John Ehret recently made history in Germany. The 40-year-old has become the country’s first Black mayor. Ehret’s father was an African-American soldier stationed in Germany and his mother, a native of Germany. Now, Ehret is the mayor of Mauer Village. Mauer is in southern Germany, near Heidelberg.
This comes more than six decades after the end of World War II, and the fall of Nazi Germany, whose system was based on racism, especially against Jews. “It has taken this long for two reasons,” says political analyst Earl Ofari Hutchinson. “One: the tiny number of native born African-Germans that are totally assimilated into the social and cultural life of Germany. And, two: the still subtle and at times overt racism and colorphobia in Germany. The Nazi past has not been totally eradicated from German life.”
Ehret, a trained police inspector who worked for BKA (similar to the FBI in the U.S.) won 58 percent of the votes. Mauer has approximately 4,000 citizens. Ehret has never met his father, who was an American solider stationed in Karlsruhe. And according to reports, his mother, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor when Ehret was a child, put him in a children’s home when he was two years old. A family from Mauer adopted Ehret when he was six. Ehret became Mauer’s only Black resident.
“Ehret’s election is a breakthrough for people of color in Germany and eventually other European nations,” says Hutchinson, author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. “It is more proof that multi-culturalism will be a dominant feature of European culture and life in the future. And that there is a greater willingness to accept and support people of color in political and economic positions of power.”
According to Hutchinson, Ehret’s election marks a change in the political landscape of Germany. “There is a huge and steady influx of Germans and they and their children are becoming much more integrated into German life. This will eventually translate into greater political involvement,” says Hutchinson, “Ehret is considered a bonafide German product. The overwhelming support he got for the mayorship and the fact that he’s been a long time and respected governmental civil servant will engender continual support from the town’s citizens.”