Remapping Black Germany: New Perspectives on Afro-German History, Politics, and Culture

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2017-07-16 02:09Z by Steven

Remapping Black Germany: New Perspectives on Afro-German History, Politics, and Culture

University of Massachusetts Press
December 2016
310 pages
16 b&w illustrations
6 x 9
Paper ISBN: 978-1-62534-231-7
Cloth ISBN: 978-1-62534-230-0

Edited by:

Sara Lennox, Professor Emerita of German Studies
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

A major contribution to Black-German studies

In 1984 at the Free University of Berlin, the African American poet Audre Lorde asked her Black, German-speaking women students about their identities. The women revealed that they had no common term to describe themselves and had until then lacked a way to identify their shared interests and concerns. Out of Lorde’s seminar emerged both the term “Afro-German” (or “Black German”) and the 1986 publication of the volume that appeared in English translation as Showing Our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out. The book launched a movement that has since catalyzed activism and scholarship in Germany.

Remapping Black Germany collects thirteen pieces that consider the wide array of issues facing Black German groups and individuals across turbulent periods, spanning the German colonial period, National Socialism, divided Germany, and the enormous outpouring of Black German creativity after 1986.

In addition to the editor, the contributors include Robert Bernasconi, Tina Campt, Maria I. Diedrich, Maureen Maisha Eggers, Fatima El-Tayeb, Heide Fehrenbach, Dirk Göttsche, Felicitas Jaima, Katja Kinder, Tobias Nagl, Katharina Oguntoye, Peggy Piesche, Christian Rogowski, and Nicola Lauré al-Samarai.

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Postwar responses to black occupation children represent a formative moment in the racial reconstruction of post-fascist Germany.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2013-08-13 22:56Z by Steven

Postwar responses to black occupation children represent a formative moment in the racial reconstruction of postfascist Germany. Military occupation between 1945 and 1949 produced some 94,000 occupation children. However, official and public attention fixed on a small subset, the so-called “farbige Mischlinge” or “colored mixed-bloods,” distinguished from the others by their black paternity. Although they constituted a small minority of postwar German births—numbering only about 3,000 in 1950 and nearly double that by 1955—West German federal and state officials, youth welfare workers, and the press invested the children with considerable symbolic significance.

The years after 1945 were constituent for contemporary German racial understanding, and postwar debates regarding “miscegenation” and “Mischlingskinder” were central to the ideological transition from National Socialist to democratic approaches to race. The term “Mischling,” in fact, survived the Third Reich and persisted well into the 1960s in official, scholarly, media, and public usage in West Germany. But its content had changed. Rather than refer to the progeny of so-called mixed unions between Jewish and non-Jewish Germans as it had during the Third Reich, immediately after the war it came to connote the offspring of white German women and foreign men of color. Thus “Mischling” remained a racialized category of social analysis and social policy after 1945, as before. But the definition of which races had mixed, as well as the social significance of such mixing, had fundamentally altered.

Rita Chin, Heide Fehrenbach, Geoff Eleym and Atina Grossmann, After the Nazi Racial State: Difference and Democracy in Germany and Europe, (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2009). 31-32.

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After the Nazi Racial State: Difference and Democracy in Germany and Europe

Posted in Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science on 2013-08-12 15:25Z by Steven

After the Nazi Racial State: Difference and Democracy in Germany and Europe

University of Michigan Press
272 pages
6 x 9
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-472-03344-7
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-472-02578-7

Rita Chin, Associate Professor of History
University of Michigan

Heide Fehrenbach, Presidential Research Professor
Northern Illinois University

Geoff Eley, Karl Pohrt Distinguished University Professor of Contemporary History
University of Michigan

Atina Grossmann, Professor of History
Cooper Union, New York

An investigation of the concept of “race” in post-Nazi Germany

What happened to “race,” race thinking, and racial distinctions in Germany, and Europe more broadly, after the demise of the Nazi racial state? This book investigates the afterlife of “race” since 1945 and challenges the long-dominant assumption among historians that it disappeared from public discourse and policy-making with the defeat of the Third Reich and its genocidal European empire. Drawing on case studies of Afro-Germans, Jews, and Turks—arguably the three most important minority communities in postwar Germany—the authors detail continuities and change across the 1945 divide and offer the beginnings of a history of race and racialization after Hitler. A final chapter moves beyond the German context to consider the postwar engagement with “race” in France, Britain, Sweden, and the Netherlands, where waves of postwar, postcolonial, and labor migration troubled nativist notions of national and European identity.

After the Nazi Racial State poses interpretative questions for the historical understanding of postwar societies and democratic transformation, both in Germany and throughout Europe. It elucidates key analytical categories, historicizes current discourse, and demonstrates how contemporary debates about immigration and integration—and about just how much “difference” a democracy can accommodate—are implicated in a longer history of “race.” This book explores why the concept of “race” became taboo as a tool for understanding German society after 1945. Most crucially, it suggests the social and epistemic consequences of this determined retreat from “race” for Germany and Europe as a whole.


