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holocaust memorial

Memorial at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Israel
Photo by Eelco Böhtlingk on Unsplash

Each September marks the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s Nuremberg Laws, whose passage in 1935 stripped Jews of their German citizenship and banned “race-mixing” between Jews and other Germans. 

Eighty-eight years later, the United States is facing rising antisemitism and white supremacist ideology – including two neo-Nazi demonstrations in Florida in September 2023 alone.

The Nuremberg Laws were a critical juncture on the Third Reich’s path toward bringing about “the full-scale creation of a racist state … on the road to the Holocaust,” according to legal historian James Whitman. Yet across the Atlantic, many Americans were unconcerned, and even admiring – including some religious leaders.

As a political scientist and a sociologist, we wanted to examine what Americans thought about Hitler and the National Socialist Party before the U.S. entered World War II – and see what lessons those findings might hold for our country today. Our recent research, which focused on religious publications, suggests that Americans’ support for Nazi Germany...