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Was Mein Kampf prohibited in occupied France?

Was Mein Kampf prohibited in occupied France?

Because the Nazis did not want the French to know about the anti-French attitude of Hitler?


Mein Kampf

Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf (My Struggle) is the best known and most popular Nazi text ever published.

Key Facts

Mein Kampf promoted the key components of Nazism: rabid antisemitism, a racist world view, and an aggressive foreign policy geared to gaining Lebensraum (living space) in eastern Europe.

From 1925 to summer 1945, it sold over 12 million copies and was translated into more than a dozen languages, including a braille edition for blind Germans.

Today, Mein Kampf is widely available on the Internet and is a staple of neo-Nazis, antisemites, and racists throughout the world.

This content is available in the following languages


Was Mein Kampf prohibited in occupied France? - History

Mein Kampf is the title of a book written by Adolf Hitler, and in English, the title means “my struggle.” The book consists of two volumes, the first one published in 1925, and the second during the following year. The book outlines Hitler’s political philosophy about the state and politics and addresses his opinions on race.

Hitler did not write his book in the traditional sense but rather dictated most of it to his close friend, Rudolf Hess, while he was in the Landsberg prison from 1923 to 1924. Mein Kampf was not a best seller when it was first published. However, millions of copies were sold after Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany.

Volume One of Mein Kampf

The first volume includes mostly autobiographical work and features his youth and family. He also talks about his personal views on the different races of the world. He describes how he became progressively anti-semitic and militaristic during the years he spent in Vienna. After the National Socialist German Workers’ Party failed to win the 1928 election, Hitler decided he needed to write a sequel to Mein Kampf.

Volume Two of Mein Kampf

Hitler produced a follow-up text primarily for the supporters of National Socialism so they could better understand its goals and ideals. Hitler covered when he joined the German Labour Party and helped to lead the youth movement that awakened the German people. His book also discussed his long-term plans for Germany and the methods that should be used to attain them. Additionally, the second volume covered the battle against communism, Germany’s alliance policy after World War I and what he saw as the best foreign policy for his country.

The Aryan Race

Hitler did not believe that all races were equal or that race was just a social construct. He wrote about the different types of humans and discussed their various physical characteristics, summarizing which races, in his opinion, were superior and an inferior. He firmly believed that the Germanic race with their blond hair, fair skin, and blue eyes were the superior race compared to anyone else. He called the Germanic people Aryans and claimed they were a master race.

Because he believed in the superiority of the Aryan race, he thought all other races were inferior and called them the Untermenschen. He asserted that Jews, Poles, Czechs, and Russians were amongst those that belonged in this inferior class. He advocated for the subordination of the inferior races and thought they should be dominated by their superiors.

In his text, Hitler claims that subjugated races had actually benefited from being in contact with Aryans because they learned from their superior technology and culture. Having said that, he added that it was essential for the Aryan race to remain separate and abstain from marriages with what he considered to be inferior races.

The Jewish Race

Hitler had the harshest criticisms for the Jewish race. He said they were involved in a conspiracy to prevent the Aryans from assuming their rightful position in the world, and that they sought dominion all over the world. The book describes in further detail the fight for world control and domination as being an ongoing political, cultural, and racial battle between the Jewish and Aryan races.

Hitler also detailed his belief that there was a vast international conspiracy by the Jewish race to manipulate world finances, control the press, and promote inferior cultural ideologies. He discussed why liberal democracy and Marxism would hurt the Aryan people. Throughout Mein Kampf, he refers to the Jewish race as liars, wily, sly, clever, and even parasites. He believed that their unscrupulous ways made them the true enemy of the Aryan population.

Military and Territorial Expansion

Germany lost a considerable amount of territory after World War I, and Hitler felt strongly that these areas were essential for German progression and security. He felt that all the land that was taken from Germany after the war should be returned to Germany peacefully, and that if it was not, military force would be justified in reclaiming it. He looked to Britain and Italy as ethnic equals and urged the German people to accept them as allies.

He stated that “Lebensraum,” or “living space,” was essential for the country’s expansion. The areas that Hitler described included Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and large parts of Russia. He stated that the land would be necessary for growing crops and housing the growing Aryan populations. Mein Kampf revealed that the Slavic people should be removed, enslaved or eliminated.

In order to accomplish this, Hitler claimed that Germany would need to defeat France, a nation he considered a long time enemy of the State. As Hitler was very bitter about what happened to the German people after World War I, he openly expressed his opinion that the German Army failed to achieve victory because of political treachery in the parliament of the Weimar Republic. Mein Kampf‘s second volume also named Jewish conspirators as perpetrators of Germany’s loss in the war. Hitler went into some detail about how terrorist methods could be used to achieve the goals of National Socialism.

National Socialism

Hitler thought National Socialism was the best policy for the German people. The party believed in private property rights and endorsed the development of a national solidarity that could rise above class differences. He denounced both communism and capitalism because he associated it with Jewish materialism. When his book sales only reached mediocre levels at best, Hitler attributed their failure to the general unintelligence and misunderstanding of the public. As a result, he consolidated his propaganda into a few main points that were repeated often.

Translations

Since its original publication, there have been several different translations of Mein Kampf. Most of the English translations were abridgements, though a few complete text translations did exist. Today, this book is still very controversial and many countries have banned it from being printed or sold. Post-war Germany enacted laws that prohibited the sale of the book and also any open displays of books that featured the Nazi philosophy.


Was Mein Kampf prohibited in occupied France? - History

Although it is thought of as having been 'written' by Hitler, Mein Kampf is not a book in the usual sense. Hitler never actually sat down and pecked at a typewriter or wrote longhand, but instead dictated it to Rudolph Hess while pacing around his prison cell in 1923-24 and later at an inn at Berchtesgaden.

Reading Mein Kampf is like listening to Hitler speak at length about his youth, early days in the Nazi Party, future plans for Germany, and ideas on politics and race.

The original title Hitler chose was "Four and a Half Years of Struggle against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice." His Nazi publisher knew better and shortened it to Mein Kampf, simply My Struggle, or My Battle.

In his book, Hitler divides humans into categories based on physical appearance, establishing higher and lower orders, or types of humans. At the top, according to Hitler, is the Germanic man with his fair skin, blond hair and blue eyes. Hitler refers to this type of person as an Aryan. He asserts the Aryan is the supreme form of human, or master race.

And so it follows in Hitler's thinking, if there is a supreme form of human, then there must be others less than supreme, the Untermenschen , or racially inferior. Hitler assigns this position to Jews and the Slavic peoples, notably the Czechs, Poles, and Russians.

". it (Nazi philosophy) by no means believes in an equality of races, but along with their difference it recognizes their higher or lesser value and feels itself obligated to promote the victory of the better and stronger, and demand the subordination of the inferior and weaker in accordance with the eternal will that dominates this universe." - Hitler states in Mein Kampf

Hitler then states the Aryan is also culturally superior.

"All the human culture, all the results of art, science, and technology that we see before us today, are almost exclusively the creative product of the Aryan. "

"Hence it is no accident that the first cultures arose in places where the Aryan, in his encounters with lower peoples, subjugated them and bent them to his will. They then became the first technical instrument in the service of a developing culture."

Hitler goes on to say that subjugated peoples actually benefit by being conquered because they come in contact with and learn from the superior Aryans. However, he adds they benefit only as long the Aryan remains absolute master and doesn't mingle or inter-marry with inferior conquered peoples.

But it is the Jews, Hitler says, who are engaged in a conspiracy to keep this master race from assuming its rightful position as rulers of the world, by tainting its racial and cultural purity and even inventing forms of government in which the Aryan comes to believe in equality and fails to recognize his racial superiority.

"The mightiest counterpart to the Aryan is represented by the Jew."

Hitler describes the struggle for world domination as an ongoing racial, cultural, and political battle between Aryans and Jews. He outlines his thoughts in detail, accusing the Jews of conducting an international conspiracy to control world finances, controlling the press, inventing liberal democracy as wells as Marxism, promoting prostitution and vice, and using culture to spread disharmony.

Throughout Mein Kampf, Hitler refers to Jews as parasites, liars, dirty, crafty, sly, wily, clever, without any true culture, a sponger, a middleman, a maggot, eternal blood suckers, repulsive, unscrupulous, monsters, foreign, menace, bloodthirsty, avaricious, the destroyer of Aryan humanity, and the mortal enemy of Aryan humanity.

". for the higher he climbs, the more alluring his old goal that was once promised him rises from the veil of the past, and with feverish avidity his keenest minds see the dream of world domination tangibly approaching."

This conspiracy idea and the notion of 'competition' for world domination between Jews and Aryans would become widespread beliefs in Nazi Germany and would even be taught to school children.

This, combined with Hitler's racial attitude toward the Jews, would be shared to various degrees by millions of Germans and people from occupied countries, so that they either remained silent or actively participated in the Nazi effort to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe.

