Daniel Cardwell was a “brown baby.” He found his mother after stumbling upon a newspaper article about himself while attending Howard University.
“What was a brown baby?” Cardwell asked a crowd gathered in the east ballroom of the Armour J. Blackburn University Center.
“A brown baby was someone searching for Mama, someone searching for love, a place to belong,” he answered.
Cardwell and journalist Dorris McMillon were on campus last week for a screening and panel discussion of “Brown Babies: The Mischlingskinder Story.- The documentary is the story of Cardwell, McMillon and four other so-called brown babies who were born in postwar-occupation Germany to German mothers and African-American soldiers. These biracial children fell victim to their enemies who made them feel unwanted, abandoned and rejected. The word “mischlingskinder” means mixed race.
According to the film, 100,000 German babies were born to African-American troops and German women during the 1950s. From 1954 to 1955, that number would increase to 500,000. Women who dated or had children with Black soldiers were kicked out of their homes, disowned by their parents and shunned by their entire families.
“It was very difficult to marry back then,” journalist Heide Fehrenbach said. Permission was needed on both ends. Soldiers needed permission from their commanding officers, and the women had to undergo a series of mental and physical tests.
Brown babies were three times more likely to be given up for adoption. A woman by the name of Mabel Grammer, a socialite and journalist for the Afro-American newspaper in Baltimore, found a home for an estimated 500 brown babies.
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