• Germany's news in English
 

Germany elects first ever black mayor

Published: 02 Jun 2012 09:50 GMT+02:00

The 40-year-old Ehret, whose father was an African-American soldier and mother a native German, took over running the village of Mauer near Heidelberg, southern Germany on Friday, Der Spiegel reported on his inauguration.

Despite almost no campaigning, he picked up slightly more than 58 percent of the vote, beating out a civil servant in the village of about 4,000 residents. Observers said Ehret profited from a so-called “Obama” effect, though the trained police inspector didn’t seek the comparison.

Ehret’s first days suggested that he was unlikely to end up as head of anything. The only thing he knows about his American father is that he was stationed as a US soldier in Karlsruhe. His mother suffered a brain tumor when he was a toddler and gave him up to a children’s home at the age of two.

At six he was adopted by the Ehret family from Mauer. John became a star in the village and was the village’s only black resident. He was known as Pelé, after the Brazilian legend, at the club where he played football. John’s new dad was a respected Social Democratic Party member on the local council.

Ehret says his skin colour was never an issue – either in Germany or in the many places he’s travelled to as a member of the BKA, where he was its first black employee. His employer even once sent him to observe a neo-Nazi concert, apparently unconcerned about his skin colour.

Ehret was sent abroad many times, including on several United Nations missions. He served as an investigator into attacks in Lebanon, as a mentor in Sarajevo to help expand the village’s finance office and as an advisor to help rebuild Afghanistan’s police force. He is trained in civil service administration.

But deep down he was a boy from Mauer, so when he saw that the mayor’s job was vacant, because the previous mayor took a post elsewhere, he applied for the job.

“I didn’t hesitate for long,” he told the magazine.

Tahir Della, chairman of the Black People in Germany Initiative, said, “Before Ehret there weren’t any black mayors in Germany.” There was however a mayor of Indian descent in an eastern German town in 1993.

Ehret, who insists he’s never experienced discrimination in Germany, is now in an odd position in which black Germans want him to be an example to others. But he’s not interested in that role.

“For that I feel I’m too German,” he said.

The Local/mw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

19:42 June 2, 2012 by AClassicRed
As a minority who was born in Germany, I would express also that I've never felt myself to be the recipient of discrimination. Never in the overt sense, but perhaps I may have experienced some in a covert sense, maybe not getting a job or flat or something which might later found to have been based on the color of my skin, but I have never chose to focus on that. Life has enough issues without analzying and picking apart any gesture, glance or rejection as being based on color.

From the story, however, it would seem to suggest that the man's position was aided by his having German adoptive parents simply based on acceptance and probably how he behaved, language proficiency, etc. Just as I would say, I have been someone who was fortunate to have close German friends and support that did seem to bring me more opportunities than if I had sequestered myself within a sole ethnic group, culture and/or language. This could be the same for anyone. I would hesitate to say if a German with African American ancestry might have been elected or held various positions if he had come from an African-American primary family. There could certainly have been more challenges in that situation.

That other black Germans want him to be representative somehow is like asking someone to be a poster child for any and all movements from a certain group. I would feel uncomfortable with that role as well, though certainly I might find occasion to speak up on some applicable issues. I could also commiserate with his statement, ¦quot;For that I feel I¦#39;m too German."
21:11 June 2, 2012 by Lisa Rusbridge
Germany has a black man as mayor of a village, while the USA has a black man serving his nation as President and Commander-in-Chief.

I didn't realize that Germany and the USA were so vastly different in terms of racial diversity and opportunity for minorities. A real eye-opener!
00:32 June 3, 2012 by rosebudnv
Good for him. No reason why he cannot do a great job. In Canada we have had a black lieutenant governor in Ontario and a black female Canadian governor General (Queen's represenative in Canada) and they were wonderful.

One less obstacle to overcome it seems.

Congratuations.
00:40 June 3, 2012 by coffmap8
Obama what is he not a true american! This guy is a true German!
04:15 June 3, 2012 by DOZ
Obama is Black! I thought he was a "Man" who became President.
05:31 June 3, 2012 by Alofat
Lisa, Germany had no need for slaves, so no there aren't that many black Germans around. I believe the total comes in at about 0.6 % of the entire population.
22:15 June 4, 2012 by deftlefthand
"Germany had no need for slaves"

1. apples and oranges 2. this statement isn't 'entirely' historically accurate..
23:03 June 4, 2012 by disconizeme
Germany already has a gay foreign minister, gay mayors in the biggest cities Berlin and Hamburg, a Vietnamese born economics minister and a female Chancellor - so where's the news?
05:58 June 5, 2012 by Powell
If his mother was German and he was born and reared in Germany, how is he "black"?
20:42 June 7, 2012 by Englishted
"His employer even once sent him to observe a neo-Nazi concert, apparently unconcerned about his skin colour."

Where are the heath and safety people when you need them?

Next trip is to a KKK meeting in Mississippi.
16:29 June 8, 2012 by McNair Kaserne
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
17:58 June 8, 2012 by nocebo
05:58 June 5, 2012 by Powell

"If his mother was German and he was born and reared in Germany, how is he 'black'?"