Mein Kampf also provides an explanation for the military conquests later attempted by Hitler and the Germans. Hitler states that since the Aryans are the master race, they are entitled simply by that fact to acquire more land for themselves. This Lebensraum, or living space, will be acquired by force, Hitler says, and includes the lands to the east of Germany, namely Russia. That land would be used to cultivate food and to provide room for the expanding Aryan population at the expense of the Slavic peoples, who were to be removed, eliminated, or enslaved.

But in order to achieve this, Hitler states Germany must first defeat its old enemy France, to avenge the German defeat of World War One and to secure the western border. Hitler bitterly recalls the end of the first world war saying the German Army was denied its chance for victory on the battlefield by political treachery at home. In the second volume of Mein Kampf he attaches most of the blame to Jewish conspirators in a highly menacing and ever more threatening tone.

When Mein Kampf was first released in 1925 it sold poorly. People had been hoping for a juicy autobiography or a behind the scenes story of the Beer Hall Putsch. What they got were hundreds of pages of long, hard to follow sentences and wandering paragraphs composed by a self-educated man.

However, after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, millions of copies were sold. It was considered proper to give one to newlyweds, high school graduates, or to celebrate any similar occasion. But few Germans ever read it cover to cover. Although it made him rich, Hitler would later express regret that he produced Mein Kampf, considering the extent of its revelations.

Those revelations concerning the nature of his character and his blueprint for Germany's future served as a warning to the world. A warning that was mostly ignored.

Copyright © 1996 The History Place™ All Rights Reserved

Terms of use: Private home/school non-commercial, non-Internet re-usage only is allowed of any text, graphics, photos, audio clips, other electronic files or materials from The History Place.


Was Mein Kampf prohibited in occupied France? - History

Although it is thought of as having been 'written' by Hitler, Mein Kampf is not a book in the usual sense. Hitler never actually sat down and pecked at a typewriter or wrote longhand, but instead dictated it to Rudolf Hess while pacing around his prison cell in 1923-24 and later at an inn at Berchtesgaden.

Reading Mein Kampf is like listening to Hitler speak at length about his youth, early days in the Nazi Party, future plans for Germany, and ideas on politics and race.

The original title Hitler chose was "Four and a Half Years of Struggle against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice." His Nazi publisher knew better and shortened it to "Mein Kampf," simply My Struggle, or My Battle.

In his book, Hitler divides humans into categories based on physical appearance, establishing higher and lower orders, or types of humans. At the top, according to Hitler, is the Germanic man with his fair skin, blond hair and blue eyes. Hitler refers to this type of person as an Aryan. He asserts that the Aryan is the supreme form of human, or master race.

And so it follows in Hitler's thinking, if there is a supreme form of human, then there must be others less than supreme, the Untermenschen , or racially inferior. Hitler assigns this position to Jews and the Slavic peoples, notably the Czechs, Poles, and Russians.

In Mein Kampf, Hitler states: ". it [Nazi philosophy] by no means believes in an equality of races, but along with their difference it recognizes their higher or lesser value and feels itself obligated to promote the victory of the better and stronger, and demand the subordination of the inferior and weaker in accordance with the eternal will that dominates this universe."

Hitler then states the Aryan is also culturally superior.

"All the human culture, all the results of art, science, and technology that we see before us today, are almost exclusively the creative product of the Aryan. "

"Hence it is no accident that the first cultures arose in places where the Aryan, in his encounters with lower peoples, subjugated them and bent them to his will. They then became the first technical instrument in the service of a developing culture."

Hitler goes on to say that subjugated peoples actually benefit by being conquered because they come in contact with and learn from the superior Aryans. However, he adds they benefit only as long as the Aryan remains the absolute master and doesn't mingle or inter-marry with inferior conquered peoples.

But it is the Jews, Hitler says, who are engaged in a conspiracy to keep this master race from assuming its rightful position as rulers of the world, by tainting its racial and cultural purity and even inventing forms of government in which the Aryan comes to believe in equality and fails to recognize his racial superiority.

"The mightiest counterpart to the Aryan is represented by the Jew."

Hitler describes the struggle for world domination as an ongoing racial, cultural, and political battle between Aryans and Jews. He outlines his thoughts in detail, accusing the Jews of conducting an international conspiracy to control world finances, controlling the press, inventing liberal democracy as well as Marxism, promoting prostitution and vice, and using culture to spread disharmony.

Throughout Mein Kampf, Hitler refers to Jews as parasites, liars, dirty, crafty, sly, wily, clever, without any true culture, a sponger, a middleman, a maggot, eternal blood suckers, repulsive, unscrupulous, monsters, foreign, menace, bloodthirsty, avaricious, the destroyer of Aryan humanity, and the mortal enemy of Aryan humanity.

". for the higher he climbs, the more alluring his old goal that was once promised him rises from the veil of the past, and with feverish avidity his keenest minds see the dream of world domination tangibly approaching."

This conspiracy idea and the notion of 'competition' for world domination between Jews and Aryans would become widespread beliefs in Nazi Germany and would even be taught to school children.

This, combined with Hitler's racial attitude toward the Jews, would be shared to varying degrees by millions of Germans and people from occupied countries, so that they either remained silent or actively participated in the Nazi effort to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe.

Mein Kampf also provides an explanation for the military conquests later attempted by Hitler and the Germans. Hitler states that since the Aryans are the master race, they are entitled simply by that fact to acquire more land for themselves. This Lebensraum, or living space, will be acquired by force, Hitler says, and includes the lands to the east of Germany, namely Russia. That land would be used to cultivate food and to provide room for the expanding Aryan population at the expense of the Slavic peoples, who were to be removed, eliminated, or enslaved.

But in order to achieve this, Hitler states, Germany must first defeat its old enemy France, to avenge the German defeat of World War I and to secure the western border. Hitler bitterly recalls the end of the First World War, saying the German Army was denied its chance for victory on the battlefield by political treachery at home. In the second volume of Mein Kampf he attaches most of the blame to Jewish conspirators in a highly menacing and ever more threatening tone.

When Mein Kampf was first released in 1925 it sold poorly. People had been hoping for a juicy autobiography or a behind-the-scenes story of the Beer Hall Putsch. What they got were hundreds of pages of long, hard to follow sentences and wandering paragraphs composed by a self-educated man.

However, after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, millions of copies were sold. It was considered proper to own a copy and to give one to newlyweds, high school graduates, or to celebrate any similar occasion. But few Germans ever read it cover to cover. Although it made him rich, Hitler would later express regret that he produced Mein Kampf, considering the extent of its revelations.

Those revelations concerning the nature of his character and his blueprint for Germany's future served as a warning to the world. A warning that was mostly ignored.

Copyright © 1996 The History Place™ All Rights Reserved

Terms of use: Private home/school non-commercial, non-Internet re-usage only is allowed of any text, graphics, photos, audio clips, other electronic files or materials from The History Place.


The curious history of Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' in France

Seventy years after the death of Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf is in the public domain and free to be republished.

The history of its English version is relatively well-known, thanks to historians James and Patience Barnes. Its history in French is not. While French journalist Antoine Vitkine wrote a 2009 global history of Mein Kampf and two French lawyers and a historian recently shed light on the French-language editions of it, neither book has been translated into English.

Beginning in 1934 – and into the 21st century – a tug-of-war over the French version of the text took place among an eccentric, right-wing publisher named Fernand Sorlot, Hitler’s lawyers, German censors, and the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism.

With a much-anticipated critical edition of Hitler’s hateful screed in the pipeline, it’s worth revisiting how the French translation endured decades of dubious sales, editing and censorship.

From "My Struggle" to "My Doctrine"

When Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933, people around the world were fascinated with the Nazi leader known for his fiery rhetoric. Many were curious to learn more about the man’s life and his true beliefs.

An obvious entry point into Hitler’s mind and political agenda was Mein Kampf, first published in Germany in two editions, the first in 1925 and the second in 1926. Referred to as the “Nazi bible,” international publishing houses started translating it into different languages.

The Nouvelles Éditions Latines edition of ‘Mon Combat.’ Amazon.com

The first French edition of the book – entitled Mein Kampf: Mon Combat (Mon Combat simply means "my struggle" in French) – was published in 1934 by the Nouvelles Éditions Latines (New Latin Editions), a publishing house founded a few years earlier by Sorlot. Though Sorlot was sympathetic to anti-Semitism and fascism, he seemed motivated more by turning a profit than advancing any political agenda. Sorlot was also publishing the book illegally: He hadn’t even secured the rights to publish a French edition of Hitler’s tome.

When Hitler caught wind of the French version, he and his publisher brought Sorlot to court, demanding that he cease publication. Hitler knew that Germany was not ready for war, and, on the international stage, he was doing his best to conceal his plans. In Mein Kampf, Hitler had called for the destruction of France, a country referred to, at various points, as the “irreconcilable mortal enemy,” “the most terrible enemy,” and “the mortal enemy of our nation.” The last thing he wanted was to tip his hand by having a translated copy circulating among the French.

During his trial, Sorlot claimed that he was acting out of patriotism, that he wanted to warn the French public of the looming German threat. Even before the rise of Nazism, France was highly suspicious of its Eastern neighbour. In the late-19th century, following the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, Germany had annexed the French Alsace and Moselle, two border regions disputed by the two countries for centuries. World War I, of course, did nothing to ease the tensions between France and Germany.

