Hitler, race, and democracy in the heart of Dixie : Alabamian attitudes and responses to the issues of Nazi and southern racism, 1933-1946 / by Dan J. Puckett.
After Adolf Hitler assumed power in Germany in 1933, the Alabama press frequently criticized the Nazi regime. The white press condemned the idea of Nazi Aryan supremacy, and seldom did anyone make the comparison between Nazi racial thought and the Jim Crow system that existed in the American South; with few exceptions, only the African American press made this connection. Throughout the 1930s, and especially after the United States entered the Second World War, the issues of race, place, and democracy became more pronounced.The focus of this study examines the profound influence of Adolf Hitler and Nazism on the debate over racial issues in Alabama in the 1930s and 1940s. The perception of Nazi racial ideology not only pervaded the discussions of racial and civil rights issues that arose prior to the war, but for white Alabamians, it also provided an uncomfortable reflection of their own racial beliefs. World War II, moreover, forced white Alabamians to address, or more commonly to ignore, the issue of democracy for African Americans. Despite the evident contradictions between stated war aims and Jim Crow, most white Alabamians refused to accept equality for African Americans although they claimed to be fighting the Nazis for the preservation of democracy.Alabama newspapers, both white and black, are the primary source of attitudes and opinions in the state. The white daily papers did much to shape white public opinion in their respective towns and cities, and they provided local and national news to both the white and black communities. The African American press, conversely, spoke directly to the black community and voiced much of its concern. Additionally, this study will examine the attitudes and opinions of politicians, business leaders, religious organizations, and civic leaders throughout the state.
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