Hitler's American Countermodel

The United States and the Making of Nazi Ideology

in German Politics and Society
Pavel Brunssen Research Associate, Heidelberg University, Germany

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The fact that the Nazis looked to the United States for inspiration has led some to claim that the US served Nazi thinkers as a “model.” This article argues instead that Nazis looked to America as a countermodel for how not to deal with the “Jewish question.” Through an intertextual analysis of visual and textual primary sources, this article demonstrates how the Nazis used America as a projection screen for developing their vision of empire and “redemptive antisemitism.” The Nazis admired the United States’ racist laws and technological development but despised Americans for ignoring the “Jewish threat.” By showing how the Nazis used the United States as a mirror for developing Nazi ideology, this article reintroduces the category of antisemitic ideology to the Historikerstreit 2.0 debate.

Contributor Notes

Pavel Brunssen is Research Associate and Alfred Landecker Lecturer at the Research Center on Antigypsyism at Heidelberg University. In 2023 he received his PhD from the University of Michigan, which received the Marshall Weinberg Prize from the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies. His research focuses on antisemitism, antigypsyism, memory cultures, and European soccer fan cultures. He has studied Social Work and Social Education in Düsseldorf (BA) and interdisciplinary studies on antisemitism at the Center of Research on Antisemitism in Berlin (MA). He is the author of Antisemitismus in Fußball-Fankulturen: Der Fall RB Leipzig (2021).

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