Historic backgrounds vary; so does allocation: in particular, cities like Hamburg and Berlin have substantial grown Black communities, with a high percentage of ethnically mixed families; modern traffic and trade is further changing the communities in additional areas like Frankfurt or Cologne.
The current status of people of African descent in Germany is still overshadowed by Germany's colonial history, which is still mostly being suppressed. For centuries, the domiciled African diaspora in Germany is either being ignored or seen from a narrow perspective.
Africans have been known to Germany since the pre-Christian times of the Roman Empire.
Many of these Africans, who came as young men or youth to Germany, remained for the duration of their adult lives, establishing families and careers.
During the tempestuous years following the First World War, the French Army occupied the Rhineland, utilising African soldiers amongst their forces. Their children were known as "Rhineland Bastards". As their name suggests, they were subject to much racial discrimination.
After Germany's defeat in World War I, the British and French took control of the African colonies. The situation for Afro-Germans and their families changed in various ways. For example Africans possessed a colonial German identification card, now a status, that expelled them as "members of the former protectorates". After the Treaty of Versailles, the Africans should become citizens of the respective mandate countries. Still most Afro-Germans preferred to stay, for the standard of living and since they lived in part already over several years (and decades). In numerous petitions (above all for Togo in P. Sebald and Cameroon in A. Rüger well documented) they also tried to inform the German public about the conditions in the colonies.
To the numerous political activities of Africans belonged the foundation of a bilingual periodical that should appear in German and Duala and carried the title '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 Africans encountered the Great Depression in Germany with no claim for unemployment compensation as this was tied to German citizenship. Some Africans were however supported through a small budget from the German Foreign Office.
The conditions for Afro-Germans and their families got steadily more difficult during the National Socialistic dictatorship. Naturalized Afro-Germans lost their passports. Working conditions and travel were made extremely difficult for Black musicians, variety, circus or film professionals.
Based on a racist propaganda, it was impossible even for willing employers to retain black employees. To become invisible with the evident visibility and compulsion had become less a life condition than an act of balance.
The politics of Nazi Germany and its authorities vis-à-vis those Afro-Germans appear extremely contradictory and irrational. Secret discussions of Nazi functionaries speculated about the possibility of winning Africans from former German colonies for a pro-German colonial propaganda, for the Nazis planned an "African colonial empire under German predominance". The total legislation for a planned apartheid-like system existed in the design already in 1940, including laws for slaves and an African passport design. Nazi Germany never approached the realization of its colonial dreams.
Next to isolation as a Black person, the worst forms of terror for Afro-Germans were compulsory sterilization or rendition to concentration camps. Despite these circumstances, Afro-Germans did receive some solidarity and support from Germans during these times.
From the late 1980s and onwards, Germany experienced large numbers of political asylum seekers and immigrants from African states.
For more information see Immigration to Germany.
The May Ayim Award is the first international black German literature prize was an attempt to premiere black German culture in the realm of cultural institutions like the Haus der Kulturen der Welt. The award sculpture, Black Germania, was designed by Stephen Lawson. The award was initiated by Michael Küppers-Adebisi from CyberNomads, the largest black German media network. Entries from four continents made it a pan-African award for the international black diaspora. The event took place under the aegis of the German UNESCO and Linton Kwesi Johnson. The gala event presenting the winners was moderated by Adetoun Küppers-Adebisi in German, English, and Yoruba.
Black African rap musicians in Germany include:
The SFD - Schwarze Filmschaffende in Deutschland (Black Artists in German Film) is a professional association based in Berlin for directors, producers, screenwriters, and actors who are Afro-Germans or of African origin and living in Germany.