‘They didn’t allow racism win’ — The story of an interracial few on contrary edges of WWII

‘They didn’t allow racism win’ — The story of an interracial few on contrary edges of WWII

During World War II, Elinor Powell, an African United states nurse, joined up with the racially segregated army in Jim Crow-era Arizona. The discrimination she encountered compounded after she fell deeply in love with Frederick Albert, a German prisoner of war to whom she was assigned. Journalist Alexis Clark told the NewsHour Weekend’s Ivette Feliciano about the couple’s story that is unlikely her book, “Enemies in prefer.”

Read the transcript that is full

IVETTE FELICIANO:

German soldier Frederick Albert was captured in Italy in 1944 and taken fully to a prisoner of war camp in Arizona where he met African United states nurse, Elinor Powell.

IVETTE FELICIANO:

Just how did they satisfy? And what’s the tale of these courtship?

ALEXIS CLARK:

Frederick, who was a cook that is great and a baker, worked in a mess hall. And, apparently, he saw Elinor for the time that is first he strolled right up to her and stated, “You should know my name. I’m the person who’s going to marry you.”

IVETTE FELICIANO:

Also it was all smooth sailing from here?

ALEXIS CLARK:

Well, she ended up being surprised, needless to say. I mean, here is this prisoner that is german of, you know, striking on her behalf. Broad daylight. And that he was, you know, trying to court her so it was obvious.

IVETTE FELICIANO:

Is there any such thing about their respective upbringings them more open to an interracial romance that you feel made?

ALEXIS CLARK:

She had been from american dating website a prominent black colored family members in the Boston suburbs. It was actually extremely progressive. It absolutely was called Milton, Massachusetts. Went to schools that are white. Had white friends. And she ended up being from an informed family members. So although she knew about discrimination. She was mostly secluded from that.

Now on the other hand, Frederick ended up being from Nazi Germany. And he was from a very rich family members. a prominent household. And additionally they were nationalists that are german. Now they were believers in Hitler, and the German empire although they didn’t join the Nazi party. But Frederick ended up being a musician. And was extremely into jazz. And making sure that have been outlawed in Germany by Hitler, but he snuck around and would tune in to it. So he had this impression of African Us americans. They certainly were creative. These were warm. All the stuff that he never felt growing up in their family, because he had a tremendously dysfunctional relationship together with father, in specific. Because he had beenn’t a military guy. He had beenn’t in to the war. He actually was this artistic, free character. So he saw Elinor, and attached each one of these emotions and some ideas, and dropped madly in love with her. So that they started initially to see one another in secret. He volunteered during the medical center in addition they could actually continue these secret rendezvous, and began 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 why is this story, in my experience, even all the more unbelievable. After all, he was a soldier. She ended up being although discriminated against, she nevertheless ended up being an officer that is american the army. So that they were committing a criminal activity, really.

IVETTE FELICIANO:

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

IVETTE FELICIANO:

Just How were they able to get married?

ALEXIS CLARK:

After the war ended, most of the POWs that are german deported. And thus Elinor and Frederick we mean, call it youthful rebellion. I don’t know. Insanity. They knew which they the best way they could reunite is when they conceived a young child. So they did. So he is deported. She comes back home. Pregnant because of the German POW’s baby. And their plan worked. He returned in 1947 because he was allowed to get a sponsorship and. Plus they married in nyc.

IVETTE FELICIANO:

Interracial marriage ended up being permitted in New York State. But that didn’t mean their life had been likely to be effortless.

ALEXIS CLARK:

They began moving around, having lot of difficulty getting, even, leases, because no one wanted to live close to them. He could not really get yourself a task. So they made a decision which they should relocate to Germany because he had been groomed to just take over his father’s company. It was terrible. Elinor was treated defectively. Their mother wasn’t stoked up about having a black daughter-in-law, making that specific. They left Germany after a and a half year. Then they relocated back in to the United States. They first settled in a few suburbs outside of Philadelphia. They couldn’t enlist their son in school that they wished to. They were told to attend a school that is black. So right here these were, dealing with racism on both relative edges of this Atlantic, right?

And so they become settling in Connecticut, where he gets a working work with Pepperidge Farm. And there is this grouped community called Village Creek, that is in Southern Norwalk. That it is within their covenants, it’s advertised as “a prejudice-free area.” So they settle there, because it was a community that welcomed mixed-race couples.

IVETTE FELICIANO:

Frederick and Elinor had two sons and spent the others of their life in that Village Creek community. He died in 2001 and she in 2005.

IVETTE FELICIANO:

Just what exactly you think we could study on this slice of US history that you have documented? How come this story essential today?

ALEXIS CLARK:

They did not let racism win. And you are thought by me can invariably study from that. And specially now. I believe we’re in such partisan times. We already fully know that there is an increase in hate teams. I believe racism is a many more overt, in that person, now. I like stories like these, whenever you show that that’s not gonna win. And I think we must be reminded among these whole stories of perseverance, of courage. Of difficulty. But, at the conclusion, there’s a happy ending.

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