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Most common cover of Mein Kampf.
|Genre(s)||Autobiography, Political theory|
|Publication date||July 18, 1925|
|Followed by||Zweites Buch|
Mein Kampf (English: My Struggle or My Battle) is a book by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926. The book was edited by the former Hieronymite friar Bernhard Stempfle who later died during the Night of the Long Knives.
Hitler began the dictation of the book while imprisoned for what he considered to be "political crimes" after his failed Putsch in Munich in November 1923. Though Hitler received many visitors earlier on, he soon devoted himself entirely to the book. As he continued, Hitler realized that it would have to be a two-volume work, with the first volume scheduled for release in early 1925. The prison governor of Landsberg noted at the time that "he [Hitler] hopes the book will run into many editions, thus enabling him to fulfil his financial obligations and to defray the expenses incurred at the time of his trial."
Hitler originally wanted to call his forthcoming book Viereinhalb Jahre (des Kampfes) gegen Lüge, Dummheit und Feigheit, or Four and a Half Years (of Struggle) Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice. Max Amann, head of the Franz Eher Verlag and Hitler's publisher, is said to have suggested the much shorter "Mein Kampf or My Struggle".
|Part of a series on|
|Part of a series on|
Part of Jewish history
|History · Timeline · Resources|
The arrangement of chapters is as follows:
In Mein Kampf, Hitler uses the main thesis of "the Jewish peril", which speaks of an alleged Jewish conspiracy to gain world leadership. The narrative describes the process by which he became increasingly anti-semitic and militaristic, especially during his years in Vienna. Yet, the deeper origins of his anti-semitism remain a mystery. He speaks of not having met a Jew until he arrived in Vienna, and that at first his attitude was liberal and tolerant. When he first encountered the anti-semitic press, he says, he dismissed it as unworthy of serious consideration. Later he accepted the same anti-semitic views, which became crucial in his program of national reconstruction.
Mein Kampf has also been studied as a work on political theory. For example, Hitler announces his hatred of what he believed to be the world's twin evils: Communism and Judaism. The new territory that Germany needed to obtain would properly nurture the "historic destiny" of the German people; this goal, which Hitler referred to as Lebensraum (living space), explains why Hitler aggressively expanded Germany eastward, specifically the invasions of Czechoslovakia and Poland, before he launched his attack against Russia. In Mein Kampf Hitler openly states that the future of Germany "has to lie in the acquisition of land in the East at the expense of Russia."
In his work, Hitler blamed Germany’s chief woes on the parliament of the Weimar Republic, the Jews, and Social Democrats, as well as Marxists. He announced that he wanted to completely destroy the parliamentary system, believing it in principle to be corrupt, as those who reach power are inherent opportunists.
Mein Kampf has additionally been examined as a book on foreign policy. For example, Hitler predicts the stages of Germany’s political emergence on the world scene: in the first stage, Germany would, through a programme of massive re-armament, break the shackles of the Treaty of Versailles and form alliances with the British Empire and Fascist Italy. The second stage would feature wars against France and her allies in Eastern Europe by the combined forces of Germany, Britain and Italy. The third and final stage would be a war to destroy what Hitler saw as the "Judeo-Bolshevik" regime in the Soviet Union that would give Germany the necessary "living space". German historian Andreas Hillgruber labeled the plans contained in Mein Kampf as Hitler's Stufenplan (stage-by-stage plan).
One of the more important debates surrounding the book concerns the battle between the Continentalists, including Hugh Trevor-Roper and Eberhard Jäckel, who argue Hitler wished to conquer only Europe, and the Globalists, including Gerhard Weinberg, Milan Hauner, Gunter Moltmann, Meier Michaelis and Andreas Hillgruber, who maintain that Hitler wanted to conquer the entire world. The chief source of contention between the Continentists and Globalists is the Zweites Buch.
