by Adolf Hitler
Genre: Non-fiction, politics, history, autobiography
Notes: How-to, long, drawn out, restatements, psychology, opinionated, nationalism, racism, lots of government stuff, historical, reasoning, interesting…
My Deduction: Ummm….Some but not all.
Why: This is probably the only book that I felt seriously uncomfortable reading after the VERY FIRST PAGE. I’ve read other books where the uncomfortableness sporadically appears somewhere in the middle of the book (
usually always in the form of romantic sex scenes). Nope. There is none of that in Mein Kampf (thank the Lord). Instead, the introduction, or rather the “preface,” made me question my motives for reading this book. Well, word for word, the first line of paragraph four in the preface reads:
"I do not address this work to strangers, but to those adherents of the movement who belong to it with their hearts, and whose intelligence is eager for a more penetrating enlightenment."
That line made me shiver. I chose to read this book not because I am an “adherent” of Hitler’s National Socialist party, but because I am neither adherent or antagonist. How can we choose sides without hearing the whole story? I am not of Hitler’s era, ethnicity, or circumstance, so I was very curious in the psychology behind why; why were millions of minorities victims of the Holocaust? Why is Hitler now known as one of the worst leader’s in history? Why was this man obeyed by so many but so quickly abhorred by the majority of the world? I wanted to know HIS story through something other than the biased history books and words of my teachers and parents. I thought about reading Mein Kampf maybe once or twice since I actually like reading books about the holocaust and learning about World War II, but I knew this wasn’t going to be like one of those books. It was going to be more biased than my teachers and parents and definitely more difficult to understand. Still, I wanted two sides to the story so that I could decide for myself how I stood on this topic that should be a lot more controversial than it is. So, when a friend recommended I read Mein Kampf, I was at first surprised we had the book in our school library. Good thing the creepy people at school don’t read much. Then, I was like, what they hey. YOLO. And so I checked out the plain hardcover book with the dusty green cover, brittle, yellow pages, and faded gold lettering on the spine that spelled out “Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler.”
So the introduction by the translator actually summed up a lot of the book. Basically it talked about how Hitler was unreliable and exaggerated a lot of stuff, blaming other people for his downfalls and making it seem like he went from destitute, discontent, and disregarded pauper to celebrated army general/government leader. Well, I quite enjoyed hearing about his sad home life, no matter how exaggerated it may have been. Who can really say what is real or not about someone’s personal life and experiences?
The introduction also made me realize how much I am like Hitler. Not in the “most likely to commit homicide” way, but in the “long-winded writer” sort of way. If you replace “he” with “she” in the following lines from the Introduction, this describes my writing pretty well:
"…he seldom pursues any logic inherent in the subject matter. He makes the most extraordinary allegations without so much as an attempt to prove them. Often there is no visible connection between one paragraph and the next. The logic is purely psychological…"
Also, it talked about long, labyrinth-like sentences that could barely be translated to English without losing meaning. Yup. I am MASTER of confusing, labyrinthine sentences that just kind of wander. I believe that is called “stream of consciousness” writing. Yes. That makes it sound correct and intelligent. We shall call it that.
Anyway, so then as the book began with personal stories about Hitler wanting to be a painter and then an architect, I began to realize that the looming Hitler silhouette in my head, the product of 12 years of “THE HOLOCAUST WAS BAD SO HITLER WAS AN EVIL DEVIL ON EARTH UNTIL HE DIED AND WENT TO HELL. THEN HE WAS THE DEVIL IN HELL,” was kind of wrong. He was a normal kid with dreams of helping people. An artist! He wanted to paint. He was like a Bob Ross or something of World War II. Can you picture Bob Ross intentionally killing people for fun?
Don’t answer that.
Anyway, after learning a little about Hitler’s youth, the book progressed to the more trivial matters of complaining about how Germany was run. Hitler does A LOT of complaining. So, eventually he does something about the poorly run government, and then EVERYONE dies, right? Wrong. No one dies in this book. Instead, there were very long sections involving more complaining about how Jews are soiling the planet and are stealing things and producing mediocre products at their mediocre jobs and spreading mediocre rumors and so on with the mediocrities. Those parts of Mein Kampf scared me a little. They also enlightened me on Hitler’s psychological disposition. He really believed that Jews were an unnecessary evil in the world. He wrote probably a hundred or more pages describing how evil Jews were. One line I found on page 324 states:
"Here he stops at nothing, and in his vileness he becomes so gigantic that no one need be surprised if among our people the personification of the devil as the symbol of all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew."
