In the course of World War I, the Belgians, British and French took control of Germany’s colonies in Africa. The situation for the African colonials in Germany changed in various ways. For example, Africans who possessed a colonial German identification card had a status entitling them to treatment as “members of the former protectorates”. After the Treaty of Versailles (1919), the Africans were encouraged to become citizens of their respective mandate countries, but most preferred to stay where they were. In numerous petitions, they tried to inform the German public about the conditions in the colonies, and continued to request German help and support.
Africans founded the bilingual periodical that was published in German and Duala: Elolombe ya Cameroon (Sun of Cameroon). A political group of Africans established the German branch of a Paris-based human rights organization: “the German section of the League to the Defense of the Negro Race”
Many of the Afro-Germans endured the Great Depression in Germany without being able to gain unemployment compensation, as this depended on German citizenship.Some Afro-Germans were supported through a small budget from the German Foreign Office.
The conditions for Afro-Germans in Germany grew worse during the Nazi period. Naturalized Afro-Germans lost their passports. Working conditions and travel were made extremely difficult for Afro-German musicians, variety, circus or film professionals. Based on racist propaganda, employers were unable to retain or hire Afro-German employees.
The Nazis speculated about gaining the support of Afro-Germans from former German colonies for pro-German colonial propaganda. They planned an “African colonial empire under German predominance”. The legislation for a planned, apartheid-like system already existed in design in 1940, including laws for slaves and an Afro-German passport design. Nazi Germany never approached the realization of its colonial dreams.
Afro-Germans in Germany were socially isolated and forbidden to have sexual relations and marriages with Aryans by the racial laws. In continued discrimination directed at the so-called Rhineland bastards, Nazi officials subjected some 500 Afro-German children in the Rhineland to forced sterilization.
Rhineland bastard was a derogatory term used in Nazi Germany to describe multiracial children with white, German mothers who had been fathered by Africans serving with French colonial troops during the Occupation of the Rhineland after World War I. According to Nazi racial theory, these children were considered inferior to Aryan children and consigned to compulsory sterilization. Blacks were considered “enemies of the race-based state” along with Jews and Gypsies. The Nazis originally sought to rid the German state of Jews and Romani by means of deportation (and later extermination), while Afro-Germans were to be segregated and eventually exterminated through compulsory sterilization