brown babies

I’ve been meaning to post more about these AfroGerman children since blogging about  the holocaust memorial last month.  This post is mostly a reblog from  As someone who has a hard time embracing my German heritage (none of which is “afro”), I find myself fascinated by this piece of our history.  I would love to track down some of these “brown babies” and interview them about their experiences in Germany and in the U.S.  The Black German Cultural Society website is definitely worth checking out.  So many resources, so much information.  I have a feeling I’ll be touching on this topic again…. and again.

Germany’s Brown Babies

Many of our constituents are children who were born to German mothers who were abandoned by African American soldiers during the U. S. Occupation following World War II. While some remained in Germany, many were raised in orphanages or with foster families; a few remained with their natural mothers. Many were offered for International Adoption to African American Families and accepted into the US under the Displaced Persons Act of 1948 (amended June 16, 1950) , where it was assumed that they would “more easily assimilate into the culture.”

This result is a generation of culturally displaced persons who remain disconnected and alienated from the mainstream of the societies in which they lived and from both ethnic communities to which they belong.

Adoption is a wonderful concept and is generally accepted as an ideal social mechanism for improving lives and circumstances for abandoned or orphaned children. However, recent psychological and sociological research has determined that these children often suffer significant lifelong emotional and social problems such as identity deficits, separation and attachment disorders, and chronic depression, as well as other problems as a result of separation trauma and what has been identified as “the primal wound.”

The issue is magnified and the outlook becomes ever more complicated when we explore the international adoption and abandonment of interracial children who were created by opposing forces following a major global war. For the most part, there was no professional follow up in terms of the physical, social and emotional well being of these children once they were placed.

Historians in the last decade have begun to study and write publications about the Brown Baby Plan and the cooperative attempt between the two governments to place and provide for these unwanted and displaced children. Autobiographical Interviews and publications have given voice to the trauma and lifelong suffering stemming from the dramatic loss of identity and heritage and the cultural alienation that these children faced, particularly while growing up both in post war Germany and in the US during the Civil Rights era, a period when intense racism and discrimination was under scrutiny and identified as a major problem in both societies.

“We struggled through childhoods filled with confusion, fear, anger, and feelings of inferior self-esteem. Navigated adolescence in extreme conformity to perceived structures of authority, in order to redeem our existence, or in defiance to them in utter rebellion. Adulthood was either accomplished successfully by integrating the powerful nuances of our diversified selves, or postponed until safety could be found in the distanced wisdom of experience. Some of us didn’t make it. Some of us are just now coming of age.” ~ Rebecca, Black German Cultural Society.

American Homes For Germany’s Brown Babies Are Scarce – Jet Mag, May 15, 1952

Tan Tots Attend German Schools – Jet Magazine, July 24, 1952

Brotherly Love – Jet Magazine, December 18, 1952


German Brown Babies Arrive in US – Jet Magazine, January 29, 1953

Brown Babies Become Americanized – Jet Magazine, May 21, 1953

Brown Babies Find New Homes In America – Jet Mag, Oct 8, 1953

all photos found atVieilles_annonces of Flickr

“it’s like a job to search for identity”

Prejudice inspires filmmaker to discover Afro-German roots


“It all started with a public threat on my life.”

Within the first few minutes of Mo Asumang’s documentary “Roots Germania,” students, faculty and Bloomington residents became part of a search for the director’s identity.

The documentary was presented Friday in Morrison Hall and was followed by a question-and-answer session.

“You don’t hear about German and African relations very often, so I thought it would be something different,” graduate student Sarah Keil said.

Asumang said the journey to find her identity was driven by a desire to understand where racism toward Afro-Germans originated.

“It’s like a job to search for identity,” Asumang said. “It starts when you’re born in Germany – it’s not so easy to be part of that country.”

The film was triggered by a song, written by a Neo-Nazi band the “White Aryan Rebels,” that calls for Asumang’s murder. Lyrics in the song include “This bullet is for you, Mo Asumang.”

Asumang wanted to create a film about racism in Germany and finding her heritage after hearing the song. Throughout the film Asumang illustrated the struggles of having biracial parents in scenes with right-winged Neo-Nazis and Ghanaians.

“I didn’t know who I was,” Asumang said. “I tried to be white when I was younger, so years later I tried to be black.”

Asumang said the movie proves individuals do not consider people of a different race to be German.

While filming, Asumang did not tell Neo-Nazis she was an Afro-German when she called to speak with them – surprising them at their meeting.

Asumang also used the movie as an opportunity to get to know her father and learn more about her mother’s experience with racism.

When Asumang visited Ghana, her father said she did not have to decide exactly who she is and he would always accept her as Ghanaian. Her mother also expressed ideas of acceptance and said that she was forced to move and put Asumang up for adoption because her daughter was Afro-German.

“I can be both, and it’s super,” Asumang said. “I can be on one side a German and on the other a Ghanaian.”

One similarity between her identities, Asumang noted in the film, was spirituality and rituals performed in forests.

Janice Levi, a graduate student, said she took note of the spiritual connection between these two cultures.

“It was interesting how she related it far back to Pagan culture in Europe and experiencing rituals in the forest to both areas,” Levi said.

Asumang ended her film saying that for every Neo-Nazi convention, there are at least three challenging it.

“Some people will never change, but you can change your own life,” she said.