By Yara-Colette Lemke Muniz de Faria
Between 1945 and 1955, an estimated 67,770 children were born to soldiers of the occupying forces and German women in the Federal Republic of Germany. Of these children, 4,776 children were the children of African American and Moroccan soldiers. The fate of this generation of Afro-German children (or “brown babies” as they were called in the U.S.) was the focus of public interest both in West Germany and the U.S.
During the 1940s and 50s, popular and scholarly publications in both countries printed detailed reports on these “brown babies” (“Mischlingskinder”) who were the subject of intense political and pedagogical debates and controversies. Indeed, both state institutions and private organizations in Germany and in the U.S. devoted considerable time and effort to planning out their lives. What underlay the public debate on the fate of Afro-German children both in postwar Germany and the U.S. was a very specific construction of their heritage—one that defined them as essentially “fremd” (both in the sense of “strange” and “Other” and, at the same time, “foreign” or “alien”), “not belonging and at risk in Germany.” Their German nationality and their socialization in the country of their birth were, thus, only of secondary interest. In other words, their national and cultural heritage were regarded as contrasting directly with their race. Consequently, an ambivalent and contradictory attitude developed toward them both in hypothetical discussions and in the concrete actions taken in their name. The debate around these Afro-German children reveals a paradoxical and shifting dynamic of caretaking and marginalization, inclusion and exclusion. Complete Article & Photo Gallery here….