Rhineland Bastard

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Young Rhinelander who was classified as a bastard and hereditarily unfit

Rhineland Bastard (German: Rheinlandbastard) was a derogatory term used in Nazi Germany to describe Afro-Germans supposedly fathered by French Army personnel of African descent during the Occupation of the Rhineland after World War I. There is evidence that other Afro-Germans, originating in former German colonies in Africa were also referred to as Rheinlandbastarden.

After 1933, under racist Nazi policies, Afro-Germans deemed to be Rheinlandbastarden were persecuted in a campaign of compulsory sterilization.

History[edit]

The term "Rhineland Bastard" can be traced back to 1919, just after World War I, when Entente troops, most of them French, occupied the Rhineland.[1] A relatively high number of German women married soldiers from the occupying forces, while many others had children by them out of wedlock (hence the disparaging label "bastards"). The resulting children numbered from 160,000 to 180,000, including with white French soldiers.[citation needed] The British historian Richard J. Evans suggests the number of mixed race children among them was not more than five or six hundred.[2]

All World War I belligerents with colonial possessions went to great lengths to recruit soldiers from their colonies. Germany was the only one of the Central Powers with substantial overseas possessions, and used large numbers of non-white troops to defend her colonies. Regardless of German attitudes toward the indigenous inhabitants of German colonies, Germany's lack of control of the sea lanes would have made it nearly impossible for the German Army to bring any substantial number of colonial troops to European battlefields. Nevertheless, notwithstanding the exact circumstances, most Germans quickly came to view non-white Allied troops with disdain and held Germany's enemies with contempt for their willingness to use them in Europe.

The occupation itself was regarded at the time as a national disgrace by Germans across the political spectrum, and there was a widespread tendency to consider all forms of collaboration and fraternization with the occupiers as immoral (if not illegal) treason. From the spring of 1920 onward, German newspapers frequently ran hysterical stories about the alleged "Black Horror on the Rhine", accusing Senegalese soldiers of routinely gang-raping thousands of German women and girls on a daily basis.[3] In the popular 1921 novel Die Schwarze Schmach: Der Roman des geschändeten Deutschlands (The Black Shame A Novel of Disgraced Germany) by Guido Kreutzer, it is declared that all mixed race children born in the Rhineland are born "physically and morally degenerate" and are not German at all.[4] Furthermore, it is declared in the novel that the mothers of these children ceased to be German the moment they had sex with non-white men, and they can never join the Volksgemeinschaft.[5]

The fact that it was carried out by what were viewed as "B-grade" troops (a notion that itself was drawn from colonial and racial stereotypes) increased the feelings of humiliation.[6] In May 1920 the foreign minister of the new German government lodged a protest to his French counterpart stating that "we will accept the inferior discipline amongst your white troops if you will only rid us as fast as possible of this black plague".[7] In the Rhineland itself, local opinion of the troops was very different, and the soldiers were described as "courteous and often popular", possibly because French colonial soldiers harbored less ill-will towards Germans than war-weary French occupiers.[8] It must be noted most of the French colonial African troops came from countries in north west Africa.[citation needed]

In Mein Kampf, Hitler described children resulting from any kind of relationship to African occupation soldiers as a contamination of the white race "by Negro blood on the Rhine in the heart of Europe."[9] He thought that "Jews were responsible for bringing Negroes into the Rhineland, with the ultimate idea of bastardizing the white race which they hate and thus lowering its cultural and political level so that the Jew might dominate."[10] He also implied that this was a plot on the part of the French, since the population of France was being increasingly "negrified".[11]

Colonial legacy[edit]

However, most of the tiny multiracial population in Germany at that time were children of German settlers and missionaries in the former German colonies in Africa and Melanesia, who had married local women or had children with them out of wedlock. With the loss of the German colonial empire after World War I, some of these colonists returned to Germany with their mixed-race families.[2] While the black population of Germany at the time of the Third Reich was small at 20–25,000 in a population of over 65 million,[12] the Nazis decided to take action against those in the Rhineland. They despised black culture, which they considered inferior, and even sought to prohibit "traditionally black" musical genres like jazz as being "corrupt negro music".[13] No official laws were enacted against the black population, or against the children of mixed parentage, since they were the offspring of marriages and informal unions from before the Nuremberg laws of September 1935 which prohibited "miscegenation". However, future sexual relations and "mixed marriages", between so-called "Aryans" and "non-Aryans" were banned. In addition, persons of mixed parentage were deprived completely of the right to marry. An organization name Sonderkommission 3 ("Special Commission 3") was also created under Dr. Eugen Fischer, of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, and tasked with preventing procreation and reproduction by "Rhineland Bastards". It was decided that anyone so deemed would be sterilized under the 1933 Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring.[14]

The program began in 1937, when local officials were asked to report on all "Rhineland Bastards" under their jurisdiction.[14] All together, some 400 children of mixed parentage were arrested and sterilized.[14] According to Susan Samples, the Nazis went to great lengths to conceal their sterilization and abortion program.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Black Germans" in Prem Poddar, Rajeev Patke and Lars Jensen, Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures: Continental Europe and its Colonies, Edinburgh University Press, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Evans, Richard J. (2005). The Third Reich in Power. Penguin. p. 527. ISBN 1594200742. 
  3. ^ Nelson, Keith "The "Black Horror on the Rhine": Race as a Factor in Post-World War I Diplomacy" pages 606-627 from The Journal of Modern History Vol. 42, No. 4 December 1970 page 615.
  4. ^ Wigger, Iris The 'Black Horror on the Rhine' Intersections of Race, Nation, Gender and Class in 1920s Germany London: Macmillan, 2017 page 85.
  5. ^ Wigger, Iris The 'Black Horror on the Rhine' Intersections of Race, Nation, Gender and Class in 1920s Germany London: Macmillan, 2017 page 85.
  6. ^ Roos, Julia. Women's Rights, Nationalist Anxiety, and the "Moral" Agenda in the Early Weimar Republic: Revisiting the "Black Horror" Campaign against France's African Occupation Troops. Central European History, 42 (September 2009), 473–508.
  7. ^ Christopher M. Andrew, page 211 "France Overseas. The Great War and the Climax of French Imperial Expansion", 1981 Thames and Hudson Ltd, London
  8. ^ Burleigh, Michael; Wippermann, Wolfgang (1993). The Racial State: Germany 1933–1945. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-39802-9. 
  9. ^ Downs, Robert B. Books That Changed the World (Signet Classic, 2004), p. 325.
  10. ^ Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf (translated by James Murphy, February, 1939) Vol. I, Chapter XI (A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook)
  11. ^ Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf, Vol. II, chapter XIII
  12. ^ Chimbelu, Chiponda (10 January 2010). "The fate of blacks in Nazi Germany". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  13. ^ Blackburn, Gilmer W. (2012). Education in the Third Reich: Race and History in Nazi Textbooks. SUNY Press. p. 148. ISBN 9780791496800. Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  14. ^ a b c d Samples, Susan. "African Germans in the Third Reich", in The African German Experience, edited by Carol Aisha Blackshire-Belay (Praeger Publishers, 1996).

External links[edit]