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Blacks in Germany: From Past to Nowadays

Introduction

One of the most compelling developments of our age, it should be remembered, is the recognition of multicultural multiracial society and how they translate to every individual. The challenge is not just in recognizing other races but more importantly, the culture and heritage of people must also be recognized. Are people becoming aware and accepting of others? Are people’s views and minds growing broader? Is intolerance being decreased? Are we now on the path of building a society that does not just recognize cultural and racial diversity but celebrates it? As much as we would like to think that we are accomplishing this, current evidence shows that there is still much to do. Thus, such works help the cause by a great margin and develop linkage with the past that helps us to evaluate the present and formulate our mind against racial discrimination.

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Human beings – superior to all other creations

All mighty have created human beings, a miracle of nature, superior to all other creations. God has bestowed man with all his grace and gifts of nature. To him all men are equal, but a man with his contemptuous ideologies divided mankind into classes and creeds, instead of creating bridges, created walls between their hearts. The insects of racial discrimination, the curse of civilization, are gradually eating up our society, dissolving harmony and affection, transforming human beings into weapons of carnage. Thus the society no longer remains a better place to live in. (Lamb, 243)

The first mentions

According to some historians, the first significant influx of Africans to Germany originated from Germany’s African colonies in the 19th century. Some Afro-Germans living in Germany today can assert lineage dated back five cohorts to that time. Hitherto Germany’s colonial experiences in Africa from 1890 to 1918 were relatively limited and concise, far more self-effacing than that of the British, the Dutch, the French, or other European powers.

German genetic experiments set in motion there especially involving hostages taken from the 1904 HERERO mass execution that left 60,000 Africans dead, followed by a subsequent four-year rebellion of German colonization. In the year 1904 German colonial company had to counter a rebellion with the mass execution of three-quarters of the Herero inhabitants in what is now Namibia.

Now after the passing of a full century to that incident Germany reluctantly issued a formal apology to the Herero in the year 2004 for that act of violence, which was aggravated by a German annihilation order (Vernichtungsbefehl). But Germany still turns down the appeal to pay any reimbursement to the Herero survivors, even though it agrees to make available foreign assistance to Namibia. After the shellacking Germany received in World War I, it was stripped of its African colonies in the year 1918. (Dollard, 89-90)

The history of Africans, living in Germany, dates back further than most people assume. Later he became a respected philosopher and professor at the universities of Jena and Halle in Germany He was not only the first African known to get admission in a German university (Halle) but also the first to achieve a doctorate in the year 1729. As a professor, he had taught at two German universities and created several scholarly works, a Latin dissertation entitled De Arte Sobrie et Accurate Philosophandi published in 1736, On the talent of Philosophizing Soberly and precisely. According to the assembled information, he encountered severe racial discrimination in Germany and had to return to his native land Africa in 1747. Thus there lies the unavoidable fact Africans in Europe were always considered as something unusual and alien. (King, 433)

The Second World War

The Second World War was a mid-20th century clash that swallowed up much of the globe and is considered the biggest and deadliest combat in human history. As a mess-up of war, the French were permitted to take up Germany in the Rhineland, an astringent portion of territory that has gone back and forth between the two countries for centuries. The French deliberately set out their colonized African territorial army as the inhabiting force.

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Germans took this as the ultimate abuse of World War I and almost immediately after that 92% of them voted in the Nazi party. (King, 434) Many of these African Rhineland-based soldiers intermarried with German ladies and were brought into being their offspring as Black Germans. When Hitler came to authority, one of his first commands was meant to torture these mixed children. Emphasizing his obsession with ethnic limpidness, by the year 1937, every identified mixed-race child in the Rhineland had been by force sterilized to put a stop to further “race polluting” as he named it. Countless of them became the victim of the Third Reich’s racial hypothesis and its consequential crusade of enforced sterilization and murder. (Dollard, 90-91)

Even though most Black Germans tried to escape their fatherland, going for France where persons like Josephine Baker were gradually assisting and supporting the French subversives, but unfortunately many of them ran into troubles reaching somewhere else. Every country was shutting its doors to the Germans, as well as the Black ones. But many Black Germans, unwavering in their principles that, first they were Germans by blood, mind, and soul, afterward partly African by blood, choose to stay behind in Germany. Unluckily, many Black Germans were put into detention, charged with subversion, and dispatched in cattle cars to concentration camps. In the concentration camps, Afro-Germans were forced to do the worst jobs imaginable.

