Bloodlines: Recovering Hitler's Nuremberg Laws, from Patton's Trophy to Public Memorial

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At the end of World War II, an American military intelligence team retrieved an original copy of the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, signed by Hitler, and turned over this rare document to General George S. Patton. In 1999, after fifty-five years in the vault of the Huntington Library in southern California, the Nuremberg Laws resurfaced and were put on public display for the first time at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.

In this far-ranging, interdisciplinary study that is part historical analysis, part cultural critique, part detective story, and part memoir, Tony Platt explores a range of interrelated issues: war-time looting, remembrance of the holocaust, German and American eugenics, and the public responsibilities of museums and cultural centers.

This book is based on original research by the author and co-researcher, historian Cecilia O'Leary, in government, military, and library archives; interviews and oral histories; and participant observation. It is both a detailed, scholarly analysis and a record of the author's activist efforts to correct the historical record.

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What People Are Saying

Richard Walker
Richard Walker, University of California, Berkeley, author of The Conquest of Bread
A terrific read, part history, part detective story, part confessional. Platt has done a marvelous job of sleuthing, from the sanctuaries of famous museums and libraries to the battlefields of World War II. Bloodlines is a revelation on several fronts: California’s sordid history of eugenics, the construction of Nazi Germany’s racial laws on the road to the extermination camps, and the compromised character of one of America’s greatest generals. It is a tale of two cities - Los Angeles and Nuremberg - that proves once again that the most intensely local events can touch the heart of distant places. And it is a transcendent journey of personal discovery about what it means to be an immigrant and a Jew in America’s promised land.
Howard Zinn
Tony Platt's pursuit of the notorious Nuremberg documents of the Nazi regime is a fascinating excursion into history. It is also full of provocative insights about the culture of remembering.
Janet Wolff
Janet Wolff, Professor of Arts, Columbia University
First and foremost, this is an astonishing, and eye-opening, historical investigation. In a wonderfully sustained narrative, several stories - apparently remote in time and place - are interwoven skillfully, in a book that gives the reader all the pleasures of following the most gripping detective story. In moving seamlessly from early twentieth-century California, to 1930s Germany, and back to early twenty-first-century Los Angeles, Tony Platt obliges us to question the complexities of personal and historical memory, as well as the practices and responsibilities of our contemporary museums.
Lonnie Bunch
Lonnie Bunch, Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History & Culture
By exploring the Huntington Library's misadventures involving Hitler's Nuremberg Laws, George Patton, and the role of the "public" in public history, Platt and O'Leary have created an insightful and important work that reveals much about how contemporary politics and accepted institutional traditions shape and limit the power and the possibilities of American cultural institutions. Platt and O'Leary remind us that museums, libraries, and other educational centers would do better by helping their audiences embrace the ambiguities of the past rather than present seemingly more acceptable interpretations that do little to challenge or educate. Ultimately, Bloodlines is a powerful story of remembrance, personal discovery, courage and publicly demanded accountability.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594511394
  • Publisher: Paradigm Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/28/2005
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony M. Platt is Professor Emeritus at California State University, Sacramento, where he has taught since 1977. Previously, he taught at Berkeley and the University of Chicago. His books include The Child Savers: The Invention of Delinquency (1969); The Politics of Riot Commissions, 1917-1970 ( MacMillan, 1971); and E. Franklin Frazier Reconsidered (Rutgers University Press, 1991). His essays have appeared in Monthly Review, Z magazine, Los Angeles Times, Souls, and Social Justice.

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Table of Contents

1 Origins stories 1
2 Present absences 25
3 Tall like Germans 42
4 Human betterment 55
5 Blood and honor 72
6 Hitler's signature 84
7 Patton's trophy 98
8 Outpost of civilization 109
9 White man's burden 121
10 Loot 132
11 In limbo 145
12 History lessons 160
13 Past and present 175
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