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Mein Kampf by Nazi Leader Adolf Hitler
Mein Kampf (English translation: "My Struggle") is a famous book by the German-Austrian politician Adolf Hitler, combining elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology of Nazism. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925, with volume 2 in 1926.
Written in 1924 while Hitler was in Landsburg Prison for attempting to overthrow the elected government by force, Mein Kampf is a loosely structured patchwork of autobiographical narratives, historical and political analyses, and disquisitions on a wide range of topics such as international finance, democracy, trade unions, the role of propaganda, etc. Hitler's views on any topic are usually found scattered in various sections of the book, sometimes as part of an extended treatment, sometimes in incidental remarks. Overall, it provides an outline of Nazi (National Socialist) ideology. The book was dictated to Rudolf Hess, and the oral style is very apparent, with its emphasis on rhetoric, generalizations, repetition, emotionalism and scarcity of details and factual support.
The book is heavily influenced by Gustave Le Bon's 1895 The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, which theorized propaganda as an adequate rational technique to control the seemingly irrational behaviour of crowds. Particularly prominent is the violent anti-Semitism of Hitler and his associates, drawing, among other sources, on the fabricated Protocols of the Elders of Zion. For example, Hitler claimed that the international language Esperanto was part of a Jewish plot and makes arguments toward the old German nationalist ideas of "Drang nach Osten" and the necessity to gain Lebensraum ("living space") eastwards (especially in Russia).
In Mein Kampf, Hitler uses the main thesis of "The Jewish peril", which speaks of an alleged Jewish conspiracy to gain world leadership. The narrative describes the process by which he became increasingly anti-Semitic and militaristic, especially during his years in Vienna, Austria. Yet the deeper origins of his anti-semitism remain a mystery. He speaks of not having met a Jew until he arrived in Vienna and that at first his attitude was liberal and tolerant. When he first encountered the anti-semitic press, he says, he dismissed it as unworthy of serious consideration. A little later and quite suddenly, it seems, he accepted the same anti-semitic views whole-heartedly, and they became crucial in his programme of national reconstruction.
Mein Kampf has also been studied as a work on political theory. For example, Hitler announces his hatred in Mein Kampf toward what he believed to be the twin evils of the world: Communism and Judaism. The new territory that Germany needed to obtain would properly nurture the "historic destiny" of the German people; this goal explains why Hitler invaded Europe, both East and West, before he launched his attack against Russia. Laying Germany's chief ills on the parliamentary government, he announces that he wants to completely destroy that type of government.
Mein Kampf has been examined as a book on foreign policy. For example, Hitler predicts the stages of Germany's political reality on the world stage: in the first stage, Germany would, through a massive program of re-armament, overthrow the shackles of the Treaty of Versailles and form alliances with the British Empire and Fascist Italy. The second stage would feature wars against France and her allies in Eastern Europe by the combined forces of Germany, Britain and Italy. The third and final stage would be a war to destroy what Hitler saw as the "Judeo-Bolshevik" regime in the Soviet Union that would give Germany the necessary Lebensraum. The German historian, Andreas Hillgruber, labelled the plans contained in Mein Kampf as Hitler's "Stufenplan" (Stage-by-stage plan). The term "Stufenplan" has been widely used by historians, though it must be noted that the term was Hillgruber's, not Hitler's.
Hitler presented himself as the "bermensch", frequently rendered as the somewhat ambiguous "Superman" or "Superhuman". Friedrich Nietzsche had developed this term in his book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, but opposed both racism and anti-semitism. Hitler's self-identification as such may have stemmed from his association with Nietzsche's sister, Elisabeth Frster-Nietzsche, who was an early member of the Nazi party and a committed anti-semite. While she became the owner (and editor) of his works after his mental collapse, Nietzsche had often, during prior years, criticized her for having no understanding of his work and denounced her antisemitism.
