Julia Roos

Associate Professor, Department of History

Department of History

IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

I am a historian of modern Europe who specializes in twentieth-century Germany, gender, propaganda, and race. My research focuses on moments when traditional sexual, social, and/or racial hierarchies faced major new challenges. It situates German history within broader international and global contexts. My book on the history of prostitution in the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) explores how post-World War I shifts in established gender relations affected the stability of Germany’s first liberal-parliamentary democracy. Liberal gender reforms like the decriminalization of prostitution fueled a powerful right-wing backlash that played a major role in the destruction of Weimar democracy and rise of Nazism. I am currently completing a book about biracial “occupation children” born in Allied-occupied western Germany after 1918 and 1945, respectively. They were the German-born descendants of French and American soldiers of color. During the 1920s, nationalists blamed the first generation for Germany’s alleged “racial pollution.” In the Third Reich, hundreds of biracial "occupation children" were forcibly sterilized. In the 1950s, West German officials devised new guidelines for racial integration of the second (post-1945) generation. At the same time, the surviving members of the 1920s generation often fought in vain for public recognition and reparations. The history of the biracial descendants of the world wars sheds vital fresh light on the question of why it has been so difficult simultaneously to be both a person of color and German.

My teaching spans a broad range of time periods and topics including, for example, surveys of German history from the Reformation to the present; an introduction to European history (Napoleon to present); a course on the history, methods, and public significance of the historical discipline; and senior seminars on the history of prostitution and gender, and on post-World War I Europe and the world.

Honors and Awards

  • Presidential Arts and Humanities Program Research Fellowship, Indiana University, June 2020.

  • Research Travel Grant, College Arts and Humanities Institute, Indiana University, Bloomington, December 2019

  • Individual Research Award, Institute for Advanced Study, Indiana University, Bloomington, November 2019

  • Resident fellow, Historisches Kolleg/Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, Bad Homburg, Germany, August-December 2016 (Institute for Advanced Study of Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main)

  • College Arts and Humanities Institute Research Fellow, 2012-13

  • 2009 Trustees' Teaching Award, Department of History, IUB

  • 2002 Fritz Stern Prize for the best dissertation in the field of German history submitted at a North American university, The German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C.

Research Interests

  • Modern Germany
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Comparative history of race
  • Military occupation and postwar society
  • Propaganda


  • M.A. at University of Bremen, Germany, 1994
  • M.A. at Carnegie Mellon University, 1995
  • Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University, 2001

Courses Taught

  • H104: Europe, Napoleon to the Present
  • H270: What Is History?
  • B377: Germany, Reformation to Unification
  • B378: Germany, 1871 to Present
  • J300: Legacies of World War I
  • J300 & J400: Gender History: The Case of the History of Prostitution
  • H620 & H720: Twentieth-Century Europe
  • H620: Modern Europe through the Lens of Gender



Weimar through the Lens of Gender: Prostitution Reform, Woman's Emancipation, and German Democracy, 1919-1933. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010 (e-book, 2017).

Select Articles

“Constructing Racial Visibility: Biracial ‘Occupation Children’ in the Third Reich, 1933-37.” Holocaust and Genocide Studies 37, no. 1 (Spring 2023): 2-24.

“Die ‘farbigen Besatzungskinder’ der zwei Weltkriege.“ In Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 72, no. 12, issue theme, “Schwarz und Deutsch“ (21 March 2022): 11-18. URL: https://www.bpb.de/shop/zeitschriften/apuz/schwarz-und-deutsch-2022/506170/die-farbigen-besatzungskinder-der-zwei-weltkriege/

“The Race to Forget? Biracial Descendants of the First Rhineland Occupation in 1950s West German Debates about the Children of African-American GIs.” German History 37, no. 4 (December 2019): 517-39.

An Afro-German Microhistory: Gender, Religion, and the Challenges of Diasporic Dwelling,” Central European History vol. 49, no. 2 (June 2016): 240-60.

“‘Huns’ and Other ‘Barbarians’: A Movie Ban and the Dilemmas of 1920s German Propaganda against Colonial French Troops.” Historical Reflections/Réflexions historiques 40, no. 1, special issue on “War, Occupation, and Empire in France and Germany” (spring 2014): 67-91.

“Racist Hysteria to Pragmatic Rapprochement? The German Debate about Rhenish ‘Occupation Children,’ 1920-1930,” Contemporary European History 22, no.2 (May 2013): 155-180.

“Nationalism, Racism, and Propaganda in Early Weimar Germany: Contradictions in the Campaign against the ‘Black Horror on the Rhine,’” German History 30, no. 1 (March 2012): 45-74.

“Women’s Rights, Nationalist Anxiety, and the ‘Moral’ Agenda in the Early Weimar Republic: Revisiting the ‘Black Horror’ Campaign against France’s African Occupation Troops,” Central European History 42, no. 3 (September 2009): 473-508.

“Backlash against Prostitutes’ Rights: Origins and Dynamics of Nazi Prostitution Policies,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 11, nos. 1/2 (January/April 2002): 67-94. Reprinted in Dagmar Herzog, ed., Sexuality and German Fascism. Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books, 2005.

Select Media

Interview for Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte podcast “Schwarz und Deutsch” (Black and German), October 27, 2022, hosted by Holger Klein, produced by Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Agency for Civic Education), Bonn, Germany, MP3 audio, 40:00, APuZ #13: Schwarz und Deutsch | bpb.de

Consultant and interview for the documentary, Sie nannten sie “Kinder der Schande” (English title, They Called Them “Children of Shame”: A Tale of Prejudice and Propaganda), directed by Dominik Wessely, DOCDAYS Productions, Berlin and Cologne, Germany, in co-production with Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) and Deutsche Welle (DW), 2020, 52 min. https://www.dw.com/en/they-called-them-the-children-of-shame-a-tale-of-prejudice-and-propaganda/av-56185521