Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Whitman's "Hitler's American Model"

James Q. Whitman, Yale Law School, has published Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law, with the Princeton University Press
Nazism triumphed in Germany during the high era of Jim Crow laws in the United States. Did the American regime of racial oppression in any way inspire the Nazis? The unsettling answer is yes. In Hitler's American Model, James Whitman presents a detailed investigation of the American impact on the notorious Nuremberg Laws, the centerpiece anti-Jewish legislation of the Nazi regime. Contrary to those who have insisted that there was no meaningful connection between American and German racial repression, Whitman demonstrates that the Nazis took a real, sustained, significant, and revealing interest in American race policies.

As Whitman shows, the Nuremberg Laws were crafted in an atmosphere of considerable attention to the precedents American race laws had to offer. German praise for American practices, already found in Hitler's Mein Kampf, was continuous throughout the early 1930s, and the most radical Nazi lawyers were eager advocates of the use of American models. But while Jim Crow segregation was one aspect of American law that appealed to Nazi radicals, it was not the most consequential one. Rather, both American citizenship and antimiscegenation laws proved directly relevant to the two principal Nuremberg Laws—the Citizenship Law and the Blood Law. Whitman looks at the ultimate, ugly irony that when Nazis rejected American practices, it was sometimes not because they found them too enlightened, but too harsh.

Indelibly linking American race laws to the shaping of Nazi policies in Germany, Hitler's American Model upends understandings of America's influence on racist practices in the wider world.
Professor Whitman's post on PUP's blog is here.  Some endorsements:

"Hitler's American Model is a breathtaking excavation of America's shameful contribution to Hitler's genocidal policies. This book is a profound testament to what the past can teach us about the present and is more timely than Whitman could possibly have imagined when he began this remarkable excursion into our nation's original sin and its surprising European legacy. A brilliant page-turner."—Laurence H. Tribe, Harvard Law School

"This is a brilliant, erudite, and disturbing book. By looking at the United States through the eyes of Nazi legal theorists in the 1930s, Whitman contributes to our understanding of this darkest chapter of German legal history. Moreover, he shines a light through this unlikely lens on the worst sins of our own country's past."—Lawrence M. Friedman, author of A History of American Law

"In Hitler's American Model, Whitman tells the deeply troubling story of how Nazi lawyers drew inspiration from the American legal system. He offers a detailed and careful reading of how U.S. immigration laws and antimiscegenation legislation gave the Nazi legal establishment the sense of remaining within the boundaries of respectable jurisprudence. Filled with novel insights, this is a particularly timely book given today's political climate."--Jan T. Gross, author of Neighbors

TOC after the jump
A Note on Translations ix
Introduction 1
1 Making Nazi Flags and Nazi Citizens 17
The First Nuremberg Law: Of New York Jews and Nazi Flags 19
The Second Nuremberg Law: Making Nazi Citizens 29
America: The Global Leader in Racist Immigration Law 34
American Second-Class Citizenship 37
The Nazis Pick Up the Thread 43
Toward the Citizenship Law: Nazi Politics in the Early 1930s 48
The Nazis Look to American Second-Class Citizenship 59
Conclusion 69
2 Protecting Nazi Blood and Nazi Honor 73
Toward the Blood Law: Battles in the Streets and the Ministries 81
Battles in the Streets: The Call for "Unambiguous Laws" 81
Battles in the Ministries: The Prussian Memorandum and the American Example 83
Conservative Juristic Resistance: Gürtner and Lösener 87
The Meeting of June 5, 1934 93
The Sources of Nazi Knowledge of American Law 113
Evaluating American Influence 124
Defining "Mongrels": The One-Drop Rule and the Limits of American Influence 127
Conclusion 132
America through Nazi Eyes 132
America's Place in the Global History of Racism 137
Nazism and American Legal Culture 146
Acknowledgments 163
Notes 165
Suggestions for Further Reading 197
Index 201

1 comment:

Shag from Brookline said...

Prof. Whitman's blog post is a must read.