Hitler originally wanted to call his forthcoming book Viereinhalb Jahre (des Kampfes) gegen Lüge, Dummheit und Feigheit, or Four and a Half Years (of Struggle) Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice. Max Amann, head of the Franz Eher Verlag and Hitler's publisher, is said to have suggested the much shorter "Mein Kampf" or "My Struggle".
The arrangement of chapters is as follows:Volume One: A Reckoning
Chapter 1: In the House of my Parents
Chapter 2: Years of Study and Suffering in Vienna
Chapter 3: General Political Considerations Based on my Vienna Period
Chapter 4: Munich
Chapter 5: The World War
Chapter 6: War Propaganda
Chapter 7: The Revolution
Chapter 8: The Beginning of my Political Activity
Chapter 9: The "German Workers' Party"
Chapter 10: Causes of the Collapse
Chapter 11: Nation and Race
Chapter 12: The First Period of Development of the National Socialist German Workers' Party
Volume Two: The National Socialist Movement
Chapter 1: Philosophy and Party
Chapter 2: The State
Chapter 3: Subjects and Citizens
Chapter 4: Personality and the Conception of the Völkisch State
Chapter 5: Philosophy and Organization
Chapter 6: The Struggle of the Early Period – the Significance of the Spoken Word
Chapter 7: The Struggle with the Red Front
Chapter 8: The Strong Man Is Mightiest Alone
Chapter 9: Basic Ideas Regarding the Meaning and Organization of the Sturmabteilung
Chapter 10: Federalism as a Mask
Chapter 11: Propaganda and Organization
Chapter 12: The Trade-Union Question
Chapter 13: German Alliance Policy After the War
Chapter 14: Eastern Orientation or Eastern Policy
Chapter 15: The Right of Emergency Defense
In Mein Kampf, Hitler used the main thesis of "the Jewish peril", which posits a Jewish conspiracy to gain world leadership. The narrative describes the process by which he became increasingly antisemitic and militaristic, especially during his years in Vienna. He speaks of not having met a Jew until he arrived in Vienna, and that at first his attitude was liberal and tolerant. When he first encountered the anti-semitic press, he says, he dismissed it as unworthy of serious consideration. Later he accepted the same anti-semitic views, which became crucial in his program of national reconstruction of Germany.
Mein Kampf has also been studied as a work on political theory. For example, Hitler announces his hatred of what he believed to be the world's two evils: Communism and Judaism.
During his work, Hitler blamed Germany's chief woes on the parliament of the Weimar Republic, the Jews, and Social Democrats, as well as Marxists, though he believed that Marxists, Social Democrats, and the parliament were all working for Jewish interests. He announced that he wanted to completely destroy the parliamentary system, believing it to be corrupt in principle, as those who reach power are inherent opportunists.
While historians dispute the exact date Hitler decided to force the Jewish people to emigrate to Madagascar, few place the decision before the mid-1930s. First published in 1925, Mein Kampf shows Hitler's personal grievances and his ambitions for creating a New Order.
Historian Ian Kershaw points out that several passages in Mein Kampf are undeniably of a genocidal nature. Hitler wrote "the nationalization of our masses will succeed only when, aside from all the positive struggle for the soul of our people, their international poisoners are exterminated", and he suggested that, "If at the beginning of the war and during the war twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew corrupters of the nation had been subjected to poison gas, such as had to be endured in the field by hundreds of thousands of our very best German workers of all classes and professions, then the sacrifice of millions at the front would not have been in vain."
The racial laws to which Hitler referred resonate directly with his ideas in Mein Kampf. In his first edition of Mein Kampf, Hitler stated that the destruction of the weak and sick is far more humane than their protection. Apart from this allusion to humane treatment, Hitler saw a purpose in destroying "the weak" in order to provide the proper space and purity for the "strong".
In the chapter "Eastern Orientation or Eastern Policy", Hitler argued that the Germans needed Lebensraum in the East, a "historic destiny" that would properly nurture the German people. Hitler believed that "the organization of a Russian state formation was not the result of the political abilities of the Slavs in Russia, but only a wonderful example of the state-forming efficacity of the German element in an inferior race."
