Whether you are old or young, white or black, an immigrant or born in Germany – everyone will find something in Theodor Michael´s autobiography with which they can identify. His life is the material for great and important literature.
Born in Berlin during the “Roaring Twenties”, Michael writes about his experiences as an oddity on an ethnological exposition, about the burning of the Reichstag, about his time in colonial movies within the book´s first pages. After having survived the war miraculously, he was accused of having collaborated with the Nazis for exactly that reason. This start does not exactly make you expect his impressive career that finally peaked in his position as the senior government official at Germany´s Federal Intelligence Service. And this was not “the end”: even after retiring, Theodor Michael experienced more than many people do in the prime of their life; he is an actor and supports the interests of other Afro-Germans.
His central message is not very optimistic, it shows that we have a lot left to do in order to become a really tolerant, multicultural society: “The race issue is still firmly embedded in people’s minds to this day, even if German laws are no longer racist. This is evident not only from various crimes but small, everyday incidents.”
During all of this, his memoirs never become a nostalgic accumulation of personal memories, they always stay relevant and very enlightening with regard to our society, ethical principles, political developments. Michael´s book is history come alive, told from a unique perspective which makes real human fates so much more relatable than any history book.
Today, Theodor Michael lives in Cologne and is still active in the Afro-German community. “To Be German and Black” was published March 2015 by dtv and has received a placing on the Spiegel best-seller list.
“Deutsch sein und schwarz dazu”, dtv Sachbuch, Taschenbuch, ISBN 978-3-423-34857-7