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Children of the Liberation

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

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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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Searching for Traces: Discontinuity and Identity in African American-German Autobiographies (Marion Kraft)

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MARION KRAFT

Searching for Traces: Discontinuity and Identity in African American-German Autobiographies



51.  Marion Kraft. Private property.

In recent decades, a growing number of Black Germans have gone from being the objects to the subjects of different research, claiming interpretational ← 283 | 284 → sovereignty over their lives in varied academic fields, in life writing and in literary texts. In autobiographies of the post-World War II generation, the experience of racism and uprootedness, and the search for one’s family history play an important role in the formation of individual and social identity. This search often includes acceptance of a bi-ethnic and bi-national heritage, but, in many cases, it is based on a culturally homogenous socialization. In both cases, the autobiographical text can be intended as a personal account, as a historical narrative or a classic memoir. Narrative strategies used to account for the validity of the autobiographical text as a historic document are influenced by the lens through which the author views his or her life, and by his or her intentions and expectations regarding the audience he or she has in mind. In this essay, I want to exemplify this with a discussion of four Black German African American autobiographies,1 considering their commonalities and differences based on the social and political realities of German and U.S. American relations in the post-World War II era. These different and yet entangled stories reflect how gender, “race,” social class and nation...

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