Mein Kampf makes clear Hitler's racist worldview, dividing up humans based on ancestry. Hitler states that German "Aryans" are at the top of the hierarchy and that Jews and Gypsies are consigned to the bottom of the order. Hitler goes on to say that dominated peoples benefit by learning from the superior Aryans. Hitler further claimed that the Jews were conspiring to keep this "master race" from rightfully ruling the world by diluting its racial and cultural purity and by convincing the Aryans to believe in equality rather than superiority and inferiority. He described the struggle for world domination as an ongoing racial, cultural and political battle between Aryans and non-Aryans.
In 1928, Hitler went on to write a second book in which he expanded upon these ideas and suggested that around 1980, a final struggle would take place for world domination between the United States, the combined forces of "Greater Germany" and the British Empire (read more about this sequel below).
The first English translation was an abridgment by Edgar Dugdale who started work on it in 1931, at the prompting of his wife Blanche. When he learned that the London publishing firm of Hurst & Blackett had secured the rights to publish an abridgment in the United Kingdom, he offered it gratis in April 1933. However, a local Nazi representative insisted that the translation be further abridged before publication, so it was held back from the public until October 13, 1933, although excerpts were allowed to run in The Times in late July.
In America, Houghton Mifflin secured the rights to the Dugdale abridgment on July 29, 1933. The only differences between the American and British versions are that the title was translated My Struggle in the UK and My Battle in America; and that Dugdale is credited as translator in the US edition, while the British version withheld his name. Both Dugdales were active in the Zionist movement; Blanche was the niece of Lord Balfour, and they wished to avoid publicity.
One of the first complete translations of Mein Kampf was by James Murphy in 1939. The opening lines, It has turned out fortunate for me to-day that destiny appointed Braunau-on-the-Inn to be my birthplace , gives a straight-forward no-nonsense approach of Hitler.
The 2 Volumes of Mein Kampf are titled as follows:
Some famous quotes from the translation include:
The last paragraph of the translation: The adherents of our Movements must always remember this, whenever they may have misgivings lest the greatness of the sacrifices demanded of them may not be justified by the possibilities of success.
Hurst & Blackett ceased publishing the Murphy translation in 1942 when the original plates were destroyed by German bombing.
Reynal and Hitchcock translation
Houghlin and Mifflin licensed Reynal & Hitchcock the rights to publish a full unexpurgated translation in 1938. It was translated by a committee of men from the New York School for Social Research and appeared on February 28, 1939.
Stackpole translation and controversy
The small Pennsylvania firm of Stackpole and Sons released its own unexpurgated translation by William Soskin on the same day as Houghton Mifflin, amid much legal wrangling. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Houghton Mifflin's favor that June and ordered Stackpole to stop selling their version, but litigation followed for a few more years until the case was finally resolved in September 1941.
Among other things, Stackpole argued that Hitler could not have legally transferred his right to a copyright in the United States to Eher Verlag in 1925, because he was not a citizen of any country. Houghton Mifflin v. Stackpole was a minor landmark in American copyright law, definitively establishing that stateless persons have the same copyright status in the United States that any other foreigner would.
In the three months that Stackpole's version was available it sold 12,000 copies.
Houghton Mifflin brought out a translation by Ralph Mannheim in 1943. They did this to avoid having to share their profits with Reynal & Hitchcock, and to increase sales by offering a more readable translation. The Mannheim translation was first published in the UK by Hurst & Blackett in 1969 amid some controversy.
In addition to the above translations and abridgements the following collections of excerpts were available in English before the start of the war.
Sales and Royalties
Sales of Dugdale abridgement in the United Kingdom.
Sales of the Houghton Mifflin Dugdale translation in America.
The first printing of the US Dugdale edition, the Oct. 1933 with 7603 copies, of which 290 were given away as complimentary gifts.
The royalty on the first printing in the US was 15% or $3,206.45 total. Curtis Brown, literary agent, took 20%, or $641.20 total, and the IRS took $384.75, leaving Eher Verlag $2,180.37 or RM 5668.
The January 1937 second printing was c. 4000 copies.
There were three separate printings from August 1938 to March 1939, totaling 14,000; sales totals by March 31, 1939 were 10,345.
The Murphy and Houghton Mifflin translations were the only ones published by the authorized publishers while Hitler was still alive, and not at war with Britain and America.
