After World War I, relationships between French occupation troops and German women were banned. But they happened anyway, and liaisons involving black soldiers produced a number of mixed-race children. Many were later persecuted by the Nazis. Around 100,000 French troops were sent to occupy Germany’s Rhineland region in 1920. About 20,000 of these soldiers came from the French colonies of Tunisia, Morocco, French Indochina, and Senegal. The African troops became targets of a harassment campaign called “Die Schwarze Schmach,” or “The Black Disgrace.” German political parties, the media, and many organizations tried to discredit French occupation policies by falsely claiming that black French soldiers were systematically raping German women and children. The presence of black, North African, and Asian troops in Germany was depicted as a threat to the “German race” and the future of European civilization. Between 1919 and 1928, several hundred mixed-race children were born in Germany’s Rhineland region — the product of liaisons between local women and French occupation troops. These children, their mothers, and extended families were socially ostracized from the very beginning. In the 1930s, these children became victims of racist Nazi policies. In 1937, Adolf Hitler secretly ordered hundreds of them to be forcibly sterilized. A special unit of the Gestapo was set up to carry out this task. This documentary, directed by Dominik Wessely, tells the story of a forgotten crime. It also explains how propaganda and toxic “fake news” reports can create an environment in which horrific crimes can be committed.
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