In Mein Kampf Hitler openly stated the future German expansion in the East:
And so we National Socialists consciously draw a line beneath the foreign policy tendency of our pre-War period. We take up where we broke off six hundred years ago. We stop the endless German movement to the south and west, and turn our gaze toward the land in the east. At long last we break off the colonial and commercial policy of the pre-War period and shift to the soil policy of the future.
If we speak of soil in Europe today, we can primarily have in mind only Russia and her vassal border states.
Although Hitler originally wrote this book mostly for the followers of National Socialism, it grew in popularity. Hitler had made about 1.2 million Reichsmarks from the income of his book by 1933, when the average annual income of a teacher was about 4,800 Marks. He accumulated a tax debt of 405,500 Reichsmark (very roughly in 2015 1.1 million GBP, 1.4 million EUR, 1.5 million USD) from the sale of about 240,000 copies before he became chancellor in 1933 (at which time his debt was waived).
After Hitler rose to power, the book gained greater popularity. (Two other books written by party members, Gottfried Feder's Breaking The Interest Slavery and Alfred Rosenberg's The Myth of the Twentieth Century, have since lapsed into comparative literary obscurity, and no translation of Feder's book from the original German is known.) The book was in high demand in libraries and often reviewed and quoted in other publications. During Hitler's years in power, the book was given free to every newlywed couple and every soldier fighting at the front. By 1939 the book had sold 5.2 million copies in eleven languages. By the end of the war, about 10 million copies of the book had been sold or distributed in Germany.
After becoming chancellor of Germany in 1933, Hitler began to distance himself from the book and dismissed it as "fantasies behind bars" that were little more than a series of articles for the Völkischer Beobachter and later told Hans Frank that "If I had had any idea in 1924 that I would have become Reich chancellor, I never would have written the book."
There are currently six e-book versions of Mein Kampf available for sale. In 2014, two of these versions reached the 12th and 15th spots on the iTunes Politics and Current Events section. The same year a digital version of the book reached number one on the Amazon Propaganda and Political Psychology chart.
Mein Kampf, in essence, lays out the ideological program Hitler established for the German revolution, by identifying the Jews and "Bolsheviks" as racially and ideologically inferior and threatening, and "Aryans" and National Socialists as racially superior and politically progressive. Hitler's revolutionary goals included expulsion of the Jews from Greater Germany and the unification of German peoples into one Greater Germany. Hitler desired to restore German lands to their greatest historical extent, real or imagined.
Due to its racist content and the historical effect of Nazism upon Europe during World War II and the Holocaust, it is considered a highly controversial book. Criticism has not come solely from opponents of Nazism. Italian Fascist dictator and Nazi ally Benito Mussolini was also critical of the book, saying that it was "a boring tome that I have never been able to read" and remarked that Hitler's beliefs, as expressed in the book, were "little more than commonplace clichés".
The German journalist Konrad Heiden, an early critic of the Nazi Party, observed that the content of Mein Kampf is essentially a political argument with other members of the Nazi Party who had appeared to be Hitler's friends, but whom he was actually denouncing in the book's content – sometimes by not even including references to them.
The American literary theorist and philosopher Kenneth Burke wrote a 1939 rhetorical analysis of the work, The Rhetoric of Hitler's "Battle", which revealed its underlying message of aggressive intent.
In March 1940, British writer George Orwell reviewed a then-recently published uncensored translation of Mein Kampf for the New English Weekly. Orwell suggested that the force of Hitler's personality shone through the often "clumsy" writing, capturing the magnetic allure of Hitler for many Germans. In essence, Orwell notes, Hitler offers only visions of endless struggle and conflict in the creation of "a horrible brainless empire" that "stretch[es] to Afghanistan or thereabouts". He wrote, "Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people 'I offer you a good time,' Hitler has said to them, 'I offer you struggle, danger, and death,' and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet." Orwell's review was written in the aftermath of the 1939 Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, when Hitler made peace with Russia after more than a decade of vitriolic rhetoric and threats between the two nations; with the pact in place, Orwell believed, England was now facing a risk of Nazi attack and the UK must not underestimate the appeal of Hitler's ideas.