But, in 1934, Hitler had the law on his side, and Sorlot lost the trial, forcing him to withdraw the unauthorised French translation from the market. Whether it was out of patriotism or to earn a quick buck, Sorlot continued to covertly sell the translated version.

The Fayard edition of ‘Ma Doctrine.’

In 1938, Adolf Hitler authorised Fayard, a leading French publishing house, to print a French translation of Mein Kampf.

When the first translation into English was published in the United States by Houghton Mifflin in 1933, it softened Hitler’s rhetoric and visions of expansion. Similarly, Hitler ensured that the French version was also significantly edited. The numerous anti-French passages that the original edition contained were toned down or cut altogether.

Sorlot’s 1934 unabridged translation was 687 pages. Fayard’s 1938 edition, published under the much gentler title Ma Doctrine (My Doctrine), would only be 347 pages.

Blacklisted

In 1940, Hitler invaded Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France.

In the wake of the invasion, the German authorities wanted to exploit the countries’ natural and industrial resources while also being able to devote as many troops to the front lines. The best way to do both was a mollified public, so they sought to blacklist any texts – Mein Kampf included – that could fuel existing anti-German feelings. In all occupied countries, the German authorities created “indexes” of prohibited books or authors.

In France, since Sorlot’s original translation, two additional unauthorised translations of Mein Kampf had been published, as well as a few other book-length commentaries that quoted extensive excerpts from Hitler’s book. All were placed on the list of “books withdrawn from sale by the publishers or forbidden by the Germans,” often referred to as “Otto’s List” after Otto Abetz, the German ambassador to France during the war.

The portion of Otto’s List featuring Mon Combat. Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Postwar angst over racism and anti-Semitism

After the war, Sorlot resumed publishing, which included printing and selling Mein Kampf. He initially did so discreetly, but with time, encouraged by the absence of backlash from the French authorities and the public, he started selling Hitler’s book more openly.

This ended in 1978. The 1970s had seen a sharp rise in racism and anti-Semitism in France, and Holocaust deniers were becoming increasingly vocal. An 1881 French law against defamation and insults was reinforced in 1972 by an anti-racism law (known as Pleven Law), which criminalised racist insults and the incitement of racial hatred.

For obvious reasons, Mein Kampf didn’t comply. The fact that Hitler’s book was still being sold by Sorlot’s Nouvelles Éditions Latines – by then considered a right-wing publishing house – garnered the attention of the Ligue Internationale Contre le Racisme et l’Antisémitisme (International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism). By the late 1970s, Sorlot could hardly argue that he was selling a translation of Mein Kampf out of patriotism. This time, he played the “historical document” card. It didn’t work, and Sorlot was given a hefty fine of 80,000 francs (the equivalent of approximately $2,50,000 today).

Surprisingly, he was allowed to continue publishing Mein Kampf as long as it contained a reminder of the 1972 French anti-racism law, as well as a summary of Nazi atrocities and the Nuremberg trials. After much legal wrangling between the two sides, an eight-page text was finally written by a historian and included in all subsequent editions of Mein Kampf: Mon Combat.

Today, in France – as in most democratic countries – there’s a general consensus that Mein Kampf should be republished because it’s an important historical document and to demystify it. It’s also already widely available on the web, often on dubious sites that don’t offer context.

A critical edition in French is in the works and will almost certainly be published by the end of the year by Fayard, the original publisher of the radically edited My Doctrine. This time, the publishing house will set the record straight: rather than massage the language and condense the text, it will take pains to explain and contextualise much of the “Nazi Bible’s” racist, anti-Semitic ideology – and its devastating consequences.

This article first appeared on The Conversation.


Revisiting the Curious History of Mein Kampf 70 Years After Hitler's Death

With a much-anticipated critical edition of Hitler’s hateful screed in the pipeline, it’s worth revisiting how the French translation endured decades of dubious sales, editing and censorship.

Adolf Hitler and his entourage take a stroll in Paris on June 23, 1940. Photo: German Federal Archives/Wikimedia Commons

Seventy years after the death of Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf is in the public domain and free to be republished.

The history of its English version is relatively well-known, thanks to historians James and Patience Barnes. Its history in French is not. While French journalist Antoine Vitkine wrote a 2009 global history of Mein Kampf and two French lawyers and a historian recently shed light on the French-language editions of Mein Kampf, neither book has been translated into English.

Beginning in 1934 – and into the 21st century – a tug-of-war over the French version of the text took place among an eccentric, right-wing publisher named Fernand Sorlot, Hitler’s lawyers, German censors and the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism.

With a much-anticipated critical edition of Hitler’s hateful screed in the pipeline, it’s worth revisiting how the French translation endured decades of dubious sales, editing and censorship.

From ‘My Struggle’ to ‘My Doctrine’

When Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933, people around the world were fascinated with the Nazi leader known for his fiery rhetoric. Many were curious to learn more about the man’s life and his true beliefs.

An obvious entry point into Hitler’s mind and political agenda was Mein Kampf, first published in Germany in two editions, the first in 1925 and the second in 1926. Referred to as the “Nazi Bible,” international publishing houses started translating it into different languages.

The Nouvelles Éditions Latines edition of ‘Mon Combat.’
Credit: Amazon.com

The first French edition of Mein Kampf – entitled Mein Kampf: Mon Combat (Mon Combat simply means My Struggle in French) – was published in 1934 by the Nouvelles Éditions Latines (New Latin Editions), a publishing house founded a few years earlier by Sorlot. Though Sorlot was sympathetic to anti-Semitism and fascism, he seemed motivated more by turning a profit than advancing any political agenda. Sorlot was also publishing the book illegally: He hadn’t even secured the rights to publish a French edition of Hitler’s tome.

When Adolf Hitler caught wind of the French version, he and his publisher brought Sorlot to court, demanding that he cease publication. Hitler knew that Germany was not ready for war and, on the international stage, he was doing his best to conceal his plans. In Mein Kampf, Hitler had called for the destruction of France, a country referred to, at various points, as the “irreconcilable mortal enemy,” “the most terrible enemy” and “the mortal enemy of our nation.” The last thing he wanted was to tip his hand by having a translated copy circulating among the French.

During his trial, Sorlot claimed that he was acting out of patriotism, that he wanted to warn the French public of the looming German threat. Even before the rise of Nazism, France was highly suspicious of its Eastern neighbor. In the late-19th century, following the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, Germany had annexed the French Alsace and Moselle, two border regions disputed by the two countries for centuries. World War I, of course, did nothing to ease the tensions between France and Germany.

But, in 1934, Hitler had the law on his side, and Sorlot lost the trial, forcing him to withdraw the unauthorised French translation from the market. Whether it was out of patriotism or to earn a quick buck, Sorlot continued to covertly sell the translated version.

The Fayard edition of ‘Ma Doctrine.’

In 1938, Adolf Hitler authorised Fayard, a leading French publishing house, to print a French translation of Mein Kampf.

When the first translation into English was published in the US by Houghton Mifflin in 1933, it softened Hitler’s rhetoric and visions of expansion. Similarly, Hitler ensured that the French version was also significantly edited. The numerous anti-French passages that the original edition contained were toned down or cut altogether.

Sorlot’s 1934 unabridged translation was 687 pages. Fayard’s 1938 edition, published under the much gentler title Ma Doctrine (My Doctrine), would only be 347 pages.

Blacklisted

In 1940, Hitler invaded Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France.

In the wake of the invasion, the German authorities wanted to exploit the countries’ natural and industrial resources while also being able to devote as many troops to the front lines. The best way to do both was a mollified public, so they sought to blacklist any texts – Mein Kampf included – that could fuel existing anti-German feelings. In all occupied countries, the German authorities created ‘indexes’ of prohibited books or authors.

In France, since Sorlot’s original translation, two additional unauthorised translations of Mein Kampf had been published, as well as a few other book-length commentaries that quoted extensive excerpts from Hitler’s book. All were placed on the list of “books withdrawn from sale by the publishers or forbidden by the Germans,” often referred to as “Otto’s List” after Otto Abetz, the German ambassador to France during the war.

The portion of ‘Otto’s List’ featuring ‘Mon Combat.’
Bibliothèque Nationale de France

Postwar angst over racism and anti-Semitism

After the war, Sorlot resumed publishing, which included printing and selling Mein Kampf. He initially did so discreetly, but with time, encouraged by the absence of backlash from the French authorities and the public, he started selling Hitler’s book more openly.

This ended in 1978. The 1970s had seen a sharp rise in racism and anti-Semitism in France, and Holocaust deniers were becoming increasingly vocal. An 1881 French law against defamation and insults was reinforced in 1972 by an anti-racism law (known as “Pleven Law”), which criminalised racist insults and the incitement of racial hatred.

For obvious reasons, Mein Kampf didn’t comply. The fact that Hitler’s book was still being sold by Sorlot’s Nouvelles Éditions Latines – by then considered a right-wing publishing house – garnered the attention of the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism. By the late 1970s, Sorlot could hardly argue that he was selling a translation of Mein Kampf out of patriotism. This time, he played the ‘historical document’ card. It didn’t work, and Sorlot was given a hefty fine of 80,000 francs (the equivalent of approximately $250,000 today).

