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Letters: Jesse Owens, a hero in Germany

January 25, 2013

Re "Author inspired by Haley," Obituary, Jan 23

Author and magazine editor Hans Massaquoi, the son of a German mother and a Liberian father, believed that he was spared the fate of German Jews because "blacks were so few in number that they were relegated to low-priority status on the Nazi lineup for extermination."

This may be partly true, because blacks in Germany were indeed rare at the time. But to the typical German under Nazi rule, a black man would be considered something akin to viewing a circus attraction, strange but not primarily an "inferior" non-Aryan.

I recall my time as a young boy in Berlin during the 1936 Summer Olympics, when the undoubted hero on the German street was black American sprinter Jesse Owens, regardless of Hitler's preferences. I can still hear the enthusiastic chorus of the German spectators chanting "Jesse Owens! Jesse Owens! Jesse Owens U.S.A.!"

Tom Tugend

Sherman Oaks


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