In his 1943 book The Menace of the Herd, Austrian scholar Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn described Hitler's ideas in Mein Kampf and elsewhere as "a veritable reductio ad absurdum of 'progressive' thought" and betraying "a curious lack of original thought" that shows Hitler offered no innovative or original ideas but was merely "a virtuoso of commonplaces which he may or may not repeat in the guise of a 'new discovery.'" Hitler's stated aim, Kuehnelt-Leddihn writes, is to quash individualism in furtherance of political goals:
When Hitler and Mussolini attack the "western democracies" they insinuate that their "democracy" is not genuine. National Socialism envisages abolishing the difference in wealth, education, intellect, taste, philosophy, and habits by a leveling process which necessitates in turn a total control over the child and the adolescent. Every personal attitude will be branded—after communist pattern—as "bourgeois," and this in spite of the fact that the bourgeois is the representative of the most herdist class in the world, and that National Socialism is a basically bourgeois movement.
Hitler in Mein Kampf repeatedly speaks of the "masses" and the "herd" referring to the people. The German people should probably, in his view, remain a mass of identical "individuals" in an enormous sand heap or ant heap, identical even to the color of their shirts, the garment nearest to the body.
In his The Second World War, published in several volumes in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Winston Churchill wrote that he felt that after Hitler's ascension to power, no other book than Mein Kampf deserved more intensive scrutiny.
While Hitler was in power (1933–1945), Mein Kampf came to be available in three common editions. The first, the Volksausgabe or People's Edition, featured the original cover on the dust jacket and was navy blue underneath with a gold swastika eagle embossed on the cover. The Hochzeitsausgabe, or Wedding Edition, in a slipcase with the seal of the province embossed in gold onto a parchment-like cover was given free to marrying couples. In 1940, the Tornister-Ausgabe, or Knapsack Edition, was released. This edition was a compact, but unabridged, version in a red cover and was released by the post office, available to be sent to loved ones fighting at the front. These three editions combined both volumes into the same book.
A special edition was published in 1939 in honour of Hitler's 50th birthday. This edition was known as the Jubiläumsausgabe, or Anniversary Issue. It came in both dark blue and bright red boards with a gold sword on the cover. This work contained both volumes one and two. It was considered a deluxe version, relative to the smaller and more common Volksausgabe.
The book could also be purchased as a two-volume set during Hitler's rule, and was available in soft cover and hardcover. The soft cover edition contained the original cover (as pictured at the top of this article). The hardcover edition had a leather spine with cloth-covered boards. The cover and spine contained an image of three brown oak leaves.
The first English translation was an abridgement by Edgar Dugdale who started work on it in 1931, at the prompting of his wife, Blanche. When he learned that the London publishing firm of Hurst & Blackett had secured the rights to publish an abridgement in the United Kingdom, he offered it for free in April 1933. However, a local Nazi Party representative insisted that the translation be further abridged before publication, so it was held back until 13 October 1933, although excerpts were allowed to run in The Times in late July. It was published by Hurst & Blackett as part of "The Paternoster Library".
In America, Houghton Mifflin secured the rights to the Dugdale abridgement on 29 July 1933. The only differences between the American and British versions are that the title was translated My Struggle in the UK and My Battle in America; and that Dugdale is credited as translator in the US edition, while the British version withheld his name. Both Dugdale and his wife were active in the Zionist movement; Blanche was the niece of Lord Balfour, and they wished to avoid publicity.
Houghton and Mifflin licensed Reynal & Hitchcock the rights to publish a full unexpurgated translation in 1938. The book was translated from the two volumes of the first German edition (1925 and 1927), with notations appended noting any changes made in later editions, which were deemed "not as extensive as popularly supposed." The translation, made by a committee from the New School for Social Research headed by Alvin Johnson, was said to have been made with a view to readability rather than in an effort to rigidly reproduce Hitler's sometimes idiosyncratic German form.
