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This Classrooms Without Borders book club will be offered weekly on Wednesdays at 4 pm on Zoom. RSVP each week to receive to link.

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. 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.


Whitman’s premise is as the Nazi regime builds a state based on racial ideology, Nazi jurists and legal scholars must study the best racial state of the 1930s―the United States of America. Eight days after the promulgation of the Nuremberg Laws, 45 Nazi judicial scholars travel to the United States. Through the book, Whitman grapples with the idea of America as a liberal democracy that somehow ‘produced legal ideas and practices,’ that were attractive to the Nazis. In our weekly discussions, we will engage in a conversation on 1930s U.S. policies that continue to reverberate today. Together, we will look at history to help us examine our current processes in unraveling America’s racist policies.

This book club is geared toward educators and open to all.

Educators attending this program are eligible to receive Pennsylvania Act 48 continuing education credits.

Weekly meetings online begin on Wednesday, July 1 at 4:00 pm Eastern Time but participants can join late. This book club is led by Dr. Joshua Andy.

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Weekly CWB Book Club: “Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law”

Wednesday, Jul. 22 @ 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every week that begins at 4:00 PM on Wednesday, repeating until Wednesday, Jul. 29, 2020

FREE

accessibility friendlyhearing impaired accessibleThe full inclusion of people of all abilities is a core value of the Pittsburgh Jewish Community. Please discuss accessibility accommodations with the contact person for this event.