Doris McMillon Talks Being A “Brown Baby” in Germany
1 year ago
New film tells story of biracial children born in Germany in World War II
There have been countless movies about World War II but only a few have thoroughly explored the unique experience of African-Americans during wartime. Fewer have explored the affects of the war on African-American children, specifically the children of black soldiers and European mothers conceived, and often abandoned after the war. A new documentary, “Brown Babies: The Mischlingskinder Story,” tells the story of so-called “brown babies,” the children of German women and black American soldiers conceived during World War II. Ironically, while Germany was becoming known for its discrimination and attempts at extermination of Jews, relations between black men and German women were not illegal, though frowned upon. By comparison, such relationships in America were not only illegal but could result in death for the men.
Former news personality Doris McMillon discovered she was one of the nearly 5,000 brown babies adopted and raised by a black American couple. Her story, specifically her own search for her biological parents, is credited with inspiring the “Brown Babies” documentary. Doris, who is featured in the film, along with other “brown babies” recently told her story to Loop 21.com. To read more about Doris and her family, check out her memoir “Mixed Blessing.”
Loop 21: How did you first discover that you are one of the "brown babies" of Germany?
My adoptive father was stationed overseas in Germany and my adoptive mother could not have biological children so they adopted me as a baby and told me when I had to go through the process of becoming naturalized at 5 to become an American citizen. It was never one of those big secrets that I was adopted, especially because I didn’t look like anyone in my adoptive family. [She laughs.] My dad said they walked through all of these cribs in Munich and he claims I stood up in the crib with my arms out and my dad said that’s how they knew I was the one.
Loop 21: You were adopted and raised by a black American family but I know it was not a happy childhood. Did you ever have moments where you thought you would have been better off being raised in Germany?
Yes. I thought that often. I thought, “It couldn’t be worse than what you’re going through now.”
Today my mom would have been diagnosed as bipolar, but back then black people did not seek treatment for mental health. My dad would say all the time “I wish we could get her help,” but she wouldn’t do it. Her behavior was very bizarre. She would throw knives at me. The night I graduated from Wayne State my mother actually beat me in my cap and gown, threatened to kill me and pulled a gun on me. But it was her mental illness kicking in…
She told me I would never amount to anything…I was thinking I should be dead. That would be better. I figured then, “my biological mother would never treat me like this.”