Mein Kampf has assumed a key place in the functionalism versus intentionalism debate. Intentionalists insist that the passage stating that if 12,000–15,000 Jews were gassed, then "the sacrifice of millions of soldiers would not have been in vain," proves quite clearly that Hitler had a master plan for the genocide of the Jewish people all along. Functionalists deny this assertion, noting that the passage does not call for the destruction of the entire Jewish people and note that although Mein Kampf is suffused with an extreme anti-Semitism, it is the only time in the entire book that Hitler ever explicitly refers to the murder of Jews. Given that Mein Kampf is 720 pages long, Functionalist historians have accused the Intentionalists of making too much out of one sentence.
Functionalist historians have argued that the memorandum written by Heinrich Himmler to Hitler on May 25, 1940, regarding the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question," whose proposals Hitler accepted, proves that there was no master plan for genocide which stemmed back to the 1920s. In the memorandum, Himmler rejects genocide under the grounds that one must reject "...the Bolshevik method of physical extermination of a people out of inner conviction as un-German and impossible." He goes on to argue that something similar to the "Madagascar Plan" be the preferred "territorial solution" to the "Jewish Question."
Additionally, Functionalist historians have noted that in Mein Kampf Hitler states the only anti-Semitic policies he will carry out are the 25 Point Platform of the Nazi Party (adopted in February 1920), which demands that only "Aryan" Germans be allowed to publish newspapers and own department stores, places a ban on Jewish immigration, expels all Ostjuden (Eastern Jews; i.e., Jews from Eastern Europe who had arrived in Germany since 1914) and strips all German Jews of their German citizenship. Although these demands do reflect a hateful anti-Semitism, they do not amount to a programme for genocide, according to the Functionalist historians. Beyond that, some historians have claimed although Hitler was clearly obsessed with anti-Semitism, his degree of anti-Semitic hatred contained in Mein Kampf is no greater or less than that contained in the writings and speeches of earlier völkisch leaders such as Wilhelm Marr, Georg Ritter von Schönerer, Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Karl Lueger, all of whom routinely called Jews a "disease" and "vermin," and all of whom Hitler cites as an inspiration in Mein Kampf.
Mein Kampf was significant in 1925 because it was an open source for the presentation of Hitler's ideas about the state of the world. The book is significant in our time because a retrospective review of the text reveals the crystallisation of Hitler's decision to completely exterminate the Jewish presence in Europe. While historians diverge on the exact date Hitler decided to exterminate the Jewish people, few place the decision before the mid 1930s. First published in 1925, Mein Kampf shows the ideas that crafted Hitler's historical grievances and ambitions for creating a New Order.
The racial laws to which Hitler referred resonate directly with his ideas in Mein Kampf. In his first edition of Mein Kampf, Hitler stated that the destruction of the weak and sick is far more humane than their protection. However, apart from his allusion to humane treatment, Hitler saw a purpose in destroying "the weak" in order to provide the proper space and purity for the strong.
Although Hitler originally wrote this book mostly for the followers of National Socialism, it grew in popularity. From the royalties, Hitler was able to afford a Mercedes automobile while still imprisoned. Moreover, he accumulated a tax debt of 405,500 Reichsmark (about US$ 8 million today, or €6 million) from the sale of about 240,000 copies by the time he became chancellor in 1933 (at which time his debt was waived).
After Hitler's rise to power, the book gained enormous popularity. (Two other books written by party members, Gottfried Feder's Breaking The Interest Slavery and Alfred Rosenberg's The Myth of the Twentieth Century, have since lapsed into comparative literary obscurity, and few intact copies of either are currently known to exist — including no known translations of Feder's book from the original German.) The book was in high demand in libraries and often reviewed and quoted in other publications. Hitler had made about 1.2 million Reichsmarks from the income of his book in 1933, when the average annual income of a teacher was about 4,800 Mark. During Hitler's years in power, the book was given free to every newlywed couple and every soldier fighting at the front. By the end of the war, about 10 million copies of the book had been sold or distributed in Germany.
Mein Kampf, due to its racist content and the historical effect of Nazism upon Europe during the Second World War and the Holocaust, is considered a highly controversial book. Criticism has not come solely from opponents of Nazism. Italian Fascist dictator and Nazi ally, Benito Mussolini, was also critical of the book, saying that the book was "a boring tome that I have never been able to read" and remarked that Hitler's beliefs, as expressed in the book, were "little more than commonplace clichés."
