Mein Kampf

Posted on December 1, 2010 by

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In Fort McMurray, whilst investigating the oil sands, I found Hitler’s infamous book Mein Kampf. It made for an interesting read, providing insights into Hitler’s mindset. After having read the book I find I am able to identify some common, all-too-human traits of dictators like Hitler, Castro, Pol Pot, Chávez and others.

The Book

The book was fairly lengthy with a lot of repetition in order to explain and reinforce his opinions on how the world works. Emotions are banished from the book, which he seems to regard as a waste of thinking time.

Hitler’s Personality

Mr. Hitler was a proud person. Mildly said, he was very convinced of his opinions. One of my strongest opinions is that the key element in making the world a happier place is that people exchange perspectives. Hitler takes pride in not doing so, which can only be counterproductive in terms of creating mutual understanding. Instead he believes that a single person can know the solutions to all problems. The following quotes exemplify how he deems himself to be this “Chosen One”:

It must itself be an embodiment of the endeavour to place thinking individuals above the masses, thus subordinating the latter to the former.

and

From the army of often millions of men, who as individuals more or less clearly and definitely sense these truths, and in part perhaps comprehend them, one man must step forward who with apodictic force will form granite principles from the wavering idea-world of the broad masses and take up the struggle for their sole correctness, until from the shifting waves of a free thought-world there will arise a brazen cliff of solid unity in faith and will.

Hitler’s Philosophy

To Hitler, humans were like machines. I hypothesize that his upbringing, early life and war experiences were so deprived of emotions that he himself functioned as a machine and preferred to see everything else functioning similarly. He sought to bring this about by creating a movement that was solely based on his personal philosophy. He writes:

The greatness of a movement is exclusively guaranteed by the unrestricted development of its inner strength and its steady growth up to the final victory over all competitors.

He does not accept anything but his own version of the truth – the ultimate in narrow-mindedness. No surprise then that he complains about the “intelligentsia” consisting of overeducated people, who dare to question his ideas with critical arguments. One of these ‘truths’ he believed in was that the Aryan race is the “ultimate achievement of nature” and hence it is a “sin to support other races”. As far as I know Hitler only went beyond the borders of German speaking nations during wartime, and then not further than the front. Obviously this did not help to promote broad horizons or a comprehension of otherness.

Vision for the German Reich

Hitler knew he could not “bring about a perfect era” but he intended to steer the Reich (variously translatable as “realm” or “empire”) as close to it as possible. At the time of his accession to power, what would become the Reich (and had been the Weimar Republic) was in bad shape. It had just recovered from a four year war and experienced a variety of disastrous economic collapses, prompting widespread desperation within the country. Everyone desired a better future, though the visions for such a future were diverse. In Hitler’s vision, he desired that individuals turn their lives over to the nation. He valued the nation far above the individual, believing that without the German Reich the Aryan race would perish and with it all its individuals. Hence, he undertook to turn people into instruments of the state from the youngest age onwards by creating organizations such as the Hitler Youth to drill the young into becoming the ideal servants for his cause. He promoted the following vision of “democracy”:

The movement advocates the principle of Germanic democracy: the leader is elected, but then enjoys unconditional authority.

I am somewhat sceptical. I suppose there would only be an initial round and one candidate: the man himself, Hitler. Or have you heard of any dictator that voluntarily stepped down (I remember one in, I think, Ghana, but that’s all)?

His foreign policy was not much more humane than his idea of domestic democracy. He believed that

…the interest of lost territories must be ruthlessly subordinated to the interest of regaining freedom of the main territory.

And of other countries? Well, for one…

The inexorable mortal enemy of the German people is and remains France.

To be fair, he spent four years fighting the French in a trench to trench battle. It is perhaps no wonder that he has a particular dislike for the nation.

Vision for the Aryan Race

His extremely simplistic worldview of blaming all evil on a single culprit must have been the reason why Hitler was so obsessed with the idea that there are inferior and superior races. Conveniently he could denounce the Jew for everything that went wrong in and around Germany. It mirrors Stalin blaming the capitalist West, Chávez the USA and the Bush administration terrorism. Hitler claimed to be there to…

make certain that in our country, at least, the mortal enemy is recognized and that the fight against him becomes a gleaming symbol of brighter days.

It was the only way to prevent…

the black-haired Jewish youth.

from waiting

… for the unsuspecting girl whom he defiles with his blood, thus steeling her from her people.

… for in a bastardized and niggerized world all the concepts of the humanly beautiful and sublime, as well as all ideas of an idealized future of our humanity, would be lost forever.

He desired a state that would brutally suppress racial poisoning, so that the nation could dedicate

…itself to the care of its best racial elements …[allowing it to someday]… become lord of the Earth.

Although eugenics and race theory were widespread at the time, Mr. Hitler reintroduced them with great exuberance. It seems that all his plans for the German nation and its people were based on racial reasoning. This appears deeply sad to a young man such as myself who has seen 40 countries and many beautiful and varied peoples.

My Conclusions

In general I value highly idealistic and visionary people, as they confront others with alternative visions of reality. More often than not you can learn something by trying to understand their ideas. What I cannot come to terms with is when such characters attempt to force their ideas on others. Sadly, listening does not seem to be a skill of every visionary, and many have some trouble looking beyond their strongly held beliefs. Hitler definitely belonged to that category of forceful individuals which enjoy to talk, but who find it difficult when it comes to listening to and understanding others. I must also say, sadly, to have developed rather a prejudice against people who have returned from wars. I cannot imagine that they make good leaders, often having got used to the rigid structures of the army which leave no space for participatory decision-making.

It is easy to regard Hitler as a psychopath, but personally I think he represented a certain type of character that was born and has lived in a specific set of circumstances. His conclusions from these experiences went down very well among the general public amidst the turmoil at the time. This enabled Hitler and his ideas to flourish. To a large extent I believe he was nothing more than the product of his environment, as, ultimately, are we all.

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Posted in: History, Politics