Yale’s James Whitman jumps straight into academic controversy with his new book outlining how the lawyers of the Third Reich modeled their anti-Jewish race laws on older Jim Crow era laws in the United States. Prior American and German scholars had previously tackled this hypothesis with mixed results—some dismissing the idea or playing it down, others acknowledging some limited influence. After plumbing primary sources from the Nazi government, however, Whitman goes much further and plants his flag squarely in the influence camp. The sources, read soberly, paint a different picture. Awful it may be to contemplate, but the reality is that the Nazis took a sustained, significant, and sometimes even eager interest in the American example in race law. They most certainly were interested in learning from America . . . . Nazi references to American law were neither few nor fleeting . . . . (4) Regretfully, as one looks backward, this assertion may not be overly surprising. But Whitman doesn’t stop there; he goes on to assert that America’s race laws were sometimes even too much for Hitler’s lawyers!
Kelly, Michael J.
"Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law,"
International Dialogue: Vol. 7, Article 14.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/id-journal/vol7/iss1/14