Black Europe

The first comprehensive documentation of the sounds and images of black people in Europe pre-1927

imageRecordings on phonograph cylinders, gramophone discs and films, with both still and moving images, feature people of African descent in Europe from the earliest years of the recording industry and continued after the First World War. The contribution of these pioneering personalities on the modern mass media has not been noticed – recognition is overdue. Music, spoken word and dance, from all styles, categories, languages and natal lands provide a lost but rich resource. Many artefacts may be lost forever, but this project traces the surviving evidence.

Collected in two 12 x 12 inch coffee table book with more than 500 full-colour pages, here is a multitude of documents, artefacts and curiosities, from passport applications, personal memorabilia and letters, to sheet music, newspaper ads and fabulous poster art, complemented by contemporary postcards and images of wax cylinders and disc records. In more than 100 chapters the life and times of these pioneering entertainers, musicians and linguists comes to life, from early film and sound examples to best-selling 78 rpm records, from ‘human zoos’ and minstrel shows to ethnological documentation and portraits of the (sometimes dubious) movers and shakers in European showbusiness of the time.

The team of internationally recognized experts, compilers and authors responsible for this project includes biographer Horst J.P. Bergmeier of the Netherlands, historian Jeffrey Green from the United Kingdom, discographer Dr. Rainer E. Lotz from Germany, researcher Howard Rye from the United Kingdom and sound engineer Christian Zwarg from Germany.

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Toxi: Film Now Available for Purchase

Synopsis:

Toxi

A five-year-old girl suddenly appears on the doorstep of a well-to-do Hamburg family. The members of the multi-generational, white household react differently to the arrival of Toxi, who is black, the daughter of an African-American G.I. and a white German woman who has died. Eventually Toxi works her way into the hearts of this German family, but then her father returns, hoping to take Toxi back to America with him.

At the time of the film’s release in 1952, there were between 3,000 and 5,000 children of Allied paternity born since WWII living in West Germany. Toxi was the first feature-length film to explore the subject of “black occupation children” in postwar Germany and premiered when the first generation of these children began entering German schools, creating a public awareness of this situation. Robert A. Stemmle, one of the most popular West German directors and known for his unique blend of social realism and melodrama, brought together an exceptionally renowned set of classic German actors with diverse experiences of the Nazi era, including Paul Bildt, Johanna Hofer and Elisabeth Flickenschildt.

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