The studies regarding the black German in both Weimar and Nazi periods has been shown in various publications in previous years of which Tina Campt’s study marks an essential shift. Not like any other published studies, “Other Germans” advances the history of black German from a feminist, diasporic, postcolonial angle by integrating the perceptions of an oral historian with that of an ethnographer.
Tina Crampt based her investigations on the oral narratives and testimonies of two black Germans and she explores the connection between gender, nation and race in her analysis of memory narratives. At the center of Tina Campt study, her interpretation of the interviews conducts in the early 1990s in Germany with two black Germans. Rather than investigating the neglected social history of the small group of black German against the whole German racial state, the author opt to focus on the memories of these minorities.
The book mostly relies on oral history to answer the crucial question as to how to conceptualize the experience of black German during the period of Nazi. In the first chapter or introduction of the book, the work of Campt establish a strong case for a more complex method bringing to the fore that the subject of racialization of Nazi Germany was ambivalent and paradoxically. While the book acknowledges the many circumstances of persecution, Other Germans contends that the racial policy towards toward black Germans was inarticulate and incoherent.
Rather than giving emphasis on historical accounts and other documents about victimization and resistance like other authors, Tina Campt illustrates that the treatment of black German residents under the regime of Nazis was incomparable to anti-Semitism and needs to be investigated as a unique form of racialisation, these individuals were sterilized to suppresses them of the potentialities of reproduction and regulated in their social commitment with Aryans.
In this book, Campt view oral history as important aspects to meet the objective of the book, which is to establish a study that focused on the real experiences of real people during the time of Nazi regime. In this approach, Crampt have used theoretical aspects such as African-American history and African Diaspora as a context for the history of the black Germans by asking it to the people who has sole experience of this period.
How, what, and why people remember and narrate the past is, after all, the primary business of the oral historian. Crampt for example have used this to gather pertinent data and first hand information from the people who actually experiences the struggles and conflicts during their time and how they cope with these experienced. Herein, the author has recorded the reminiscences of the two individuals of the Nazi Holocaust. Through the use of the testimonies provided by the two individuals, she focuses to the European postcolonial aspect.
Grounding her oral study in German postcolonial researches, Campt establish a case for engaging colonial discourses on racial integration and citizenship to racial policies in the Nazi time. Her used of oral history have evaluated German responses to the occupation of the Rhineland by colonial black French troops at the end of the First World War. In addition, she also analyses the public indignation over the offspring of black soldiers and white German women.
The author also evaluates the campaign which protests the black occupation force as opposed to the backdrop of prewar provisions which regulated interracial marriages in German colonies such as Samoa and Southwest Africa. The book of Campt, discerns four conversations which resulted in the image of the Rhineland bastard, an image which existed after the First World War and impacted the National Socialist provisions which relates to the black citizens of Germany.
Accordingly, the fin-de-siecle scientific discourse concerning race, the subsequent discourse about the threat of racial combination, the discourse on German victimhood and the colonial discourse on mixing at the end of World War I all formed the campaign against the occupation by black soldiers. Tina Campt connects such discourses which lead to the rise of the threatening image of the “Rhineland bastard” and the National Socialist racial regulations by arguing that discourses consists “historical echoes and resonances.
Campt oral history is basically formed on metaphors including resonances, echoes and specters that are established in her discourse analysis. Through oral history, Campt has been able to suggest that the echoes and reverberate of this imagined complications eventually resulted in the Third Reich with the vision of a National Socialist racial region and preceded to the sterilization of members of such group of Afro-German offspring as the most concrete quintessence of this fantastic threat to the wholesomeness of Aryan race (Campt, 28f).
Basically modeled on only two interviews with black Germans, the study of Campt has also faced some limitations especially in line with methodological difficulty. Since the author have used only information from these two individuals, Campt is aware that these two interviews do not allow for a more comprehensive and in-depth argument Aware that two cases do not allow for a comprehensive argument in relation to the gendering and racialization of black Germans, nonetheless, such study aims to reshape the comprehension of racial policies and regulations in Nazi Germany.
The book, resists reading the two oral histories and narratives as representative of the history of black Germans during this period, but as examples of how the context of gender and race were played out and led to the creation of certain topics relative for black Germans. It can be said that the use of oral history have helped the author to use first hand information from people who actually experience the situation during such period of their lives. It helped the author to introduce her topic about racialization and gendering and to identify which factors can be useful for the whole objective of the book.
The use of oral history has enables her to convey information from two sources whom she know will be useful for the book. On one, hand, it can also be said that the use of oral history as her approach in the study also limits the author for information that are also relevant for the entire discussion of the book. Knowing that she only collates the information from two individuals whom could not be considered as a general public, mainly affects the whole cognizance of the book.
In conclusion, it can be said that the oral history approach of Campt argues that the two individuals of this study were situated in a grey zone , in which the victimization that they suffered was neither necessarily coherent nor systematic but rather contradictory and ambivalent (Campt, 166). The answers provided by the interviewees can be considered as irrelevant for general issues and only useful for individual’s perspectives. Hence, it can be argued that though, oral history have lots of advantages for this study, it also have disadvantages in overall objective of the study.