Surprisingly, he was allowed to continue publishing Mein Kampf as long as it contained a reminder of the 1972 French anti-racism law, as well as a summary of Nazi atrocities and the Nuremberg trials. After much legal wrangling between the two sides, an eight-page text was finally written by a historian and included in all subsequent editions of Mein Kampf.

Today, in France – as in most democratic countries – there’s a general consensus that Mein Kampf should be republished because it’s an important historical document and to demystify it. It’s also already widely available on the web, often on dubious sites that don’t offer context.

A critical edition in French is in the works and will almost certainly be published by the end of the year by Fayard, the original publisher of the radically edited “My Doctrine.” This time, the publishing house will set the record straight: rather than massage the language and condense the text, it will take pains to explain and contextualise much of the “Nazi Bible’s” racist, anti-Semitic ideology – and its devastating consequences.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.


Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ gets new French edition, with each lie annotated

PARIS — A new, heavily annotated version of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” was published in France on Wednesday, aiming to break down his hate-filled, anti-Semitic ideology with expert analysis and a new translation that better conveys the original text’s muddled prose.

Published by Fayard, a French publishing house, the book — “Historicizing Evil: A Critical Edition of Mein Kampf” — runs to nearly 1,000 pages, with twice as much commentary as text. Scholars, researchers and teachers are the main target audience.

“Mein Kampf,” or “My Struggle,” the Nazi leader’s manifesto and memoir, first appeared as two volumes in 1925 and 1927 and was banned in Germany by the Allies in 1945. It was not officially published again there until 2016, when a team of scholars and historians released a nearly 2,000-page edition with thousands of annotations after a 70-year copyright held by the state of Bavaria expired.

The version published in France on Wednesday is an extended adaptation of that edition, with contributions from more than a dozen experts and historians led by Florent Brayard, a French historian specializing in Nazism and the Holocaust, and Andreas Wirsching, director of the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich, which had led work on the German version.

Each of the 27 chapters is prefaced by an introductory analysis, and Hitler’s writing is meticulously annotated, line by line, with commentary that debunks false statements and provides historical context.

Fayard, which first started work on the project a decade ago, said the book was a “fundamental source to understand the history of the 20th century.”

Now that “Mein Kampf” is in the public domain, freely available online with little to no context or sold by fringe far-right publishers, Fayard argued that it was urgent to publish a critical version that would deconstruct the text and guard against crude, uncritical translations that still circulate.

“To know where we are going, it is vital that we understand where we are coming from,” Sophie de Closets, head of Fayard, wrote in a letter to booksellers explaining the reasoning behind the publication.

The book will be made available only by special order in bookstores, with a price tag of 100 euros, or about $120, and all proceeds and profits from sales will go to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. The initial print run will be of about 10,000 copies, with some free copies set aside for public libraries.

The new edition also aims to better convey the jumbled mess of Hitler’s prose. Olivier Mannoni, the translator, told the newspaper Libération this week that he had stuck as closely as possible to the original text — a confusing rant combining anti-Semitic conspiracies, hateful nationalism and obsessions over sexuality and hygiene.

“An incoherent soup, one could become half-mad translating it,” Mannoni said, noting that the original French translation in 1934 had smoothed over the writing and given a false impression of Hitler as a “cultured man” with “coherent and grammatically correct reasoning.”

“To me, making this text elegant is a crime,” Mannoni added.

In 2016, heated debate erupted in France when details of Fayard’s plans for the new edition were first reported. Some Jewish groups said that any airing of Hitler’s views, however critical, risked fanning the flames of anti-Semitism.


Episode 6 History & Images

How did Paris fall to Germany without the firing of a single shot? Learn about the occupation of Paris, the rise of the Gestapo, and the Nazi policy on jazz, as seen in Episode 6 of World on Fire on MASTERPIECE on PBS.

How Did France Fall to Germany?

In World on Fire, American doctor Webster O’Connor (Brian J. Smith) is in Paris when the Germans take over the city without firing a shot. How did that happen?

After the British army’s final evacuation from Dunkirk on June 4, 1940, the Germans still faced a strong defensive line of French troops, blocking the way to Paris and the rest of France. Brigadier General Charles de Gaulle, a talented French tank commander, implored the government to consolidate its weak tank units into a single armored corps under his command, replicating the blitzkrieg model of the Germans. De Gaulle was turned down.

Meanwhile, the defensive line was crumbling under relentless German tank attacks, aided by air superiority and a nearly two-to-one advantage for Germany in troop strength. Lackluster French leadership also contributed, along with a flood of refugees clogging the roads to the front lines.

On June 10, the French government declared Paris an “open city,” meaning French troops would not contest its occupation in order to safeguard Paris from destruction. Four days later the Germans marched in. By this point, General de Gaulle was a member of the French cabinet and argued vigorously to continue the fighting, even if it meant retreating to France’s colony in North Africa. However, the new head of government, World War I hero Marshal Philippe Pétain, insisted on negotiating an armistice, which was signed on June 22. The capitulation gave Germany control of more than half of France, with a puppet state under Pétain presiding over the rest, known informally as Vichy France after its capital city. De Gaulle refused to recognize the Vichy government and went into exile in England, where he began organizing the Free French Forces.

How Did the Gestapo Terrorize German Citizens?

Ethnic Germans such as Herr and Frau Rossler (played by Johannes Zeiler and Victoria Mayer) had nothing to fear from Nazi racial policies, but they still lived in terror of being denounced to the Gestapo by neighbors and coworkers. In the Rosslers’ case, they were trying to hide their daughter’s epilepsy, which made her subject to forced euthanasia. But their occasional criticisms of the government also put them at risk.

Formed by Hitler’s deputy Hermann Göring in 1933, “Gestapo” was short for Geheime Staatspolizei, which means Secret State Police. Its mission was to protect the Nazi regime through arbitrary arrests and terror. As its reputation grew, the Gestapo did not need a large staff of investigators, since ordinary citizens were happy to supply evidence. “This was a golden age for snitchers,” writes historian Frank McDonough, who notes that Gestapo officers received so many denunciations that they were overwhelmed with falsely accused personal enemies of the informants. The hapless victims were questioned and usually released, but they could also end up in concentration camps despite their innocence.

When the Gestapo encountered genuine treachery, they could be merciless. In addition to plots against the state, treachery included telling jokes, passing rumors, listening to enemy broadcasts, and any kind of critical comments. Punishments ranged from a warning (after obtaining a signed confession), to prison, to death, which was periodically meted out for trivial offenses in order to set an example.

What Was the Nazi Policy on Jazz?

After the fall of Paris to the Nazis in June 1940, saxophone player Albert Fallou (Parker Sawyers) is persecuted for the double crime of being black and playing jazz. Since many German officers were jazz lovers, they tended to be more forgiving of one trait than the other. Official Nazi doctrine classified jazz as “degenerate music,” largely because of its roots in African-American culture. And according to the pseudo-scientific racial classification scheme in Hitler’s Mein Kampf, people of African descent were an inferior race.

The result was that while jazz was prohibited in Germany, it was tolerated in occupied countries to appease the local populace and give the troops a source of forbidden entertainment. At the same time, black jazz musicians were banned, while white performers were left alone.

Discover more about World on Fire:

Keep track of all the action with our recap of World on Fire Episode 6.

Wondering why the Americans didn’t help France and the UK during the first year of the war? Find out what was going on in the United States in 1940.

Discover what sparked the first phase of the war and how it played out in our World War II Major Events Timeline.

Hear Cole Porter, Billie Holiday and iconic artists sing the songs of World on Fire in MASTERPIECE’s playlist .