The text was heavily annotated for an American audience with biographical and historical details derived largely from German sources. As the translators deemed the book "a propagandistic essay of a violent partisan", which "often warps historical truth and sometimes ignores it completely," the tone of many of these annotations reflected a conscious attempt to provide "factual information that constitutes an extensive critique of the original." The book appeared for sale on 28 February 1939.
One of the earlier complete English translations of Mein Kampf was by James Murphy in 1939. It was the only English translation approved by Nazi Germany. The version published by Hutchison & Co. in association with Hurst & Blackett, Ltd (London) in 1939 of the combined volumes I and II is profusely illustrated with many full page drawings and photographs. The opening line, "It has turned out fortunate for me to-day that destiny appointed Braunau-on-the-Inn to be my birthplace," is characteristic of Hitler's sense of destiny that began to develop in the early 1920s. Hurst & Blackett ceased publishing the Murphy translation in 1942 when the original plates were destroyed by German bombing, but it is still published and available in facsimile editions and also on the Internet.
The small Pennsylvania firm of Stackpole and Sons released its own unexpurgated translation by William Soskin on the same day as Houghton Mifflin, amid much legal wrangling. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Houghton Mifflin's favour that June and ordered Stackpole to stop selling their version, but litigation followed for a few more years until the case was finally resolved in September 1941.
Among other things, Stackpole argued that Hitler could not have legally transferred his right to a copyright in the United States to Eher Verlag in 1925, because he was not a citizen of any country. Houghton Mifflin v. Stackpole was a minor landmark in American copyright law, definitively establishing that stateless persons have the same copyright status in the United States that any other foreigner would. In the three months that Stackpole's version was available it sold 12,000 copies.
Houghton Mifflin's abridged English translation left out some of Hitler's more anti-Semitic and militaristic statements. This motivated Alan Cranston, an American reporter for United Press International in Germany (and later a U.S. Senator from California), to publish his own abridged and annotated translation. Cranston believed this version more accurately reflected the contents of the book and Hitler's intentions. In 1939, Cranston was sued by Hitler's publisher for copyright infringement, and a Connecticut judge ruled in Hitler's favour. By the time the publication of Cranston's version was stopped, 500,000 copies had already been sold. Today, the profits and proceeds are given to various charities.
Houghton Mifflin published a translation by Ralph Manheim in 1943. They did this to avoid having to share their profits with Reynal & Hitchcock, and to increase sales by offering a more readable translation. The Manheim translation was first published in the United Kingdom by Hurst & Blackett in 1969 amid some controversy.
In addition to the above translations and abridgments, the following collections of excerpts were available in English before the start of the war:
A previously unknown English translation was released in 2008, which was prepared by the official Nazi printing office, the Franz Eher Verlag. In 1939, the Nazi propaganda ministry hired James Murphy to create an English version of Mein Kampf, which they hoped to use to promote Nazi goals in English-speaking countries. While Murphy was in Germany, he became less enchanted with Nazi ideology and made some statements that the Propaganda Ministry disliked. As a result, they asked him to leave Germany immediately. He was not able to take any of his notes but later sent his wife back to obtain his partial translation. These notes were later used to create the Murphy translation.
The Nazi government did not abandon their English translation efforts. They used their own staff to create a new and official translation and it was published in very small numbers in Germany. At least one copy found its way to a British/American POW camp. It is the only official English translation produced by the Nazi government and printed on Nazi printing presses. This copy is known as the "Stalag" edition.
Sales of Dugdale abridgment in the United Kingdom.In 1938, 8,000 copies were sold in the United States.
Sales of the Houghton Mifflin Dugdale translation in the United States.
The first printing of the U.S. Dugdale edition, the October 1933 with 7,603 copies, of which 290 were given away as complimentary gifts.
The royalty on the first printing in the U.S. was 15% or $3,206.45 total. Curtis Brown, literary agent, took 20%, or $641.20 total, and the IRS took $384.75, leaving Eher Verlag $2,180.37 or RM 5668.
