The Ideas of Mein Kampf
The books contents can basically be divided into three different types. Firstly there are Hitler’s views on history, race and the place of Germany in the world. Secondly there are his views on the ways in which political power can be achieved, theories on political organisation, propaganda and mass organisation. And lastly there are his ideas on what Germany foreign policy should look like and what the underlying principles be.
The last has attracted ‘the most attention’. It is because many think that Mein Kampf shows that Hitler was going to be aggressive if he were in power, and when he was in power, it was strange that others in the world didn’t take his word from the book seriously. Some were against Hitler early on, but many didn’t really care and probably didn’t believe that he would be a problem, which was as we know, wrong. In fact there are only two real connections between his words and his actions that followed. They were ‘the drive for living-space [I guess invading other countries so Germany could grow] and the attempt to reach an understanding with Britain and Italy [which confuses me, because I didn’t think he tried to ‘understand’ Britain, but I am most likely misinformed].
But his methods changed very radically. In the book he suggests that making Germany ‘worth of being an ally’ would be done through ‘building up her strength’ with the aim to make alliances with the enemies of France. What exactly was their problem with France? Did they do something wrong, or was it because of their way of life, or was there really no reason? By 1934 he had changed technique and no longer was making any formal commitment with other countries but ‘came to an understanding’. He did that in a number of ways depending on the country. With Britain he gave support from Germany for ‘the international disarmament negotiations’. With Poland and the Soviet Union he made ‘non-aggressive pacts’. With Japan, Italy, Britain and France (all at different times) he made ‘vague statements’ of ‘agreed principles’ on various things like the Anti-Comintern pact (with Japan on communism), the Anglo-German Declaration and the Franco-German Declaration (both of which you may like to look up and investigate, this book certainly is opening my eyes up to history). He had made two alliances before 1941, one with Italy (the Pact of Steel) and another with Italy and Japan (the Tripartite Alliance) but both of which he did not honour the terms. These techniques were not at all included in his book.
The book mentions alliances with Poland, and possibly Czechoslovakia, but only in passing. But the main idea was to defeat France. Because the French ‘occupied the Ruhr, encouraged separatism in the Rhineland and employed Negro troops to occupy German territory (it looks like Hitler really did have a problem with people being different!). Germany’s decision to attack the Soviet Union was a stupid one, and cost them the war, it was not a good idea, and did not work at all.
Hitler also wanted to keep the German people within Germany, despite its population growing by nine hundred thousand a year (which is quite huge!). He wanted to do this in four ways: through birth control (which he thought led to a decrease in the quality of the race, and would be beaten by a stronger race), by ‘internal colonisation’ (making agriculture more productive, which led to Germany being outstripped by ‘culturally inferior but more brutal and more natural peoples), by acquiring new territory (which the new Germans would live in) and by expanding industry and commerce. It is actually a bit confusing in my view, but it is Hitler we are talking about, and his ideas are a little odd. But his ambition for more German land, was one that was plainly obvious in his attempts to expand east into Russia (he thought that this would be done with an alliance with Britain, because the two did not get along).
There are apparently four main principles (I can’t be sure what these principles are for exactly it is again a little confusing but bear with it). Firstly, ‘history is the record of the rise, conflict and fall of racial groupings, which Hitler thought there were three main groups of ‘races’. One was ‘the founders of culture (Ayrans), the bearers of culture and the destroyers of culture (Jews)’. I believe that in his opinion nature forbided cross-breeding in animals and intermarriage between races, and anyone who broke it disappeared. ‘Higher’ races had to stay pure (This is exactly why people think that the Deatheaters=Nazis in Harry Potter) and had to protect and maintain their dominance.
Hitler believed that Germans were not as pure as he liked but ‘among them pockets of pure Aryan stock could be found’. I don’t even understand where this whole obsession and idea of Aryan people came from, did they actually exist? Or is it just his idea? But he believed that ‘racial purity and dominance’ were the most important things for a nation to do (which is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard). The Nazi party provided an organisation of people who believed the same thing, and were here to defend it. The enemy was ‘French-Marxist-Jews’ who in Hitler’s views, were one in the same.
To Hitler it was an individual that created culture and an individual was need to prevent ‘Jews and Negros from “winning”‘. It isn’t an individual that changes the world, it takes many people to change something, and sometimes there isn’t even a leader, one person changing something doesn’t change the world no matter how influential that person is. This is why he hated democracy because the individual wasn’t in charge and the public decided the government (though of course it doesn’t quite work the way it should, there are still plenty of people in who the public hate).
Hitler probably picked up his anti-Semitic ideas from Vienna. But his idea of Aryanism doesn’t come from the same place. Apparently the creators of this are ‘Nietzsche, Taine, Gobineau and Houston Stewart Chamberlain (who is mentioned in the book).’ It is also thought that a renegade Cistercian monk (Lanz von Liebenfels) who used the Swastika as his sign, was the origin of his ideas. Hitler most definitely met the man, and it is from his pamphlets where he most likely acquired his ideas of ‘the Jewish question’. There are many similarities, but it was common to preach ‘a secular neo-Teutonic Aryanism’ and probably came from Hitler’s favourite Richard Wagner. Hitler even hated cities and was anti-urban which echoes Liebenfel’s won words that ‘cities murders Ayrans, both body and soul’. But there were major differences, one being the fact that Liebenfel liked the Habsburg empire and talked about it as a whole (instead of just Germany and we know Hitler’s ideas on Habsburg). Eventually Liebenfels was forbidden to publish anything by Nazi Germany.
I am quite confused because Hitler advocated birth control, but he regarded it as ‘robbing the German people of its future’, when I thought he was all for Germany and wanted them to flourish, maybe Germany wasn’t worthy, or he wanted the true Ayrans to overtake them, but it is confusing (and well that is because it is an absurd idea anyway). But Liebenfels also wanted to exterminate Jews and his methods were spelt out ‘in revolting detail’. But Hitler’s ideas really came from his own thoughts, and he taught himself and didn’t rely on others. His ideas were influenced by others, but he had his own ideas that were very different from others.
It could be said that his ideas all came after Germany collapse after the armistice, and many ideas probably did stem from the move towards democracy, and the many problems of society, and his anti-Semitism. To him what happened after the first World War was exactly what he prophesied and was the same problems that he set out in his propaganda and came true because of the ‘Jewish world conspiracy’. So many of his ideas did come in ‘Germany’s darkest hour’ and his hatred of parliamentariansim grew.
Professor Watt mentions the fact that many of techniques appear quite ‘modern’ and that it is a strange idea to think what Hitler would do if television was around in his time, but it is unlikely that it would suit him because of its lack of intimacy. Hitler believed that in essence that Jews were evil and that Ayrans didn’t know about their understanding of how evil Jews were and how intermarriage would ruin them, but he set out to educate them and dispiline them, etc. He would also eliminate non-Germans and other enemies, and once Germany was strong, then ‘she’ would take her old position and ‘defeat Versailles’ and overtake more of Europe. And Professor Watt likens Hitler’s principles with that of the insane.
Hitler understood political power, he understood how to destroy his enemy, but he didn’t understand that power had its limits. And to him it might have been that it wasn’t power that had limits but it was the limitations of others that stopped power. But in his final days and as a thousand year Reich (which I don’t understand because I didn’t think it was a thousand years old, anyone know any more?) ‘he cannot but have been tortured by the realisation that neither he nor his German people had survived the test of the historical process as he saw he’. And ‘by his principles set out in his book, he stood condemned.’ Not quite sure about that last part, but once I read his book I may understand more.
Wow this is a long post, 1600+ words, at least we are getting closer to the actual book!