This is the first English translation of an important document in the history of the black presence in Germany and Europe: the autobiography of Theodor Michael. Theodor Michael is among the few surviving members of the first generation of ‘Afro-Germans’: Born in Germany in 1925 to a Cameroonian father and a German mother, he grew up in Berlin in the last days of the Weimar Republic. As a child and teenager he worked in circuses and films and experienced the tightening knot of racial discrimination under the Nazis in the years before the Second World War. He survived the war as a forced labourer, founding a family and making a career as a journalist and actor in post-war West Germany. Since the 1980s he has become an important spokesman for the black German consciousness movement, acting as a human link between the first black German community of the inter-war period, the pan-Africanism of the 1950s and 1960s, and new generations of Germans of African descent. Theodor Michael's life story is a classic account of coming to consciousness of a man who understands himself as both black and German; accordingly, it illuminates key aspects of modern German social history as well as of the post-war history of the African diaspora. The text has been translated by Eve Rosenhaft, Professor of German Historical Studies at the University of Liverpool and an internationally acknowledged expert in Black German studies. It is accompanied by a translator’s preface, explanatory notes, a chronology of historical events and a guide to further reading, so that the book will be accessible and useful both for general readers and for undergraduate students.
On the German edition of Black German (Deutsch Sein and Schwarz Dazu) by Theodor Michael:
'A treasure and a gift for German historiography.'
The African Courier
'This sincere and perceptive autobiography shows that Vergangenheitsbewältigung (coming to terms with one’s past) is an exercise on which more work has still to be done.'
Osman Durrani, Times Literary Supplement
'In a time marked by rising racial tensions, the translation of Michael’s account of his Afro-German experience is something to be treasured, not only for the societal critique and defiant hope Michael’s experience embodies, but also for Rosenhaft’s historically informed translation which includes rich explanatory notes and a detailed timeline of the modern German state.'
Molly Krueger and Michael Sandberg, TRANSIT
'This is an accessible book for a broad range of readers. Theodor Michael’s willingness to share his difficult experiences is highly commendable, and makes him what he hoped to be: a role model for survivors of persecution, both in Germany and (surely more often thanks to this translation) beyond.'
Diane J. Guido, Translation and Literature
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