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‘They didn’t allow racism win’ — The story of a interracial couple on other edges of WWII

‘They didn’t allow racism win’ — The story of a interracial couple on other edges of WWII

An african American nurse, joined the racially segregated army in Jim Crow-era Arizona during World War II, Elinor Powell. The discrimination she encountered compounded she was assigned after she fell in love with Frederick Albert, a German prisoner of war to whom. Journalist Alexis Clark told the NewsHour Weekend’s Ivette Feliciano about the couple’s unlikely story and her book, “Enemies in Love.”

Read the transcript that is full

IVETTE FELICIANO:

German soldier Frederick Albert was captured in Italy in 1944 and taken to a prisoner of war camp in Arizona where he met American that is african nurse Elinor Powell.

IVETTE FELICIANO:

Just how did they satisfy? And what is the whole tale of the courtship?

ALEXIS CLARK:

Frederick, who was simply a great cook, and a baker, worked in chaos hallway. And, apparently, he saw Elinor for the time that is first he stepped right up to her and stated, “You should be aware of my name. I’m the man that is going to marry you.”

IVETTE FELICIANO:

Plus it had been all sailing that is smooth there?

ALEXIS CLARK:

Well, she had been shocked, of course. I mean, listed here is this prisoner that is german of, you realize, hitting on her. Broad daylight. And so it was apparent he ended up being, you realize, wanting to court her.

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IVETTE FELICIANO:

Is there anything about their particular upbringings them more open to an interracial romance that you feel made?

ALEXIS CLARK:

She ended up being from a prominent family that is black the Boston suburbs. It absolutely was actually extremely modern. It absolutely was called Milton, Massachusetts. Went along to white schools. Had friends that are white. And she had been from an educated household. So although she knew about discrimination. She ended up being mostly secluded from that.

Now having said that, Frederick was from Nazi Germany. And he ended up being from the really rich family members. a family that is prominent. And so they had been German nationalists. Now although they did not join the Nazi party, they certainly were believers in Hitler, therefore the German kingdom. But Frederick had been a musician. And was incredibly into jazz. And so that had been outlawed in Germany by Hitler, but he snuck around and would pay attention to it. So this impression was had by him of African Us americans. These were artistic. They were hot. All the things because he had a very dysfunctional relationship with his father, in particular that he never felt growing up in his family. Because he had beenn’t a armed forces man. He had beenn’t in to the war. He really was this creative, free nature. Therefore he saw Elinor, and attached every one of these emotions and a few ideas, and dropped madly deeply in love with her. So they started initially to see one another in key. He volunteered at the hospital and additionally they were able to carry on these secret rendezvous, and started a romance that is full-blown.

They found each other when you think about two people who never should’ve been falling in love with each other. And that’s what makes this tale, in my experience, even much more unbelievable. I am talking about, he had been a soldier. She ended up being although discriminated against, she nevertheless ended up being a american officer in the army. So they really had been committing a criminal activity, actually.

IVETTE FELICIANO:

If caught dating an enemy POW, Elinor could have been court martialed and imprisoned. But which wasn’t the only crime. Frederick had been white and Elinor ended up being black, and so they wanted to marry. In Arizona in 1944, that too was contrary to the legislation

IVETTE FELICIANO:

Just How were they able to get hitched?

ALEXIS CLARK:

After the war ended, all of the German POWs were deported. So Elinor and Frederick I mean, call it rebellion that is youthful. I do not understand. Insanity. They knew that they the simplest way that they could reunite is when they conceived a child. So they did. So he is deported. She returns home. Pregnant with the German POW’s baby. And their plan worked. Because he was allowed to get yourself a sponsorship in which he came back in 1947. And they married in nyc.

IVETTE FELICIANO:

Interracial marriage was allowed in brand New York State. But that don’t mean their life had been going to be effortless.

ALEXIS CLARK:

They started getting around, having lot of trouble getting, also, leases, because no body desired to live close to them. He could not actually get a work. So they really made the decision which they should relocate to Germany because he had been groomed to simply take his father over’s business. It was terrible. Elinor had been treated badly. His mother had not been excited about having a black daughter-in-law, and made that very clear. They left Germany following a year . 5. And then they moved back again to the usa. They first settled in some suburbs outside of Philadelphia. They mightn’t enlist their son in school they desired to. They certainly were told to attend a school that is black. Therefore here these people were, dealing with racism on both edges regarding the Atlantic, right?

In addition they end up settling in Connecticut, where he gets job with Pepperidge Farm. And there is this community called Village Creek, which is in South Norwalk. It’s actually inside their covenants, it’s advertised as “a prejudice-free area.” So they settle there, as it had been a community that welcomed mixed-race couples.

IVETTE FELICIANO:

Frederick and Elinor had two sons and invested the others of the everyday lives for the reason that Village Creek community. He died in 2001 and she in 2005.

IVETTE FELICIANO:

Just what exactly you think we could study from this piece of US history that you’ve documented? Exactly why is this story today that is important?

ALEXIS CLARK:

They did not allow racism win. And you are thought by me can invariably study on that. And specially now. I think we’re such times that are partisan. We already fully know that there’s a rise in hate groups. I do believe racism is a many more overt, in your face, now. I like stories like these, whenever you show that that’s not gonna win. And I also think we must be reminded of the whole tales of perseverance, of courage. Of hardship. But, by the end, there is a pleased ending.

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