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Children of the Liberation

Transatlantic Experiences and Perspectives of Black Germans of the Post-War Generation


Edited By Marion Kraft

This volume was originally published in German in 2015, commemorating the end of World War II seventy years earlier and acknowledging the contribution of African American soldiers to Germany’s liberation from fascist rule. Using an interdisciplinary approach, it collects the voices of some of the descendants of these World War II heroes. In this volume, Black Germans of this post-war generation relate and analyse their experiences from various perspectives. Historical, political and research essays alongside life writing, interviews and literary texts form a kaleidoscope through which a new perspective on an almost forgotten part of German history and US American–German relationships is conveyed. The collection explores causes and consequences of racism in the past and in the present as well as developing strategies for achieving positive changes.
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Which Figure Does Not Belong? About the Impossibility of Belonging (Thomas Usleber)


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Which Figure Does Not Belong? About the Impossibility of Belonging

25.  Thomas Usleber. Private property.

An Ignorant Society

A reading in Gießen in 2003. The year before, my book Die Farben unter meiner Haut [The Colors Underneath my Skin],1 had been published. It describes my experiences as a Black German. During readings, I wanted ← 107 | 108 → to convey that I am not defined by my skin color and that I am as German as any other German. This was not my first reading. I usually introduced myself and talked about the motives for writing an autobiographical text before reading some passages from the book: childhood, school days, professional experiences, and the closing passages as a résumé. This was followed by a Question and Answer session, which was usually welcomed by the audience. But in Gießen, an elderly gentleman got up who had only one short, single question: “But by and large you like it here with us, don’t you?”

I had heard this or similar questions before, but never after I had so poignantly, so clearly and so extensively explained that I, too, was a part of this country. Now, this question knocked me off my feet, irritated and bewildered me. Suddenly I realized that I would never reach the depths of people’s minds, where prejudice was embedded so deeply. I would never belong to their “us,” and...

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