The “Black Shame” Campaign

A story of prejudice and propaganda.

Among the French soldiers who were sent to occupy Germany’s Rhineland in 1920 were 20,000 soldiers from the French colonies as well as Tunisia and Morocco. Before long, these men were branded the “Black Shame on the Rhine” in a smear campaign led by German politicians from all parties. These politicians, along with their prominent European supporters, falsely accused the soldiers of systematic rape and declared them a threat to the ‘German Race’ and the future of Europe. A “fake news” campaign.

Years later, under the Nazi regime, the rage of the ‘Volk’ came down upon the children of German women and French Colonial soldiers. In 1937, all such children were forcibly sterilized. A crime – but one which has since fallen into oblivion.

This is a story of words and their power to transform into actions. Of how racist claims, born in the golden years of Weimar Germany, were able to spread and lay the foundations for later atrocities.

A film by: Dominik Wessely 

Based on an idea by: Antje Boehmert

Camera: Till Vielrose, Knut Schmitz, Hajo Schomerus ● Editor: Annette Muff ● Sound: Jule Buerjes, Nic Nagel, Sven Klöpper ● VFX: Stefan Leuschel ● Online-Editor: Robert Elschner ● Narrated by: Julian Mehne, Daniela Thuar, Matthias Klages ● Mix: Stani Milkowski Color Grading: Knut Schmitz ● Music: Tim Stanzel ● Associate Producer: Daniela Bollmann ● Production Assistant: Nele Huff ● Consultant: Iris Wigger ● Archive Producer: Elizabeth Klinck ● Line Producer: Ko Miklik, Carmel Fuhg ● Executive Producer: Antje Boehmert

Commissioning Editor for ZDF/ARTE: Martin Pieper ● Commissioning Editor for Welle: Kate Cox, Hanne Kehrwald ● Commissioning Editor for Phoenix: Jean-Christoph Caron

Special Thanks to: Franziska Blum-Gabelmann, Susanne Schütt, Berliner Unterwelten e.V.

Produced by DOCDAYS Productions in co-production with ZDF and Deutsche Welle in collaboration with ARTE, ZDFinfo and Phoenix.

A film by Dominik Wessely

Based on an idea by: Antje Boehmert
Writer & Director: Dominik Wessely
Director of Photography: Till Vielrose, Hajo Schomerus, Knut Schmitz
Editor: Annette Muff
Music: Tim Stanzel
Associate Producer: Daniela Bollmann
Archive Producer: Elizabeth Klinck
Senior Adviser: Iris Wigger
Executive Producer: Antje Boehmert

Produced by DOCDAYS Productions in co-production with ZDF and Deutsche Welle in collaboration with ARTE, ZDFinfo and Phoenix.

Length: 52/45 min
Release Date: 2020

A story of prejudice and propaganda.

Among the French soldiers who were sent to occupy Germany’s Rhineland in 1920 were 20,000 soldiers from the French colonies as well as Tunisia and Morocco. Before long, these men were branded the “Black Shame on the Rhine” in a smear campaign led by German politicians from all parties. These politicians, along with their prominent European supporters, falsely accused the soldiers of systematic rape and declared them a threat to the ‘German Race’ and the future of Europe. A “fake news” campaign.

Years later, under the Nazi regime, the rage of the ‘Volk’ came down upon the children of German women and French Colonial soldiers. In 1937, all such children were forcibly sterilized. A crime – but one which has since fallen into oblivion.

This is a story of words and their power to transform into actions. Of how racist claims, born in the golden years of Weimar Germany, were able to spread and lay the foundations for later atrocities.

 

A film by Dominik Wessely

Based on an idea by: Antje Boehmert
Writer & Director: Dominik Wessely
Director of Photography: Till Vielrose, Hajo Schomerus, Knut Schmitz
Editor: Annette Muff
Music: Tim Stanzel
Associate Producer: Daniela Bollmann
Archive Producer: Elizabeth Klinck
Senior Adviser: Iris Wigger
Executive Producer: Antje Boehmert

Produced by DOCDAYS Productions in co-production with ZDF and Deutsche Welle in collaboration with ARTE, ZDFinfo and Phoenix.

Length: 52/45 min
Release Date: 2020