Hans Massaquoi–born Jan. 19, 1926–was the German-born son of a white German mother and black Liberian father. He grew up in Hamburg, Germany during the Nazi rise to power and at one point considered joining the Hitler Youth. Learn more about him and his later life in America as a journalist for Ebony Magazine here.
“I was six years old when I started school in 1932. Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. I was too young then to understand what this would mean for me. I didn’t know that my mother, a nurse, had lost her government job because of me. The teachers who had objections to the new regime were quickly replaced by younger teachers who were openly pro-Nazi. Some of them, including the head teacher, were plainly hostile to me and did their very best to insult me and to make disparaging remarks about my race. One time – I must have been about ten – one of the teachers took me aside and said, ‘When we’ve finished with the Jews, you’ll be next.’ The most important reason why I survived Hitler and was not killed during the Holocaust was that there wasn’t a large Black community in Germany.”–Hans Massaquoi