There was some resistance from Eher Verlag to Hurst and Blackton's Murphy translation, as they hadn't been granted the rights to a full translation. However, they allowed it de facto permission by not lodging a formal protest, and on May 5, 1939, even inquired about royalties. The British publishers responded on the 12th that the information they requested was "not yet available" and the point would be moot within a few months, on September 3, 1939, when all royalties were halted due to the state of war existing between Britain and Germany.
Royalties were likewise held up in the United States due to the litigation between Houghton Mifflin and Stackpole. Because the matter was only settled in September 1941, only a few months before a state of war existed between Germany and the US, all Eher Verlag ever got was a $2500 advance from Reynal and Hitchcock. It gone none from the unauthorized Stackpole edition, or the 1943 Manheim edition.
Even before Hitler came to power, Mein Kampf was already selling quite well. From the royalties he was able to afford a Mercedes, while still being imprisoned. Moreover, he accumulated a tax debt of 405,500 Reichsmark (8 m US$ today) from the sale of about 240,000 copies by the time he became chancellor in 1933 (at which time his debt was waived).
After Hitler's rise to power, the book gained enormous popularity and became the virtual Bible of every Nazi. Despite rumors to the contrary, new evidence suggests that it was actually in high demand in libraries (topping the lending lists), and often reviewed and quoted in other publications. By the end of the war, about 10 million copies of the book had been sold or distributed in Germany (every newly-wed couple, as well as every front soldier, received a free copy), and Hitler had made about 7.6 m Reichsmark from the income of his book (when the average income of a teacher was about 4,800 Mark).
Some historians have speculated that a wider reading prior to Hitler's rise to power (or at least prior to the outbreak of World War II) might have alerted the world to the dangers Hitler would pose to peace in Europe and to the Holocaust that he would pursue. An abridged English translation was produced before World War II. However, the publisher removed some of the more anti-Semitic and militaristic statements. The publication of this version caused Alan Cranston, who was an American reporter for UPI in Germany (and later senator from California), to publish his own abridged and annotated translation. Cranston believed this version to more accurately reflect the contents of the book. In 1939, Cranston was sued by Hitler's publisher for copyright infringement, and a Connecticut judge ruled in Hitler's favor. However, by the time the publication of Cranston's version was stopped, 500,000 copies had already been sold.
Today, the state of Bavaria owns the copyright of all editions of Mein Kampf except the English, the Dutch and the Swedish. The Dutch government claims to have seized copyright after World War II. The copyright is scheduled to end on December 31, 2015. Historian Werner Maser, in an interview with Bild am Sonntag has stated that Peter Raubal, son of Hitler's nephew, Leo Raubal, would have a strong legal case for winning the copyright from Bavaria if he pursued it. Leo Raubal, an Austrian engineer, has stated he wants no part of the rights to the book, which could be worth millions of euros.
The government of Bavaria, in agreement with the federal government of Germany, does not allow any copying or printing of the book in Germany and opposes it also in other countries but with less success. Owning and buying the book is legal. Trading in old copies is legal as well unless it is done in such a fashion as to "promote hatred or war", which is, under anti-revisionist laws, generally illegal. In particular, the unmodified edition is not covered by 86 StGB that forbids dissemination of means of propaganda of unconstitutional organizations, since it is a "pre-constitutional work" and as such cannot be opposed to the free and democratic basic order, according to a 1979 decision of the Federal Court of Justice of Germany. Most German libraries carry heavily commented and excerpted versions of Mein Kampf.
Elsewhere in the world, the situation is as follows:
After the party's poor showing in the 1928 elections, Hitler believed the reason for loss was that the public did not fully understand his ideas. He retired to Munich to dictate a sequel to Mein Kampf which focused on foreign policy, expanded on the ideas of Mein Kampf and suggested that around 1980, a final struggle would take place for world domination between the United States and the combined forces of Greater Germany and the British Empire.