The January 1937 second printing was c. 4,000 copies.
There were three separate printings from August 1938 to March 1939, totaling 14,000; sales totals by 31 March 1939 were 10,345.
The Murphy and Houghton Mifflin translations were the only ones published by the authorised publishers while Hitler was still alive, and not at war with the U.K. and the U.S.
There was some resistance from Eher Verlag to Hurst and Blackett's Murphy translation, as they had not been granted the rights to a full translation. However, they allowed it de facto permission by not lodging a formal protest, and on 5 May 1939, even inquired about royalties. The British publishers responded on the 12th that the information they requested was "not yet available" and the point would be moot within a few months, on 3 September 1939, when all royalties were halted due to the state of war existing between Britain and Germany.
Royalties were likewise held up in the United States due to the litigation between Houghton Mifflin and Stackpole. Because the matter was only settled in September 1941, only a few months before a state of war existed between Germany and the U.S., all Eher Verlag ever got was a $2,500 advance from Reynal and Hitchcock. It got none from the unauthorised Stackpole edition or the 1943 Manheim edition.
At the time of his suicide, Hitler's official place of residence was in Munich, which led to his entire estate, including all rights to Mein Kampf, changing to the ownership of the state of Bavaria. The government of Bavaria, in agreement with the federal government of Germany, refused to allow any copying or printing of the book in Germany. It also opposed copying and printing in other countries, but with less success. As per German copyright law, the entire text entered the public domain on 1 January 2016, 70 years after the author's death.
Owning and buying the book in Germany is not an offence. Trading in old copies is lawful as well, unless it is done in such a fashion as to "promote hatred or war." In particular, the unmodified edition is not covered by §86 StGB that forbids dissemination of means of propaganda of unconstitutional organisations, since it is a "pre-constitutional work" and as such cannot be opposed to the free and democratic basic order, according to a 1979 decision of the Federal Court of Justice of Germany. Most German libraries carry heavily commented and excerpted versions of Mein Kampf. In 2008, Stephan Kramer, secretary-general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, not only recommended lifting the ban, but volunteered the help of his organization in editing and annotating the text, saying that it is time for the book to be made available to all online.
A variety of restrictions or special circumstances apply in other countries.
Mein Kampf has been a popular book in India since its first publication there in 1928. It has gone through hundreds of editions and sold over a hundred thousand copies.
In the Russian Federation, Mein Kampf has been published at least three times since 1992; the Russian text is also available on websites. In 2006 the Public Chamber of Russia proposed banning the book. In 2009 St. Petersburg's branch of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs requested to remove an annotated and hyper-linked Russian translation of the book from a historiography web site. On 13 April 2010, it was announced that Mein Kampf is outlawed on grounds of extremism promotion.
Mein Kampf has been reprinted several times since 1945; in 1970, 1992, 2002 and 2010. In 1992 the Government of Bavaria tried to stop the publication of the book, and the case went to the Supreme Court of Sweden which ruled in favour of the publisher, stating that the book is protected by copyright, but that the copyright holder is unidentified (and not the State of Bavaria) and that the original Swedish publisher from 1934 had gone out of business. It therefore refused the Government of Bavaria's claim. The only translation changes came in the 1970 edition, but they were only linguistic, based on a new Swedish standard.
Mein Kampf was widely available and growing in popularity in Turkey, even to the point where it became a bestseller, selling up to 100,000 copies in just two months in 2005. Analysts and commentators believe the popularity of the book to be related to a rise in nationalism, anti-U.S. and antisemitic sentiment "because of what is happening in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian problem and the war in Iraq". Doğu Ergil, a political scientist at Ankara University, said both left-wingers, the far-right and Islamists, had found common ground—"not on a common agenda for the future, but on their anxieties, fears and hate".