The direct opponent of National Socialism, Konrad Heiden observed that the content of Mein Kampf is essentially a political argument with other members of the Nazi Party who had appeared to be Hitler's friends, but whom he was actually denouncing in the book's content — sometimes by not even including references to them.
The American literary theorist and philosopher Kenneth Burke wrote a rhetorical analysis of the work, The Rhetoric of Hitler's "Battle", which revealed its underlying message of aggressive intent.
While Hitler was in power (1933–1945), Mein Kampf came to be available in three common editions. The first, the Volksausgabe or People's Edition, featured the original cover on the dust jacket and was navy blue underneath with a gold swastika eagle embossed on the cover. The Hochzeitsausgabe, or Wedding Edition, in a slipcase with the seal of the province embossed in gold onto a parchment-like cover was given free to marrying couples. In 1940, the Tornister-Ausgabe was released. This edition was a compact, but unabridged, version in a red cover and was released by the post office available to be sent to loved ones fighting at the front. These three editions combined both volumes into the same book.
A special edition was published in 1939 in honour of Hitler's 50th birthday. This edition was known as the Jubiläumsausgabe, or Anniversary Issue. It came in both dark blue and bright red boards with a gold sword on the cover. This work contained both volumes one and two. It was considered a deluxe version, relative to the smaller and more common Volksausgabe.
The book could also be purchased as a two-volume set during Hitler's reign, and was available in soft cover and hardcover. The soft cover edition contained the original cover (as pictured at the top of this article). The hardcover edition had a leather spine with cloth-covered boards. The cover and spine contained an image of three brown oak leaves.
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The first English translation was an abridgment by Edgar Dugdale who started work on it in 1931, at the prompting of his wife, Blanche. When he learned that the London publishing firm of Hurst & Blackett had secured the rights to publish an abridgment in the United Kingdom, he offered it for free in April 1933. However, a local Nazi representative insisted that the translation be further abridged before publication, so it was held back from the public until October 13, 1933, although excerpts were allowed to run in The Times in late July. It was published by Hurst & Blackett as part of "The Paternoster Library".
In America, Houghton Mifflin secured the rights to the Dugdale abridgment on July 29, 1933. The only differences between the American and British versions are that the title was translated My Struggle in the UK and My Battle in America; and that Dugdale is credited as translator in the U.S. edition, while the British version withheld his name. Both Dugdale and his wife were active in the Zionist movement; Blanche was the niece of Lord Balfour, and they wished to avoid publicity.
One of the first complete English translations of Mein Kampf was by James Murphy in 1939. It was the only English translation approved by the Third Reich. The version published by Hutchison & Co. in association with Hurst & Blackett, Ltd (London) in 1939 of the combined volumes I and II is profusely illustrated with many full page drawings and photographs. The opening line, "It has turned out fortunate for me to-day that destiny appointed Braunau-on-the-Inn to be my birthplace," is characteristic of Hitler's sense of destiny that began to develop in the early 1920s. Hurst & Blackett ceased publishing the Murphy translation in 1942 when the original plates were destroyed by German bombing but it is still published and available in facsimile editions and also on the internet. An audio reading of volume one is also available online.
Houghton and Mifflin licensed Reynal & Hitchcock the rights to publish a full unexpurgated translation in 1938. It was translated by a committee of men from the New School for Social Research and appeared on February 28, 1939.
The small Pennsylvania firm of Stackpole and Sons released its own unexpurgated translation by William Soskin on the same day as Houghton Mifflin, amid much legal wrangling. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Houghton Mifflin's favour that June and ordered Stackpole to stop selling their version, but litigation followed for a few more years until the case was finally resolved in September 1941.
Among other things, Stackpole argued that Hitler could not have legally transferred his right to a copyright in the United States to Eher Verlag in 1925, because he was not a citizen of any country. Houghton Mifflin v. Stackpole was a minor landmark in American copyright law, definitively establishing that stateless persons have the same copyright status in the United States that any other foreigner would. In the three months that Stackpole's version was available it sold 12,000 copies.
