Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Did you know about these black prisoners of the Nazis?

The Holocaust (also known as the Shoah, or "catastrophe") was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews during World War II (approximately two-thirds of the nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust), and five to eleven million non-Jews, including Romani, communists, Soviet prisoners of war, Polish and Soviet civilians, homosexuals, people with disabilities, Jehovah's Witnesses and other political and religious "opponents" of the Nazi regime, of German and non-German ethnic origin, alike. (Source: Wikipedia: The Holocaust)

I am fairly knowledgeable about the subject, but recently I read (and in some cases, re-read) several pieces about the role and fate of blacks during the Holocaust. I started by perusing the US Holocaust Memorial Museum's Holocaust Enyclopedia article titled: "Blacks During the Holocaust"; the Wikipedia articles: "The Holocaust: Non-Jewish: Persons of Color, "Black People in Nazi Germany", and "Racial Policy of Nazi Germany: Other non-Aryans"; and several related resources. In doing so, I came across several names and photographs that many might find unfamiliar. 

For example, did you know about these black prisoners of the Nazis?
Vestre Fængsel survivor - According to Wikipedia: "While touring through Denmark in 1941, Valaida was arrested by the Nazis and probably kept at Vestre Fængsel,[2] a Danish prison in Copenhagen that was run by the Nazis, before being released on a prisoner exchange in May 1942.[3] According to jazz historian Scott Yanow, "she never emotionally recovered from the experience".["

Dachau survivor - he was a Belgian resistance fighter arrested in 1942 for alleged sabotage.

Beverloo, Laufen, and Tittmoning survivor - according to Wikipedia - "On April 14, 1942, four months after the United States entered the war, Nassy was arrested as an enemy national in German-occupied Belgium. For seven months, he was held in the Beverloo transit camp in Leopoldsburg, Belgium. He was then transferred to Germany. He spent the rest of the war at the Laufen internment camp and its subcamp, Tittmoning, both in Upper Bavaria.

Throughout his three-year imprisonment, Nassy created a unique visual diary of more than 200 paintings and drawings. Many of these works depict daily life in the internment camps. Rules of the Geneva Conventions governed conditions in civilian internment camps, including Laufen and Tittmoning in Nazi Germany where Nassy was confined from 1942 to 1945. Such rules did not apply at the nearby Dachau concentration camp and other camps across German-occupied Europe. There, prisoners were brutally exploited for forced labor, and many died from exhaustion, starvation, and other harsh conditions.

For those interested in learning more, I've included links to some useful resources below.