Why America’s Confederate Monuments Can’t be Compared to Hitler and Nazi Germany

Daniel Whyte IV
Lessons from History
4 min readJul 18, 2020

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Photo by C. Ryan Patterson (Flickr, Public domain)

The movement to tear down monuments of Confederate leaders in America’s South has continued apace over the past few years and has been given renewed energy in the aftermath of protests following the killing of George Floyd.

Supporters of this movement often point to Germany as an example for the U.S. to follow. World War II had barely ended when the Allies banned the display of the swastika and other Nazi symbols. West Germany enshrined the ban in law in 1949. Nazi officials were buried in unmarked graves, and any statues in their honor were torn down.

Not so in America. The South has over 700 monuments and statues to the Confederacy, a subset of over 1,500 public memorials to those who attempted separation from the Union.

Whether these statues and memorials should be swept out of the public eye is a complicated issue, one that I do not think has a “right” answer — and possibly not even a “best” answer. But we cannot look to Germany as a guiding light in this debate for one simple reason: the Confederacy, the Civil War, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, and the current racial divisions in our society are steeped in hundreds — hundreds — of years of racism, slavery, and ingrained bigotry in the collective American psyche.

The first African slaves arrived at Jamestown in 1619. America was a slave-holding land for 246 years. After the last slaves were freed in 1865, it took almost a hundred years (until 1964) to get to the landmark Civil Rights Act which ordered an end to public segregation and employment discrimination.

Still, today, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handles over 100,000 cases per year; 25% of those cases allege race-based discrimination from black workers. The recent protests and riots are proof that our country still has not exorcised the demons that possessed us in 1960 and 1865 and 1619.

Nazi Germany, on the other hand, rose and fell within the span of a single generation’s memory. Hitler published Mein Kampf in 1925–1926. Less than ten years later, he was chancellor of Germany; in 1934, he became Führer.

He incited World War II in 1939 which led to the slaughter of six million Jews and 11 million others…

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Daniel Whyte IV
Lessons from History

Scifi/fantasy nerd pretending to be serious by writing about culture + faith. Signal booster for common sense, objectivity, and humor.