“The Holocaust Experiences of African-Descent People” seminar was held by Dr. Kenneth White, assistant professor of social work, in Charles P. Adams room 303 Wednesday morning.
White mentioned that few people ever talk about World War II as being an ethnic race war and an ethnic cleansing.”Most people fail to realize that African-Americans were involved,” he said. “Many think only Jews were involved in slave labor and concentration camps throughout Europe.”
“The Holocaust began in Germany’s colonies in Africa even before Europe; acts were committed against Africans before the Jews,” he said.
“Africans were used for medical experiments, mass raped, forced into labor and concentration camps, which they called ghettoes,” White said. “They were also sent to death camps, lynched, poisoned and were starved since food could be used as a weapon.”
The Herero Tribe of Namibia, Africa occupied the land Europeans desired, so they were targeted as a people.
“Germany believed they needed more living space, so all the Europeans got together and gathered around Africa,” he said.
“They coordinated plans against the Herero and other indigenous people of Africa. They had conditions for claiming different parts of Africa.”
White said Europeans chased the Herero people into dry land where they eventually died due to lack of food and water. Those who surrendered were sent to camps.
“Of 80,000 people, 65,000 were killed, 81 percent of the Herero people were killed,” he said. “Those who survived were used as guinea pigs in medical experiments. They took away their humanity.”
White also spoke on the Eugenics Movement, the United States and Germany’s collaboration.
“Eugenics is forced sterilization, including extermination of racial and social groups deemed unfit to live,” he said. “Black people were at the bottom of the social chain and were not considered human. People moved up the chain according to the color of their skin.”
White said natives were separated into two groups according to physical appearances: Hutu and Tutsi.
“Tutsi was the better group, more closely related to the appearances of Europeans, and Hutu were viewed as worse. Opportunities, like attending the best universities, were not available for members of the Hutu group.”
White said according to pre-Nazi Germany, Africans were not people.
“Some described Africans as blood thirsty beasts in the form of humans,” he said.
Andryne’ Chatman, a senior social work major from Chatman, said she found the seminar to be very interesting and thoroughly enjoyed it.
“Most of the time you hear about Jews. I didn’t know that so many Africans were involved,” she said.
“The people were mainly of African descent, so it’s troubling to think that you only hear about the Jews.”
Henderson said when you study, it all depends on the color of skin.
“It is easy to forget the atrocity of the Nazi reign. (Dr. White) put it into focus on the African people in history,” he said.
White said the information presented is available, but people do not realize it.
“What good is knowledge, if the knowledge stays in the towers of the universities?” he said. “We need to get this knowledge out there.