16 September 2007

Remembering a black victim of the Holocaust

I know very little about the black victims of the Holocaust so I found the article in today’s Observer about a memorial for Mahjub bin Adam Mohamed very interesting. Bin Adam is the first black person to be given a memorial in Germany as an individual victim of the genocide of the Third Reich. A Stolperstein - a bronze 'stumbling block' - will be erected on the ground outside the house in Berlin where he lived.


The memorial will be placed so that pedestrians have to step around it, and its aim is to stop future generations from thinking of the Holocaust in terms of anonymous, faceless numbers. Until now the markers have been almost exclusively established at Jewish homes, but bin Adam's Stolperstein will serve as a reminder of other minorities who were also murdered under Hitler's regime. The Stolperstein is a project conceived by artist Gunter Demnig. He plans to create a total of 12,000 markers outside houses, giving the name of the person or persons who lived there and the date on which they were taken to a concentration camp.


Bin Adam, who was born in Tanzania, joined the then colonial German East Africa services when he was 10 years old and served with the army. He emigrated to Berlin in 1929, finding work as a waiter in hotels and taking small parts in films. He married a German woman, Maria Schwander, and they had three children - Adam, Annemarie and Bodo. He was arrested in 1941, charged with the crime of 'miscegenation' and taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he died in November 1944.


Before WWI Germany had extensive colonies in Africa. After the First World War, France occupied the German Rhineland, deploying colonial African soldiers as the occupying force. The result was hundreds of children born to German women by African soldiers who then became a target for Hitler. In Mein Kampf, he referred to them as 'Rhineland Bastards'. By 1937, every identified mixed-race child in the Rhineland had been forcibly sterilised, often without anaesthetic. By the outbreak of war most black people had fled. The few who remained were exterminated.

This is a subject I will have to find out more about.


I would like to thank a person from Toronto who just became the 75,000th visitor to the Poor Mouth


11 comments:

beakerkin said...

The stories of African coloniists fighting bravely for Germany in
WW I is not widely known. Nazi Germany like all utopian maladies is not able to see beyond the delusion of its rhetoric.

The notion that this man was a combat veteran was irrelevant to racially obsessed idiocy.

jams o donnell said...

Indeed. There was one campaign thatr outlasted WWI itself - the one in German East Africa against von Lettoww Vorbeck.

A close relative of my sister's husband was the doctor on a curious mission to take control of lake Tangyanika with two small gunboats Mimi and Toutou. The mission was the inspiration for the African Queen.

Siani said...

Interesting post - I had no idea about any of this. God, they really were barbaric, weren't they? Forced sterilisation, and without anaesthetic - that's just pure evil.

jams o donnell said...

It certainly was Siani.

Anonymous said...

Argh, had to get past the hookworm to comment! But, I wanted to say, I'd like to find out more too.

jams o donnell said...

Awww Hooy the hookworm is a cutie! Seriously, though, overshadowed as it was by the desturction of the jews and the Roma it is definitely a subject that needs exposure.

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Knowledge is power, but sometimes I just don't want to know the extent of the depravity men are capable of.

jams o donnell said...

I know what you mean ewbl. I find these things appalling but things that need to be hightlighted. One day we may atually learn from our collective past...

jams o donnell said...

I know what you mean ewbl. I find these things appalling but things that need to be hightlighted. One day we may atually learn from our collective past...

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