The dominant political figure of German history in the twentieth century, Adolf Hitler, was born in a lower middle class family in the provincial Austrian town of Braunau am Inn on 20 April 1889. In 1907 Hitler applied to enter the Vienna Academy of Art but his application was rejected. After the death of his mother Klara, Hitler decided to move to Vienna. He drifted from job to job, often selling sketches or painting scenes of Old Vienna and it was a period that he himself later called the most miserable period of his life. Many of Hitler’s views of the world were shaped by his experiences on the streets of Vienna and it is probable that his violent anti-Semitism dates from this time.
In 1924 Hitler was sentenced to five years in prison for his part in the Munich Putsch. During this time in prison Hitler began work on his book entitled Mein Kamph (My Struggle). The book outlines some of Hitler’s political ideas and his views on race and Germany’s future role in world affairs.
Hitler had a racist view of world history and the dominant theme running through Mein Kamph was his concept of race. In Hitler’s view, civilization and nations decline when the fail to maintain the purity of the race. “Mixing blood and lowering of racial quality” according to Hitler is the “sole cause for the decline of all culture, for humans do not perish from lost wars but from the loss of that power of resistance that is characteristic only of pure blood”*. The fundamental duty of the government in Hitler’s mind was to preserve the racial purity of state for only this way can the superior race maintains it dominance over inferior races.
To Hitler, the Aryan (an earlier Indo-European race from which the Germans were descended) was the master race and the other races were inferior. To Hitler the Jew represented the absolute contrast to the Aryan. The Aryans were the creators of culture and civilization, where else the Jew was the destroyer for they had no nation or culture of their own. They were “a parasite in the body of other nations”* contaminating the purity of the blood, exploiting and corrupting the nation. Hitler saw a Jewish world conspiracy and held absolute conviction that the Jews were responsible for all the evils that had befallen Germany – defeat of in war, revolution, economic collapse and Marxism. But abo...
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...ak, that superior races prevail over inferior races. This concept with its theme of struggle and survival of the fittest appealed to Hitler. “Struggle” wrote Hitler “is the father of all things…He who wants to live must fight and who does not want to fight in this world where external struggle is the law of life has no right to exist”*.
In Mein Kamph Hitler offered some insight into his thinking on exercise of power and in particular the important role of propaganda, his contempt of parliamentary democracy and the Weimar Republic. Hitler also wrote of the need for a national revival and the quest for living space. Hitler linked his hatred of communism with his hatred of Jews. In Hitler’s mind Russia was the centre of a Jewish conspiracy, a concept reinforced in Hitler’s thinking by the fact that many of the leaders of the Bolshevik Revolution were Jewish.
Mein Kamph is an important book because it reveals a great deal about Hitler’s mind, outlook and the ideas that became the basis of National Socialism. What he wrote as his philosophy in 1924 he began to implement as policy when he became supreme ruler of Germany after 1934.
* Quoted from Mein Kamph, Adolf Hitler, 1924
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