BOOK (1925)

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 March, 2011, 12:00am

Mein Kampf
by Adolf Hitler
Eher Verlag

Mein Kampf would have to be best-known title when it comes to writings by political dictators, although there are a couple of other contenders, of course. Mao Zedong's Little Red Book of 1966, though, was written as a dictatorial communist code of conduct for his subjects. Adolf Hitler's fellow fascist despot in Italy, Benito Mussolini, got the most out of his role of dictator: he couldn't be bothered to get ink on his hands, so he dictated his autobiography La Mia Vita (My Life) to his brother, Arnaldo.

Mein Kampf (My Struggle) is part formative autobiography and part personal philosophy and theology. In its two volumes - the second appeared in 1926 - Hitler outlines what he saw as the challenges to his National Socialist German Workers Party (the Nazi party): not only the Jews and gypsies that would later perish in the Holocaust, but also any individuals who either did not fall into, or disputed, his so-called Aryan race.

This confrontational tome played its part - along with Hitler's angry yet persuasive oratorical skills - in propelling the small-party politician to infamous Nazi dictator. Besides a hunger for revenge against France for allying with Britain to defeat Germany in the first world war, his theories mostly concerned creating an invincible master race.

During the rise of the Nazi party in the late 1920s, this radical right-wing book became required reading for the entire country. Along with the accompanying ever-present rhetoric of the Third Reich, it accounts largely for the subservience of 1930s Germany to the slaughtering of people of all ages in the Holocaust.

In his opening chapter, just a few sentences after describing the location of his Austrian border birthplace, he issues a rallying cry for people of the two nations and all their indigenous inhabitants to take on the world and start an imperial expansion plan:

'Only when the Reich borders include the very last German, but can no longer guarantee his daily bread, will the moral right to acquire foreign soil arise from the distress of our own people. Their sword will become our plough, and from the tears of war the daily bread of future generations will grow.'

His hatred for Jews and his intention for those in Germany and beyond are spelled out throughout this text. In his concluding pages, Hitler aspires in the book to live in his dream of utopia: '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.'

At nearly 700 pages, punctuated with dry venom, Mein Kampf is no easy read. Having wrestled with its national conscience over the official extermination of so many civilians in the 1930s and 40s, Germany banned versions of this book printed after 1945.