Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"I think I was more crushed than Louis when he lost to Schmeling"

Wherein this book jumps to the head of the line of stuff to be read

From Cynical-C, Cynical-C is a link to a 2000 Library of Congress article about 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.

The question of how Massaquoi came to be raised in Nazi Germany is one he has been asked "millions of times." Grandson of the Liberian consul general to Hamburg, Mr. Massaquoi was born in 1926 to a well-to-do African father and a German mother. His early life was one of privilege, befitting the grandson of a diplomat.

"I associated black skin with superiority, since our servants were white," said Mr. Massaquoi. "My grandfather was 'the man,'" he joked.

His circumstances changed dramatically when his father and grandfather returned to Liberia in 1929. Refusing to expose her sickly son to a tropical climate, Mr. Massaquoi's mother chose instead to raise her son in Germany as best she could on her meager wages as a nurse's aide.

Although he had spent his early years in a villa, Mr. Massaquoi at first found life in a cold-water flat "interesting." What distressed him most was being the "oddity on the block."

"It was a constant problem," he said. "I was always pointed at because of my exotic looks. I just wanted to be like everyone else." Like other boys, he wanted nothing more than to join the Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth Movement).

"The Nazis put on the best show of all the political parties. There were parades, fireworks and uniforms — these were the devices by which Hitler won over young people to his ideas. Hitler always boasted that despite parents' political persuasion, Germany's youth belonged to him."

Mr. Massaquoi was dealt a crushing blow when he learned that the Hitlerjugend as well as the local playground were not open to "non-Aryans."

Wow, that sounds interesting.


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