Some historians[who?] have speculated that a wider readership prior to Hitler's rise to power, or at least prior to the outbreak of WWII, might have alerted the world to the dangers Hitler would pose to peace in Europe and to the Holocaust that he would pursue. An abridged English translation was produced before WWII. However, Houghton Mifflin removed some of the more anti-Semitic and militaristic statements. The publication of this version caused Alan Cranston, an American reporter for United Press International in Germany (and later a U.S. Senator from California), to publish his own abridged and annotated translation. Cranston believed this version more accurately reflected the contents of the book and Hitler's intentions. In 1939, Cranston was sued by Hitler's publisher for copyright infringement, and a Connecticut judge ruled in Hitler's favour. By the time the publication of Cranston's version was stopped, 500,000 copies had already been sold. Today, the profits and proceeds are given to various charities.
Houghton Mifflin brought out a translation by Ralph Manheim in 1943. They did this to avoid having to share their profits with Reynal & Hitchcock, and to increase sales by offering a more readable translation. The Manheim translation was first published in England by Hurst & Blackett in 1969 amid some controversy.
In addition to the above translations and abridgments, the following collections of excerpts were available in English before the start of the war:
|Year||Title||Translator||Publisher||# of pages|
|1936||Central Germany, May 7, 1936 - Confidential- A Translation of Some of the More Important Passages of Hitler's Mein Kampf (1925 edition)||British Embassy in Berlin||12|
|Germany's Foreign Policy as Stated in Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler FOE pamphlet n.38||Duchess of Atholl||Friends of Europe|
|1939||Mein Kampf: An Unexpurgated Digest||B. D. Shaw||Political Digest Press of New York City||31|
|1939||Mein Kampf: A New Unexpurgated Translation Condensed with Critical Comments and Explanatory Notes||Notes by Sen. Alan Cranston||Noram Publishing Co. of Greenwich, Conn.||32|
A previously unknown English translation was released in 2008, which was prepared by the official Nazi printing office, the Franz Eher Verlag. In 1939, the Nazi propaganda ministry hired James Murphy to create an English version of Mein Kampf, which they hoped to use to promote Nazi goals in English speaking countries. While Murphy was in Germany, he became less enchanted with Nazi ideology and made some statements that the Propaganda Ministry disliked. As a result, they asked him to leave Germany immediately. He was not able to take any of his notes but later sent his wife back to obtain his partial translation. These notes were later used to create the Murphy translation. The Nazi government did not abandon their English translation efforts. They used their own staff to finish the translation and it was published in very small numbers in Germany. At least one copy found its way to a British/American Prisoner of War camp. It is the only official English translation produced by the Nazi government and printed on Nazi printing presses.
Sales of Dugdale abridgment in the United Kingdom.
|Year||On Hand||Editions||Printed||Sold||Gross Royalties||Commission||Tax||Net Royalties|
|1934||1,275||9–10||3,500||4,695||£7.1.2||£15.4.4||£58.5.6/ RM 715|
|1938*||16,442||19–22||25,500||53,738||£1,037.23||£208||£193.91||£635.68 /RM 7410|
Sales of the Houghton Mifflin Dugdale translation in America.
The first printing of the U.S. Dugdale edition, the October 1933 with 7,603 copies, of which 290 were given away as complimentary gifts.
|6 mon. ending||Edition||Sold|
The royalty on the first printing in the US was 15% or $3,206.45 total. Curtis Brown, literary agent, took 20%, or $641.20 total, and the IRS took $384.75, leaving Eher Verlag $2,180.37 or RM 5668.
The January 1937 second printing was c. 4,000 copies.
|6 mon. ending||Edition||Sold|
There were three separate printings from August 1938 to March 1939, totaling 14,000; sales totals by March 31, 1939 were 10,345.
The Murphy and Houghton Mifflin translations were the only ones published by the authorised publishers while Hitler was still alive, and not at war with Britain and America.
There was some resistance from Eher Verlag to Hurst and Blackett's Murphy translation, as they had not been granted the rights to a full translation. However, they allowed it de facto permission by not lodging a formal protest, and on May 5, 1939, even inquired about royalties. The British publishers responded on the 12th that the information they requested was "not yet available" and the point would be moot within a few months, on September 3, 1939, when all royalties were halted due to the state of war existing between Britain and Germany.
