Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law

Princeton University Press
5
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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.

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About the author

James Q. Whitman is the Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative and Foreign Law at Yale Law School. His books include Harsh Justice, The Origins of Reasonable Doubt, and The Verdict of Battle. He lives in New York City.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Feb 14, 2017
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9781400884636
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Americas (North, Central, South, West Indies)
History / Europe / General
History / Europe / Germany
History / Holocaust
History / United States / General
Law / Comparative
Law / International
Social Science / Discrimination & Race Relations
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In this original, far-reaching, and timely book, Justice Stephen Breyer examines the work of the Supreme Court of the United States in an increasingly interconnected world, a world in which all sorts of activity, both public and private—from the conduct of national security policy to the conduct of international trade—obliges the Court to understand and consider circumstances beyond America’s borders.

It is a world of instant communications, lightning-fast commerce, and shared problems (like public health threats and environmental degradation), and it is one in which the lives of Americans are routinely linked ever more pervasively to those of people in foreign lands. Indeed, at a moment when anyone may engage in direct transactions internationally for services previously bought and sold only locally (lodging, for instance, through online sites), it has become clear that, even in ordinary matters, judicial awareness can no longer stop at the water’s edge.   
To trace how foreign considerations have come to inform the thinking of the Court, Justice Breyer begins with that area of the law in which they have always figured prominently: national security in its constitutional dimension—how should the Court balance this imperative with others, chiefly the protection of basic liberties, in its review of presidential and congressional actions? He goes on to show that as the world has grown steadily “smaller,” the Court’s horizons have inevitably expanded: it has been obliged to consider a great many more matters that now cross borders. What is the geographical reach of an American statute concerning, say, securities fraud, antitrust violations, or copyright protections? And in deciding such matters, can the Court interpret American laws so that they might work more efficiently with similar laws in other nations?

While Americans must necessarily determine their own laws through democratic process, increasingly, the smooth operation of American law—and, by extension, the advancement of American interests and values—depends on its working in harmony with that of other jurisdictions. Justice Breyer describes how the aim of cultivating such harmony, as well as the expansion of the rule of law overall, with its attendant benefits, has drawn American jurists into the relatively new role of “constitutional diplomats,” a little remarked but increasingly important job for them in this fast-changing world.

Written with unique authority and perspective, The Court and the World reveals an emergent reality few Americans observe directly but one that affects the life of every one of us. Here is an invaluable understanding for lawyers and non-lawyers alike.


From the Hardcover edition.
The first two editions of the best-selling Law 101 provided readers with a vividly written and indispensable portrait of our nation's legal system. Now, in this third edition, Jay M. Feinman offers a fully updated survey of American law that incorporates fresh material on 2009 Supreme Court cases, the legal response to the war on terror (including the Guantanamo detainees and electronic surveillance), and to the latest developments in Internet law. In a book brimming with legal puzzles, interesting anecdotes, and thought-provoking questions, Jay M. Feinman's clear introduction to the law provides us with a solid understanding of the American legal tradition and covers the main subjects taught in the first year of law school. Readers are introduced to every aspect of the legal system, from constitutional law and the litigation process to tort law, contract law, property law, and criminal law. Feinman illuminates each discussion with many intriguing, outrageous, and infamous cases, from the scalding coffee case that cost McDonald's half a million dollars, to the sensational murder trial in Victorian London that led to the legal definition of insanity, to the epochal decision in Marbury v. Madison that gave the Supreme Court the power to declare state and federal law unconstitutional. He broadens the reader's legal vocabulary, clarifying the meaning of everything from "due process" and "equal protection" in constitutional law to the distinction between "murder" and "manslaughter" in criminal law. Perhaps most important, we learn that though the law is voluminous and complex, it is accessible to all. Everyone who wants a better grasp of current legal issues--from students contemplating law school, to journalists covering the legislature or the courts, to fans of Court TV--will find here a wonderful source of information: a complete, clear, and colorful map of the American legal system.
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