Dutch Children of African American Liberators

Dutch Children of African American Liberators : Race, Military Policy and Identity in World War II and Beyond

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In the Netherlands, a small group of biracial citizens has entered its eighth decade of lives that have been often puzzling and difficult, but which offer a unique insight into the history of race relations in America. Though their African American fathers had brought liberation from Nazi tyranny at the end of World War II, they were in a segregated American military derived from a racially divided American society. Decades later, some of their children could finally know of a father's identity and the life he had led after the war. Just one would be able to find an embrace in his arms, and just one would arrive at her father's American grave after 73 years. But they could now understand their own Dutch lives in the context of their fathers' lives in America.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 250 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 13mm | 346g
  • Jefferson, NC, United States
  • English
  • 53 photos; 53 photos
  • 1476676933
  • 9781476676937

Table of contents

One -War Babies
Two-Social Reality, Military Policy
Three-Liberation and Slavery
Six-Limited Service
Seven-Liberation Children
Eight-In England
Nine-Out of England
Ten-Occupation Babies
Twelve-Settling Lives
Thirteen-International Families
Afterword by Sebastiaan Vonk
About the Authors
Appendix: Relevant World War II Era Law and Custom for International Marriage, Immigration, Birth Status, Adoption and Assistance
Chapter Notes
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Review quote

I was only vaguely aware of the topic of biracial 'liberation children', that is the sons and daughters of Dutch women and African American soldiers who passed through the Netherlands in 1944 and 1945...Many did not know their fathers, and they faced abuse and social alienation. This book brings up interesting questions about the meaning of 'Dutchness', about social and cultural change in the Netherlands, and the place of mixed-race people in Dutch society. The authors ought to be commended for finding so much new material and for handling a sensitive topic carefully."-Michael Douma, Georgetown University, President Elect, Association for the Advancement of Dutch-American Studies

"Dutch Children of African American Liberators is a welcome contribution to our understanding of the Second World War from a hybrid American and Dutch perspective. By means of compelling personal experiences, the complexity in which African American soldiers found themselves during the early 1940s is shown. Kirkels and Dickon not only show how segregation was shamefully maintained on American soil, but also how the complex racial relations regulated in this way entered another dimension when these soldiers were deployed overseas for the liberation of Western Europe...This book vividly sketches the often painful histories that have left their bitter traces in both countries to this very day, with children left in the dark about their origins, and with relatives and others who were ignorant or unknowing...That also points to the unfamiliarity of the underlying history, a history which in this book finally gets the attention it deserves."-Kees Ribbens, historian with The Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (NIOD) in Amsterdam
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About Mieke Kirkels

Mieke Kirkels is a public historian in the Netherlands, and, in 2019, was appointed as an officer in the Royal Order of Oranje Nassau, which honors Dutch citizens for their service to the nation. Her previous books have been based on research and oral history about the American contributions to her country in World War II, with special emphasis on the role played by African American forces.

Writer Chris Dickon is an Emmy-winning former public broadcasting producer, reporter and writer. He has published several books on lesser-known aspects of American history. He lives in Portsmouth, Virginia.
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