Royalties were likewise held up in the United States due to the litigation between Houghton Mifflin and Stackpole. Because the matter was only settled in September 1941, only a few months before a state of war existed between Germany and the U.S., all Eher Verlag ever got was a $2,500 advance from Reynal and Hitchcock. It got none from the unauthorised Stackpole edition or the 1943 Manheim edition.
At the time of his death, Hitler's official place of residence was in Munich, which led to his entire estate, including all rights to Mein Kampf, changing to the ownership of the state of Bavaria. As per German copyright law, the entire text is scheduled to enter the public domain on January 1, 2016, 70 years after the author's death. The copyright has been relinquished for the Dutch and Swedish editions and some English ones (though not in the US, see below). Historian Werner Maser, in an interview with Bild am Sonntag has stated that Peter Raubal, son of Hitler's nephew, Leo Raubal, would have a strong legal case for winning the copyright from Bavaria if he pursued it. Raubal, an Austrian engineer, has stated he wants no part of the rights to the book, even though it could be worth millions of euros. The government of Bavaria, in agreement with the federal government of Germany, refuses to allow any copying or printing of the book in Germany, and opposes it also in other countries but with less success. Owning and buying the book is legal. Trading in old copies is legal as well, unless it is done in such a fashion as to "promote hatred or war," which is generally illegal. In particular, the unmodified edition is not covered by §86 StGB that forbids dissemination of means of propaganda of unconstitutional organisations, since it is a "pre-constitutional work" and as such cannot be opposed to the free and democratic basic order, according to a 1979 decision of the Federal Court of Justice of Germany. Most German libraries carry heavily commented and excerpted versions of Mein Kampf. In 2008, Stephan Kramer, secretary-general of the German Central Council of Jews, not only recommended lifting the ban, but volunteered the help of his organisation in editing and annotating the text, saying that it is time for the book to be made available to all online.
Restrictions on sale or special circumstances regarding the book in other countries:
On February 3, 2010, the Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) in Munich announced plans to republish an annotated version of the text, for educational purposes in schools and universities, in 2015, when the copyright currently held by the Bavarian state government expires (2016). This would then be the book's first publication in Germany since 1945. A group of German historians argued that a republication was necessary to get an authoritative annotated edition by the time the copyright runs out, which will open the way for neo-Nazi groups to publish their own versions. "Once Bavaria's copyright expires, there is the danger of charlatans and neo-Nazis appropriating this infamous book for themselves" Wolfgang Heubisch said. The Bavarian government opposed the plan, citing respect for victims of the Holocaust. The Bavarian Finance Ministry said that permits for reprints would not be issued, at home or abroad. This would also apply to a new annotated edition. The republished book might be banned as Nazi propaganda. Even after expiration of the copyright, the Bavarian government emphasised that "the dissemination of Nazi ideologies will remain prohibited in Germany and is punishable under the penal code".
After the party's poor showing in the 1928 elections, Hitler believed that the reason for his loss was the public's misunderstanding of his ideas. He then retired to Munich to dictate a sequel to Mein Kampf to expand on its ideas, with more focus on foreign policy.
Only two copies of the 200-page manuscript were originally made, and only one of these was ever made public. The document was neither edited nor published during the Nazi era and remains known as Zweites Buch, or "Second Book". To keep the document strictly secret, in 1935 Hitler ordered for it to be placed in a safe in an air raid shelter. It remained there until being discovered by an American officer in 1945.
The authenticity of the document found in 1945 has been verified by Josef Berg (former employee of the Nazi publishing house Eher Verlag) and Telford Taylor (former Brigadier General U.S.A.R. and Chief Counsel at the Nuremberg war-crimes trials).
In 1958, the Zweites Buch was found in the archives of the United States by Jewish American historian Gerhard Weinberg. Unable to find an American publisher, Weinberg turned to his mentor — Hans Rothfels at the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, and his associate Martin Broszat — who published Zweites Buch in 1961. A pirated edition was published in English in New York in 1962. The first authoritative English edition was not published until 2003 (Hitler's Second Book: The Unpublished Sequel to Mein Kampf, ISBN 1-929631-16-2).
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