In fact, they saw America doing it in a more radical fashion than any of the Nazis themselves ever advocated. They were planning to ban offensive socialization between the races if it took place in public but not in private.
They went on to observe that the Americans went even further than that, banning interactions even in private. Segregation in Albany — Trailways bus terminal. Photo by Warren K. Leffler, Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. Whitman: Yes, they did. And he was not the only one. Other authors and political leaders on the far right spoke in similar terms.
Now, many of the representatives of this far right wing thought that the US was doomed to decay on account of race mixing. Hitler himself, as it turns out, was relatively optimistic about the future of the United States, at least in the late s and through the early s. But in the late s, he expressed some real optimism about the future of the US as a race state. It is located in the House wing of the US Capitol building, on the west stairway. Many German historians have remarked on the fact that the Nazis often invoked the American example.
There were too many other sources for the evil crimes of Nazism. One wants to soft-pedal this a little bit. And no one, as you yourself say, wants to imagine that America provided any measure of inspiration for Hitler. So you conclude that it would be wrong to say that the Nazis directly borrowed from the Americans, that this is not a story of an exact transplant from one legal culture to another. The National Socialist Handbook for Law and Legislation even described America as the country that had achieved a fundamental recognition of the historic racist mission that Nazi Germany was now called to fulfill.
We cannot escape it. There patently was. That makes it hard for Germans who are really the natural scholars to work through this material to do so. You have to read an awful lot of German material. Whitman : Yes. Some historians have suggested that at around that time, Germany and the American South had the look of a mirror image. They were both unapologetically racist. At that time, the Jews of Germany were hounded, beaten and sometimes murdered by mobs and by the state alike and in the same years the blacks of the American South were hounded, beaten and sometimes murdered as well.
Whitman: Yes, you do. Even if you were a Nazi. Whitman: They often described him as a dictator. So did Mussolini, in fact.
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I mean, these were in some ways similar programs, as historians have shown. This was a pretty widespread impression. The Italian fascists thought similar things of the early New Deal. The American knows very well who made his land great.
He sees that the Nordic blood is drying up and seeks to refresh that blood through his immigration legislation. Whitman: Yes, the passage you quote is from a Nazi-sympathizing doctor in , saying things that Nazis frequently said at the time. Other historians have shown this. American eugenic theories were influential in many parts of the world, not just in Nazi Germany. Eugenic approaches at the time, as difficult as it is for us to imagine now, were respectable.
Sweden, for example, was a center of eugenics legislation. There was a lot of back and forth as you say. American eugenicists went to Germany. They conferred and discussed and compared notes. Whitman: Yes, and studied them very, very carefully. They worked hard to learn what was going on in the US. Such designs can be successfully worked out only under cover and where no one has the right to ask questions. Cunningly contrived plans of deception or aggression, carried, it may be, from generation to generation, can be worked out and kept from the light only within the privacy of courts or behind the carefully guarded confidences of a narrow and privileged class.
A steadfast concert for peace can never be maintained except by a partnership of democratic nations. No autocratic government could be trusted to keep faith within it or observe its covenants. It must be a league of honor, a partnership of opinion. Intrigue would eat its vitals away; the plottings of inner circles who could plan what they would and render account to no one would be a corruption seated at its very heart. Only free peoples can hold their purpose and their honor steady to a common end and prefer the interests of mankind to any narrow interest of their own.
Does not every American feel that assurance has been added to our hope for the future peace of the world by the wonderful and heartening things that have been happening within the last few weeks in Russia? Russia was known by those who knew it best to have been always in fact democratic at heart, in all the vital habits of her thought, in all the intimate relationships of her people that spoke their natural instinct, their habitual attitude toward life. The autocracy that crowned the summit of her political structure, long as it had stood and terrible as was the reality of its power, was not in fact Russian in origin, character, or purpose; and now it has been shaken off and the great, generous Russian people have been added in all their naive majesty and might to the forces that are fighting for freedom in the world, for justice, and for peace.
- Germany's car exports to America have been falling for years.
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Here is a fit partner for a League of Honor. One of the things that has served to convince us that the Prussian autocracy was not and could never be our friend is that from the very outset of the present war it has filled our unsuspecting communities and even our offices of government with spies and set criminal intrigues everywhere afoot against our national unity of counsel, our peace within and without, our industries and our commerce. Indeed, it is now evident that its spies were here even before the war began; and it is unhappily not a matter of conjecture but a fact proved in our courts of justice that the intrigues which have more than once come perilously near to disturbing the peace and dislocating the industries of the country have been carried on at the instigation, with the support, and even under the personal direction of official agents of the Imperial government accredited to the government of the United States.
