Xenophobia and Hate Crimes in Germany

Amadeu Antonio Kiowa is noted as one of the first victim of a racially-motivated German hate crime after the reunification.

Several hate crimes have been reported and profiled since Kiowa’s 1990 death. The occurrence of hate crimes and prejudice against Afro-Germans and black foreigners stem from years and years of racial discrimination against blacks and the resistance of any outside heritages disrupting the German ideal of whiteness. Even in the present day, Germany’s national pride often resists non-whites, as German as they may be. According to Kantara, about 17 hate crimes have resulted in death each year since the reunification of Germany and is mostly associated with East Germany. Why does this problem still persist?

Tina Campt’s work with Afro-German women explores Afro-German identity and how it differs from how most blacks identify as Americans. Distinct points from Campt’s piece contributes to the hypotheses behind some German mindsets towards Afro-Germans and black foreigners.

The fact that these Afro-German women were born in Germany and brought up in its culture and traditions makes it impossible for them to deny the German elements of their identities, despite the various forms of cultural rejection they often face.” –Tina Campt, Afro-German Cultural Identity and the Politics of Positionality: Contests and Contexts in the Formation of German Ethnic Identity

For German-born black women (and men), identity is often a difficult subject to approach since German identity is so commonly equated with whiteness. One’s national identity obviously cannot be determined by appearance, but the presence of blacks, especially non-German borns (and non-whites in general) are threatening to a skinhead’s sense of national pride — and this is very evident through reported incidents. Although Kantara says that these acts of racism “cannot be reduced to Eastern Germany,” statistics from East Germany hate crimes reveal a trend.

Most hate crimes are done in public spaces and are unpremeditated. The third highest number of hate crimes occurs in Brandenburg, the state of Kiowa’s death. In 2010, there were 704 reported hate crimes in East Germany, of which 230 had racist intent. Also, in that year, at least one person’s attack resulted in death. Most hate crimes go unreported “due to the fact that victims accept it as a norm” (Reach Out Berlin).

Notable Crimes include:

1991 & 1992: Neo-Nazis set asylums afire in East Germany.

2000: Alberto Adriano, an Afro-German, died from injuries he received after being attacked by a group of Neo-Nazis.

2005: Oury Jalloh, born in Sierra Leone, died in Dessau, Germany after being burned to death in a police cell. German police officers were associated with his death.

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