As an ultimate let go, these Blacks Germans were killed after every three months, so that they would never be able to make public the internal mechanism of the Final Solution. In each case of Black subjugation, regardless of the fact how incarcerated, en-shackled, or beaten they may be they always find a way to continue to exist and at the same time set others free. Putting his own life in danger, he disseminated large numbers of vitamins to camp captives, which helped many of them to stay alive, for the reason that they were ravenous, feeble, and in poor health, conditions became worse by acute vitamin insufficiency.

Very little information could be collected about the numbers of Black Germans captivated in the camps or put to death under Nazi rule. But they are also required to say their piece for justice, not just history. Dissimilar to Jews living in Israel and Germany, Black Germans were given no war compensations for the reason that their German citizenship was invalidated, instead of the reality that they were German-born. The only allowance they received is from those who are prepared to put in the picture of their stories before the world and go on with their combat for recognition and reimbursements. (Fletcher, 188)

After the end of the war, numbers of Blacks Germans, who had by hook or by crook managed to continue to exist the Nazi rule were rounded up and convict as war criminals. The comparatively fewer numbers of blacks in Germany, their extensive scattering from corner to corner of the country, and the information that the Nazis concerted on the Jews were some aspects due to which many Afro-Germans managed to survive the impediments of the war. The social and cultural problems of concern that black Germans have to face still today and the way their experiences can enhance our analysis of historical and present-day racial issues have been considered at UB at a symposium titled “Not So Plain as Black and White: A Multidisciplinary Examination of the Afro-German Experience.” (Kar, 77)

Occupation of Americans of Germany

After World War II with the occupation of Americans of Germany, came the next influx of Africans to Germany. After 1945, as African-American GIs were stationed in Germany, Afro-Germany again thrived from increasing associations between black American GIs and German women. African-American black GIs, especially those from the South, instead of few cases of resentments, were given full liberty. Their positions puffed up further becoming several hundred thousand immigrant human resources from countries like Mozambique, Angola and Namibia were brought in to encounter East Germany’s never-ending scarcity of manual labor. Even the African students and persons in exile, who settled in Germany, have added to the spilling over depth and extensiveness of the Afro-German cultural blend. (Kar, 78)

The First World War

It was a global war although its arena was primarily in Europe. World War I happened between July 28 1914 and November 11, 1918. This War involved not only the major European powers but also eventually involved most of the major nations around the world, the dominant forces being Russia, Britain, France, Germany, and Austria-Hungary. Trench warfare was the primary characteristic of the strategy of this war, while the basic characteristic was the massive loss of life.

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Lenin used these theories to infer the causes of the First World War. It was pointed out that the rapid development of German industry threatened the global economic dominance of Great Britain. Since Britain was a large empire, she had a wider commercial and economic advantage over Germany and thus a conflict was inevitable. This argument gave Communism popularity and aided its rise. Lenin also argued that the hawkish banking and financial interests pursued by the capitalist and imperialist powers also gave the war efforts its much-needed fillip.

Cordell Hull, American Secretary of State under Franklin Roosevelt, attributed trade barriers as the root cause of both World War I and World War II. In 1944, Bretton Woods Agreements were worked out to reduce trade barriers to eliminate the cause of the conflicts. (Bessel, 143)

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased for Britain, Italy, and the U.S., but decreased for France, Russia, Netherlands, and the Central Powers. This misbalance throughout Europe had a far-reaching impact the world over.
On the other hand, this increase in the governments’ share of the GDP led them to take loans from other countries. For example, Britain borrowed heavily from not only the Government of the US but also from the American railways and Wall Street. By 1931, this circle collapsed resulting in major economic crises throughout the world. Germany naturally was impacted the most. (Bessel, 188-90)

However, it can be stated that for a democratic society with its democratic form of the government system, it is but an obvious choice to opt for a society that is mostly colorblind. The basis custom of a democratic society is to provide its mass with a structural form that offers equality in terms of justice and social characteristic. It is an unwanted fact but it is also extremely true at the same time that racism is a curse that exists among us whether we like it or not.

The presence of racism is well documented in many societal domains including the workplace, school, health care, and housing. Thus, it can well be evaluated that the nature of perils the slaves faced during a time when slavery was legal. Under such conditions, it appears that establishing a linkage between the nature of work or industry and the conditions of the slaves is quite a simplification of the actual problem of racial discrimination and oppression. Thus, it appears that such a hypothesis needs more data-backed analysis and evaluation.

This war polarized the world based on allegiance! The two poles or power blocks being the Entente Powers, or ‘Allies’ and the Central Powers. Allied countries were Russia, France, Britain, and their allies, and the Central Powers being constituted of Germany, Austro-Hungary, Turkey, and their allies. The latter group was called Central Powers since they were located around the center of the European continent. Later the US joined the Entente Powers.

