I saw a photo this morning on a social media site of a mixed race couple celebrating June 12 as the day the American Constitution changed to allow mixed marriages. This particular couple celebrate it every year with a photo that captures the beauty of how in love they are.
And it got me thinking that I didn’t have an idea what interracial relationships was like in the old German days. Hey even Gorgeousness had no clue what that history was about.
I decided to hunt it down on the trusted Google and I found interesting articles that explained the Nazi regime and their laws surrounding interracial living.
According to Google search, a law called Nürnberger Gesetze came into play to sort of protect the German bloodline. To make certain that no foreigner had sex or even married and procreated with the German citizens.
These antisemitic laws were introduced by the Reichstag in 1935 at a special meeting convened at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the NSDAP. The law: The Law For The Protection of German Blood and Honour which prohibited marriages and intercourse of any kind between Jews and Germans. The law later expanded to include Afro-Germans in late November of that year.
People who broke the laws were publicly disgraced, imprisoned and then re-arrested by the Gestapo after completing their jail terms and sent to concentration camps. Some death cases have been documented.
Not a lot of documentation regarding the relationships between African and German couples can easily be found. The history comes mostly from personal experiences of the children from such unions.
One example is Hans Massaquoi, a mixed race journalist and author. Born in Hamburg to a white German mother and a black Liberian father whose own father at the time of Hans’ birth was the consul general of Liberia.
Hans lived in the time of the Nazi regime which he talked about in his book, Destined To Witness.
In the 1930s, there weren’t a lot of black people living in Germany of which most of the kids were products of interracial couplings. In northern Germany, there was a possibility of natives living without ever seeing a black person. That is how minor the black people in Germany were at the time. The Nazi considered mixed race children a threat to their race purification so a lot of black and mixed race kids were rounded up, sterilised under the 1933 Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring or used for scientific experiments.
According to his book, some were held in concentration camps and the others simply vanished. Because of the few numbers of black people in Germany, their line up for extermination was a low priority. Which is exactly what I thought and even referred to above.
Getting in depth information about black and white marriages in Germany is really tough and as explained, it is the children from these badly documented mixed marriages that are helping to school the world about what it was like being black in Nazi Germany.
Which brings me to the term Rheinlandbastards. Derogatory as it sounds, the term was used to describe multiracial children with Caucasian mothers and french African fathers (at the time of war, Africans served with French colonial troops after WW1).
In Mein Kampf, oga Hitler described kids with an African soldier parent as a contamination of the white race: Negro blood on the Rhein in the heart of Europe.
His messed up reasoning was that the Jews were responsible for bringing Negroes into the Rheinland with the ultimate idea of bastardizing the white race because of hate and the only way for the Jews to dominate was to lower the cultural and political level of the white race! Of course he blamed the French since the population of France was getting increasingly negrified (his words not mine).
I also discovered Ika Hügel-Marshall, an amazing woman born post WW2. I find her story really interesting and my heart was full with emotion and sympathy. Emotion because no one should have to go through what she did and sympathy because of how sad her experiences were and the fact that I couldn’t help. She is mixed race as well with a German mother and an African American Vater.
She married a white German man named Alexander which only made her all the more invincible. At the Standesamt, the registrar greeted him, wrote his name down and asked where the bride was. She was right beside him but of course as the German society was fueled with racism at the time, she was nobody.
As they walked down the stairs after the ceremony, a passerby offered their unwanted congratulations to the maid of honor.
They stayed married for six years before calling it quits and I cannot help but wonder why. All I can come up with is that racism must have been too much for her being married to a white man. But I can’t help thinking how bad it could have been, seeing as she seemed to have endured the worst of it as a child. I mean come on, she was separated from her German mother after her mum married a native and they had a daughter together.
I would really love to meet her, to hear her story of how life was with Alexander as a mixed race couple in that time. To make comparisons as to what has or how things gradually changed. Her marriage experience made me think of how ours went, how amazingly nice the registrar was to us. How the woman who interviewed us before we married was trying her best to make sure I felt comfortable as an obvious foreigner. The office was just so professional and warm.
Today, even though a lot has changed drastically, there are still people who feel the need to make racist remarks (if just with their keypads), stare at mixed race couples(happens to us like oh I don’t know, every time we are out together) and even ask dumb questions like “hey little girl/boy where is your mother when a black woman is out for a stroll with her mixed race kids in a situation where said kids look nothing mixed.
We may not join in the celebration yearly with the American folks, but we understand how lucky we are, in this time, no hitler, no Nazis, no experiments on our future kids whatsoever, thanks to the struggle of the people before us.
People like the Lovings, and all the other unknown couples who made days like June 12 possible.
Our personalities, the fact that we fully understand our characters. The full impact of our compromise with each other. His gentle and my weird crazy. His gorgeousness and my beautiful. Our self love and the love we have for each other. All of that with support from family and friends combined together creates a force field/ aura so incredible it is impenetrable.