  • Preface
  • Introduction: What’s Race Got to Do With It? Postwar German History in Context / Rita Chin and Heide Fehrenhach
  • CHAPTER 1: Black Occupation Children and the Devolution of the Nazi Racial State / Heide Fehrenhach
  • CHAPTER 2: From Victims to “Homeless Foreigners”: Jewish Survivors in Postwar Germany / Atina Grossmann
  • CHAPTER 3: Guest Worker Migration and the Unexpected Return of Race / Rita Chin
  • CHAPTER 4: German Democracy and the Question of Difference, 1945 1995 / Rita Chin and Heide Fehrenhach
  • CHAPTER 5: The Trouble with “Race”: Migrancy, Cultural Difference, and the Remaking of Europe / Geoff Eley
  • Notes
  • Select Bibliography
  • Index
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Posted in Europe, Media Archive, Videos on 2012-03-16 21:46Z by Steven


DEFA Film Library
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
85 minutes, b/w (English subtitles)
West Germany

Robert A. Stemmle, Director

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.

In West Germany at the time of the film’s release, there were nearly 100,000 children of Allied paternity born since WWII; of these, fewer than 5,000 were of colored paternity. Toxi was the first feature-length film to explore the subject of “black occupation children” in postwar Germany. It premiered in 1952 as part of a plan to raise public awareness, as these children began entering German schools. Known for his unique blend of social realism and melodrama, Robert A. Stemmle—one of in West Germany’s most popular directors—brought together an exceptionally renowned group of classic German actors with very diverse experiences of the Nazi era, including Paul Bildt, Johanna Hofer and Elisabeth Flickenschildt.

Special Features

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Race after Hitler: Black Occupation Children in Postwar Germany and America

Posted in Books, Europe, History, Media Archive, Monographs, United States on 2011-02-24 04:36Z by Steven

Race after Hitler: Black Occupation Children in Postwar Germany and America

Princeton University Press
288 pages
6 x 9, 17 halftones, 1 line illustration, 2 maps
ISBN13: 978-0-691-13379-9

Heide Fehrenbach, Presidential Research Professor of History
Northern Illinois University

When American victors entered Germany in the spring of 1945, they came armed not only with a commitment to democracy but also to Jim Crow practices. Race after Hitler tells the story of how troubled race relations among American occupation soldiers, and black-white mixing within Germany, unexpectedly shaped German notions of race after 1945. Biracial occupation children became objects of intense scrutiny and politicking by postwar Germans into the 1960s, resulting in a shift away from official antisemitism to a focus on color and blackness.

Beginning with black GIs’ unexpected feelings of liberation in postfascist Germany, Fehrenbach investigates reactions to their relations with white German women and to the few thousand babies born of these unions. Drawing on social welfare and other official reports, scientific studies, and media portrayals from both sides of the Atlantic, Fehrenbach reconstructs social policy debates regarding black occupation children, such as whether they should be integrated into German society or adopted to African American or other families abroad. Ultimately, a consciously liberal discourse of race emerged in response to the children among Germans who prided themselves on—and were lauded by the black American press for—rejecting the hateful practices of National Socialism and the segregationist United States.

Fehrenbach charts her story against a longer history of German racism extending from nineteenth-century colonialism through National Socialism to contemporary debates about multiculturalism. An important and provocative work, Race after Hitler explores how racial ideologies are altered through transnational contact accompanying war and regime change, even and especially in the most intimate areas of sex and reproduction.

Table of Contents

  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Democratizing the Racial State: Toward a Transnational History
  • Chapter One: Contact Zones: American Military Occupation and the Politics of Race
  • Chapter Two: Flaccid Fatherland: Rape, Sex, and the Reproductive Consequences of Defeat
  • Chapter Three: “Mischlingskinder” and the Postwar Taxonomy of Race
  • Chapter Four: Reconstruction in Black and White: The Toxi Films
  • Chapter Five: Whose Children, Theirs or Ours? Intercountry Adoptions and Debates about Belonging
  • Chapter Six: Legacies: Race and the Postwar Nation
  • Abbreviations of Archives Consulted
  • Notes
  • Select Bibliography
  • Index

THE MILITARY occupation of Germany by American troops elicited two striking responses that were organized around irony and issues of race. One came from Germans, who noted with incredulity and derision that they were being democratized by a nation with a Jim Crow army and a host of anti-miscegenation laws at home. The second came from African American GIs who, in their interactions with Germans, were stunned by the apparent absence of racism in the formerly fascist land and, comparing their reception with treatment by white Americans, experienced their stay there as unexpectedly liberatory. Both responses criticized the glaring gap between democratic American principles and practices; both exposed as false the universalist language employed by the United States government to celebrate and propagate its political system and social values at home and abroad. Yet both also suggested the centrality of intercultural observation and exchange for contemporaries’ experience and understanding of postwar processes of democratization…

Read Chapter One in HTML or PDF.

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