American racism as a precursor of Nazism
Nazism as a totalitarian mass movement led by Adolf Hitler was a horrific depiction of Germany’s plunge from the heights of civilization to the lows of barbarism. The Holocaust happened to be one of the greatest crimes in history, one that leaves people in everlasting shock from the extreme cruelty. The Nazi drive to strengthen the German “master race” for generations to come took on several forms, including the military conquest of new territories and extermination of many millions of people in genocide. Here is a short essay on history of american racism.
The immoral ideology became universally disgraced after Germany’s defeat in World War II when the full extent of the Holocaust atrocities was discovered.
Still, there is an aura of mystique, which surrounds Nazi ideology and Hitler in particular. On bookstore shelves of Germany (especially in the history sections) one can find dozens of magazines that feature themes related to Nazism and the leader of this movement, Hitler.
To date, scholars keep searching answers for many biographical, sociopolitical and ethical questions related to the regime, Third Reich ideology, the mechanics of Hitler’s rise and peculiarities of the Führer’s personality. How did an Austrian painter manage to become one of the most powerful and notorious dictators of the 20th century? How did a civilized society allow Hitler’s extreme ideas to become a reality? What happened to be the precursor of Nazism?
Many literary works keep circling around these and many other questions. It is said that totalitarian ideology had peculiarly German roots, which are partly traced to the Prussian tradition. However, the doctrines of Nazism swept the developed world long before the Nazis took power. In particular, many scholars managed to figure out and describe the impact of the American eugenics movement on Hitler’s thinking.
Prior to the involvement in World War II, eugenics played a significant role in the history and culture of the United States. The practices and beliefs were aimed at improving the genetic quality of the human population through compulsory sterilization and segregation. Enslavement of African-Americans was written into the U.S. Constitution and Hitler’s regime expressed admiration for American race law. Hitler praised U.S. restrictions on naturalization outlined in the Immigration Act of 1924, which imposed national quotas and barred most Asian people altogether. It also included quotas, which prevented thousands of Jews from reaching America.
All this played a facilitating role in the Holocaust. In one of his letters from 1915, Hitler shared his hopes that the war would end Germany’s “inner internationalism.” The Nazis saw America as the country, which has made substantial progress toward a primary conception of citizenship by excluding certain races. In 1928, Hitler noted, approvingly, that white Americans had “gunned down the millions of redskins to a few hundred thousand.” Indeed, between 1500 and 1900 the Native population of U.S. territories dropped from many millions to around two hundred thousand.
Hitler saw America’s eugenics policies as an example to be emulated. The major difference between German and U.S. racism was the desire of Hitler to conceal racist ideas behind contorted justifications. The approach of the United States was far more obvious and straightforward. American eugenicists opted for saying what they mean without presenting unnecessarily opaque explanations. The racist objectives were so prevalent that one of the characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby” said the following, “The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be — will be utterly submerged.”
Nowadays, current president of the U.S. Donald Trump has repeatedly been compared to Hitler. According to the 1990 issue of Vanity Fair, Trump had a book of Hitler’s speeches by his bed. When questioned about that, he said, “If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them.” Some resemblances between two leaders may be found but one cannot deny that for sure Hitler had more discipline, control and ruthlessness, much to the regret of millions of people who became unfortunate victims of Nazism.