DW Transtel

They Called Them “The Children of Shame” - A Tale of Prejudice and Propaganda

They Called Them “The Children of Shame” – A Tale of Prejudice and Propaganda

DW Transtel | 884943
YOP: 2021
1 x 52 min

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 harass- ment 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 re- gion – the product of liaisons between local women and French occupation troops. These children, their mothers, and extended families were socially ostra- cized 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.