Antisemitism in Mein Kampf
Antisemitism in Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf is a book of two volumes authored by Adolf Hitler. The first volume was written whilst dictated to Rudolph Hess and Emile Maurice in Landsberg prison where Hitler was sentenced to following the failure of an attempted coup d’etat of the Bavarian government in 1924. Mein Kampf is significant amongst historiography as it is thought to be an insight into the mind of Adolf Hitler. This book is not only autobiographical but full of memoires and political ideologies, which have subsequently sparked debate as to whether this piece of primary historical evidence can be regarded as the blue-print for Hitler’s future ambitions.
An intentionalist view by Historians’ such as Lucy Dawidowicz, argues that the Holocaust was the result of Hitler’s long term plan, whereas the functionalist perspective by Historians’ such as Christopher Browning is of the result of a competing agents within the Reich to answer the Jewish question. Chapter 11 of Mein Kampf: Nation and Race, shows to comprehend with the intentionalist interpretation that this did indeed set the foundation for Holocaust as a propaganda medium. Chapter 11 of Mein Kampf is a race rhetoric that advocates social-Darwinism in favour of the German Aryan race and even justifies war with the ‘racially lower’.
This chapter refers to natural selection within humanity as the will of nature and of God. The word ‘Nature’ is emphasised being mentioned 20 times within the passage purveying it as a natural process. The mixing of genes with ‘lesser’ races are referred to as a sin against God, in which context Jews are included. Language used in this passage has been described as using metaphors to enforce racial prejudice, although evident is how the use of language has not only been used for easily digestible comparisons, but also as graphic and horrifying, such as ‘blood poisoning’ when describing breeding with a ‘weaker race’.
Also described are the consequences of the integration of races and given examples of how this would be catastrophic for humanity. In regards to the book as a whole, anti-Semitism is consistent throughout Mein Kampf and is evident of Hitler’s hatred of the Jewish people, with quotes of ‘real’ Germans surviving in the war if a great number of Jews had been killed with poison gas. Mein Kampf was written at a time when Hitler was banned from public speaking. This indicates that the production of Mein Kamp as composed as a method in which Hitler could communicate with the public legitimately. Volume 2 of Mein Kamp is also said to be written in plain spoken language. This indicates it was written for all people to be able read, proving it as a propaganda tool. After Hitler’s Chancellorship in January 1933 Mein Kampf was eventually introduced into schools, placed on trains and presented to every bridal couple. The mass circulation of this book again proves only to show it as a propaganda medium.
Anti-Semitism was not unique to Mein Kampf and was a keen topic of Hitler’s in many political statements given in meetings. Hitler exclaims in September 1919 that the Jewish people are a race and not a religious community, and how this race are corrupt and disliked by a large section of ‘our people’ through emotion. A year later he states that a German citizen can only be one of German blood. As head of the Nazi party Hitler placed Joseph Goebbels as the head of Nazi propaganda, who wrote in the anti-Semitic newspaper ‘Der Angriff’ from 1926.
In here is written how Jews’ are destroying the German community and how they must be removed from the community or they will ever corrupt it. Hitler’s ‘last will and testament’ written hours before his suicide tells of a hatred for Jews and also blaming the Jews for the war. These sources prove that Mein Kampf was not just a unique rant of anti-Semitism, Hitler believed in this hatred of the Jews’ evident here as early as 1919, days after his first attendance at a DAP meeting.
This reinforces Mein Kampf as weapon of anti-Semitic propaganda at a time when Hitler could not address the public in person. Another element that points to this being a blue-print for the Holocaust was that Hitler wrote (or dictated) Mein Kampf with the intention of becoming a fascist style leader, but not only a leader, the chosen one and almost messiah-like. The failed Beer-Hall Putsch in Munich was directly influenced by the success of Benito Mussolini’s March on Rome which had immediately led to his appointment of Prime Minister of Italy; proving Hitler’s ambitions before he authored Mein Kampf.
This shows Hitler always had the ambition of become a fascist style leader in Germany who would have had the power, with support from the nation, via propaganda, to eliminate the Jews from Germany. Although the ‘chosen one’ notion comes into play when in Mein Kampf it states that “Fate will someday gift the nation with a man endowed with the purpose of leading the nation out of a great depression and elimination of a bitter distress”.
The elimination of a itter distress can only be regarded to ‘the Jewish problem’ as anti-Semitism is a recurring theme in the book, but Fate sending this man who is made for the job sounds messiah-like, which with Hitler’s proven ambition to become this leader would mean that if this propaganda was effective, he would become the ‘chosen leader’ and his book of propaganda regarding anti-Semitism and social-Darwinism would almost become a gospel. Joseph Goebbels exclaimed in 1941 that one of his notable achievements in propaganda was giving the nation complete confidence in Hitler by giving him a metaphoric halo of infallibility.
An edition of Der Angriff from 1935 entitled Der Fuhrer’ by Joseph Goebbels states of how the Fuhrer is divine as “all of his actions stand under the power of a higher power” and Fate has provided the German people with Adolf Hitler. Again here it is evident of Adolf Hitler being propagandised as divine, and a divine leader would command the subordination of his subjects who would in return strive to please him. Mein Kamp is an intentional method of propaganda to be used at a time when Adolph Hitler was unable to communicate verbally with a gathering of people.
Mein Kampf advocated Anti-Semitism, and Chapter 11: Nation and Race with a dramatic use of language strongly advocates social-Darwinism and justifies a war with the ‘lower races’ of peoples. Hitler always had, before and after Mein Kamp, an ambition to become a fascist style leader in which he had total control, which was propagandised during the construction of Mein Kampf as being appointed by higher powers and made out as messiah-like. This reinforces the intentionalist view of the Holocaust to be a result of Hitler’s long term plan.
Historian’s in future research may want to consider the ‘divine leader’ messages propagandised by Hitler, in regards to the intentionalist/functionalist argument. This analysis of Chapter 11 of Mein Kampf has evaluated the context of the chapter within the book, the message within as well as examined the language used. The significance of the document as well as the purpose of it has been considered, as well as having reinforced a current historiographical debate.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 20 September 2016
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