Was Mein Kampf prohibited in occupied France? - History

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler

Volume Two - A Reckoning
Chapter XV: The Right of Emergency Defense

THE ARMISTICE of November, 1918, ushered in a policy which in all human probability was bound to lead gradually to total submission. Historical examples of a similar nature show that nations which lay down their arms without compelling reasons prefer in the ensuing period to accept the greatest humiliations and extortions rather than attempt to change their fate by a renewed appeal to force.
This is humanly understandable. A shrewd victor will, if possible, always present his demands to the vanquished in installments. And then, with a nation that has lost its character-and this is the case of every one which voluntarily submits-he can be sure that it will not regard one more of these individual oppressions as an adequate reason for taking up arms again. 'The more extortions are willingly accepted in this way, the more unjustified it strikes people finally to take up the defensive against a new, apparently isolated, though constantly recurring, oppression, especially when, all in all, so much more and greater misfortune has already been borne in patient silence.
The fall of Carthage is the most horrible picture of such a slow execution of a people through its own deserts.
That is why Clausewitz in his Drei Bekenntnisse incomparably singles out this idea and nails it fast for all time, when he says:
'That the stain of a cowardly submission can never be effaced that this drop of poison in the blood of a people is passed on to posterity and will paralyze and undermine the strength of later generations' that, on the other hand, 'even the loss of this freedom after a bloody and honorable struggle assures the rebirth of a people and is the seed of life from which some day a new tree will strike fast roots.'
Of course, a people that has lost all honor and character will not concern itself with such teachings. For no one who takes them to heart can sink so low only he who forgets them, or no longer wants to know them, collapses. Therefore, we must not expect those who embody a spineless submission suddenly to look into their hearts and, on the basis of reason and all human experience, begin to act differently than before. On the contrary, it is these men in particular who will dismiss all such teachings until either the nation is definitely accustomed to its yoke of slavery or until better forces push to the surface, to wrest the power from the hands of the infamous spoilers. In the first case these people usually do not feel so badly, since not seldom they are appointed by the shrewd victors to the office of slave overseer, which these spineless natures usually wield more mercilessly over their people than any foreign beast put in by the enemy himself.
The development since 1918 shows us that in Germany the hope of winning the victor's favor by voluntary submission unfortunately determines the political opinions and the actions of the broad masses in the most catastrophic way. I attach special importance to emphasizing the broad masses, because I cannot bring myself to profess the belief that the commissions and omissions of our people's leaders are attributable to the same ruinous lunacy. As the leadership of our destinies has, since the end of the War, been quite openly furnished by Jews, we really cannot assume that faulty knowledge alone is the cause of our misfortune we must, on the contrary, hold the conviction that conscious purpose is destroying our nation. And once we examine the apparent madness of our nation's leadership in the field of foreign affairs from this standpoint, it is revealed as the subtlest, ice-cold logic, in the service of the Jewish idea and struggle for world conquest. And thus, it becomes understandable that the same time-span, which from 1806 to 1813 sufficed to imbue a totally collapsed Prussia with new vital energy and determination for struggle, today has not only elapsed unused, but, on the contrary, has led to an ever-greater weakening of our state.
Seven years after November, 1918, the Treaty of Locarno was signed.
The course of events was that indicated above: Once the disgraceful armistice had been signed, neither the energy nor the courage could be summoned suddenly to oppose resistance to our foes' repressive measures, which subsequently were repeated over and over. Our enemies were too shrewd to demand too much at once. They always limit their extortions to the amount which, in their opinion-and that of the German leadership- would at the moment be bearable enough so that an explosion of popular feeling need not be feared. But the more of these individual dictates had been signed, the less justified it seemed, because of a single additional extortion or exacted humiliation, to do the thing that had not been done because of so many others: to offer resistance. For this is the ' drop of poison ' of which Clausewitz speaks: the spinelessness which once begun must increase more and more and which gradually becomes the foulest heritage, burdening every future decision. It can become a terrible lead weight, a weight which a nation is not likely to shake off, but which finally drags it down into the existence of a slave race.
Thus, in Germany edicts of disarmament alternated with edicts of enslavement, political emasculation with economic pillage, and finally created that moral spirit which can regard the Dawes Plan as a stroke of good fortune and the Treaty of Locarno as a success. Viewing all this from a higher vantagepoint, we can speak of one single piece of good fortune in all this misery, which is that, though men can be befuddled, the heavens cannot be bribed. For their blessing remained absent: since then hardship and care have been the constant companions-of our people, and our one faithful ally has been misery. Destiny made no exception in this case, but gave us what we deserved. Since we no longer know how to value honor, it teaches us at least to appreciate freedom in the matter of bread. By now people have learned to cry out for bread, but one of these days they will pray for freedom.
Bitter as was the collapse of our nation in the years after 1918, and obvious at that very time, every man who dared prophesy even then what later always materialized was violently and resolutely persecuted. Wretched and bad as the leaders of our nation were, they were equally arrogant, and especially when it came to ridding themselves of undesired, because unpleasant, prophets. We were treated to- the spectacle (as we still are today!) of the greatest parliamentary thick-heads, regular saddlers and glovemakers-and not only by profession, which in itself means nothing-suddenly setting themselves on the pedestal of statesmen, from which they could lecture down at plain ordinary mortals. It had and has nothing to do with the case that such a ' statesman ' by the sixth month of his activity is shown up as the most incompetent windbag, the butt of everyone's ridicule and contempt, that he doesn't know which way to turn and has provided unmistakable proof of his total incapacity ! No, that makes no difference, on the contrary: the more lacking the parliamentary statesmen of this Republic are in real accomplishment, the more furiously they persecute those who expect accomplishments from them, who have the audacity to point out the failure of their previous activity and predict the failure of their future moves. But if once you finally pin down one of these parliamentary honorables, and this political showman really cannot deny the collapse of his whole activity and its results any longer, they find thousands and thousands of grounds for excusing their lack of success, and there is only one that they will not admit, namely, that they themselves are the main cause of all evil.