Although Italy, was initially a Central power she switched over to join the Allies. All these aggravated the global economic crisis. This turbulent economic scene was further aggravated by the conscription policy, whereby nearly all physically fit man was eligible to be put in uniforms. Of those who joined the army, many lost their lives and an even greater number were wounded. Workforce shortage was a major problem faced by most countries. (Vogt, 234-6)

Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi, who now lives in the United States, in his autobiography “Destined to Witness”, describes his childhood and youth in Hamburg during the rise of Nazi power. His biography makes available an exceptional viewpoint, for the reason that he was one of the very few dark-skinned inhabitant Germans in all of Germany under the Nazi regime, turned away from, but not Nazi mistreated by the Nazis.

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In Germany, Massaquoi had luckily stayed away from the awful destiny of many blacks during the Nazi era, but it was more often than not easier said than done for adult blacks. The fortunate ones were forcibly sterilized but permitted to live. Others were captivated and sent to concentration camps. Some associated prisoners of war, together with black French colonial soldiers and African Americans, were incarcerated in Stalag-III-A at Luckenwalde near Berlin. (Dos, 442)

The experiences of Afro-Germans in today’s Germany offer an imminent look into the conversion of that nation-willing or not-into a multicultural society,” Blacks living in Germany today are classified into several categories. German-born blacks are sometimes called “Afrodeutsche”, this category comprises people of African inheritance born in Germany, with either of the parents African. However, in the year 2000, a new German naturalization law provided blacks and other foreigners the permission to apply for citizenship after living in Germany for three to eight years. (Kar, 79)

The theory of structural functionalism

The theory of structural functionalism defines social institutions to be a collective whole necessary to fulfill the various needs of individuals and centers on how these institutions meet their social needs. Structural functionalism says that for societies to survive they have to be stable and cohesive and this comes from solidarity. However, the conflict theory believes that society runs on competition rather than solidarity and social harmony. It views society to be full of inequalities, which creates change and conflicts among all.

Structural functionalism emphasizes more on social order instead of social change unlike the conflict theory, which believes that fundamental changes and conflicts are unavoidable in a society. Structural functionalism believed that an individual is simply an occupant of his social role and is thus, not significant as only themselves but just because of their social roles and status. Thus, while structural-functionalism believes that social inequality and oppression may be necessary for the stability, integration, and functioning of a society, the conflict theory holds exploitation by dominant groups to be the main reason for social problems.

Although both these theories have dissimilar value orientations, they have the same perception about inequality, which is that the dominant groups profit from discrimination. Structural functionalism says that discrimination fits perfectly in a society since it yields positive results but the conflict theory says that social changes are inevitable and will take place continuously and rapidly since the various social groups are striving to take, each other’s place in our societal hierarchy. (Fararo, 2001)

Structural functionalism says that when a society becomes complex differentiation takes place and integration takes place among the new institutions. Thus, even though changes occur structures inside a society emerge to compensate for the change. These new integrated structures guarantee the smooth running of our society and thus, it argues that the members are responsible for its stability and order. However, the conflict theory says that the probability of change is embedded in the basic structures and relations among the classes of our society. Therefore, when we reach a point where further growth of society is not possible, a crisis takes place, which transforms society. Consequently, change is a continuous process until it reaches a crisis point where transformation takes place.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it should be mentioned that history helps out us to identify ourselves, recognize who we are, and be acquainted with the origin where we come from. We over and over again shrink back from hearing about our chronological times of yore for the reason that so much of it is excruciating. On the other hand, this has brought the black Germans together in their great effort for rights, self-respect, and yes, compensations for the wrong done to them in the centuries. But at the same time, they need to remember the past until the end of time, so that they can do something to make certain that these treacherous occurrences on no account come to pass for a second time. (Dollard, 92)

References:

Bessel, Richard; Germany after the First World War; Oxford University Press, 1995.

Vogt, Hannah, Gregory Peter Ed Peter Ed Vogt, Gordon A. Craig & Herbert Strauss; The Burden of Guilt: A Short History of Germany, 1914-1945; Oxford University Press US, 1966.

Massie, Robert K; Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea; Ballantine Books, 2004.

Morris, Warren Bayard; The Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany; Nelson-Hall, 1982.

Choudhry, Taufiq; Month of the year effect and January effect in pre-WWI stock returns: evidence from a non-linear GARCH model; International Journal of Finance & Economics; Volume 6, Issue 1, Date: 2001, Pages: 1-11.

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