Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany

From the Library of Congress:

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the photograph taken in 1933 of a brown-skinned boy wearing a swastika in a schoolyard in Hamburg, Germany, does not begin to tell the story of the remarkable life of Hans J. Massaquoi. Mr. Massaquoi, former managing editor of Ebony magazine, has now told the story himself in his new book, Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany.

As he grew to adulthood, Mr. Massaquoi was barred from joining the German military, pursuing an education or a preparing for a professional career. Instead he became a machinist’s apprentice. After World War II, he immigrated to the United States on a student visa. Although not a citizen, he was ordered to report for military service because of a clerical error and served for two years as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborn Division during the Korean War. He subsequently took advantage of the GI bill and earned a degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, which paved the way for a nearly 40-year career at Ebony magazine.

Asked how he survived Hitler’s reign of terror, Mr. Massaquoi credits two factors. The fact that there were so few blacks in Germany at the time made them a low priority for mass extermination. Additionally, the rapid advance of the allied troops gave Hitler “more to worry about than Hans Massaquoi.”

2 comments

  1. You can’t start a story with “A picture may be worth a thousand words” and then not show the picture (or were they alluding to the tiny picture on the book cover?).

    Give us a big version of the picture!

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  2. Wah-wah-wah. This is a non-story, and will be exterminated/eradicated/alleviated once President-Elect Mitt Romney is in charge.

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