In the United States, Mein Kampf can be found at many community libraries and can be bought, sold and traded in bookshops. The U.S. government seized the copyright in September 1942 during the Second World War under the Trading with the Enemy Act and in 1979, Houghton Mifflin, the U.S. publisher of the book, bought the rights from the government pursuant to 28 C.F.R. 0.47. More than 15,000 copies are sold a year. In 2016, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt reported that it was having trouble difficulty finding a charity that would accept profits from the sales of its version of Mein Kampf, which it had promised to donate.
In 1999, the Simon Wiesenthal Center documented that major Internet booksellers such as Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com sell Mein Kampf to Germany. After a public outcry, both companies agreed to stop those sales to addresses in Germany. The book is currently available through both companies online. It is also available in various languages, including German, at the Internet Archive. The Murphy translation of the book is freely available on Project Gutenberg Australia. Since the January 2016 republication of the book in Germany, the book can be ordered at Amazon's German website.
On 3 February 2010, the Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) in Munich announced plans to republish an annotated version of the text, for educational purposes in schools and universities, in 2015, when the copyright currently held by the Bavarian state government expires (2016). The book had last been published in Germany in 1945. A group of German historians argued that a republication was necessary to get an authoritative annotated edition by the time the copyright runs out, which might open the way for neo-Nazi groups to publish their own versions. "Once Bavaria's copyright expires, there is the danger of charlatans and neo-Nazis appropriating this infamous book for themselves," Wolfgang Heubisch said. The Bavarian government opposed the plan, citing respect for victims of the Holocaust. Its Finance Ministry said that permits for reprints would not be issued, at home or abroad. This would also apply to a new annotated edition. The republished book might be banned as Nazi propaganda. Even after expiration of the copyright, the Bavarian government emphasised that "the dissemination of Nazi ideologies will remain prohibited in Germany and is punishable under the penal code".
On 12 December 2013 the Bavarian government cancelled its financial support for an annotated edition. The Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) in Munich, which is preparing the translation, announced that it intended to proceed with publication after the copyright expired. The IfZ scheduled an edition of Mein Kampf for release in 2016.
Richard Verber, vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, stated in 2015 that the board trusted the academic and educational value of republishing. “We would, of course, be very wary of any attempt to glorify Hitler or to belittle the Holocaust in any way,” Verber declared to The Observer. “But this is not that. I do understand how some Jewish groups could be upset and nervous, but it seems it is being done from a historical point of view and to put it in context.”
An annotated edition of Mein Kampf was published in Germany in January 2016 and sold out within hours on Amazon's German site. The book's publication led to public debate in Germany, and divided reactions from Jewish groups, with some supporting, and others opposing, the decision to publish. German officials had previously said they would limit public access to the text amid fears that its republication could stir neo-Nazi sentiment. Some bookstores stated that they would not stock the book. Dussmann, a Berlin bookstore, stated that one copy was available on the shelves in the history section, but that it would not be advertised and more copies would be available only on order. As of January 2017, the German annotated edition has sold over 85,000 copies.
After the party's poor showing in the 1928 elections, Hitler believed that the reason for his loss was the public's misunderstanding of his ideas. He then retired to Munich to dictate a sequel to Mein Kampf to expand on its ideas, with more focus on foreign policy.
Only two copies of the 200-page manuscript were originally made, and only one of these was ever made public. The document was neither edited nor published during the Nazi era and remains known as Zweites Buch, or "Second Book". To keep the document strictly secret, in 1935 Hitler ordered that it be placed in a safe in an air raid shelter. It remained there until being discovered by an American officer in 1945.
The authenticity of the document found in 1945 has been verified by Josef Berg (former employee of the Nazi publishing house Eher Verlag) and Telford Taylor (former Brigadier General U.S.A.R. and Chief Counsel at the Nuremberg war-crimes trials).
In 1958, the Zweites Buch was found in the archives of the United States by American historian Gerhard Weinberg. Unable to find an American publisher, Weinberg turned to his mentor – Hans Rothfels at the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, and his associate Martin Broszat – who published Zweites Buch in 1961. A pirated edition was published in English in New York in 1962. The first authoritative English edition was not published until 2003 (Hitler's Second Book: The Unpublished Sequel to Mein Kampf, ISBN 1-929631-16-2).