Rhineland bastard (German: Rheinlandbastard) was a derogatory term used in Nazi Germany to describe multiracial children with white, German mothers who had been fathered by Africans serving with French colonial troops during the Occupation of the Rhineland after World War I. According to Nazi racial theory, these children were considered inferior to Aryan children and consigned to compulsory sterilization.
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. 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. Richard Evans suggests the number of mixed race children was not more than five or six hundred.
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.
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. 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.
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." 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." He also implied that this was a plot on the part of the French, since the population of France was being increasingly "negrified".
However, most of the tiny non-white 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. 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, 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". 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. The law also deprived persons of mixed parentage their freedom to marry at all, or at least the spouse of their choice by banning future sexual relations and mixed marriages between Aryans and others. Instead, a group named "Commission Number 3" was created to resolve the problem of the "Rhineland Bastards" with the aim of preventing their further procreation in German society. Organized under Dr. Eugen Fischer of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, it was decided that the children would be sterilized under the 1933 Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring.
The program began in 1937, when local officials were asked to report on all "Rhineland Bastards" under their jurisdiction. All together, some 400 children of mixed parentage were arrested and sterilized. According to Susan Samples, the Nazis went to great lengths to conceal their sterilization and abortion program.
- Degenerate music
- Half Blood Blues, novel about a mixed-race Jazz trumpet player who escapes Nazi Germany and is later arrested in Paris by the Nazis for being a "Rhineland Bastard"
- Hans Massaquoi
- Hans Hauck
- Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics
- Nuremberg Laws
- Nazi eugenics
- Nazism and race
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