Biografie Theodor Wonja Michael


Theodor Wonja Michael was born in Berlin on 15 January 1925, as the youngest son of a Cameroonian father and his German wife. After his mother’s death in 1926, he grew up with foster parents. They operated a “human zoo” and brought him in, at just four years old, as a black extra in the shows. He attended primary school, finishing in 1939 - but any further schooling was impossible because of the racist Nuremberg Laws that had come into effect in 1935 under the Nazi regime. He took up work as a hotel page, circus performer, and an extra in colonial propaganda films produced by UFA. In 1943, he was detained in a forced labour camp near Berlin, which was liberated in 1945 by the Red Army. As a black man in postwar Germany, he had difficulties managing to provide food for his family. He worked as an actor in theatre and radio, until he
was able to pursue further studies. He was then hired in the 1970s as an expert on Africa at the German Federal Intelligence Service. In his 2013 autobiography, DEUTSCH SEIN UND SCHWARZ DAZU – ERINNERUNGEN EINES AFRO-DEUTSCHEN (loosely: Being German and black at that: memories of an Afro- German), he describes his unusual path of life and survival, as well as his committed involvement in the Afro-German community. In Jana Pareigis’ documentary AFRO.DEUTSCHLAND he talks about it.

Filmografie (Auswahl) zu Theodor Wonja Michael