A German child meets her father, a WW2 soldier, for the first time since she was 1 year old,
In quieter times, he attended church with Nazis meeting upstairs. When the war was over he went home — and then left for America, . "I lit a match and there was a basket with a new baby – my brother's baby," he says. Germany's 'Brown Babies' The Difficult Identities of Post-War Black Children of GIs he never met, was an African-American serviceman named George. made to match them with African-American military families, many of. He came to the U.S. as a child in the s and went to grade school in Holland, He met a German soldier who resided in Brazil but got drafted while visiting.
When Wiesbaden native Jessica Dreyer started working at the US Army Europe headquarters in her hometown, she noticed an interesting phenomenon.
At work, her American male colleagues were eager to find out if she had any single, German friends that they could meet. And in her personal life, her female German friends inquired about the potential availability of any of her US army co-workers. Business started to really boom after a few months when local media noticed the novel dating firm, and now she receives on average 60 to 80 new inquiries from Germans and Americans combined each week.
While she gets calls and emails from all kinds of people, including men seeking men and women seeking women, Dreyer says her biggest client base is German women seeking US military men and vice versa.
This, she says, is simply because of the numbers: The US Army counts 3, soldiers, 3, American civilian workers, and 1, retirees as part of its Wiesbaden Garrison. And around 85 percent of military personnel are male. For a city that has a long history with the American military, such pairings between American soldiers and German women are also perhaps not so uncommon. Some he can answer only with a letter of apology. Ina fire destroyed between 16 and 18 million files, many of them from the postwar period.
In her apartment in the south-western German town of Bad Rappenau, she has filled a file cabinet with her grandfather's paper trail. A friend translated communications with Russian Federation military archives, she says, "but all they said was, they don't know anything either.
When she read his diaries, she was shocked to learn how badly he had longed to know his father. The most important ally in Anselmi's search lives 10 miles 16 kilometers away. After decades of silence, her grandmother, Ruth Reich, is glad to reminisce openly about Andrei Yessayan, her one great love.
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The pair met at a New Year's ball in Leipzig in All night, the Soviet officer stood in the doorway and watched the young German dance. Nearly every evening, he brought food for the hungry family. Soon, the sheltered German had fallen in love with the proud, impeccably dressed Armenian. In the street, someone spat on her coat. She brushed it off and kept walking.
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But when their son was a year old, Yessayan disappeared. His landlady told Reich he had been taken to a Soviet military hospital for lung treatments. Reich never heard from him again.
Nor did she stop missing him. No legal recourse Mothers like Reich had little hope of locating their children's fathers. The Allied military leadership fiercely protected its soldiers from paternity claims and child support payments, whether their relationships had been love, rape, or a common trade -- sex for food.
Many commanders sent home soldiers whose girlfriends turned up pregnant. Others sped up the transfers of men who applied for permission to marry their German sweethearts. Women had no legal recourse. West German civil law required fathers to pay child support, but German courts had limited jurisdiction over occupation troops.
Inthe Allied High Commission for Germany forbade any "proceedings to establish paternity or liability for maintenance of children" of foreign soldiers. The ban lasted five years, but even later courts had little success holding soldier fathers to account. Some of their children are still fighting legal battles. Craig exhumed and its DNA tested. The results matched those of the retired Bonn pilot with 99 percent certainty. He was too late, the judge ruled; under US law, paternity claims must be filed before a child turns Such recognition, he says, could help mitigate the pain of his childhood.
In the orphanage where he spent time as a boy, other kids called him "Ami-bastard. West German politicians worried vocally about a minority growing there "for whom our social climate is not suitable," as a CDU-member put it in a Bundestag debate: Mixed-race children, often of African-American GI fathers.
Called "Negermischlinge" "Negro half-breeds" by neighbors and social welfare agencies, these children faced all the prejudices their white counterparts did, and more.
They were nearly three times as likely to be given up for adoption, and rarely found German adoptive families. Their mothers were ostracized, and in some cases fired from their jobs and disowned by their families. Few of these women could hope to marry their children's fathers; untilthe American Army was legally segregated, and interracial marriage was forbidden. Mabel Grammer, wife of a US officer stationed in Mannheim, decided to do something about the plight of these "brown babies.
Forced to abandon their tanks, the Germans destroyed them rather than leave them for the enemy. Gellersen entered the war at Smolensk, about miles west of Moscow, in The German army moved south to the Black Sea, where they ran out of gas again, then to the high mountains near the Turkish border in that summer.
After a year as a mechanic, Gellersen was given a new assignment, indirectly because of his religious beliefs. As a Mormon, Gellersen was the only man out of the in his company who abstained from drinking alcohol. One night a general needed a driver and woke up Manfred because he was the only one who was sober.
It became his assignment for the remainder of the war. Gellersen's unit was shipped back toward Stalingrad to aid German forces, which were being overrun by the Russians. They painted their tanks white and went into battle for days, but, badly outnumbered, they were driven back to Romania and Hungary and eventually Germany.When a Nazi meets a Holocaust Survivor
After being given two weeks off, they took a train to Lithuania for more battle, but by then the German cause was lost. Gellersen, who was wounded twice by shrapnel — once in the face and once in his scalp — narrowly escaped death on a couple of occasions. Near the end of the war he was sent back to a village to obtain more ammunition. As he rounded a curve in the road, he was stunned to find that he had driven right into an ambush of more than a dozen Russian soldiers.
He yanked the steering wheel hard to the right and crashed into a fence. Under heavy fire, he leaped out of the Jeep and ran around a house only to run into another Russian soldier. They were both so surprised that they ran away in opposite directions. On another occasion he took an American prisoner at gunpoint and fended off angry farmers who wanted to kill the American after watching bombs fall on their fields. If I had spoken English, we would have had a nice conversation.
Gellersen and five other soldiers built a raft out of empty gas cans and rowed into the open sea as soon as the sun set, wearing blisters into their hands. They were rescued by a German naval ship, which eventually passed them to an ocean liner. After spending several days living on deck, they were kicked off on shore in what is now Poland They were supposed to return to Berlin and rejoin the fight. Instead, Gellersen began a long journey to his home.
He walked in ditches to stay out of sight, sometimes managing to catch a ride on a train or truck.
Despite the precautions, he was captured by the British and loaded on a truck, but as it neared the prison camp he jumped off and escaped, resuming his homeward trek.
He was only a few miles from Stade when he was captured again by the British. Placed in a long line of prisoners for a march to a prison camp near the North Sea, Gellersen faked a leg injury and pretended he was unable to walk. When presented an opportunity, he dashed into a field of willows and hid until dark.
He arrived at his home in Stade at 2 in the morning, but hid for an hour to check for enemy soldiers who were hunting for German soldiers.
He climbed onto the roof of his house and sneaked inside through a window. My two brothers were there, too. All of us together again.
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The neighbor to our left had died; the neighbor to our right had died; the neighbor across the street had died. Five of my cousins and a brother-in-law had died.
Four million Germans had died. Twenty-seven million Russians had died. It was quite a disaster. The reunion didn't last long. The British were rounding up German soldiers and shipping them to various countries to help clean up after the war.