By the winter of 1922-23, at the latest, it should have been generally understood that even after the conclusion of peace France was still endeavoring with iron logic to achieve the war aim she had originally had in mind. For no one will be likely to believe that France poured out the blood of her people- never too rich to begin with-for four and a half years in the most decisive struggle of her history, only to have the damage previously done made good by subsequent reparations. Even Alsace-Lorraine in itself would not explain the energy with which the French carried on the War, if it had not been a part of French foreign policy's really great political program for the future. And this goal is: the dissolution of Germany into a hodge-podge of little states. That is what chauvinistic France fought for, though at the same time in reality it sold its people as mercenaries to the international world Jew.
This French war aim would have been attainable by the War alone if, as Paris had first hoped, the struggle had taken place on German soil. Suppose that the bloody battles of the World War had been fought, not on the Somme, in Flanders, in Artois, before Warsaw, Nijni-Novgorod, Kovno, Riga, and all the other places, but in Germany, on the Ruhr and the Main, on the Elbe, at Hanover, Leipzig, Nuremberg, etc., and you will have to agree that this would have offered a possibility of breaking up Germany. It is very questionable whether our young federative state could for four and a half years have survived the same test of strain as rigidly centralized France, oriented solely toward her uncontested center in Paris. The fact that this gigantic struggle of nations occurred outside the borders of our fatherland was not only to the immortal credit of the old army, it was also the greatest good fortune for the German future. It is my firm and heartfelt conviction, and sometimes almost a source of anguish to me, that otherwise there would long since have been no German Reich, but only ' German states.' And this is the sole reason why the blood of our fallen friends and brothers has at least not Bowed entirely in vain.
Thus everything turned out differently! True, Germany collapsed like a flash in November, 1918. But when the catastrophe occurred in the homeland, our field armies were still deep in enemy territory. The first concern of France at that time was not the dissolution of Germany, but: How shall we get the German armies out of France and Belgium as quickly as possible? And so the first task of the heads of state in Paris for concluding the World War was to disarm the German armies and if possible drive them back to Germany at once and only after that could they devote themselves to the fulfillment of their real and original war aim. In this respect, to be sure, France was already paralyzed. For England the War had really been victoriously concluded with the annihilation of Germany as a colonial and commercial power and her reduction to the rank of a second-class state. Not only did the English possess no interest in the total extermination of the German state they even had every reason to desire a rival against France in Europe for the future. Hence the French political leaders had to continue with determined peacetime labor what the War had begun, and Clemenceau's utterance, that for him the peace was only the continuation of the War, took on an increased significance.
Persistently, on every conceivable occasion, they had to shatter the structure of the Reich. By the imposition of one disarmament note after another, on the one hand, and by the economic extortion thus made possible, on the other hand, Paris hoped slowly to disjoint the Reich structure. The more rapidly national honor withered away in Germany, the sooner could economic pressure and unending poverty lead to destructive political effects. Such a policy of political repression and economic plunder, carried on for ten or twenty years, must gradually ruin even the best state structure and under certain circumstances dissolve it. And thereby the French war aim would finally be achieved.
By the winter of 1922-23 this must long since have been recognized as the French intent. Only two possibilities remained: We might hope gradually to blunt the French will against the tenacity of the German nation, or at long last to do what would have to be done in the end anyway, to pull the helm of the Reich ship about on some particularly crass occasion, and ram the enemy. This, to be sure, meant a life-and-death struggle, and there existed a prospect of life only if previously we succeeded in isolating France to such a degree that this second war would not again constitute a struggle of Germany against the world, but a defense of Germany against a France which was constantly disturbing the world and its peace.
I emphasize the fact, and I am firmly convinced of it, that this second eventuality must and will some day occur, whatever happens. I never believe that France's intentions toward us could ever change, for in the last analysis they are merely in line with the self-preservation of the French nation. If I were a Frenchman, and if the greatness of France were as dear to me as that of Germany is sacred, I could not and would not act any differently from Clemenceau. The French nation, slowly dying out, not only with regard to population, but particularly with regard to its best racial elements, can in the long run retain its position in the world only if Germany is shattered. French policy may pursue a thousand detours somewhere in the end there will be this goal, the fulfillment of ultimate desires and deepest longing. And it is false to believe that a purely passive will, desiring only to preserve itself, can for any length of time resist a will that is no less powerful, but proceeds actively. As long as the eternal conflict between Germany and France is carried on only in the form of a German defense against French aggression, it will never be decided, but from year to year, from century to century, Germany will lose one position after another. Follow the movements of the German language frontier beginning with the twelfth century until today, and you will hardly be able to count on the success of an attitude and a development which has done us so much damage up till now.
Only when this is fully understood in Germany, so that the vital will of the German nation is no longer allowed to languish in purely passive defense, but is pulled together for a final active reckoning with France and thrown into a last decisive struggle with the greatest ultimate aims on the German side- only then will we be able to end the eternal and essentially so fruitless struggle between ourselves and France presupposing, of course, that Germany actually regards the destruction of France as only a means which will afterward enable her finally to give our people the expansion made possible elsewhere. Today we count eighty million Germans in Europe! This foreign policy will be acknowledged as correct only if, after scarcely a hundred years, there are two hundred and fifty million Germans on this continent, and not living penned in as factory coolies for the rest of the world, but: as peasants and workers, who guarantee each other's livelihood by their labor.
In December, 1922, the situation between Germany and France again seemed menacingly exacerbated. France was contemplating immense new extortions, and needed pledges for them. The economic pillage had to be preceded by a political pressure and it seemed to the French that only a violent blow at the nerve center of our entire German life would enable them to subject our 'recalcitrant' people to a sharper yoke. With the occupation of the Roar, the French hoped not only to break the moral backbone of Germany once and for all, but to put us into an embarrassing economic situation in which, whether we liked it or not, we would have to assume every obligation, even the heaviest.
It was a question of bending and breaking. Germany bent at the very outset, and ended up by breaking completely later.
With the occupation of the Ruhr, Fate once again held out a hand to help the German people rise again. For what at the first moment could not but seem a great misfortune embraced on closer inspection an infinitely promising opportunity to terminate all German misery.
From the standpoint of foreign relations, the occupation of the Ruhr for the first time really alienated England basically from France, and not only in the circles of British diplomacy which had concluded, examined, and maintained the French alliance as such only with the sober eye of cold calculators, but also in the broadest circles of the English people. The English economy in particular viewed with ill-concealed displeasure this new and incredible strengthening of French continental power. For not only that France, from the purely politico-military point of view, now assumed a position in Europe such as previously not even Germany had possessed, but, economically as well, she now obtained economic foundations which almost combined a position of economic monopoly with her capacity for political competition. The largest iron mines and coal fields in Europe were thus united in the hands of a nation which, in sharp contrast to Germany, had always defended its vital interests with equal determination and activism, and which in the Great War had freshly reminded the whole world of its military reliability. With the occupation of the Ruhr coal fields by France, England's entire gain through the War was wrested from her hands, and the victor was no longer British diplomacy so industrious and alert, but Marshal Foch and the France he represented.
In Italy, too, the mood against France, which, since the end of the War, had been by no means rosy to begin with, shifted to a veritable hatred. It was the great, historical moment in which the allies of former days could become the enemies of tomorrow. If things turned out differently and the allies did not, as in the second Balkan War, suddenly break into a sudden feud among themselves, this was attributable only to the circumstance that Germany simply had no Enver Pasha, but a Reich Chancellor Cuno.
Yet not only from the standpoint of foreign policy, but of domestic policy as well, the French assault on the Ruhr held great future potentialities for Germany. A considerable part of our people which, thanks to the incessant influence of our lying press, still regarded France as the champion of progress and liberalism, was abruptly cured of this lunatic delusion. Just as the year 1914 had dispelled the dreams of international solidarity between peoples from the heads of our German workers and led them suddenly back into the world of eternal struggle, throughout which one being feeds on another and the death of the weaker means the life of the stronger, the spring of 1923 did likewise.
When the Frenchman carried out his threats and finally, though at first cautiously and hesitantly, began to move into the lower German coal district, a great decisive hour of destiny had struck for Germany. If in this moment our people combined a change of heart with a shift in their previous attitude, the Ruhr could become a Napoleonic Moscow for France. There were only two possibilities: Either we stood for this new offense and did nothing, or, directing the eyes of the German people to this land of glowing smelters and smoky furnaces, we inspired them with a glowing will to end this eternal disgrace and rather take upon themselves the terrors of the moment than bear an endless terror one moment longer.
To have discovered a third way was the immortal distinction of Reich Chancellor Cuno, to have admired it and gone along, the still more glorious distinction of our German bourgeois parties.
Here I shall first examine the second course as briefly as possible.
With the occupation of the Ruhr, France had accomplished a conspicuous breach of the Versailles Treaty. In so doing, she had also put herself in conflict with a number of signatory powers, and especially with England and Italy. France could no longer hope for any support on the part of these states for her own selfish campaign of plunder: She herself, therefore, had to bring the adventure-and that is what it was at first-to some happy conclusion. For a national German government there could be but a single course, that which honor prescribed. It was certain that for the present France could not be opposed by active force of arms but we had to realize clearly that any negotiations, unless backed by power, would be absurd and fruitless. Without the possibility of active resistance, it was absurd to adopt the standpoint: 'We shall enter into no negotiations' but it was even more senseless to end by entering into negotiations after all, without having meanwhile equipped ourselves with power.
Not that we could have prevented the occupation of the Ruhr by military measures. Only a madman could have advised such a decision. But utilizing the impression made by this French action and while it was being carried out, what we absolutely should have done was, without regard for the Treaty of Versailles which France herself had torn up, to secure the military resources with which we could later have equipped our negotiators. For it was clear from the start that one day the question of this territory occupied by France would be settled at some conference table. But we had to be equally clear on the fact that even the best negotiators can achieve little success, as long as the ground on which they stand and the chair on which they sit is not the shield arm of their nation. A feeble little tailor cannot argue with athletes, and a defenseless negotiator has always suffered the sword of Brennus on the opposing side of the scale, unless he had his own to throw in as a counterweight. Or has it not been miserable to watch the comic-opera negotiations which since 1918 have always preceded the repeated dictates? This degrading spectacle presented to the whole world, first inviting us to the conference table, as though in mockery, then presenting us with decisions and programs prepared long before, which, to be sure, could be discussed, but which from the start could only be regarded as unalterable. It is true that our negotiators, in hardly a single case, rose above the most humble average, and for the most part justified only too well the insolent utterance of Lloyd George, who contemptuously remarked, a propos of former Reich Minister Simon, ' that the Germans didn't know how to choose men of intelligence as their leaders and representatives.' But even geniuses, in view of the enemy's determined will to power and the miserable defenselessness of our own people in every respect, would have achieved but little.
But anyone who in the spring of 1923 wanted to make France's occupation of the Ruhr an occasion for reviving our military implements of power had first to give the nation its spiritual weapons, strengthen its will power, and destroy the corrupters of this most precious national strength.
Just as in 1918 we paid with our blood for the fact that in 1914 and 1915 we did not proceed to trample the head of the Marxist serpent once and for all, we would have to pay most catastrophically if in the spring of 1923 we did not avail ourselves of the opportunity to halt the activity of the Marxist traitors and murderers of the nation for good.
Any idea of real resistance to France was utter nonsense if we did not declare war against those forces which five years before had broken German resistance on the battlefields from within. Only bourgeois minds can arrive at the incredible opinion that Marxism might now have changed, and that the scoundrelly leaders of 1918, who then coldly trampled two million dead underfoot, the better to climb into the various seats of government, now in 1923 were suddenly ready to render their tribute to the national conscience. An incredible and really insane idea, the hope that the traitors of former days would suddenly turn into fighters for a German freedom. It never entered their heads. No more than a hyena abandons carrion does a Marxist abandon treason. And don't annoy me, if you please, with the stupidest of all arguments, that, after all, so many workers bled for Germany. German workers, yes, but then they were no longer international Marxists. If in 1914 the German working class in their innermost convictions had still consisted of Marxists, the War would have been over in three weeks. Germany would have collapsed even before the first soldier set foot across the border. No, the fact that the German people was then still fighting proved that the Marxist delusion had not yet been able to gnaw its way into the bottommost depths. But in exact proportion as, in the course of the War, the German worker and the German soldier fell back into the hands of the Marxist leaders, in exactly that proportion he was lost to the fatherland. If at the beginning of the War and during the War twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew corrupters of the people had been held under poison gas, as happened to hundreds of thousands of our very best German workers in the field, th sacrifice of millions at the front would not have been in vain. On the contrary: twelve thousand scoundrels eliminated in time might have saved the lives of a million real Germans, valuable for the future. But it just happened to be in the line of bourgeois 'statesmanship' to subject millions to a bloody end on the battlefield without batting an eyelash, but to regard ten or twelve thousand traitors, profiteers, usurers, and swindlers as a sacred national treasure and openly proclaim their inviolability. We never know which is greater in this bourgeois world, the imbecility, weakness, and cowardice, or their deep-dyed corruption. It is truly a class doomed by Fate, but unfortunately, however, it is dragging a whole nation with it into the abyss.
