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Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany

Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany

Update: 2022-10-25
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NOTE: Please stick through the intro. There's an important announcement.

WARNING: This episode contains the use of offensive racial epithets and disturbing depictions of bigotry that some listeners may find upsetting.


What was like to be a child and grow up during the rise of the Nazis? Many have given us memorable answers to that question. There are even those who are still alive and remember it, however vaguely, though we are quickly losing them to the passage of time. But a more pressing and unusual question must be asked, especially in the context of this story: what was it like to be a child and grow up during the rise of the Nazis…while also being black?

In this episode of History Impossible, we're going to explore this question by looking at the epic life story of a one Hans-Jurgen Massaquoi, the son of African nobility and German peasantry. We'll see how his existence was allowed for by the incredible story of Liberia itself, as well as its relationship with the early Weimar Republic. We'll look at how his existence was received both before and after the rise of the Nazis. We'll see how their education reforms and adoption of American-style eugenics impacted him. We'll cover the famous pre-war events that would help shape Hans into the man he would become, namely the famous Joe Louis v. Max Schmeling boxing match and the 1936 Olympics in which Jesse Owens took home the gold. We'll examine how he survived the war years and what it was like to live under such conditions as a German civilian.

But most of all, we will be shown what it means to not only survive, but to thrive, despite all odds being stacked against you as you grow up in a world that is objectively and abjectly hostile to your very existence.

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Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany

Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany

Alexander von Sternberg