Last Of The Conquerors
Last of the Conquerors is a 1948 novel by African-American novelist William Gardner Smith. It concerns African-American GI's serving in United States occupied Germany after World War II. The protagonist, Hayes Dawkins, has an affair with Ilse, a white German woman. He and Ilse fight against racist Army officers and policies to sustain a relationship that some white soldiers condemn (although there are also many friendly whites who help them).
Last of the Conquerors shows post-Nazi Germany as more racially tolerant than the United States. While this may or may not be correct, Smith's novel gives an opinion of the Marshall Plan claiming that American society should be a model for the world, while African-Americans continued to deal with racism.
The novel begins on a homecoming US troopship, as the Statue of Liberty comes into view, the reaction from the US troops is somber and wary, resigned, but not at all glad to be home from the war. Why? They are "colored" troops. After experiencing life in a society (recently liberated Germany), where racial prejudice was not a big factor, they steel themselves for dealing with a still very divided America. An eyeopening look inside a (now hopefully past) society and its impact on those forced to deal with the unremitting pressure of distrust and hate. A profound reading experience.