Fasia Jansen: A Voice for Women’s Rights and Social Justice

OV Digital Desk

 Image Courtesy: Google Doodle

Fasia Jansen (6 June 1929 – 29 December 1997) was a German political singer-songwriter and peace activist.

Life and Career

Jansen was born on this day in Hamburg on 6 June 1929, at a time when racism, inflation, and economic depression plagued the country.  Aspiring to become a dance star, Jansen joined a dance academy at age 11. But her dreams were thwarted two years later when the academy expelled her out of fear that the Nazis would punish the school for accepting Black students.

Soon after, she was forced to cook for the Neuengamme concentration camp. Under the Nazis’ Dienstverpflichtung decree, which required people to perform a year of unpaid labor, most young girls could work easier jobs in domestic households. But as a Black girl, her only option was to toil in a concentration camp.

It was in the Neuengamme concentration camp that Jansen began singing with political prisoners who worked tirelessly beside her. Singing together helped them survive this traumatic period. After the horrors of World War II, Jansen dedicated her life to creating powerful music to protest injustices everywhere — from the Vietnam War to labor violations in the Ruhr Valley. Jansen also became a strong advocate for the Women’s Rights Movements in Germany and beyond.

She became famous in the 1960s, after performing Unser Marsch ist eine gute Sache (Our March is a Good Thing) alongside the renowned singer Dieter Süverkrüp during the Easter March in resistance to the nuclear arms race. Her song Verbrannte Erde in Deutschland (“Burnt Earth in Germany”), became an important anthem for the anti-nuclear movement in Europe. She died on 29 December 1997 in Oberhausen, Germany at the age of 68.

Award and Legacy

In 1991, the government awarded her the medal Verdienstkreuz der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, recognizing her work to rebuild a more equitable Germany. Today, there is a street, a municipal school and an African education center named in her honor. On 6 June 2022, Google celebrated Fasia Jansen’s 93rd birthday with a doodle.