Oral history interview with Theodor Wonja
Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
- Theodor Wonja
- Magueye Kasse
1997 February 09
1 digital file : WAV.
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Magueye Kasse
Theodor Wonja Michael, the son of a Cameroonian father and a German mother, discusses his thoughts on race, civilization, and culture; the difficult relationship between Germany and Africa; the experiences of Africans in German concentration camps; the two main groups of black people persecuted by the Nazis; being fourteen when the war started; avoiding relationships with Aryans; his fear of falling ill, going to the hospital, and being sterilized; how the stories of black Holocaust survivors are marginalized; the African slave trade; and the importance of looking at African influences in German art and literature today.
Record last modified: 2018-01-22 10:37:53
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn74751
Also in Magueye Kasse oral history collection
Oral history interviews with Theodor Wonja conducted February 9, 1997 and Dominique Mendy conducted January 5, 1998
Date: 1997 February 09-1998 January 05
Dominique Amigou Mendy, born August 4, 1909 in Ziguinchor, Senegal, discusses his early life as a farmer in Casamance, a volunteer in World War I, and a second lieutenant in the Free French Forces; his return to Senegal in 1918; joining the merchant marines in Dakar in 1929 as a mechanic; his response to Degaulle's speech June 18, 1940; training as a photographer in France; joining the Resistance in the Bordeaux-Loupiac network; working as an intelligence officer for the maquis; securing hideouts, food and money for British parachutists in Bordeaux, and transporting arms between France and Britain; evading Nazi attention as an intelligence officer in the resistance because of their racist views; delivering an arms shipment to Oradour-sur-Glane, France about a month before the Nazi massacre of its population on June 10, 1944; arriving in Coutras, France to be denounced by an associate; his April 21, 1944 arrest by the Gestapo and torture in Bordeaux to reveal names of his comrades; not revealing information, but suffering permanent injuries; his simulated execution by the Nazis at 3 am and other painful humiliations; his transfer to Compiegne, France and deportation to Germany by cattle car along with other French Africans including Sidi Camera and Ernest Armand Huss; stopping at Buchenwald, which had no room for them; arriving at Neuengamme May 24, 1944; wearing the red triangle denoting political prisoners; intense, painful interrogations; his separation from white French prisoners; playing into the Nazi view of Africans as stupid, resulting in some soldiers taking pity on him; convincing a Cameroonian Kapo that he was not a maquisard but was rounded up by the French and taken against his will to France; working as a domestic for the Kapo and other Nazi officers; washing windows, sweeping floors, and being fed meager portions, which he always shared with his fellow French prisoners; being called "Bimbo" by the Nazi officers; procuring a small bar of soap after telling the Nazis he was black because he was dirty; being liberated from Neuengamme on April 7, 1945 by the Danish Red Cross; being transferred by boat to Copenhagen, Denmark; returning to France then Senegal; working as a personal photographer to Leopold Senghor until 1980; and receiving the Medal of the Resistance, the Croix de Guerre, and the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor on November 4, 1982.