Another uncomfortably racist part in the novel:
"This, too, is in the interest of the nation: that the most beautiful bodies should find one another and so help to give the nation new beauty."
The latter line is of course alluding to the beauty of Aryan skin and Aryan bodies.
And then, one of the last lines of the book:
"A state which in this age of racial poisoning dedicates itself to the care of its best racial elements must some day become lord of the earth."
These are only a small fraction of Hitler’s proclamations for racial purity in Mein Kampf. Though they may be very intimidating, the lines reveal that Hitler sincerely believed he was doing right which brings me to a story:
When my sister went to confession, she confessed to doing something not at all near the severity of breaking any of the ten commandments. She just needed to tell the priest something, and since she didn’t kill anyone lately, she just chose something superficial. Anyway, the priest then asked her if she sinned intentionally. She said she did not. The priest then condoled her, replying that if she did not do what she did, intentionally to spite all things Christian, it was not a sin. I certainly didn’t think sinning worked like that, but hey, whatever. My point is that, according to that Christian priest, Hitler really didn’t sin. He may have done wrong-because killing is never right-but he had reasoning behind what he did. He felt what he was doing was right. He wanted to help humanity by preserving the Aryan race. Rather than saying,”I’ve got to get rid of these people,” his thought process was more like,”I’ve got to save these people.” Well….at least at first. Then, the whole Holocaust thing happened and it was all down to homicide.
But what I got out of reading Mein Kampf was that he didn’t initially plan on killing the Jewish population. He was just extremely racist. It seemed to me that Hitler is a lot like racist people nowadays. Even my dad (though he claims there are good African Americans and bad ones) has a very biased stance on certain races. And HE’S a MEXICAN! He’s been called a “wetback” and everything, and he still continues to lump people together based on their race. I think he’s just a product of his environment, though. As I said, A LOT of people are racist. I can’t say everyone’s good (no matter the race), but I sure can’t say all Black people are like this or all Asians are like that or all white people are blank. You can’t say that about any group of people, much less millions of people who share a skin color!
Mein Kampf. My Struggle. Was part of Hitler’s struggle reading this book? I doubt it. Because if he read it, he probably would have realized that he repeated things….a lot. Unless this was his intention. Some sort of method to instill his beliefs into the reader’s mind. That was mainly what I noticed. I thoroughly read the first couple pages (maybe up to page one-hundred and something), but after that, there was a whole bunch of government talk and references to history that I am only slightly aware of. Alliances and types of government and crap like that. The remainder of PART I wavered between interesting topics like what Hitler believed schools should be like (more emphasis on physical education-especially boxing…who knew Hitler was a boxer kind of guy. HA. That’s funny. There’s that awkward sexual scene you just knew had to be in there somewhere) and boring topics like “parliamentarism.” Gross.
By the time I made it to PART II, I was not very happy. I was expecting more personal life stuff than I got. The beginning was good; Hitler’s sob story about his childhood. Then, by the end of PART I, it was all a For Dummies installment of ”how to rule like a Nazi…literally.” So, I skimmed and scanned PART II and found that a lot of what was said in PART I was repeated in a different way. It was sort of like deja-vu. I suppose Hitler just got a little carried away with writing about something he was SO passionate about. Still, I don’t think I missed out on anything particularly interesting by cursorily reading PART II. In fact, Hitler practically gave me permission to do just that! One line from Mein Kampf (out of the surprising many that I foudn really interesting and sometimes inspirational) was: “The art of reading as of learning is this: to retain the essential, to forget the nonessential.” Hence, I retained the important gist of Mein Kampf, enough to develop a solid stance, without
reading remembering everything! Hitler would be proud. I don’t know if that’s good or not…
If you enjoyed this book, you should
read: spend your time reading better books
just kidding (a little)
maybe try: Hitler by Ian Kershaw