And in 1923 we faced exactly the same situation as in 1918. Regardless what type of resistance was decided on, the first requirement was always the elimination of the Marxist poison from our national body. And in my opinion, it was then the very first task of a truly national government to seek and find the forces which were resolved to declare a war of annihilation on Marxism, and then to give these forces a free road it was their duty not to worship the idiocy of 'law and order' at a moment when the enemy without was administering the most annihilating blow to the fatherland and at home treason lurked on every street corner. No, at that time a really national government should have desired disorder and unrest, provided only that amid the confusion a basic reckoning with Marxism at last became possible and actually took place. If this were not done, any thought of resistance, regardless of what type, was pure madness.
Such a reckoning of real world-historical import, it must be admitted, does not follow the schedules of a privy councilor or some dried-up old minister, but the eternal laws of life on this earth, which are the struggle for this life and which remain struggle. It should have been borne in mind that the bloodiest civil wars have often given rise to a steeled and healthy people, while artificially cultivated states of peace have more than once produced a rottenness that stank to high Heaven. You do not alter the destinies of nations in kid gloves. And so, in the year 1923, the most brutal thrust was required to seize the vipers that were devouring our people. Only if this were successful did the preparation of active resistance have meaning.
At that time I often talked my throat hoarse, attempting to make it clear, at least to the so-called national circles, what was now at stake, and that, if we made the same blunders as in 1914 and the years that followed, the end would inevitably be the same as in 1918. Again and again, I begged them to give free rein to :Pate, and to give our movement an opportunity for a reckoning with Marxism but I preached to deaf ears. They all knew better, including the chief of the armed forces, until at length they faced the most wretched capitulation of all time.
Then I realized in my innermost.soul that the German bourgeoisie was at the end of its mission and is destined for no further mission. Then I saw how all these parties continued to bicker with the Marxists only out of competitors' envy, without any serious desire to annihilate them at heart they had all of them long since reconciled themselves to the destruction of the fatherland, and what moved them was only grave concern that they themselves should be able to partake in the funeral feast. That is all they were still 'fighting' for.
In this period-I openly admit-I conceived the profoundest admiration for the great man south of the Alps, who, full of ardent love for his people, made no pacts with the enemies of Italy, but strove for their annihilation by all ways and means. What will rank Mussolini among the great men of this earth is his determination not to share Italy with the Marxists, but to destroy internationalism and save the fatherland from it.
How miserable and dwarfish our German would-be statesmen seem by comparison, and how one gags with disgust when these nonentities, with boorish arrogance, dare to criticize this man who is a thousand times greater than they and how painful it is to think that this is happening in a land which barely half a century ago could call a Bismarck its leader.
In view of this attitude on the part of the bourgeoisie and the policy of leaving the Marxists untouched, the fate of any active resistance in 1923 was decided in advance. To fight France with the deadly enemy in our own ranks would have been sheer idiocy. What was done after that could at most be shadow-boxing, staged to satisfy the nationalistic element in Germany in some measure, or in reality to dupe the 'seething soul of the people.' If they had seriously believed in what they were doing, they would have had to recognize that the strength of a nation lies primarily, not in its weapons, but in its will, and that, before foreign enemies are conquered, the enemy within must be annihilated otherwise God help us if victory does not reward our arms on the very first day. Once so much as the shadow of a defeat grazes a people that is not free of internal enemies, its force of resistance will break and the foe will be the final victor.
This could be predicted as early as February, 1923. Let no one mention the questionableness of a military success against France ! For if the result of the German action in the face of the invasion of the Ruhr had only been the destruction of Marxism at home, by that fact alone success would have been on our side. A Germany saved from these mortal enemies of her existence and her future would possess forces which the whole world could no longer have stifled. On the day when Marxism is smashed in Germany, her fetters wig in truth be broken forever. For never in our history have we been defeated by the strength of our foes, but always by our own vices and by the enemies in our own camp.
Since the leaders of the German state could not summon up the courage for such a heroic deed, logically they could only have chosen the first course, that of doing nothing at all and letting things slide.
But in the great hour Heaven sent the German people a great man, Herr von Cuno. He was not really a statesman or a politician by profession, and of course still less by birth he was a kind of political hack, who was needed only for the performance of certain definite jobs otherwise he was really more adept at business. A curse for Germany, because this businessman in politics regarded politics as an economic enterprise and acted accordingly.
'France has occupied the Ruhr what is in the Ruhr? Coal. Therefore, France has occupied the Ruhr on account of the coal.' What was more natural for Herr Cuno than the idea of striking in order that the French should get no coal, whereupon, in the opinion of Herr Cuno, they would one day evacuate the Ruhr when the enterprise proved unprofitable. Such, more or less, was this 'eminent"national"statesman,' who in Stuttgart and elsewhere was allowed to address his people, and whom the people gaped at in blissful admiration.
But for a strike, of course, the Marxists were needed, for it was primarily the workers who would have to strike. Therefore, it was necessary to bring the worker (and in the brain of one of these bourgeois statesman he is always synonymous with the Marxist) into a united front with all the other Germans. The way these moldy political party cheeses glowed at the sound of such a brilliant slogan was something to behold! Not only a product of genius, it was national at the same time-there at last they had what at heart they had been seeking the whole while. The bridge to Marxism had been found, and the national swindler was enabled to put on a Teutonic face and mouth German phrases while holding out a friendly hand to the international traitor. And the traitor seized it with the utmost alacrity. For just as Cuno needed the Marxist leaders for his 'united front,' the Marxist leaders were just as urgently in need of Cuno's money. So it was a help to both parties. Cuno obtained his united front, formed of national windbags and anti-national scoundrels, and the international swindlers received state funds to carry out the supreme mission of their struggle-that is, to destroy the national economy, and this time actually at the expense of the state. An immortal idea, to save the nation by buying a general strike in any case a slogan in which even the most indifferent good-fornothing could join with full enthusiasm.
It is generally known that a nation cannot be made free by prayers. But maybe one could be made free by sitting with folded arms, and that had to be historically tested. If at that time Berr Cuno, instead of proclaiming his subsidized general strike and setting it up as the foundation of the 'united front,' had only demanded two more hours of work from every German, the 'united front' swindle would have shown itself up on the third day. Peoples are not freed by doing nothing, but by sacrifices..
To be sure, this so-called passive resistance as such could not be maintained for long. For only a man totally ignorant of warfare could imagine that occupying armies can be frightened away by such ridiculous means. And that alone could have been the sense of an action the costs of which ran into billions and which materially helped to shatter the national currency to its very foundations.
Of course, the French could make themselves at home in the Ruhr with a certain sense of inner relief as soon as they saw the resisters employing such methods. They had in fact obtained from us the best directions for bringing a recalcitrant civilian population to reason when its conduct represents a serious menace to the occupation authorities. With what lightning speed, after all, we had routed the Belgian franc-tireur bands nine years previous and made the seriousness of the situation clear to the civilian population when the German armies ran the risk of incurring serious damage from their activity. As soon as the passive resistance in the Ruhr had grown really dangerous to the French, it would have been child's play for the troops of occupation to put a cruel end to the whole childish mischief in less than a week. For the ultimate question is always this: What do we do if the passive resistance ends by really getting on an adversary's nerves and he takes up the struggle against it with brutal strong-arm methods? Are we then resolved to offer further resistance? If so, we must for better or worse invite the gravest, bloodiest persecutions. But then we stand exactly where active resistance would put us - face to Mace with struggle. Hence any so-called passive resistance has an inner meaning only if it is backed by determination to continue it if necessary in open struggle or in undercover guerrilla warfare. In general, any such struggle will depend on a conviction that success is possible. As soon as a besieged fortress under heavy attack by the enemy is forced to abandon the last hope of relief, for all practical purposes it gives up the fight, especially when in such a case the defender is lured by the certainty of life rather than probable death. Rob the garrison of a surrounded fortress of faith in a possible liberation, and all the forces of defense will abruptly collapse.
Therefore, a passive resistance in the Ruhr, in view of the ultimate consequences it could and inevitably would produce in case it were actually successful, only had meaning if an active front were built up behind it. Then, it is true, there is no limit to what could have been drawn from our people. If every one of these Westphalians had known that the homeland was setting up an army of eighty or a hundred divisions, the Frenchmen would have found it thorny going. There are always more courageous men willing to sacrifice themselves for success than for something that is obviously futile.
It was a classical case which forced us National Socialists to take the sharpest position against a so-called national slogan. And so we did. In these months I was attacked no little by men whose whole national attitude was nothing but a mixture of stupidity and outward sham, all of whom joined in the shouting only because they were unable to resist the agreeable thrill of suddenly being able to put on national airs without any danger. I regarded this most lamentable of all united fronts as a most ridiculous phenomenon, and history has proved me right.
As soon as the unions had filled their treasuries with Cuno's funds, and the passive resistance was faced with the decision of passing from defense with folded arms to active attack, the Red hyenas immediately bolted from the national sheep herd and became again what they had always been. Quietly and ingloriously Herr Cuno retreated to his ships, and Germany was richer by one experience and poorer by one great hope.
Down to late midsummer many officers, and they were assuredly not the worst, had at heart not believed in such a disgraceful development. They had all hoped that, if not openly, in secret at least, preparations had been undertaken to make this insolent French assault a turning point in German history. Even in our ranks there were many who put their confidence at least in the Reichswehr. And this conviction was so alive that it decisively determined the actions and particularly the training of innumerable young people.
But when the disgraceful collapse occurred and the crushing, disgraceful capitulation followed, the sacrifice of billions of marks and thousands of young Germans-who had been stupid enough to take the promises of the Reich's leaders seriously- indignation flared into a blaze against such a betrayal of our unfortunate people. In millions of minds the conviction suddenly arose bright and clear that only a radical elimination of the whole ruling system could save Germany.
Never was the time riper, never did it cry out more imperiously for such a solution than in the moment when, on the one hand, naked treason shamelessly revealed itself, while, on the other hand, a people was economically delivered to slow starvation. Since the state itself trampled all laws of loyalty and faith underfoot, mocked the rights of its citizens, cheated millions of its truest sons of their sacrifices and robbed millions of others of their last penny, it had no further right to expect anything but hatred of its subjects. And in any event, this hatred against the spoilers of people and fatherland was pressing toward an explosion. In this place I can only point to the final sentence of my last speech in the great trial of spring, 1924:
'The judges of this state may go right ahead and convict us for our actions at that time, but History, acting as the goddess of a higher truth and a higher justice, will one day smilingly tear up this verdict, acquitting us of all guilt and blame.'
And then she will call all those before her judgment seat, who today, in possession of power, trample justice and law underfoot, who have led our people into misery and ruin and amid the misfortune of the fatherland have valued their own ego above the life of the community.
In this place I shall not continue with an account of those events which led to and brought about the 8th of November, 1923. I shall not do so because in so doing I see no promise for the future, and because above all it is useless to reopen wounds that seem scarcely healed moreover, because it is useless to speak of guilt regarding men who in the bottom of their hearts, perhaps, were all devoted to their nation with equal love, and who only missed or failed to understand the common road.
In view of the great common misfortune of our fatherland, I today no longer wish to wound and thus perhaps alienate those who one day in the future will have to form the great united front of those who are really true Germans at heart against the common front of the enemies of our people. For I know that some day the time will come when even those who then faced us with hostility, will think with veneration of those who traveled the bitter road of death for their German people.
I wish at the end of the second volume to remind the supporters and champions of our doctrine of those eighteen I heroes, to whom I have dedicated the first volume of my work, those heroes who sacrificed themselves for us all with the clearest consciousness. They must forever recall the wavering and the weak to the fulfillment of his duty, a duty which they themselves in the best faith carried to its final consequence. And among them I want also to count that man, one of the best, who devoted his life to the awakening of his, our people, in his writings and his thoughts and finally in his deeds:

