West Civilizations II
April 15th, 2015
Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler - Response Essay
Adolf Hitler was born 1889 in Austria, and was a German politician. He was the leader of the Nazi Party; National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). He was chancellor of Germany from 1933 - 1945 and in that time period, was also leader of ‘Nazi Germany’. He was an efficient and effective dictator, and was at the centre of WWII, and of course, the Holocaust. Previous to his later attributes in life however, he was a decorated WWI veteran and a member of the German Worker’s Party in 1919. This can be seen as a precursor to him taking a leadership role in NSDAP in 1921. In 1923, he attempted a failed coup to seize power, which resulted in Adolf Hitler's imprisonment, during which time he wrote Mein Kampf, which roughly translates to “My Struggle”.
Mein Kampf was an autobiographical piece, where hitler outlined political ideology he favored and his ideal future plans for Germany. Hitler began the book while imprisoned for political crimes (failed coup) in 1923. Initially Hitler received a plethora of visitors, but eventually became immersed in his writing. His writings emphasized an ideological program for a ‘German revolution’. He thought this was possible by removing jewish culture, and supporting aryan ideals/ superiority.
Hitler's revolutionary goals however, were limited to the expulsion of the Jewish population from Germany and the unification of German-speaking individuals into one cemented jingoist group. Hitler believed he could restore German to the greatest historical glory it once had before. Because of its extensive racist content and historical effect of ‘nazism’ on Germany during WWII, it is considered a controversial piece of writing. Criticisms came from several sources, one of which being Italian dictator and nazi ally Benito Mussolini; claiming the book to be boring and unreadable. The content of Mein Kampf can be interpreted as a political argument with other members of the same party he was a member of, who denounced his prior beliefs and ideologies. One trope used in excess by Hitler in his writings was the ‘common enemy’. Without a common enemy to rally together to defeat, any state is susceptible to economic and social problems such as unemployment and poverty. The common enemy is an evil that people (in this case german citizens) can unite against, and can distract said individuals from political issues. This is done by masking all problems under one category, or one main antagonist. Hitler acknowledges the human need to identify with/ belong to a group and used this observation to promote cohesion, separation of differing groups in terms of ‘we’ and ‘them’. This creates an expression of beliefs that can cause the stigmatization of the latter group and allows for the earlier mentioned group into viewing the latter as lesser. The ‘enemy’ can be local politicians or other voices that might criticize the majority’s actions, but they can also be essentially harmless subsets with no negative views or belief systems about the said majority group. However, regardless how legitimate the ‘threat’, it calls upon the need for the masses to join together in unison; if the nation goes to war, the fascism aspects of their culture require everybody in accepted society to be actively involved in the war effort.
--What is Hitler’s goal for Germany?
--What are some of the obstacles standing in the way of Germany? --Explain some of Hitler’s methods—how do they reflect the increase of “irrational” responses in Western Civilization?