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Heinrich Krieger was a German lawyer instrumental in providing knowledge of American race law to Nazi policy-makers. As an exchange student at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1933–34, he engaged in an in-depth examination of American Indian Law. Some of his research later served as the basis for the Nuremberg Laws, the centerpiece anti-Jewish legislation of the early Nazi regime.
Heinrich Krieger’s date of birth is unknown. There is no information about what brought him to Arkansas.
Upon his return to Germany, Krieger produced a memorandum—presumably based on research he had begun in Arkansas—that was used in a critical 1934 meeting for planning what would become the Nuremberg Laws. The memorandum described American race law of the Jim Crow era in careful detail, reviewing both legislation and judicial practice. Krieger’s account of American anti-miscegenation laws seems to have been of particular interest to Nazi lawyers, and it was probably influential on the so-called “Blood Law” promulgated at Nuremberg in 1935, which prohibited marriage and sexual relations between Jews and Germans (as the Nazis defined them) and threatened violators with harsh criminal penalties.
Krieger expanded upon his research to produce, in 1936, a major German-language study, Das Rassenrecht in den Vereinigten Staaten (Race Law in the United States). Subsequently, he went to Africa to do research under the auspices of the National Socialist Office of Race Policy and published studies of race law in South West Africa (present-day Namibia) and South Africa.
Krieger served in the German army during World War II. In the postwar years, he became a prominent educator, dedicated to projects of international understanding and aid to developing countries. His date of death is unknown.
For additional information:
Whitman, James Q. Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017.
Wiesen, S. Jonathan. “American Lynching in the Nazi Imagination: Race and Extra-Legal Violence in 1930s Germany.” German History 36 (February 2018): 38–59.
James Q. Whitman
Last Updated 2/19/2019
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