Book Review-“Destined to Witness”

January 2, 2010 - No Comments

by Jim Barnes

ike 2009 128

The following is a review of a most interesting book by Bill Donegan:
When Linda was at the Eisenhower Farm event this past September, she visited the 99Th infantry US Army.  They had a book table,  One of the books that caught her eye was entitled “Destined to Witness” by Hans J.. Massaquoi.  On the cover of the book is a photograph of a young boy dressed in shorts, shirt and pullover sweater.  The boy has a large swastika sewn onto the front of his pullover.  The boy is surrounded by what appear to be German boys attired in garments from 1940s Germany.  The boy is unusual in that he is black.
I have just finished reading Hans Massaquoi’s auto biography. Hans chronicles his experience and survival growing up, and living in Nazi Germany!  Hans is the son of a well-to-do African diplomat and a white German nurse.  When Hitler came to power in 1933 Hans’ father returned to Liberia, while Hans and his mother remained in Hamburg.
Hans tells how, in spite of being devalued by the Nazis, he still fell under the Fuhrers spell, and even tried to join the Hitler Youth.  He was barred from membership because his skin was definitely not white. He explained what people, who did not know him, said of him in public, and how his white Nazi friends used to beat them up for it. Hans was actually liked by his Nazi buddies and they protected him!
Hans has provided readers with the opportunity of seeing a new perspective of what it was like living among people who wanted to exterminate him and how difficult it is to categorize any person and make assumptions based on skin color alone. This is an astonishing story to say the least.  There was the SS officer who told him that he was an asset for Germany because one day Germany would take back its lost African colonies and would need educated German blacks to rule the colony.  There were the swing kids, who rebelled against authority, who took him in because he epitomized all that the dance craze embodied. There are the military types who at first rejected him but who later drafted him into the Volkssturm.  There were the people who dug him out of a pile of rubble, following a British air raid, who wanted to kill him because they thought that he was a downed allied pilot.  He was saved by a policeman who recognized that he spoke German without an accent. There were the police who told him that he could ignore the signs posted in the playground warning jews to stay out.
Hans lived the entire 12 years under Hitler’s rule in constant fear of death, either by Gestapo executioners or Allied bombs. He lived without the comfort of sympathetic racial community and had to rely on his own instincts to survive. Hans now lives in the United States with his wife Katharine..  He has two sons: one is a lawyer, the other a doctor.
I can not tell you anymore or I’ll spoil the book for you.  Get it.  Read it.
The book has 443 pages, and ends with these words, “Ende gut, alles gut”.
Bill Donegan
Editor: Amazon has this book if you are interested:


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