today often still neglected and ignored. And they are still seen as “the others”. We need to change that. :)
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What is your team like? What historians are you working with?
Good morning. :) I am very fortunate and can say that even though it’s a pretty small team the individual strengths allow us to be very precise in the overall development. I have a wonderful co-author on board, an amazing young acting talent, one Europe based and one US based cinematographer and a producer that allows me to develop this documentary with all the help I need from her (including equipment, editing gear, editing personnel etc.) so all in all a jackpot. :) In addition to the “main team” I have a great network of international scholars and experts in the field of black German history, colonial history, the effect on racism today, Mauthausen and concentration camp experts as well as the luck to talk to eye witnesses and descendants. Last but not least since I am developing this documentary within a programme called “Documentary Campus Masterschool” I am also embedded in a network of market professionals once it comes to editing, marketing, distribution, festival strategies. etc. I am sorry I can’t mention any specific names to you just yet but I will adjust the comment with names, once the October pitching session is over.
Is Gary oldman still the greatest actor ever?
He sure is a pretty amazing actor. :)
Hello, I find this very interesting and was under the impression that Black people in Germany at that time, were targeted by Nazis for genocide. However I'm ignorant on this topic.
I am Black American and my cousin spent time in Germany while in the military and married a woman from there. They are in the states and happily married with grown kids. He felt welcome there.
From what I have learned, Germany seemed to make heroic efforts to get past their history of Nazis. Which in comparison to the US with slavery, I do not feel was properly addressed like Germany did with the Nazis. Do you feel that Germany properly addressed the various prejudices against Black Germans as well? If so, how?
Hello there. Please excuse my late reply. I have been out researching and talking to eyewitnesses in the last couple weeks.
Yes, you are right. Germany sure is making big efforts to get past the Nazi history however, in the case of colonialism and Afro-German history there is definitely room for improvement. I know it might seem that this is something that must have happened alongside the incredible effort in the general historical reappraisal but it didn’t. Only now - slowly - Afro-German stories are being heard. And in some cases it’s too late. We are trying to give them additional presence and especially regarding the still so present stigma and the prejudices against Black Germans that is long overdue!
Are you Jewish?
No. I was raised catholic... but I study all religions now.
Is it true that there were black nazis?
Hi there. I tried to answer that question a bit earlier yesterday. Please find the link below. :) I know it does not fulfil the answer to a 100% but I will make sure if I find more specifics on that with my next talking round with specialist and experts I will upload them on here.
Have you read HALF BLOOD BLUES by Esi Edugyan?
Funny you mention that book... I actually just received a mail with that exact book a couple days ago and can't wait to start reading it. :) How did you like it?
I found it fascinating and well-written. I was curious how it squared with your research. Enjoy.
I will definitely let you know once I read it. :)
How many black people lived in Nazi Germany?
Hey first of all i like the aesthetic style of the trailer
What do you think how well the reapraissal of the wrongs against black is fairing especially compared to the reapraissal of the crimes against sinti,roma and gays ?
as those 3/4 groups seem like the forgotten victims of the nazis
Thank you. I am glad you like the style. The aesthetic is something very significant for me in that specific case since the world of “the arts” was an essential way of survival during that time. With owning it now I feel it allows some sort of empowerment. I hope this makes sense. :)
And to your second question - very good one by the way! I hope I am phrasing that correctly but I feel that unfortunately none of those targeted groups were ever covered with a good reappraisal. There is no way the horrors of the Nazis can ever be covered enough anyway and it shall never be forgotten… I sometimes have the feeling of people not wanting to deal with that time anymore but that is exactly when it becomes dangerous. Especially because I came across so many untold stories. Unseen stories and stories that deserve a voice. In particular because with an increasing power of right wing parties those stories need to be told. With “Black Skin / White Gaze” that is one angle but there are many other.
Hopefully this is still open for my question or questions.
Was any afro Germans allowed to join the Luftwaffe or the Kriegsmarine and if so were they ever able to become any high ranking officials of either?
Hi there. Sorry for the late response. There are known cases of Afro Germans in the Wehrmacht and especially of volunteer battalions abroad (in the Africa campaign). But the chances a black German got into the Wehrmacht were very very rare and decisions were always made locally. I am not sure about the ranking possibilities within those rare cases though but since the general image of a black Wehrmachtssoldat was very unusual it would seem that high ranking possibilities were rather low. I will make sure to ask specifics with my next question round with our scholars and experts and let you know. :)
In our case we got the chance to talk to eye witnesses who always dreamed of joying but they were rejected to be part of the “Hitler Youth” (led directly to the SS) or “Bund Deutscher Mädchen”. Leaving them behind with doubt in their German identity.
Are you aware that some black people served in DAK?
Hi there, sorry for my late reply. I have been out for further research. :) You mean the “Deutsche Afrikakorps” with Rommel, right? Yes, I have come across it in my research. How did you find out about it?
Yes, That’s what I mean. I’m a major nerd
Omg! For me this is one of the best AMAs ever as it touches on a perspective of history that is relatively unknown. Why do you think that this facet of nazi German history is being kept quiet?
Hi there. Please excuse my late reply! I am glad you like the AMA. :)
Good question. To be honest I have only assumptions that could lead to an answer - even I came across the topic “by luck” about 1,5 years ago and been researching it every since. I have been working on historical documentaries before - focusing on WWII topics and you would not believe how many untold stories there are out there. It’s incredible and devastating. And I get why people tend to be full of historical approaches of WWII topics but seeing how political powers keep shifting again, it is a necessary task to look at ALL the stories and make sure something horrible like that will never happen again! I will keep you updated on the documentary development and send a message once I know the premiere dates. :)
You mentioned in another comment that black people have a right to their own history. But I think that staking a claim to this period of history is very problematic. Do you see any danger in shifting the narrative away from the larger groups that suffered under the Nazi regime?
Maybe I phrased that wrong but with “Black Skin / White Gaze” we are not trying to shift the narrative away from a larger group we would just like to adjust the historical “cone of light” to the known narrative. We dont want to diminish any other suffering, atrocities or anything else committed by the nazis at all. All we do is highlight an aspect that hasn’t been talked about to a great extent. To look at a story of a population that survived the horrors of the Nazi era even though one might not have expected that.
Seems more like she's including them in the conversation, not seeking to remove anyone else.
Yes. Exactly. :)
Thanks. Likewise! ;)