Hitler’s Struggle, Mein Kampf

Why did you want to read Mein Kampf (My Struggle)? 

•  Initially I wanted to see how transparent Hitler was.  How clear were his statements?  Abraham Foxman writes in the Introduction:  “Mein Kampf’s existence denies the free world the excuse of ignorance.”
•  Hitler’s opening words.  “To an ever-increasing extent world history became for me an inexhaustible source of understanding for the historical events of the present; in other words, for politics.  I do not want to ‘learn’ it, I want it to instruct me.  (p.16)  Reading this book is one of the steps in answering the question ‘How could the Holocaust happen?’
•  History fascinates me.  It is so interconnected: one really cannot understand WW2 without a knowledge of WW1; the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 is an important context of WW1, Napolean etc. etc.  A mentor long ago convinced me of the value of primary source documents. 

What was your overall impression?

I agree with Mussolini who called it ‘Hitler’s boring book‘.  Hitler considered himself a gifted orator.  He was no writer.  It was hard to follow his circular logic.  Much of his rhetoric was vitriol and vituperation.  Frankly, it was agony to read.  My husband could not understand my compulsion to make it through to the end. 

Was there anything to like?

Surprisingly, yes. 
•  Describing the poverty of his youth: “Hunger was then my faithful bodyguard.” (p.21). 
•  “The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. ”  (p.180)
•  This phrase tickled me: “a sneak and a spineless lickspittle”
•   He advocated strong sports and physical fitness programs for boys. 
•   Hitler’s commentary on (generic) committee members: “…who were in a kind of continuous pregnancy with excellent plans, ideas, projects, methods.”  He said that the best means of making them harmless was to assign them to some real work.

So.  How did he really feel about the Jews?

•  Gradually, I began to hate them [Jews].  p.63
•  I had ceased to be a weak-kneed cosmopolitan and became an anti-Semite. p. 64
•  All who are not of good race in this world are chaff.  p. 296
•  personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew  p.324
•  The Jew is the great master in lying.

Whom, besides the Jews, did Hitler hate?

•  Pacifists
•  Marxists (particularly that Jew, Karl Marx)
•  Parlimentarianism
•  Western democracy
•  Mixed races (particularly in Slavs)
•  Signers of The Treaty of Versailles
•  Bastards, physically degenerate, mentally sick
•  France (inexorable mortal enemy of the German people)

Were there any foreshadowings of Hitler’s invasions?

•  Hitler describes correct foreign policy as “a strengthening of our continental power by gaining new soil in Europe.” (p.612)
•  These circles never even began to realize that Germanization can only be applied to soil and never to people.  (p.388)

Final thoughts?

Mein Kampf is a witness against Hitler and his followers.  He clearly articulated the philosophy of Nazism.  While the horror of ‘The Final Solution’ wasn’t revealed, the open hatred of Jews is never hidden.  

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13 thoughts on “Hitler’s Struggle, Mein Kampf

  1. I admire you perserverance.   Kudos!The scary thing about Hitler for me is that he was *elected* to office, with something like 33% of the voters participating.  That percentage is not far from what we’re dealing with in the US.  I think more people vote on American Idol.So, the bottom line is that Germans were informed and they voted for this dictatorship?

  2. this read will be “my struggle”…. Carol, do you have any advice for a novice history student? where to start? how to start? (i have read how to read a book, though)… eish, you continue to inspire me amazingly…

  3. Okay, I enjoyed reading your critique just because of the words you used: “Vitriol and vituperation” — girl, you astound me! I had read parts of this book and my dad pretty much agreed w/ everything you said (he read the whole thing) so I’ll take both of your words for it (boring). Astounding that someone was able to mislead a country just by his charismatic personality…..

  4. This is an excellent review.  Thank you!  I love history, too; it’s interconnectivity.  There used to be a PBS show called Connections.  Did you ever see it?  It’s one reason this administration is so frustrating, their ignorance of history and determination to rewrite it.

  5. @BooksForMe – I used to love that show “Connections”. They would start at one point, and just when it seemed they had gone off on too many tangents, they’d tie it all back to the beginning. I thought it was really good research and writing.@sonskyn – The trick I found in studying/reading history is to suspend what you know today and try to visualize yourself living in the time and place (with all the luxuries afforded to the people of the day) of the era you’re studying. Once you have the mindset of the time, you can easily understand the actions and reactions of the people.

  6. Wow, you are amazing….my daughter would read it though…she’s graduating with a Bachelors in History this spring…she lives for this stuff and remembers everything!….reading history text books was always a special treat for her and we always watched in amazement at the books she would “choose” to read.

  7. I agree with BooksForMe- This is an excellent review.  Your posts about learning history show a remarkable grasp of how history relates to modern times as well as an encouraging example of how do to the work of learing.  Your fine education is obvious.Your honorary PhD is in the mail.  😉

  8. Great review, Carol!  And an interesting choice of reading material.  I’ve read *about* Mein Kampf, but I’ve never read it.  I very much enjoyed your thoughts on reading it.

  9. Hats off to you for persevering thru to the finish of this one, and for the lucid summary. Wow! It leaves a rather sick feeling in the gut when you get inside of the mind of such a monster. But really, the same sin nature lies within us all–it’s just that Hitler’s sin nature was fully fed and ripened. The phrase “vitriol and vituperation” was a keeper! 

  10. Thanks for the review. This has always been tentatively on my reading list, but I’ve never had the courage to pick it up. I definitely appreciate your willingness to wade through it!

  11. I have to chime in with Bonnie – while, theoretically I want to read this for its historical “value”, in reality, I don’t know that I could wade through that much ” vitriol and vituperation”; Your review was excellent; I appreciate your tenacity to get through it, and review it! Hope you have a great weekend ahead…

  12. I knew this book would be difficult to read.  I’ve wanted to read it for the same reasons you listed, but I don’t know if I could stomach it or finish it.  Thanks for the great review.  We’ve posted about it here on War Through the Generations.

  13. @hiddenart – Well we would like to think that the German people were informed, but they did not expect the dictatorship they got from Hitler. The first time he tried to become elected he got less 3% of the vote. So what does he do? Take it by force, after setting fired to the captial he was portrayed a hero, and took power in the next election.

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