Dutch Children of African American Liberators

Race, Military Policy and Identity in World War II and Beyond

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About the Book

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 had arrived in a segregated American military that derived from a racially divisive 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. This book relates their experiences, offering fresh insight into the history of American race relations.

About the Author(s)

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.

Chris Dickon is an Emmy-awarded former broadcast producer whose work develops new information about the human results of Americans at war. He has written about the places where named American war dead are still buried, the role of Americans in the non-American forces of the two world wars, and the social results of U.S. military racial policy and practice in Europe. He lives in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Bibliographic Details

Mieke Kirkels and Chris Dickon
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Bibliographic Info: ca. 50 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7693-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4114-0
Imprint: McFarland

Book Reviews & Awards

“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; Pres. Elect, Association for the Advancement of Dutch-American Studies