Meet Hans Massaquoi, one of the very rare and few biracial Germans who were born and grew up during the Nazi regime. Though do not be mislead by the photo, he was not actually allowed to join the Nazi Party.
This does not really make much sense when you remember your elementary history lessons does it? Massaquoi really does embody the saying of wrong place, wrong time. A little black child with a swastika sewn on his clothes, what could be more bizarre?
Massaquoi was the son of a German nurse and Liberian law student, born in Hamburg in 1926. Yet not long after being born his father returned to Africa, leaving his mother and him to survive alone through the Nazi regime. Remember this was a regime that championed being Aryan and put German nationalism before everything. Massaquoi was just a kid, not really understanding what was going on around him. He tried everything in school to show he was a good German, even sewing the swastika on his clothes – which his mother removed on returning home! You see he was never actually allowed to join the Nazi party.
Stories like this show us the innocence that children have, you just want to be accepted and have friends at school so you do not see the pure evil which is around you! Massaquoi could never understand why he was not allowed to join the Nazi Party, in fact at age 10 he tried to join the Hitler Youth division. As he put it:
“They did exciting things — camping, parades and playing drums.”
So how did he survive then? Why was he not persecuted? Well, it seems in Nazi Germany, he was actually pretty low down the list of groups to attack. And some SS officers thought he would be useful for when they reclaimed African colonies. This meant he was able to work in a government-run job center, keeping his head down low he got through Nazi society quite easily. In fact, the bigger danger was an Allied bomb being dropped on his head.
And his story does not stop here, he actually went on to immigrate to the United States and was drafted into fighting for Uncle Sam during the Korean war! So he went on to fight for democracy, what a fitting reverse in ideologies!