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C o W o P a – C omintern W orking P aper 6 / 2006 1 ... - Åbo Akademi

C o W o P a – C omintern W orking P aper 6 / 2006 1 ... - Åbo Akademi

C o W o P a – C omintern W orking P aper 6 / 2006 1 ... - Åbo

C o W o P a C o m i n t e r n W o r k i n g P a p e r 6 / 2006 Glimpses of African Political Engagement in Weimar Germany The Berlin Section of the Ligue de la Defense de Race Negre Holger Weiss, Åbo Akademi University Political activity by Africans in Weimar Germany is a little known chapter in African diaspora history and has been little studied by historians. Only the international conference of Africans held in Hamburg 1930 has received some attention. 1 Other information about Africans and their undertakings in Weimar Germany is at its best sporadic. Among the few studies those by Adolf Rüger 2 and Katharina Oguntoye 3 have been able to shed some light on this subject and give a rough outline of political aspirations of Africans in Germany, especially Berlin, during the 1920s. Rüger’s study concentrates on petitions sent by representatives of the Duala community to the Reichskolonialamt (German Colonial Office) and the German Parliament in 1919 in connection with the outcome of the Versailles treaty and the transfer of the German colonies to France and Britain. 4 Among the signatory in the petition to the German Parliament one Joseph Bille is listed. Ten years later Joseph Bilé (Bille) together with one Viktor Bell, who was also among the signatories of the 1919 petition, were the key propagators behind the establishment of a Berlin section of the Ligue de la Defense de la Race Negre (LDRN), the Deutsche Sektion der Liga zur Verteidigung der Negerrasse (hereafter DSLVN). 5 Some further details about the foundation of this organisation are put forward by Oguntoye, although she covers only the initial aspirations of the group in 1929. The existence of such an organisation in Weimar Germany is interesting. Above all, it is an indication that there existed so far unknown networks and contacts among Africans living in 1 Adolf Rüger, “Die Erste Internationale Konferenz der Neger-Arbeiter (Hamburg 1930), ” in: Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung. Herausgegeben vom Institut für Marxismus-Leninismus beim Zentralkomitee der Sozialistischen Einheitspartei Deutschlands 5, 1967, 782-797; Ruth Deutschland, “Die 1. Internationale Konferenz der Negerarbeiter vor 50 Jahren,” Asien, Afrika, Lateinamerika 1980; Christoph Schmitt, “»Die kolonialen Sklaven sind erwacht…« Der »Kongreß der Negerarbeiter« in Hamburg, ” in: Branntwein, Bibeln und Bananen. Der deutsche Kolonialismus in Afrika eine Spurensuche, ed. Heiko Möhle, Hamburg: Verlag Libertäre Assoziation 1999, 93-97. 2 Adolf Rüger, “Imperialismus, Sozialreformismus und antikoloniale demokratische Alternative. Zielvorstellungen von Afrikanern in Deutschland im Jahre 1919,” Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft 23, 1975, 1293-1308. 3 Katharina Oguntoye, Eine afro-deutsche Geschichte. Zur Lebenssituation von Afrikanern und Afro-Deutschen in Deutschland von 1884 bis 1950, Berlin: Hoho Verlag Christine Hoffmann 1997. 4 The following documents are reproduced and discussed by Rüger (1975): 1. Letter by Martin Dibobe to Reichskolonialminister Bell, 22.5.1919; 2. Petition [Eingabe] by Africans living in Germany to the German Parliament, 19.5.1919; 3. Petition by Martin Dibobe and Manga Akwa to the German Colonial Office, 27.6.1919; 4. Letter from Martin Dibobe to the German Colonial Office, 11.7.1919; 5. Letter from Martin Dibobe to the German Cabinet, 13.9.1919. 5 Rüger 1975, 1301, 1303; Philippe DeWitte, Les Mouvements Negres en France 1919-1939, Paris : L’Harmattan 1985. 1

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