Being Black from the Kaiserreich to the Cold War


People of African descent in Germany had different experiences based on their status and the time period in which they lived. Discrimination was commonplace but neither consistent nor uniform; it shifted and varied, and race was not always the most salient factor in perception and/or self-perception. This snapshot makes clear that being Black—and being German—was contingent and situation specific; it also changed over time from Imperial Germany [the Kaiserreich] to Nazi Germany and then to occupied Germany. The sources reveal the various ways that Germans saw and treated foreign visitors and those who were visibly different. They attest to the fact that Blackness was contextualized in various constellations of power and powerlessness. And most of all, the sources point to the competing ways in which Germans viewed themselves.


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