Hans Massaquoi

Hans Massaquoi

Hans-Jürgen Massaquoi (born January 19, 1926) is a German American journalist and author. He was born in Hamburg, Germany to a German mother and Liberian father who was consul general of Liberia in Germany.

Biographical account

In his autobiography, "Destined to Witness", Massaquoi describes his childhood and youth in Hamburg during the Nazi rise to power. His biography provides a unique point of view: he was one of very few German-born mulattoes in all of Nazi Germany, shunned, but not persecuted by the Nazis. This dichotomy remained a key theme throughout his whole life.

Massaquoi lived a simple, but happy childhood with his mother, Bertha Nikodijevic. His father, Al-Haj Massaquoi, was a law student in Dublin who only occasionally lived with the family at the consul general home in Hamburg. Eventually, the consul general was recalled to Liberia, and Hans Massaquoi and his mother remained in Germany.

The daily life of the young Massaquoi was remarkable. He was one of the few black children in Nazi Germany, and like most of the other kids his age, he dreamed of joining the Hitler Youth. Increasingly, he realized the true nature of Nazism. His skin color made him a target for racist abuse.

However, in contrast to German Jews or German Roma, Massaquoi—as a German Negro—was not persecuted. He was "just" a second-class citizen, which was actually a blessing in disguise. During World War II, his "impurity" spared him from being drafted into the German army. As unemployment, hunger and poverty grew rampant, he even tried to enlist, but he was rejected by the officers.

In 1947 Massaquoi was able to visit Liberia, and was fascinated and shocked by its raw, rural nature. He grew estranged from his father Al-Haj, who left his mother and who came across as arrogant and tyrannical.

After that, Massaquoi emigrated to the United States. He served two years in the army as a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. With his GI bill he studied journalism at the University of Illinois followed by a career at "Jet" magazine and then "Ebony" magazine, where he became managing editor.

Over the years he has visited Germany many times. He states Germany is still his homeland.

External links

* [http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/0003/black_nazi.html Growing up Black in Nazi Germany]


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