People may treat you differently if they become aware that a copy of this book is part of your home library, but strangely not always for the worse...

Around 1941 Nazi secret police broke into the Parisian abode of playwright (and Resistance member) Samuel Beckett, correctly suspecting him of plotting to undermine the Occupying agents, soldiers and the Vichy government.

Not finding him at home, they went through his papers, drafts, notes and books hoping to find clues and hints confirming their hunches about his character. Finally, after rifling through all his stuff and not coming across any bloody gloves, so to speak, among works of literature on his bookshelf they were surprised to find a copy of Mein Kampf. Figuring that they had misjudged the ideological temperment of a loyal National Socialist, they returned everything to order, departed and crossed Beckett's name off a list of suspected Resistance members.

It wasn't until years later that he learned how close he had come to being apprehended that day.

The book Mein Kampf was published in 1925 by NSDAP (National Socialist German Labor Party) leader Adolf Hitler. It was written for the most part during his incarceration in the fortress of Landsberg, where he was thrown for inciting revolt. All in all, this work is of great value to modern students of government, mainly because it provides a large number of arguments (of varying compellingness) against parliamentary or republican democracy as we know it today.

This book is very thorough; it first endeavors to track the author's progress and development as a National Socialist and human being, and also to track and expose the reasons for the German and Austrian states' failures in World War I. It also provides a sort of instruction manual for those who would create a party like the Nazi one; the author's chronicling of the organization's growth from seven to many thousands reads like a novel. Many of the statements and ideas put forth in this book make completely understandable the ideological foundations of the German Third Reich.

Unfortunately, it is at these foundations that the book reaches its lowest point. At its higher levels Hitler's theorizing is intricate and sometimes strikingly accurate--mainly, when he is exposing the corruption and impotence of the past and contemporary German state. Ideologically, however, the book fails, because it deals with subjective and poorly-defined racial concepts. The spectre of the Jew, omnipresent throughout the book, is at the same time "a pestilence" and "a parasite"; it manages to support Marxism and simultaneously work for International Finance; it tries to "guard its nationality" while poisoning Aryan blood by intermingling with it. These sorts of discussions permeate the book (although it doesn't contradict itself within the same chapter, usually), punctuated by Social Darwinist racial discussions. Ironically, Hitler himself tends not to understand natural processes--in his version of evolution, the 'strong' mate with the 'strong' intending to remain the same, which is the exact opposite of what nature intends through sexual reproduction.

In truth, the 'Jew' here can be replaced with 'Satan' or 'education' or anything else that poses a credible and poorly explained threat, because it would serve the same function. For Hitler, using Jews as a scapegoat was perfectly logical--Jews were indeed omnipresent in European intellectual society, plus they already had a long history of being scapegoated. The fact that this book roots so many of its theories on falsehoods and generalizations is disappointing, although not surprising.

The sociopolitical system this book suggests seems to actually make some sense, especially with the author's indictments of parliamentarianism ("The intellectual content of what these men said was on a really depressing level, in so far as you could understand their babbling at all," says he about the Viennese parliament, "...A wild gesticulating mass screaming all at once in every different key, presided over by a goodnatured old uncle who was striving in the sweat of his brow to revive the dignity of the House by violently ringing his bell and alternating gentle reproofs with grave admonitions. I couldn't help laughing.") What it essentially puts forth is the idea of a people and a nation driven solely by the idea of National Pride. This is meant to be identical to Racial Pride, and also German Pride. It is to be led by a leader (who will "emerge naturally"), and yet everyone will retain personal responsibility. The main driving force for this state is the acquisition of Lebensraum, space for expanding population. Although personally this kind of nationalism is abhorrent to me, it does seem to be workable, provided that the people are truly motivated to fight. Since there will always be an enemy somewhere, the problem of lack of motiv ation doesn't even present itself.

This book's racial theories are rather ridiculous. Culture is 'created' only by pure-blooded representatives of the Aryan race, a concept not clearly defined at all. It is assumed that the German people are the quintessential Aryans, although the correspondence between Aryans and Germans is never really discussed. The other races that Aryans have intermingled with, such as (somehow) the Japanese, are merely the 'preservers' of culture; they do not make any on their own, and without the Aryan influence would have none at all. The satanic Jew is the 'destroyer' of culture, always on the lookout and aiming to destroy true Aryans.

Seeing as this is very much a propaganda pamphlet (Hitler recognizes the importance of propaganda--he devotes page upon page to it), none of its claims--and I do mean none--are proven at all by anything other than personal impression. Since it obviously seeks a relatively educated and critical audience, this seems self-defeating. The logic of Hitler's arguments is often flawed--for example, he seems to rely on pure repetition to 'prove' that the Marxist Jews are really paving the way for financial and stock market tyranny.

As a historical overview, it is of some use, although it must be taken with a grain of salt. The author goes into pre-war events very specifically, and later on does an especially good job of describing the political situation in Munich and the rise of his own party. The narrative often devolves, however, into more rabid anti-semitic, anti-Marxist and anti-bourgeois blathering, and thereby loses much of its value.

This book is important, if anything because it is a look into the mind of probably the most famous and, arguably, the most significant politician of the twentieth century. Hitler is probably as close to a Lucifer as our modern civilization has, and this text approaches the Necronomicon in the fear it inspires among those who haven't read it (and the reverence it inspires in its adherents). However, it is not of much use--it should be put on a bookshelf next to "Lenin's Commentaries on Marx", and abandoned like that.

(Node your homework, and fix it up.)

Some more information on the legal situation in Germany as well as Austria: All rights of use were inherited by the state of Bavaria. The state is trying hard to prevent uncommented reproduction of the book. Anyway reprints have been published in english-speaking countries, Israel (in English as well as Hebrew) and Skandinavia, where the legal situation is not completely clear.

According to a German court order it is allowed to sell and buy old prints of Mein Kampf as antique, hence owning old prints or new, commented versions is legal in Germany. In Austria it comes under the strict law of Wiederbetätigung (reactivation of Nazi ideas), which includes the prohibition of Nazi weapons, books as well as the swastika. The book is also not available in "normal" libraries, but you can ask for the book in the Austrian National Library in Vienna. Before you can borrow it for 6 weeks you have to prove that you need it for research (e.g. for writing your dissertation or a similar work, usually rather for university than school). The possession of the book is also not prosecuted when the owner is a history professor or teacher.

The copyright of the work will end on December 31, 2015.

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