Even in checking these things and trying to extirpate them, we have sought to put the most generous interpretation possible upon them because we knew that their source lay, not in any hostile feeling or purpose of the German people toward us who were no doubt as ignorant of them as we ourselves were but only in the selfish designs of a government that did what it pleased and told its people nothing.
Making the World "Safe for Democracy": Woodrow Wilson Asks for War
But they have played their part in serving to convince us at last that that government entertains no real friendship for us and means to act against our peace and security at its convenience. That it means to stir up enemies against us at our very doors the intercepted note to the German minister at Mexico City is eloquent evidence. We are accepting this challenge of hostile purpose because we know that in such a government, following such methods, we can never have a friend; and that in the presence of its organized power, always lying in wait to accomplish we know not what purpose, there can be no assured security for the democratic governments of the world.
We are now about to accept [the] gage [the challenge] of battle with this natural foe to liberty and shall, if necessary, spend the whole force of the nation to check and nullify its pretensions and its power. We are glad, now that we see the facts with no veil of false pretense about them, to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included: for the rights of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life and of obedience.
The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them.
Just because we fight without rancor and without selfish object, seeking nothing for ourselves but what we shall wish to share with all free peoples, we shall, I feel confident, conduct our operations as belligerents without passion and ourselves observe with proud punctilio the principles of right and of fair play we profess to be fighting for.
I have said nothing of the governments allied with the Imperial government of Germany because they have not made war upon us or challenged us to defend our right and our honor.
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The Austro-Hungarian government has, indeed, avowed its unqualified endorsement and acceptance of the reckless and lawless submarine warfare adopted now without disguise by the Imperial German government, and it has therefore not been possible for this government to receive Count Tarnowski, the ambassador recently accredited to this government by the Imperial and Royal government of Austria-Hungary; but that government has not actually engaged in warfare against citizens of the United States on the seas, and I take the liberty, for the present at least, of postponing a discussion of our relations with the authorities at Vienna.
We enter this war only where we are clearly forced into it because there are no other means of defending our rights. It will be all the easier for us to conduct ourselves as belligerents in a high spirit of right and fairness because we act without animus, not in enmity toward a people or with the desire to bring any injury or disadvantage upon them, but only in armed opposition to an irresponsible government which has thrown aside all considerations of humanity and of right and is running amuck.
We are, let me say again, the sincere friends of the German people, and shall desire nothing so much as the early reestablishment of intimate relations of mutual advantage between us—however hard it may be for them, for the time being, to believe that this is spoken from our hearts. We have borne with their present government through all these bitter months because of that friendship—exercising a patience and forbearance which would otherwise have been impossible.
Reading the book, two sets of records stand out, one for their presence, and the other for their absence. The first is the stenographic report of a 5 June meeting of the Commission on Criminal Law Reform. The second is the lack of documentation regarding a September US study tour by 45 German lawyers As Dr. According to Whitman, historical record tells us that on arrival in New York at a reception organised by the New York City Bar Association, the group were met by a noisy demonstration lasting six hours and requiring police presence.
From the first set of records we learn much about how German lawyers saw their American counterparts; from the second missing set, we might have learnt more about how the American establishment viewed legal developments in the Third Reich. Assembled at the meeting were seventeen lawyers and officials, and their brief was to respond to the demands of the Prussian Memorandum of September The final outcome of such meetings was the Nuremberg Laws, which consisted of three parts. The first, the Flag Law for the Reich, declared the swastika to be the only German national flag.
Firstly, it allows the opportunity to witness the mechanics of discrimination at work. We learn how a group of highly educated professionals — civil servants, legal academics, medical doctors — came together to formulate a set of profoundly exclusionary and undemocratic laws.
The Treaty of Versailles
The committee was faced with a number of questions. How could one define race in legal terms? Could it be possible to criminalise an act in this case, sexual relations between a German and a Jew to which two competent parties had consented? Secondly, as a non-American, it further underscores the deeply institutionalised discrimination within US law at this time, belying the idea that a supposedly independent judiciary can act to protect the rights of all citizens.
The first were juristic moderates, who felt that a policy of criminalising German and Jewish sexual relations was not in keeping with the German legal tradition. German criminal law, they argued, was based on clear and unambiguous concepts According to Whitman, it was these radicals who championed American law, already touched on in the Prussian Memorandum. As it turns out, the American approach to defining race was not greatly troubled by the absence of a scientific conceptualisation.