Sunday, May 24, 2009

What is Mein Kampf?

First edition of Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf
First edition of Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf, July 1925. An exhibit of the German Historical Museum in Berlin

Mein Kampf (My Struggle) is a book by Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926. Mein Kampf is 694 pages long.

Hitler began the dictation of the book while imprisoned after his failed revolution in Munich in November 1923.

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, which became crucial in his program of national reconstruction. Becoming acquainted with Zionism, which he calls a "great movement," is what Hitler claims coalesced his view that one cannot be both a German and a Jew.

In Mein Kampf Hitler also announces his hatred of what he believed to be the world's twin evils: 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. Blaming Germany’s chief woes on the parliament of the Weimar Republic, he announces that he wants to completely destroy the parliamentary system.

Hitler predicts the stages of Germany’s political emergence on the world scene: in the first stage, Germany would, through a program of massive 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 (living space). Here Hitler outlines his stage-by-stage plan for his new world order.

Mein Kampf was translated into English and other Europoean languages.

Although Hitler originally wrote this book mostly for the followers of national socialism, it grew in popularity. From the royalties, Hitler was able to afford a Mercedes while still imprisoned. Moreover, he accumulated a tax debt of 405,500 Reichsmark (8 million USD today, or £4m UK Pounds Sterling) 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 for all intents and purposes became the Nazi Bible. Despite rumors to the contrary, new evidence suggests that it was actually in high demand in libraries and often reviewed and quoted in other publications. Hitler had made about 1.2 m Reichsmarks from the income of his book in 1933, when the average annual income of a teacher was about 4,800 Mark. During Hitler's years in power, the book was given free to every newlywed couple and every soldier fighting at the front. By the end of the war, about 10 million copies of the book had been sold or distributed in Germany.

In The Second World War Winston Churchill felt that after Hitler's ascension to power no other book deserved more intensive scrutiny than Mein Kampf, and called the book "the new Koran of faith and war: turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with its message." (Winston Churchill: The Second World War. Volume 1, Houghton Mifflin Books 1986, S. 50.)

The book's publication is prohibited and restricted in most European countries but in some cases is available for research purposes. Most German libraries carry heavily commented and excerpted versions of Mein Kampf.

After the Natzi 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.

Some historians argue 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.

Others 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, is to much too make out of one sentence. 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 Schönerer, 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 was significant in 1925 because it was an open source for the presentation of Hitler's ideas about the state of the world. The book is significant in our time because a retrospective review of the text reveals the crystallization of Hitler's decision to completely exterminate the Jewish race. While historians diverge on the exact date Hitler decided to exterminate the Jewish people, few place the decision before the mid 1930s. First published in 1925, Mein Kampf shows the ideas that crafted Hitler's historical grievances and ambitions for creating a new world order.ources, historians such as Professor Gunnar Heinsohn demonstrate that Hitler's plan for the Jews and Aryans alike was not confined to a racial conception but rather an ideological one. It was the propagation of "Jewish ideas" that Hitler targeted for extermination with relation to the destruction of their community and race. (Gunnar Heinsohn, “What Makes the Holocaust a Uniquely Unique Genocide,” Journal of Genocide Research, vol. 2, no. 3 (2000): 413)

Nearing the end of his reign, Hitler made such ideas clear in a correspondence with Martin Bormann on February 3, 1945:

“We use the term Jewish race merely for reasons of linguistic convenience, for in the real sense of the word, and from a genetic point of view, there is no Jewish race. [...] The Jewish race is above all a community of the spirit. Spiritual race is of a more solid and more durable kind than natural race.”

Source: Wikipedia (All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)


  1. While I greatly appreciate your site, I have a question concerning one statistic, where you state that Hitler incurred tax debt of 8 m. (US) on only 240,000 copies of his book. 8 m. divided by 240,000 is $33.00 per single copy. How could anyone have incurred $33 worth of taxes on one single book in 1933, even if the figure is quoted at the inflationary rate? (An added consideration: if you inflate the tax debt figure to today's monetary equivalent, then you must also inflate the original price of the book and report it, to be fair. And this would defeat the purpose of the statistic.)
    Thanks for reading,

  2. I’ve never thought about your insight. I went to the web and have found that the Reichsmark, after it was stabilized and put on the gold standard, one U.S. dollar was worth 4.2 RM. So Hitler’s taxes debts amounted to less than 0.5 dollar per copy of the Mein Kampf, an reasonable amount. Aaccording to some web based convertors the inflationary value of one dollar today, according to different indexes, can be between 15-140 dollar and accordingly the debt for a single book between 7.5-70 dollar. So maybe the amount of 33 dollar per book is reasonable.

    But what I don’t understand is what is not fair (besides innocent inaccuracies) about not adjusting the Hitler’s debt to today currency?