ON NOVEMBER 9, 1923, in the fourth year of its existence, the National Socialist German Workers' Party was dissolved and prohibited in the whole Reich territory. Today in November, 1926, it stands again free before us, stronger and inwardly firmer than ever before.
All the persecutions of the movement and its individual leaders, all vilifications and slanders, were powerless to harm it. The correctness of its ideas, the purity of its will, its supporters' spirit of self-sacrifice, have caused it to issue from all repressions stronger than ever.
If, in the world of our present parliamentary corruption, it becomes more and more aware of the profoundest essence of its struggle, feels itself to be the purest embodiment of the value of race and personality and conducts itself accordingly, it will with almost mathematical certainty some day emerge victorious from its struggle. Just as Germany must inevitably win her rightful position on this earth if she is led and organized according to the same principles.
A state which in this age of racial poisoning dedicates itself to the care of its best racial elements must some day become lord of the earth.
May the adherents of our movement never forget this if ever the magnitude of the sacrifices should beguile them to an anxious comparison with the possible results.


French publisher releases new Mein Kampf edition to ‘confront’ Nazism

French publisher Fayard releases a new translation of Mein Kampf on Wednesday after years of delay due to the controversy over publishing Adolf Hitler’s racist, anti-Semitic screed. But historians behind the project say it will perform a valuable service in elucidating – and thereby disarming – the Nazi ideology for French readers.

Fayard were so keen to emphasise the edition’s scholarly nature that Hitler’s name does not even appear on the tome’s bare, white cover. Nor is it titled Mein Kampf: The book is instead called Historiciser le mal, une edition critique de Mein Kampf (“Putting Evil in Context: A Critical Edition of Mein Kampf”)

This is especially apt because most of the text is in fact historians’ commentary on Hitler’s writing, explained Hélène Miard-Delacroix, a professor of German history at the Sorbonne University in Paris. “It's the fruit of a decade of historical research, these notes and critical annotations make up two-thirds of the book, so it would be inaccurate to describe it as just a new translation,” she said.

Hitler wrote Mein Kampf (German for “My Struggle”) in 1924-25, when he was in prison for his leadership of the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich in 1923. The text is a manifesto for his Nazi ideology, which led to the murder of some six million people in the Holocaust. Mein Kampf also has an autobiographical dimension, with Hitler recounting his childhood in Austria and experience as a German soldier in the First World War.

‘Spotting Hitler’s lies’

Bookshops will not stock the edition on their shelves: it is available by special order only. Its price tag, €100, also makes it inaccessible to many readers. Fayard will not make a profit on the book, either. All proceeds will go to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. Instead of a launch party, Paris think-tank CNRS held a sombre event to mark the book’s publication.at its headquarters on May 19.

Miard-Delacroix thinks it is good that French readers will now have this source of insight into Nazism. “Seeing as fewer and fewer people learn German as a foreign language, it’s important to offer historians, teachers, professors, students and people who are simply curious about history a reliable translation of this text,” she said.

The first French translation of Mein Kampf was a heavily altered text published by Nouvelles Éditions Latines in 1934 – preserving the racist, anti-Semitic ideological content but changing the writing style. “The translator tried to improve the text’s literary qualities, because Hitler had no literary ability,” Miard-Delacroix said. Fayard produced a different modified edition in 1938, cutting out Hitler’s Francophobic passages.

By contrast, the new Fayard version – by Olivier Mannoni, renowned for his translations of Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud and Stefan Zweig from German into French – stays closer to the original, highlighting Hitler’s limited vocabulary and repetitive style.

A committee of a dozen historians worked on the scholarly aspect. A long introductory essay shines a light on the permutations of the Nazi ideology found in each of Hitler’s 27 chapters. Some 2,800 footnotes contextualise the original text. These supplementary materials are crucial, Miard-Delacroix said, in providing the reader “with all the necessary information to understand the nature of Mein Kampf by spotting Hitler’s lies and omissions – the fact, for example, that he was not the great heroic figure in the First World War that he claimed he was”.

Mein Kampf is part of our reality’

Anglophone readers have been able to examine Hitler’s manifesto for decades. British publisher Hutchinson (now part of Penguin Random House) published a translation by German Jewish émigré Ralph Mannheim in 1939 – seeking to give readers a better understanding of the ideology they were fighting in the Second World War.

The US government bought the American copyright to Mein Kampf during the war through the Trading with the Enemy Act – collecting more than $139,000 in royalties, disbursed mainly to US ex-prisoners of war in Nazi Germany, before selling it to publishers Houghton Mifflin in 1979.

In France, the 1934 Nouvelles Éditions Latines version is available through a few clicks on the Internet. This publishing house, widely seen as far-right, sold nearly 5,000 copies last year alone – providing another compelling reason to publish a scholarly, critical edition, Fayard said.

The French copyright to Mein Kampf entered the public domain in 2016 – meaning that anyone can publish an edition. France ruled in 1980 that any new edition requires an introduction of at least eight pages to put Hitler’s work into context, but that seems a slim requirement given the extremity of the content. This factor made it “urgent that an edition with an excellent critical apparatus filled the vacuum”, said Miard-Delacroix.

France is not alone in publishing a new scholarly edition of Mein Kampf over recent years. Warsaw publishing house Editions Bellona published a new 1,000-page critical version in Polish in January. A new 2,000-page, two-volume critical edition in the original version was published by the Munich-based IfZ historical research institute in 2016.

The French project was finished several years ago. But publication was repeatedly delayed because of opposition from prominent figures.

In 2015, leader of hard-left party La France Insoumise Jean-Luc Mélenchon excoriated the Fayard project: “It’s not morally acceptable,” he told TV station i-Télé. “People in France aren’t allowed to wear Nazi insignia, so why publish Mein Kampf?” Mélenchon continued.

Several Jewish associations criticised the project in 2019, citing the need to honour the memory of Holocaust victims – prompting Fayard to delay publication.

Now that publication has finally gone ahead, some voices in France have criticised Fayard’s decision to proceed shortly after latest flare-up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Paris police banned a planned march through the east of the city at the peak of the fighting last month – as French authorities feared a repeat of the ugly scenes at protests during the 2014 Gaza conflict, which saw synagogues targeted and chants of “death to Jews”.

But the new edition cannot be postponed indefinitely, because understanding Mein Kampf is a more valuable tool than ever in helping people confront Nazism, Miard-Delacroix underlined.

“Whether figures such as Mélenchon like it or not, Mein Kampf is part of our reality,” she said. “The Fayard edition’s critical notes and essays provide crucial weapons for deconstructing Nazism.”

This article was translated from the original in French.

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