Mein Kampf: a study of an important historical document

by Damien Flood

Mein Kampf is the infamous book written by Adolf Hitler. The original title Hitler chose was Four and a Half Years of Struggle against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice. His Nazi publisher knew better and shortened it to simply My struggle, or My Battle. It was published in two volumes in 1925 and 1927, with an abridged edition appearing in 1930. By 1939 it had sold 5,200,000 copies and had been translated into 11 languages. The first volume, entitled Die Arechnung (The settlement [of Accounts], or Revenge), was written in 1924 in the Bavarian fortress of Landsberg am Lech, where Hitler was imprisoned after the abortive Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. It treats the world of Hitler’s youth, the first World War, and the betrayal of Germanys collapse in 1918. It also expresses Hitler’s racist ideology, making the Aryan the genius race and the Jew the parasite, and declares the need for Germans to seek living space (Lebensraum) in the East at the expense of the Slavs and hated Marxists of Russia. It also calls for revenge against France. The second volume, entitled Die Nationalsozialistische Bewegung (The National Socialist Movement), written after Hitler’s release from prison in December 1924, outlines the political program, including the terrorist methods, that National Socialism must pursue both in gaining power and in exercising it thereafter in the new Germany.
Hitler dedicated Mein Kampf to the man he shared his cell with in the Bavarian fortress at Landsberg, Rudolph Hess. In the first few chapters of Volume 1, it gives a brief but significant sketch of the early years of Hitler’s life. Born in 1889, at Branau, Austria, Hitler felt himself to be a German more than an Austrian and despised the easygoing people of Vienna. According to the book, his first years were ones of deprivation, poverty and suffering. His formal schooling ended at thirteen and he lost both parents at about the same time. His struggles to become an artist (in Vienna) and an architect were lost because of his lack of schooling. Hitler states in the book that he read a lot about history in Vienna and was inspired by a book on the Franco-Prussian war (1870). This gave him the impression of the superiority of the German race and at the same time how much he despised the Jews (blaming them for the loss of World War 1 and the lack of jobs for the German people). Finally in 1912 after years in Vienna, Hitler settled in Munich, Germany. At the beginning of World War 1, He enlisted into the Bavarian army and was promoted to Corporal after time.
Hitler became head of the Nazi political party with 27,000 party members in 1923. In November ot tha year, Hitler led a Putsch or uprising in Munich against the Postwar Weimar Republic, proclaiming himself Chancellor of a new authorisation regime. Without military support however, the Putsch collapsed. As a leader of the plot, Hitler was sentenced to five years imprisonment and served nine months in which he spent dictating Mein Kampf. When he was released in December 1924, he rebuilt his political party without interference and realised he would have to spread his word legally by becoming head of Government. The Nazi’s gained more and more seats in the Government as they promised a wealthier and stronger Germany (aided by the fact that 6 million people were unemployed due to the Wall Street crash in 1929).
The remainder of Mein Kampf deals with race superiority, and race supremacy. Interestingly in the book Hitler never attempted to define race. He states that mankind is divided into three groups: the culture-creators (meaning Aryans (Germans)), the culture bearers (the Japanese) and the culture destroyers (Jews and Negroes). This is a clear indication of Hitler’s racial views towards different cultures. One good example of this racism is his views towards Africans. In the book he states that “It is criminal lunacy to keep on drilling a born half ape until people think they have made a Lawyer out of him, while millions of members of the highest culture-race must remain in entirely unworthy positions; it is a sin against the will of the Eternal Creator if most gifted beings by the hundreds and hundreds of thousands are allowed to degenerate in the present proletarian morass, while Hottentots and Zulu Kaffirs are trained for intellectual professions”. He explains in Mein Kampf how some cultures are created superior to others (meaning Germans) and points out how the world’s strongest race (Germans) should rule over inferior races on Earth.
In the book, Hitler talks about other Countries, and identifies both his friends and enemies there. Mostly though, these chapters end up as attacks on the Jews. He talks about the Bolshvization of Germany or the attempts by the Jewish Intelligentsia to make possible the sweating of the German working class under the yolk of Jewish world finance. All of this, and Hitler’s craving for Lebensraum or living space for the Germans were more or less the goals Hitler set for World War 2. Mein Kampf helped in all of this because Hitler needed support to achieve these ambitions and Mein Kampf was used to get the support of the German people.
In this way Hitler used Mein Kampf as a sort of Propaganda. He described it as one of the Nazi’s most impressive techniques and he was right as it obviously worked. Hitler’s faith in propaganda was illustrated in this statement “It is possible by means of shrewd and unremitting propaganda, to make people believe that Heaven is Hell- and Hell is Heaven”. Hitler blueprinted his plans for Germany in Mein Kampf but the book wasn’t even fully translated fully uncensored in English until 1939, so not everything about Hitler’s plans was to be known by the Allies.
Although it has such glaring defects, Mein Kampf is considered to be one of the most extraordinary historical documents of all time. It is the world’s misfortune that Hitler’s ideas didn’t die with him as many still follow his ways in Germany and in other places. Dictators everywhere will continue to seek advice in Mein Kampf for their evil purposes.
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