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Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany | [Hans Massaquoi]

Destined to Witness: Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany

What would life be like for a black boy growing up in Nazi Germany? This unprecedented autobiography answers that question with the spellbinding true story of Hans J. Massaquoi’s life in Hamburg during the height of Hitler’s regime. Hans is the son of a black Liberian diplomat father and a white German mother. His father returns to Africa at the beginning of the war, leaving them behind in poverty without the means to flee. Within this tense atmosphere, increasingly violent Nazi policies and Allied bombing raids make Hans and his mother’s lives a day-to-day survival struggle.
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Publisher's Summary

What would life be like for a black boy growing up in Nazi Germany? This unprecedented autobiography answers that question with the spellbinding true story of Hans J. Massaquoi’s life in Hamburg during the height of Hitler’s regime.

Hans is the son of a black Liberian diplomat father and a white German mother. His father returns to Africa at the beginning of the war, leaving them behind in poverty and without the means to flee. Bewildered, Hans is force-fed ceaseless anti-semitic and anti-African propaganda in his schools. Within this tense atmosphere, increasingly violent Nazi policies and Allied bombing raids make Hans and his mother’s lives a desperate day-to-day struggle for survival.

Through countless close calls, Hans perseveres by his ingenuity, strength of character and a liberal dose of good luck - eventually going on to find his father in Liberia and emigrate to America.

Peter Jay Fernandez’s intense narration brilliantly punctuates all of the tragedy and triumph in this monumental audiobook.©1999 Hans J. Massaquoi (P)2001 Recorded Books

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  •  
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 08-15-14
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 08-15-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    208
    ratings
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    "Destined to Witness - a Gripping biography"
    What made the experience of listening to Destined to Witness the most enjoyable?

    I enjoyed Mr. Massaquoi's introspection, and his willingness to acknowledge his mistakes without beating himself up or excusing them. Things were the way they were, and- good, bad or ugly - everyone had to try and survive in nazi Germany even if one's race made them an obvious potential target.


    What does Peter Jay Fernandez bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I have never listened to his performances, but I will definitely check them out soon. His German is a little awkward, but this is a minor quibble in a stellar performance.


    Any additional comments?

    This book made me think about how any culture views race. Even as a white person, my lack of acknowledgement of race is, by itself, a comment on my racial views. I will pick up this book again.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert 07-15-13
    Robert 07-15-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Well Told of a Life in the Head Winds"

    The Narration: Seamless. The inflections and tenor of the narrator made this easily one of the most aesthetically enjoyable reads I can compare in my years listening to audio books.

    The Content: Destined to Witness is a cradle to middle age narrative which is rich the experiences that men face growing up, which brings one close to the writer's experience. The story then begins to ascend like a roller coaster ticking up the first precipice; as the implications of the time and setting this man was born into reveal their eminence in history and set the stage for a great story.

    I can pay no greater compliment than to say the emotions and thoughts conveyed in the book had me swaying like sports fan watching a live game in over time. For such a harrowing tale there is an uncanny optimism, as the writer does not shrink from expounding his good experiences in equal measure to his tribulations.

    Over All: This is a story all should read, not simply for a wonderful message which will stimulate your thoughts, but because it is a great listen and well worth a credit at it's 19 hour running time which had me engrossed throughout.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tobey Beverly Hills, CA, United States 06-29-13
    Tobey Beverly Hills, CA, United States 06-29-13 Member Since 2014
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    "One of the most amazing books I've ever read!!"
    Any additional comments?

    This is one of the most incredible stories I've ever heard! Such a different perspective than most WW II memoirs. I couldn't put it down! A must listen for anyone, really!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Columbia, MD 02-14-15
    Amazon Customer Columbia, MD 02-14-15 Member Since 2015

    MaLaCo

    ratings
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    2
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    "A Great Read"
    What did you love best about Destined to Witness?

    The story was well written and you could feel the reality of his day to day existence. His story was so much like many of ours, except he was in an entirely different environment.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Hans, his willingness to open up and share his personal experiences, the good the bad and the foolish, it took a lot of courage. He was a lucky fellow to have survied the many close encounters with almost certain disaster.


    What about Peter Jay Fernandez’s performance did you like?

    The narration was good. I read the hard copy afterwards, which was more enjoyable after hearing some of the German phrases.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    This would be a really entertaining movie. BLACK KID IN NAZIS GERMANY? or
    NEW KID ON THE BLOCK: Black in Nazis Germany


    Any additional comments?

    A unique fascinating story. It makes you wonder what other stories are out there, that we just don't know about and what were there outcomes. I recommend this to everyone.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Deborah
    Surrey, United Kingdom
    5/25/14
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Really Interesting Perspective"

    This book was very enjoyable. A different perspective on Nazi Germany, from a boy who considered himself a proper little German, yet wasn't wanted by the authorities in his country. It is amazing how little racism he experiences from most normal people and then suddenly (like when he tries to join the Hitler Youth) he finds his services are not required. An excellent book, telling a fascinating story with an admirable lightness of touch.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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