The American War Bride Experience

GI Brides of World War II

What Americans Thought of the German War Brides

Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a weekly article called ‘My Day’, which is now in book form. I found an article written in January 3, 1947 very interesting and thought I would share it with you. I will give you an ideal of what folks were thinking back then a year after most war brides had made the journey to the US. First you will read the comment written by the editor of the book David Emblidge.

Did Mrs. Roosevelt’s suffer from “Germanophobia”? Twenty-first-century Americans may find it difficult to comprehend the anxiety anything German could elicit in those who had lived through two world wars. Even an intelligent international observer like Eleanor Roosevelt, who knew the subtleties of how nations deliberately and inadvertently conspired to bring about these wars, could nonetheless fixate on one all-purpose enemy. In “My Day” we rearely hear Mrs. Roosevelt reail against the Japanese or the Italian and Spanish Fascists. Whether tight or wrong in her unwavering opinion about Germany, she consistently articulated its implications, despite angering some people, as with the American soldier mentioned here.

HYDE PARK, January 3 --- I have received a letter which voices a strong protest against some of our policies in regard to the Germans.

The nine signers of the letter war worried, first, about the relaxing of many controls in our zone of occupation in Germany, which tends to allow the Germans eventually will have to run their own country, and we have to prepare them for the time when they will be left without an army of occupation.

Our safeguard in Germany should be the insistence that there shall be no rebuilding of heavy industry of the kind which would permit Germany again to become a great industrial nation and rebuild a war machine. Small industries needed for export purposes and for the daily life of the people should, of course, be permitted. The one thing to be viewed with alarm is any policy on the part of the United States of Great Britain, no matter what the reason, which would allow Germany again to become a potential war breeder.

The second protest is against granting licenses to GIs to marry German girls and allowing them to bring their wives to this country. I was asked about this question when I was in Germany last year. I said then that I felt that any boy in love with a girl over there should not be allowed to marry until he came home and had sufficient time to be quite sure that his love was not born of loneliness and propinquity in a strange country. Many young soldiers were annoyed with me, but they saw the point. And I still believe that a rule requiring a boy to be home for at least four months before he could bring over the girl he wished to marry would be a safeguard to our present young army in Germany.

These boys are not the boys who fought the war. Many of them have no realy feeling against the Germans and do not understand the background of the two World Wars. And as the German girls are quite ready to be friendly, the soldiers are apt to be carried away.

There are exceptions, of course. One boy told me he had been engaged to a girl for years and she had gone to Germany before the war to visit members of her family. Then the war broke out, preventing her return to this country. Now, he had finally found her again in Germany. Naturally, he wanted to marry her, but the wartime rule prevented it. He stuck to his purpose and succeeded. In that case, the boy was right.

The third protest of my correspondents is against the bringing of German scientist and their families to the country. I am trying to find out the reason for this. I thought we were bringing over certain scientists who never were Nazis, but I do not really understand the reasons for doing this.

My correspondents fear that we are building up “a strong nucleus” of Nazi spies in this country and are “strengthening the Nazi cause all over the world.” This is a condideration which should not be taken lightly. I think there is no question but that any Germans coming into this country should be very carefully screened. Their background should be examined and tested in every possible way.

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© 2005 M. Thomas