Book cover for Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law by James Q. Whitmanby James Q. Whitman

How American race law provided a blueprint for Nazi Germany

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. Both American citizenship and antimiscegenation laws proved directly relevant to the two principal Nuremberg Laws-the Citizenship Law and the Blood Law. Contrary to those who have insisted otherwise, Whitman demonstrates that the Nazis took a real, sustained, significant, and revealing interest in American race policies. He 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 the understanding of America’s influence on racist practices in the wider world.

Interview with the Author

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James Q. Whitman, “Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law” (Princeton UP, 2017)
4/12/17          49 min

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