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A Controversial Book – Mein Kampf

Mein Kampf By Adolf Hitler.

My Review of sorts. 

mein kampf

Mein Kampf translates to My Struggle. And boy was it a struggle to read.

It is a book not to be picked up lightly. I slogged my way through over the past two months, reading sections at a time. I’m sure if it was to be printed for the first time today that it would be heavily edited for he does tend to repeat himself a fair bit, and does repeat the same theories and conclusions time and again. And he does waffle on and on and on….. I feel that the points he makes could be easily condensed down into more concise paragraphs and thoughts. But in a way, this may detract from the history of the work. These are his words, written how he saw fit, about topics he wanted to write about and with opinions that are most definitely, entirely his own. Maybe if it had been heavily edited it may lose something. His voice, evil though it may be, may become diluted with the editor’s pen today.

Mein Kampf was split into two volumes each being published in 1925 and 1926, respectively. It was edited by the former Hieronymite friar Bernhard Stempfle, and has been translated into many languages, many times.

The book is part autobiography and part political ideology. He began writing the book during his imprisonment in 1923 for ‘political crimes’ following his failed Putsch in Munich. With strong themes of anti-Semitism and the ‘historic destiny’ of the German people, it is not surprising that the book gained enormous popularity coinciding with Hitler’s rise to power when first published, especially amongst Germans with similar views. Around the time Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, the book was extremely popular and was in high demand at libraries and was often quoted in other publications. The book was given free to every newly-wed couples and to every soldier fighting at the front during Hitler’s years in power. Elsewhere, the book was – and remains – a highly controversial book. It is clear that Churchill read the book stating that, “His phi­los­o­phy is set forth in Mein Kampf which is, at the best, a good war-cry by which a beaten nation could recover its strength from som­no­lent vic­tors. No liberal-minded man dis­putes about another’s reli­gion.” [from “Will Hitler Make Napoleon’s Mis­takes?” (1939)]

I debated with myself as how to read it – knowing who the author was and keeping this at the very fore front of my mind or putting the author’s identity and all that I know about him and his horrors from history to the back of my mind and approach it with a clear mind. In truth I did a bit of both. When talking about the strength of Germany in Europe and the need to unite the regions to make a strong and unified Germany – frankly that could have been anyone speaking. But his methods of accomplishing this at the expense of other surrounding nations, particularly Russia – one theory was for the German people to expand into Eastern Europe – and at his blatant and downright appalling condemnation of the Jewish population – brought the truth of the author right back to the fore front of my mind again. Either way I think it’s difficult to truly forget who the author was, what he stood for, and what he did when reading Mein Kampf – and quite frankly no one should ever forget.

He is described on the blurb as an ‘evil genius’. Evil yes. Genius – I don’t think I’d go that far. The need to create a unified Germany for the German people, was only logical, in my view. And as far as genius does go from what I got from reading this he is so blinded by his predetermined prejudices that he cannot see any other way. For me this doesn’t constitute a ‘genius’.

Given all that I’ve said many of you may be asking why on earth did I read it? And the answer comes from the historian in me. I am a student of history and I have had Mein Kampf on my reading list for some time now – but I regarded it merely as a piece of historical literature; a primary source, to give a historical insight into one of the most evil men in the 20th Century.

Hitler and his diary should never be forgotten. Lest past mistakes be lived again. It is an excellent piece of historical literature on how prejudices can cloud our judgements and lead to appalling acts of terror.

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