By Gillian Brockell / The Washington Post
Rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, continued his antisemitic last week with an appearance on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s show, in which he repeatedly praised Nazis and Adolf Hitler.
Specifically, Ye said, “I like Hitler,” “I love Jewish people, but I also love Nazis,” and, “I see good things about Hitler,” like, he claimed, Hitler’s invention of highways and microphones. (Hitler did not invent highways or microphones.)
Hitler, as leader of the Nazi party, oversaw the murder of 6 million Jews and countless others he deemed inferior to “pure” Germans, including Polish, Roma and Sinti people, gay people and people with disabilities.
And there was another group Hitler targeted that Ye may be less familiar with: Black people. Hitler thought Black people were inferior and “dirty.” Black Germans were sent to concentration camps, Black children were forcibly sterilized and African American and African French prisoners of war were often subjected to worse treatment by German captors, including summary execution, according the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
In Hitler’s 1925 book “Mein Kampf,” he used the derogatory term “Rhineland bastards” to describe children born of marriages between German women and African men serving in the French military. He repeatedly called interracial relationships between white and Black people a “sin against God” and called their progeny “contaminated” and “infected with lower humanity.” In 1937, Hitler approved the forcible sterilization of approximately 500 biracial Black children, a fact kept hidden until 1979, when German historian Reiner Pommerin exposed the plot.
West has four biracial children with his ex-wife, Kim Kardashian.
Beyond the “Rhineland” children, there were tens of thousands of Black people living in Nazi Germany when Hitler instituted the 1935 Nuremberg laws, which denied Black Germans citizenship and forbid them from attending German schools and from most employment. Nazi cultural minister Joseph Goebbels forced thousands to perform in a dehumanizing “Afrika Schau,” which the Nazis used both as a propaganda tool and to try to gather all Black people “under one tent,” according to historian Clarence Lusane in his book, “Hitler’s Black Victims: The Historical Experiences of European Blacks, Africans and African Americans During the Nazi Era.”
Goebbels also banned “Negro music” like jazz, and the Nazis even imprisoned African American jazz trumpeter Valaida Snow, who was on tour in Denmark when the Nazis took over. She was released in 1942, but never recovered from the experience, according to the Holocaust museum.
Historians know Black Germans were sent to concentration camps, where at least some were killed, like Black German actor Bayume Mohamed Husen, who died in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1944. Others were subjected to cruel medical experiments. The Nazis never had an organized plan to exterminate them, according to the museum, but that was mostly because their numbers were so few to start.
Historians have also uncovered evidence that Black POWs from the United States and France were treated more severely than their white counterparts. In 1940, German soldiers massacred 100 Senegalese French soldiers in Chasselay, France, who were trying to surrender, and in 1944, they tortured and murdered 11 African Americans soldiers in Belgium.
Though Ye’s antisemitic comments over the last few months are new to the public, he has reportedly admired Hitler for some time. In 2018, he wanted to name his new album “Hitler,” according to four sources who spoke with CNN in October.
“He would praise Hitler by saying how incredible it was that he was able to accumulate so much power and would talk about all the great things he and the Nazi Party achieved for the German people,” a record executive told CNN.
Ye has had other difficulties with history. In 2018, he tweeted “I freed a thousand slaves; I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves,” which he attributed to Harriet Tubman. There is no record of her ever saying this.
In 2020, Ye claimed Tubman “‘never actually freed the slaves.” She freed many enlsaved people.
Gillian Brockell is a staff writer for The Washington Post’s history blog, Retropolis. She has been at The Post since 2013 and previously worked as a video editor.