Only two copies of the 200 page manuscript were originally made, and only one of these has ever been made public. Kept strictly secret under Hitler's orders, the document was placed in a safe in an air raid shelter in 1935 where it remained until its discovery by an American officer in 1945. The authenticity of the book has been verified by Josef Berg (former employee of the Nazi publishing house Eher Verlag) and Telford Taylor (former Brigadier General U.S.A.R. and Chief Counsel at the Nuremberg war-crimes trials). The book was never edited nor published during the Nazi Germany era and remains known as Zweites Buch (Second Book). The Zweites Buch was first discovered in the Nazi archives being held in the United States by the Jewish American historian Gerhard Weinberg in 1958. Unable to find an American publisher, Weinberg turned to his mentor Hans Rothfels and his associate Martin Broszat at the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, who published Zweites Buch in 1961. A pirated edition was published in English in New York, 1962. The first authoritative English edition was not published until 2003 (Hitler's Second Book: The Unpublished Sequel to Mein Kampf, ISBN 1-929631-16-2).
Globalists vs Continentists
One of the more important debates of the book concerns the battle between the Continentists, including Hugh Trevor-Roper and Eberhard Jckel, who argue Hitler wished to conquer only Europe, and the Globalists, including Gerhard Weinberg, Milan Hauner, Gunter Moltmann, Meier Michaelis and Andreas Hillgruber, who maintain that Hitler wanted to conquer the entire world. The chief source of contention between the Continentists and Globalists is the "Zweites Buch".
The Globalists argue that Hitler's statement that after Germany defeated the United States, then Germany would rule the entire world clearly proves his intentions were global in reach. The Continentists argue that because Hitler predicts the war between the United States and Germany as beginning sometime ca. 1980 (Hitler was born in 1889), the task of winning this war in the 1980s would presumably have fallen to one of Hitler's successors. The Continentists believe that Hitler for his own life-time would have been content with ruling merely Europe.
Intentionalists vs Functionalists
'"'Mein Kampf'"' has assumed a key place in the Functionalism versus intentionalism debate. Intentionalists insist that the passage stating that if only 12,000 15,000 Jews were gassed, then "the sacrifice of millions of soldiers would not have been in vain," proves quite clearly that Hitler had a master plan for the Genocide of the Jewish people all along. Functionalists deny this assertion, noting that the passage does not call for the destruction of the entire Jewish people and note that although Mein Kampf is suffused with an extreme anti-Semitism, it is the only time in the entire book that Hitler ever explicitly refers to the murder of Jews. Given that Mein Kampf is 694 pages long, Functionalist historians have accused the Intentionalists of making too much out of one sentence.
Functionalist historians have argued that the memorandum written by Heinrich Himmler to Hitler on May 25, 1940, regarding the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" (whose proposals Hitler accepted) proves that there was no master plan for Genocide which stemmed all the way back to the 1920s. In the memorandum, Himmler rejects Genocide under the grounds that one must reject "...the Bolshevik method of physical extermination of a people out of inner conviction as un-German and impossible". He goes on to argue that something similar to the "Madagascar Plan" be the preferred "territorial solution" to the "Jewish Question".
Additionally, Functionalist historians have noted that in Mein Kampf Hitler states the only anti-Semitic policies he will carry out are the 25 Point Platform of the Nazi Party (adopted in February 1920), which demands that only "Aryan" Germans be allowed to publish newspapers and own department stores, places a ban on Jewish immigration, expels all Ostjuden (Eastern Jews; i.e., Jews from Eastern Europe who had arrived in Germany since 1914) and strips all German Jews of their German citizenship. Although these demands do reflect a hateful anti-Semitism, they do not amount to a program for genocide, according to the Functionalist historians. Beyond that, some historians have claimed although Hitler was clearly obsessed with anti-Semitism, his degree of anti-Semitic hatred contained in Mein Kampf is no better or worse than that contained in the writings and speeches of earlier volkisch leaders such as Wilhelm Marr, Georg Ritter von Schnerer, Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Karl Lueger, all of whom routinely called Jews a "disease" and "vermin". Nevertheless, Hitler cites all of them as an inspiration in Mein Kampf.
Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler: Chapters Below.
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