“If Hitler wins, every single right we now possess and for which we have struggled here in America for more than three centuries will be instantaneously wiped out by Hitler’s triumphs. If the allies win, we shall at least have the right to continue fighting for a share of democracy for ourselves.“
“Fight for Liberties Here While Fighting Dictators Abroad, NAACP urges,” The Crisis, January 1942
Our research project explores the connection between the U.S. military presence abroad and the advancement of civil rights in the U.S. We investigate the role that African-American GIs played in carrying the civil rights movement to Germany, which was host to the largest contingent of U.S. troops deployed outside the U.S.
Between 1945 and the end of the Cold War, some 15-20 million American soldiers, families, and civilian employees lived in Germany. Between 2-3 million of those Americans were African American. By giving voice to their experience and to that of the people who interacted with them, we will expand the story of the African-American civil rights movement beyond the boundaries of the U.S.
This digital archive has three main goals: First, it will gather and preserve materials on an important but little known chapter of American and African-American history as well as transatlantic relations after the Second World War. Second, it will make these materials available worldwide and free of charge to scholars and teachers in the humanities. Third, it will foster the growth of a community of scholars, teachers, and students who are engaged in teaching and learning about the African-American civil rights movement and its reverberations outside the U.S.
For a list of U.S. military bases in Germany, please see here.
The oral history section is directed by Maria Höhn (Vassar College), Martin Klimke (GHI Washington), and Maggi Morehouse (JR Henderson Professor of Southern History, University of South Carolina, Aiken). If you want to share your personal experience by contributing to our oral history collection or in any other way, please do not hesitate to contact us at: oralhistory(at)aacvr-germany.com
By Maria Höhn and Martin Klimke
Palgrave Macmillan October 2010
“A breakthrough in international history“
Brenda Gayle Plummer, University of Wisconsin-Madison,
author of Rising Wind: Black Americans and U.S. Foreign Affairs, 1935-1960
This website is a collaborative project of:
It is directed by: