Book Write-Up: Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler

I finished Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.  I cannot say that I understood all of it, but here are some items, based on my impressions of what he was saying.  The wikipedia page about the book may offer more clarity, but I have not read it yet.  This post is simply a record of what I got out of the book, as I interpreted it.

A.  The introduction to the edition that I read was written by Abraham Foxman, who has served as director of the Anti-Defamation League.  Foxman states that “Mein Kampf‘s existence denies the free world the excuse of ignorance.”  A question that I asked in reading this book was: Are the things that Hitler did—-invading Europe, the Holocaust, forming an alliance with Italy and Japan, dictatorship—-foreshadowed at all in Mein Kampf?

Some reflections:

—-I cannot recall a passage in which Hitler explicitly says that non-Aryan races should be eliminated.  This wikipedia article states that there are such passages, but its endnotes cite sources that refer to Mein Kampf, not Mein Kampf itself.  At the same time, Hitler does seem to oppose non-Aryan races being among Germans.  A criticism that Hitler has of the Hapsburgs in Austria is that they allowed a lot of Slavs into the country and diluted the German community that was there.  While Hitler notes that whites rule non-white peoples in South America in arguing for white superiority, he also laments that the whites there have intermarried with non-white peoples, thereby (in his opinion) diluting the white race.  He respects the United States for its restrictive immigration policies and prevalent white population, which he believes have contributed to its advancement as a nation.

—-Hitler despises the Jews.  He says that, at first, he was not anti-Semitic, but certain developments led him to embrace anti-Semitism.  He did not care for the press because it was not nationalistic enough, as it acknowledged the perspectives of other countries and spoke against the German war effort in World War I.  Hitler believed that Jews ran the mainstream media, and he thought that the anti-Semitic media made more sense in speaking about German problems.  Hitler was opposed to Social Democracy and Marxism, initially because of the fanaticism of their adherents, but eventually because he concluded that Marxism threatened German culture.  Hitler speaks sympathetically about workers and trade unions in this book, and what he professes to support is National Socialism, a nationalist movement of workers, rather than the non-nationalist Marxist movements; while Hitler appears to support German businesses, he also speaks for a parity of wages and against materialism.  Hitler noticed that a number of Jews were in the Social Democratic and Marxist movements that he opposed.  Hitler speaks about Jewish finance.  He laments that the stock exchange has supplanted German businesses in Germany, and he maintains that Jews are seeking, and in some cases already possess, financial control over Europe, Asia, and America.  For Hitler, Marxism is one if its tools, since Marxism destroys German culture and society and leaves Jewish finance to pick up the pieces; so is race-mixing, which Hitler regards as the dilution of the Aryan race, which has contributed significantly to culture.  Hitler thinks that Jewish finance has especially targeted Germany because Germany is a bulwark against its ambitions, or Germany at least has the potential to be this if it gains strength.  Hitler makes other criticisms of Jews: that they are ruthless against each other, that they prevaricate, that they sow dissension among the German states, that they contribute to the degeneration of art (i.e., cubism), that they were not out in the trenches with Germans in World War I (which is untrue), and that they profit from war.  He takes a swipe at Jewish disbelief in an afterlife, seeing a belief in an afterlife as ennobling.  He even says that Jews cannot form a state, since they are parasites as opposed to being constructive.  This puzzled me, since what would Hitler say about the Israelite state in the Bible?  Hitler believes that the Jews worldwide are such a problem, that I would say that, in a sense, Mein Kampf foreshadowed the Holocaust.  Hitler speaks candidly about his support for the annihilation of France, after all, and he deems France to be a mere puppet of Jewish finance.

—-Something that was surprising: Hitler does not advocate eliminating disabled or weak Germans.  He simply says that they should adopt children rather than reproducing themselves.

—-Are Hitler’s imperialist ambitions and alliances foreshadowed in Mein Kampf?  Hitler states that Germany is over-populated and needs more land.  He definitely wants Germany to take back the land that it lost as a result of World War I.  He speaks belligerently about France.  He talks about Germany being the leader of the world, but he is unclear about whether that means Germany conquering the world, or Germany merely exercising influence over the world.  Overall, he supports alliances, especially with England and Italy, and he believes that such an alliance can successfully undermine French hegemony in Europe.  Hitler speaks favorably of Fascist Italy, believing that it has resisted Jewish control.  He appears somewhat critical, yet understanding, of English friendship with Asia in order to resist America, yet he states that Jewish finance seeks to undermine Japan.  Here, he manifests a sympathetic attitude towards Japan, which he still regards as inferior to the Aryans.  He does not seem to care for the prospect of a German alliance with Russia, for he regards Communist Russia as the tragic result of a bloody revolution that eliminated the talented.  Some of this foreshadows what Hitler later did—-e.g., ally with Italy and Japan, invade Russia.  Some of it, not so much—-e.g., forming a German alliance with England.  Hitler also speaks frequently about the German struggle to survive, and this may hint at a support for German belligerence and imperialism.

—-Hitler expresses disdain for parliamentarian government.  He doubts that a bunch of heads coming together can lead anywhere constructive, and he states that having a single ruler is best.  Such a form of government would attract the right person, he claims, because the weight of responsibility would only be assumed by someone who sincerely desires to help his country.  This may foreshadow his authoritarianism.  At the same time, he uses buzzwords such as “freedom” and “tyranny,” claiming to support the former and to oppose the latter.

B.  Hitler opines about a variety of issues.  He believes that memorizing a bunch of vocabulary words to learn a foreign language is a waste of time and that it is better for schools to teach the structure of grammar: that is more easily remembered and can form a foundation for people to learn a foreign language, if they feel so inclined.  He laments the prevalence of syphilis and believes that Germans getting married at a young age can counter that.  He also offers thoughts on effective propaganda: be clear about the message rather than acknowledging other perspectives and appeal to the workers rather than the bourgeoisie, whom Hitler deems to be lukewarm and spineless.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Book Write-Up: Mein Kampf, by Adolf Hitler

  1. Pingback: Addendum on Mein Kampf: Hitler on Religion | James' Ramblings

Comments are closed.