Brown Babies

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"Brown Babies" is a term used for children born to black soldiers and white European women during and after World War II. In Germany they were known as "Mischlingskinder". As of 1955 African-American soldiers in Germany had fathered about 5,000 mischlingskinder in Occupied Germany,[1] making up a significant minority of the 37,000 illegitimate children of US soldiers overall.[2] In the United Kingdom, West Indian members of the British forces, as well as African-American US soldiers, fathered "brown babies" born to European-British women.[3][4]


Because the United States was an occupying power, it discouraged its military forces from fraternizing with Germans. In addition, as inter-racial marriages were illegal in most of the United States in the era, commanding officers of the U.S. soldiers forced many such couples to split up. (Soldiers had to get permission of commanding officers in order to marry overseas.)

Under German law, illegitimate children became wards of the state. Orphanages and foster parents were paid small stipends to care for abandoned children.[5] After losing their American partners due to reassignment, many single German mothers often had difficulty finding support for their children in the postwar nation, due to the general law as well as discrimination against blacks as part of the occupying forces. A CNN program in 2011 found that many of the children born in the decade after the end of the war were put up for adoption, and placed with black American military families in Germany and the United States.[6]

But, a 1951 article in Jet noted that most "brown babies" lived with their mothers, as they did not give them up for adoption. Some Germans fostered or adopted such children; one German woman established a home for thirty "brown babies."[5] By 1968 Americans had adopted about 7,000 "brown babies."[6] Many of the "brown babies" did not learn of their ethnic German ancestry until they reached adulthood.[7]

Brown Babies: The Mischlingskinder Story, a documentary by the American journalist Regina Griffin, was released in the summer of 2011.[6] That fall a related documentary, Brown Babies: Germany's Lost Children (Brown Babies: Deutschlands verlorene Kinder), aired on German television.[7]

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  1. ^ Camp & Grosse, p. 61.
  2. ^ Kleinschmidt, Johannes. "Amerikaner und Deutsche in der Besatzungszeit - Beziehungen und Probleme"
  3. ^ Wynn, Neil A. "'Race War': Black American GIs and West Indians in Britain During The Second World War", Immigrants & Minorities 24 (3), 2006, pp. 324–346. DOI: 0.1080/02619280701337146.
  4. ^ Lee, Sabine. "A Forgotten Legacy of the Second World War: GI children in post-war Britain and Germany," Contemporary European History 20, pp. 157–181. 2001. doi:10.1017/S096077731100004X.
  5. ^ a b "Brown Babies Adopted By Kind German Families," Jet, 8 November 1951. Vol. 1, No. 2. 15. Retrieved from Google Books on November 22, 2011. ISSN 0021-5996.
  6. ^ a b c "'Brown babies' long search for family, identity", CNN, 20 November 2011. Retrieved on November 22, 2011.
  7. ^ a b Desmond-Harris, Jenée. ""German 'Brown Babies' Search for Their Roots", The Root, 21 November 2011. Retrieved on November 22, 2011


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