American Genocide and Bigotry Shaped Nazi Race Law

Hitler’s American Model by Yale Law School professor James Whitman is a 220-page bombshell. This reading should be compulsory in all high schools. It tells the story of how German lawyers studied American law, culture, and history to develop the legal foundations of German fascism.

There is only one hero in this book, Louis B. Brodsky, a Jewish magistrate in Manhattan. On September 6, 1935, he ordered the release of five anti-fascist rioters who had been part of a thousand-strong American mob who had torn down a swastika flag on the German liner. SS Bremen. A lowly judge who usually handled bail hearings and night courts, Brodsky wrote a fiery opinion calling Nazism a “revolt against civilization” and the swastika flag a “black flag of piracy.”

A diplomatic crisis ensues. The US State Department sent a note of regret to Berlin that “the German national emblem” had not been respected”. Hitler, seizing on the incident, announced that the swastika flag and the laws on the blood and citizenship would be passed at the “freedom party rally” nine days later.

Known as the Nuremberg Laws, these laws dealt with citizenship, sex and reproduction. The lawyers who wrote them were determined to establish a regime based on definitive racial categories and to prevent intermarriage between Jews and “Aryans”.

In the 1930s, they found many legal precedents in the United States. Thirty states had anti-miscegenation laws. In fact, the United States has been at the forefront of creating de jure and de facto second-class citizenship for blacks, Filipinos, Chinese, Japanese, Puerto Ricans and others. of color and ethnic groups. And he was admired in Germany as an innovative world leader in white supremacy and “Nordic” conquest.

Reading Whitman’s book, we learn that Hitler sat in prison and dictated Mein Kampf to Rudolph Hess when Congress passed the Immigration Act of 1924. The act set out preferences for northern Europeans, restrictions for people from southern and eastern Europe, and prohibitions for everyone else . Hitler praised this development: “The racially pure and still unmixed German has risen to become the master of the American continent and will remain so until he falls victim to racial pollution”, writes- he.

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Harry Laughlin, an influential American eugenicist who served as an expert adviser to Congress on immigration, hailed the 1924 law as a political breakthrough in embracing “scientific” racism. He was not alone. During the 1930s, American lawyer Madison Grant promoted the sterilization of people with mental and physical disabilities while engaging in a friendly back-and-forth with German eugenicists dedicated to creating the “race of masters”. A grotesque German law that allowed the killing of “useless eaters” – the terminally ill, the elderly, and people with various physical and mental conditions – was the work of these despicable eugenicists.

Whitman writes that the Jim Crow South and segregation attracted the interest of Nazi legal experts, but after debating the pros and cons, they concluded that simply separating Jews and Gentiles would not work due to the extraordinary economic power of the Jewish community (which they were eager to see). get your hands on it).

Instead, they focused on Western expansion and the genocide of Native Americans as a model for their own ambition to conquer Eastern Europe, subjugate its citizens, and force all Jews into “reservations”. (which in practice became concentration camps).

As early as 1928, Hitler was giving speeches glorifying how the Americans had “culled the millions of Redskins down to a few hundred thousand and now kept the lowly remnant under observation in a cage”.

Surprisingly, German lawyers felt that the United States had gone too far in making “a drop of blood” (or a black ancestor) the legal standard for defining who is African American. According to the Nuremberg Law, it took three Jewish grandparents to qualify as a Jew. And finally, they decided not to criminalize miscegenation.

But if you still think fascism is “un-American,” read this book. It’s as American as apple pie and now, forced motherhood.

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