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. Their children were left to ask the universal questions of origin: Who am I? Who is my family? Can I know my father?
The answers that eventually began to reveal themselves were revelatory. Some of the 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 be able to 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. And they were finally able to find a family – with each other.
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. . . a history which in this book finally gets the attention it deserves. – Kees Ribbens, NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Amsterdam
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, VP Association for the Advancement of Dutch - American Studies
This work does succeed in highlighting a dimension of the human cost of WWII in the Netherlands that has not received the attention it deserves…. The authors do a good job of giving concrete examples of just how complex and contradictory the War Department’s racial policy was…. This work is well worth reading as a reminder of how long-lasting the human suffering inflicted by war can be— Allison Blakely, Canadian Journal of Netherlandic Studies
Dutch Children of African American Liberators