“In the closing weeks of the war in Germany, he [the black soldier] was finally given a chance to fight side by side with his white fellow Americans in the same units. […] It is to be hoped that the performance of our soldiers in Europe will move the War department to abolish the color line in the Army. There is no sense in a nation preaching democracy and spending billions of dollars and a million casualties (to date) to achieve it, and then separating its fighting men on the basis of color.”
Editorial, “Negro Soldiers in Europe,” in: The Crisis (June 1945)
"Ein Hauch von Freiheit" (Breath of Freedom)
December 16, 10:05pm CET on Arte
"Breath of Freedom: Black Soldiers and the Battle for Civil Rights" (narrated by Cuba Gooding, Jr.)
Premiers February 17, 8pm ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel
"Freed's enduring photos of march part of exhibit"
„Heldin des anderen Amerikas“
für Angela Davis, 1970–1973.
"Poem about Jimi"
Liselotte Drewitz from Koblenz shared this poem with us. The poem is based on Goethe's "Gretchen am Spinnrad" and was very popular in the postwar years. It tells of a broken-hearted German woman whose black boyfriend has to return to the U.S. She describes lovingly his warm hands, and his sweet mouth, and how generously he shared his chocolates and Camel cigarettes with her.
Meine Ruh ist hin, mein Herz ist schwer,
Ich find sie nimmer und nimmer mehr.
Wo ich JIM nicht hab, ist mir das Grab,
Die ganze Welt ist mir vergällt.
Kein anderer Mann ist mir so lieb,
Seiner Augen Bann, und ach, sein Jeep!
Wie edel er doch geht und steht,
Und in seiner Tasch' stets Chocolate.
Sein Händedruck, wie wundersam,
Sein holder Mund voll chewing gum.
Wie ward mein Herz so semmelweich,
Wenn JIM mir eine Camel reicht!
Doch ach, wie ist's um Herz mir weh,
Ich Höre nie mehr sein O.K.
Mit ihm versank mein Liebesglück,
Oh, liebster JIM, oh CARE zurück.
"P.T. aus Arizona"
by Franz-Josef Degenhardt
This anti-war song tells the story of the Native American P.T. who with the help of a German woman, Red Rita, (RITA, Resistance in the Army) deserted his unit in Kaiserslautern in 1966 and went to France to become a farmer.
"Die Alten Rittersleut"
In the 1950s, German students adapted the popular drinking song "Die Alten Rittersleut" which describes the adventures of the castle maiden Anna. In the "new" version, Anna finds herself pregnant by a black soldier, but is not bothered by it, because (in this southern part of Germany) a "Negro" is clearly preferable to a "Preiss" (a local derogatory term for a North German or Prussian).
Professor Walter Rödel remembered this song from his student days and shared it with us:
Und das Ritter-Fräulein Anna
war von einem Neger schwanga.
Daraus macht sie keinen Scheiss,
lieber a Neger wie a Preiss.
Refrain: Ja so warn`s, ja so warn's die alten Rittersleit...