Human exhibits and sterilization: The fate of Afro Germans under Nazis

Updated 8:40 AM ET, Wed July 26, 2017

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A new film aims to highlight a Nazi "secret" mission to sterilize hundreds of Afro German children.

(CNN)In 1937, mixed race children living in the Rhineland were tracked down by the Gestapo and sterilized on "secret order." Some were later the subject of medical experiments, while others vanished.

"There were known to be around 800 Rhineland children at the time," says historian Eve Rosenhaft, professor of German Historical Studies, at the University of Liverpool.
It was a little known part of Holocaust history until Mo Abudu, chief executive of Nigerian media network EbonyLife TV, read an online article by Rosenhaft on the plight of these children.
"When I read about it [the article] I just thought we need to put this to screen," says Abudu. "There are many children in that era born of African and German parentage and I felt what happened to those people. Their stories are totally untold."
EbonyLife TV intends to tell their stories through a film with a 'working title' called "Ava and Duante." The film is set in an undisclosed location in Europe and will focus on the plight of Afro Germans who suffered persecution under Hitler.
It is the studio's first foray into the international film market and a dramatic change in subject matter for Nollywood, which is famous for producing movies that focus on lighthearted story lines.
    "I don't see this as a Nollywood film at all," says Abudu. "I believe this is a film that has global appeal."
    In developing the film's plot, she commissioned scriptwriter Nicole Brown to further investigate.
    Caption: Two survivors prepare food outside the barracks. The man on the right is thought to be Jean (Johnny) Voste, born in Belgian Congo -- the only black prisoner in Dachau. 
Photo Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Frank Manucci. 
Date: May 1945

    A story buried

    "Essentially these children were pulled from school, off the streets and bundled into vans, taken to medical facilities and sterilized," says Brown.
    "Although their births were recorded, what happened to almost the majority of them is unknown," she adds. "In a way we wanted to tell a story that had been buried for so long."
    Thousands of black people were living in Germany when Hitler came to power. Some were from former colonial countries. Others, mainly in the Rhineland, were the offspring of World War I colonial troops and German mothers.
    Taking the extremely scarce autobiographies of Afro German survivors as its inspiration, the film's script follows the relationship of a fictionalized mixed race couple living in Nazi Germany, and their fight t