Possibly the stupidest question I've read on this site yet... or any site. Thanks for posting.
19:30 June 8, 2012 by darkwisdom
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
02:57 June 9, 2012 by bebosa
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
14:01 June 9, 2012 by McNair Kaserne
Nice job with the censorship there, "Local". Anyone reports "abuse", you delete their post.

It seems your standard for what constitutes a violation of your terms is so low that almost any non-politically correct post could qualify, as well as any criticism at all of things like multiculturalism or immigration.
09:21 September 5, 2012 by German Worker
Bad news for Germany.. We're going to be the new Haiti in a few years..
Today's headlines
July asylum applications hit 'all-time record'
An asylum seeker reception centre in Trier. Photo: DPA

July asylum applications hit 'all-time record'

More people applied for asylum in Germany in July than in any previous month on record, the Ministry for Immigration and Refugees announced on Friday. READ  

This Week in History
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after WWII
Germans fleeing from eastern Europe after the Second World War. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The 1,000s of Germans massacred after WWII

Seventy years ago on Friday, a munitions depot exploded in the Czechoslovakian town of Ústí nad Labem. For the thousands of Sudeten Germans who lived in the town, the event was a death sentence. READ  

Minister seeks to rid laws of 'Nazi language'
In the center, Nazi lawyer Roland Freisler, who wrote laws that are partially still in existence today. Photo: German Federal Archive / Wikimedia Commons.

Minister seeks to rid laws of 'Nazi language'

Germany has made great efforts to purge legal system of remnants of Adolf Hitler's regime, but some laws still bear traces of the Nazi past. The Justice Minister wants to change this. READ  

Treason investigation of Netzpolitik halted
Netzpolitik published documents outlining the internal spy agency BfV's spy programmes and budget. Photo: DPA

Treason investigation of Netzpolitik halted

Update: Federal prosecutors announced on Friday they are suspending investigations of treason against 'digital rights' website Netzpolitik for 'the greater good' of upholding freedom of the press. READ  

Newborn baby found in Munich airport toilets
Munich Airport. Photo: DPA

Newborn baby found in Munich airport toilets

A newborn baby was found in a toilet in Munich airport on Thursday. Police so far have no clue as to who or where the mother is. READ  

Brit arrested in Munich for meth smuggling
Photo: BVZ/Zoll

Brit arrested in Munich for meth smuggling

A 50-year-old British woman is being held in custody in Munich on suspicion of attempting to smuggle two kilos of crystal meth out of Munich airport disguised as sweets. READ  

Start-up helps new Berliners slash red tape
Hate waiting in line at the Bürgeramt? There's a company that lets you pay to get the perfect appointment. Photo: DPA.

Start-up helps new Berliners slash red tape

Why waste time jumping through the hoops of German bureaucracy when you can pay someone else to take the hassle off your hands? A new Berlin company is offering to do just that - and it's got city officials fuming in the process. READ  

Michael Jackson shrine may have to beat it
A fan visits the makeshift Michael Jackson memorial in Munich. Photo: DPA.

Michael Jackson shrine may have to beat it

A memorial set up in Germany by some of Michael Jackson's most ardent fans the day after his sudden 2009 death has come under threat in a strangely emotional turf war. READ  

Ai Weiwei in Germany as UK slammed over visa
Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei arrived at Munich airport on Thursday, greeted by his son and son's mother, filmmaker Wang Fen. Photo: DPA.

Ai Weiwei in Germany as UK slammed over visa

Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei arrived in Munich on Thursday on his first overseas trip since he was arrested nearly four years ago, after Britain denied him a six-month visa because he did not declare a supposed "criminal conviction" on his application. READ  

'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Regulations for women's parking spaces differ from state to state across Germany. Photo: JG-NF / Wikimedia Commons.

'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?

Frankfurt Airport is one of many places in Germany to offer women their own 'bigger and nicer' parking areas. Is this sensible practice or plain sexist? READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Sponsored Article
Outsourcing drives Apreel's Europe growth
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Politics
Merkel brings Palestinian girl to tears
Hamburg
Amateur archaeologist finds Nazi gold hoard
National
Could Merkel learn a lesson in love from this doppelganger?
Travel
Why you should stay in Germany for the summer holidays
Sport
German press tell Schweinsteiger 'good riddance'
National
Hamburg gets a bouncing 100kg baby girl
Society
In North Germany, money sometimes DOES grow on trees
National
Hero mechanics stop Bavaria shooting spree
International
Denmark says that border controls are coming
National
Did hackers take control of German missile battery?
Politics
Munich gives gay pride green light
Business & Money
Berlin rent controls hit prices hard
National
Fighting to breastfeed in public without shame
Society
Ice cream for dogs 'gobbled up in one gulp'
Education
Are hotpants a feminist issue?
Rhineland
Lion cub reunited with mother
National
How the heatwave is cracking Germany's Autobahns
International
Why the French are more sympathetic to Greece than the Germans
Sponsored Article
Crans-Montana: International expat hub
Gallery
Police seize pensioner's WW2 heavy weapons haul
National
How to survive the Europe-wide heatwave
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Politics
What's really in the Queen's handbag?
National
Germans say USA doesn't respect freedom
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

7,196
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd