Toxi

(Toxi)

FRG, 1952, 85 min, b&w
In German; English subtitles
Credits:
Themes & Genres:

Synopsis

A five-year-old girl suddenly appears on the doorstep of a well-to-do Hamburg family. The different members of the multi-generational, white household have different reactions to the arrival of Toxi, who is black, the daughter of an African-American G.I. and a German woman who has died. Eventually Toxi works her way into the hearts of this German family, but then her father returns, hoping to take Toxi back to America with him.

Commentary

In West Germany at the time of the film’s release, there were nearly 100,000 children of Allied paternity born since WWII; of these, fewer than 5,000 were of colored paternity. Toxi was the first feature-length film to explore the subject of “black occupation children” in postwar Germany. It premiered in 1952 as part of a plan to raise public awareness, as these children began entering German schools. Known for his unique blend of social realism and melodrama, Robert A. Stemmle – one of in West Germany's most popular directors – brought together an exceptionally renowned group of classic German actors with very diverse experiences of the Nazi era, including Paul Bildt, Johanna Hofer and Elisabeth Flickenschildt.

Press comments

“One of very few films to deal explicitly with the problem of race in post-fascist Germany.”
— Heide Fehrenbach, author of Race after Hitler
 

“…extremely well scripted scenes.”
— Film Society of Lincoln Center
 

Toxi offers a local glimpse into the worldwide crisis in racial formation emerging in the 1950s... still highly relevant!”
— Angelica Fenner, author of Race under Reconstruction in German Cinema
 

Toxi remains a cornerstone for any historical understanding of race and blackness in post-war Germany.”
— Tobias Nagl, author of Die unheimliche Maschine: Rasse und Repräsentation im Weimarer Kino

 

“This story must be told. We should not allow the lives of these children to be forgotten.”
— Regina Griffin, director of Brown Babies: The Mischlingskinder Story

Availability

DVD Bonus Features:
  • Biographies & Filmographies
  • Audio commentary by film scholars Angelika Fenner & Tobias Nagel
  • "Toxi and the Story of Race after Nazism," by historian Heide Fehrenbach
  • Trailer: Brown Babies: The Mischlingskinder Story (2011, dir. Regina Griffin)
  • Original film flyer, with English translation
  • Books on the movie

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