Many iconic things that we now associate with Fascist Germany ironically had its roots in America and Britain, or at least not in Germany. I have four here to share.
1. The Nazi Salute/Bellamy Salute
This photo, taken in the 1940’s by photographer Hansel Mieth, depicts Japanese Americans imprisoned at the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp in Wyoming using the Bellamy salute in the Pledge of Alliegiance. It was named after Francis Bellamy, the author of the Pledge of Allegiance. The inventor of the Bellamy salute was James B. Upham, junior partner and editor of The Youth's Companion.
The Bellamy salute was first demonstrated on October 12, 1892, according to Bellamy's published instructions for the "National School Celebration of Columbus Day":
At a signal from the Principal, the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the flag the military salute—right hand lifted, palm downward, to align with the forehead and close to it. Standing thus, all repeat together, slowly, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands; one Nation indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.” At the words, “to my Flag,” the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, toward the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side.
— From The Youth’s Companion, 65 (1892): 446–447
2. Concentration Camps
Before the Germans used them to first control Jewish populations in Germany, this tool of empire was used in these conflicts:
1898: The Spanish Imprisonment of Cubans during the Spanish American War
1899 – 1902: British had white and black concentration camps during the Anglo Boer Wars
1899 – 1902: US used them against the Filipinos during the Philippine-American War
1904 – 1908: Germany used concentration camps and created their first death camps against Namibians
Historically, concentration camps were used to concentrate and imprison a particular group of people because of who they were, not what they did.
3. The Nuremberg Laws
The inspiration for the Nazi regime's Nuremberg Laws, created to separate the Jews from German society, was ironically America’s Jim Crow Laws. One of the biggest ironies of WWII was that the FDR Administration created a segregated African-American unit to help fight for freedom in Europe, only for those soldiers to return to Jim Crow Laws back home. The segregated all-Japanese American military troops faced a similar situation when they went to fight for freedom in Europe while their families were imprisoned in US concentration camps back home.
4. The Eugenics Movement
It might surprise people that, rather than Germany, the eugenics movement has its origins in England and was the brainchild of Darwin’s half-cousin Francis Galton, the man who coined the term in 1883.
The American eugenics movement had a strong following in the US, with many prominent followers and was practiced for many years before it took hold in Germany. Read more...
Trying to promote "good" genes sounds reasonable conceptually, but when you label something good, then is there a bad? And who gets to decide those values?
My Yellow Bowl Project hopes to spur discussion around these questions: Who is an American? What does citizenship mean? How long do you have to be in the US to be considered a bonafide member of this group?