is the autobiography and political treatise of German dictator Adolf Hitler. The title of the book translates to “My Struggle” in German. Published in 1925, the book contains two volumes and was mostly written during Hitler’s imprisonment following his failed Munich Putsch coup attempt in 1923. The book contains details about the Nazi leader’s early life and outlines his political ideology and plans for Germany’s future. The book was very popular during the Third Reich, the period during which Hitler ruled Germany. After his death in 1945, however, the state of Bavaria banned the book and it was not published in Germany again until 2016. The book remains deeply controversial today due to its anti-Semitic content.
The first volume of the book begins with a few chapters describing Hitler’s early life and education. The dictator was born to an Austrian customs official and his wife in the small city Braunau on the Inn. Because of his father’s job, the family moved several times before settling in Linz. At school, the young Hitler was a good student but pugnacious and often fought with the other children. He claims to have been a gifted orator even in his youth, but his father did not recognize or encourage his talent.
When the time comes for Hitler to enter high school, his father decides to send him to Realschule, a school that focuses on vocational training, due partly to his talent for drawing. Although Hitler’s father intends for him to become a civil servant like himself, Hitler rejects this idea and tells his father he wants to become an artist. After both of his parents fall ill and die, Hitler leaves school and goes to Vienna to find a way to support himself.
Hitler applies to an art academy in Vienna to study painting, but is rejected. He is told that his talent in drawing is more suitable for architecture, which he does not have the academic qualifications to study. Having given up hope on becoming an artist, Hitler works as a casual laborer and painter to support himself, reading books and going to the opera in his spare time.
It is during his time in Vienna that he becomes interested in politics and adopts the beliefs that would become the foundation of his ideology. While at first reluctant to embrace the anti-Semitic attitudes of many of the city’s residents, Hitler changes his views after reading political newspapers and becoming acquainted with Karl Lueger, an Austrian populist and anti-Semite who helped transform the city. After living in Vienna for a few years, Hitler moves to Munich and becomes involved with the National Socialist party, which would later become the Nazi party.
After sharing these autobiographical details, Hitler spends the rest of the first volume clarifying the tenets of his race-based ideology. According to Hitler, there is a clear racial hierarchy in which some races are superior to others. At the top of this hierarchy is the Aryan, a person of Germanic origin with blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair skin. The Aryan is both physically and intellectually superior to all other races, and is the source of all important art, culture, and technology. Inferior races in the hierarchy include the east European Slavic peoples, including Czechs, Russians, and Poles, and Jews.
Hitler expresses a very negative view of Jews in particular and describes them as calculating, cold-hearted, opportunistic liars and a threat to nationalism and German identity. He also theorizes that the Jewish people are secretly trying to conquer the world by spreading undesirable forms of government like social democracy and Marxism, political schools of thought that promote equality and deprive Aryans of their innate superiority. He explains that the “Jewish problem” must be dealt with by creating a racially pure German state ruled by Aryans.
In the second volume of the book, Hitler lays out the plans to achieve this pure German state and to expand its power. He criticizes the current practice of German naturalization, in which German citizenship is awarded to immigrants of diverse races based on residency in Germany rather than ethnicity. Hitler argues that citizenship should only be conferred upon German Aryans, and that German-born residents of other ethnicities may only be at most subjects, not citizens, of Germany. Hitler posits that German schools should help maintain the pure German state by teaching Aryan children the importance of blood purity and to not intermarry or mingle with inferior races. The “folkish” German state that he envisions is based on a community that shares the German values of hard work and patriotism.
Hitler also proposes plans for expanding the Aryan state beyond Germany’s borders. He promotes a militaristic foreign policy to conquer the territory to the east of Germany, namely Poland and Russia, and annex it to the German state to create more Lebensraum, or living space, for the German population to live and cultivate food. The Slavic inhabitants of those lands are to be killed, driven out, or enslaved to make room for Hitler’s pan-European German state. Hitler criticizes the Weimar Republic’s willingness to accept German disarmament and to concede to the demands of Germany’s enemies under the Versailles Treaty, and says that the new German state must strengthen its army and take a more aggressive approach in its dealings with foreign nations.
Hitler ends the book by thanking the German soldiers who died fighting for their country in the first World War and expressing confidence in the National Socialist party to become the political vehicle for his ideas on racial purity. He claims that this party will continue to endure despite its enemies’ efforts because of the righteousness of its ideas, and that Germany’s position in the world will be strengthened if the party and its ideas come to rule.Mein Kampf
offers a glimpse into the mind of one of the world’s most notorious dictators and how he formed the ideas that would later become the basis of Nazi Germany. The major recurring themes of the book include racism, anti-Semitism, militarism, and German nationalism. These were the core philosophies that underpinned Hitler’s fascist state and led to the genocide of millions of Jews.