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9780688171551

Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany

Massaquoi, Hans

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A great deal of Holocaust survival stories revolve around disguise--many Jews were forced into impersonation by the desperateness of their plight. Imagine if a person, by the accident of birth, was deigned a target of Nazi hatred but hadn't an option of disguise.

The son of a well-to-do African and a white German nurse, Hans lived a privileged toddler's life befitting the grandson of a diplomat. Concern for Hans's frail health caused his mother to remain with him in Germany when his grandfather and father were compelled to return to Liberia. He and his mother become part of Hamburg's poor working class, forced to live in a cramped attic apartment without hot water and electricity. But their change in social status was to be only the beginning of their hardships.

For twelve agonizing years following Hitler's rise to power, Hans, like all non-Aryans, was dehumanized and devalued by the Nazis. Living in constant fear of death, by either the Gestapo executioners or Allied bombs, Hans's existence became increasingly precarious until liberation by British troops in 1945.

What sets Hans's story apart from other memoirs of the Holocaust era is that his high visibility made him an easily recognizable target, stranded without the comfort of a racial community of any sort. Destined to Witness is a memoir filled with courage, feeling, and intelligence that will touch readers everywhere.A great deal of Holocaust survival stories revolve around disguise--many Jews were forced into impersonation by the desperateness of their plight. Imagine if a person, by the accident of birth, was deigned a target of Nazi hatred but hadn't an option of disguise.

The son of a well-to-do African and a white German nurse, Hans lived a privileged toddler's life befitting the grandson of a diplomat. Concern for Hans's frail health caused his mother to remain with him in Germany when his grandfather and father were compelled to return to Liberia. He and his mother become part of Hamburg's poor working class, forced to live in a cramped attic apartment without hot water and electricity. But their change in social status was to be only the beginning of their hardships.

For twelve agonizing years following Hitler's rise to power, Hans, like all non-Aryans, was dehumanized and devalued by the Nazis. Living in constant fear of death, by either the Gestapo executioners or Allied bombs, Hans's existence became increasingly precarious until liberation by British troops in 1945.

What sets Hans's story apart from other memoirs of the Holocaust era is that his high visibility made him an easily recognizable target, stranded without the comfort of a racial community of any sort. Destined to Witness is a memoir filled with courage, feeling, and intelligence that will touch readers everywhere.

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About the Author:

Hans J. Massaquoi emigrated to the United States in the early 1950s. He served in the U.S. Army and then became a journalist for Johnson Publishing, where he was managing editor of Ebony magazine. He was an active participant in the civil rights movement. The father of two sons, Hans lives with his wife, Katherine, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

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Massaquoi, Hans Author
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ISBN 10: 0688171559 ISBN 13: 9780688171551
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