Africans in the History and Consciousness of Germans

(last update April 2000)

This study, which was begun a number of years ago and is now approaching completion, investigates the history of Africans who came to Germany and their reception here. Immigration of Africans to Germany began in about 1830, parallel to the development of an industrial society and the advent of modern colonialism. This research focuses on the fate of black Africans coming to Germany from the country's colonies, the role of black colonial troops employed by Germany's enemies in the Franco-German War of 1870-71 and World War I, the so-called "Nigger mania" which took hold of Germany's urban cultural centers in the nineteen-twenties, and, finally, how black Germans attempted to achieve emancipation since the early twentieth century, culminating in the activities of the so-called International Negro Workers' Committee ("Internationale Negerbüro") in Hamburg in the years 1927 to 1933. Complementing these chapters are an analysis of selected literary works, illustrating how Germans have spun out their fears and longings into fantasies involving black Africans, and a chapter on the fate of the black minority in the Third Reich.

A large portion of the volume has been completed; abridged and slight revised sections of the book have appeared in Mittelweg 36.