Reading Hitler, if you must

[by way of Arts Journal] Monday was the 80th anniversity of Hitler’s warm-hearted classic tale of love and revenge, Mein Kampf (No, I’m not linking to it). The title translates as “My Struggle.” Apparently, everyone’s favorite Nazi wanted to call it “Four and a Half Years of Struggle Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice,” but no.

Carlin Romano of the Philadelphia Inquirer has an article on it, [registration required] focusing mostly on thoughts put forward by British historian Neil Gregor in an upcoming book, How to Read Hilter, part of W.W. Norton series of “How to Read” books by various authors. Gregor suggests that the reason we should read Hitler is to understand Nazism’s foundation, if we are inclined to understand them. He says Hitler is not “original” and is primarily “a man of violence.” His book is an “implicitly genocidal text” that alternates “between the sickening and the soporific.” But because of its influence, Mein Kampf has some value.

Romano writes, “It remains a unique artifact – loathed yet collected, mocked yet feared, ignored by many but a best-seller in some Muslim societies.”

But is this little collector’s item all bad? No, no. Here’s one principle primed for modern-day implimentation: “The receptivity of the great mass is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.”

I think I’ve seen this one in action recently; but for all the powerful people reading this blog, the people’s forgetfulness is withering.


  1. I’m Southern, y’know. I drop my h’s. :) Sorry about that. I corrected the text to reflect my intent

    With blogs, the Internet, and alternative news sources now, we do not forget as easily as perhaps we did. That’s why some civil leaders have complained about too much information out here.

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