Thursday, January 5, 2017

85,000 Copies?

In the early part of 1925....Adolph Hitler's first volume of his book....Mein Kampf...was published.  No one is certain, even to this day, if his original plan was just one book or the two-volume series.  It may be that he just started talking and thinking, and the whole thing grew to the portion of 720-odd pages.  It's an awful lot, when you consider this is just political chit-chat of one extreme nature.

There are a total of 27 the two-volume series.  Some of these relate to Hitler himself.  Some relate to Nazi philosophy and the expectations of the state.

Over the next fourteen years, the book was published into eleven languages, and had sold roughly five million copies throughout Germany and the world.  Most historians agree that by 1945, there were around ten million copies of the book....most in Germany.  Some historians today say that virtually every single couple that married in the mid-1930s to a couple of the book (no one ever says that the majority read it....only that they had a copy).

The common analysis of the book....even going back to the mid-1920s?  It's a collection of Hitler cliches.  No real substance.  No new political creations.  Just pure Hitler-talk.

Why bring any of this up?  For seventy years....a German control was enacted over the publication of Mein Kampf.  That ended roughly a year ago.  Since that point, the German publishers who handle the critical edition of the Institute of Contemporary History have gone to the sixth printing of their standard on the document.  Total sold so far?  85,000 copies. Way above what they expected to sell in just one year.


Having spent a week back in the mid-1980s trying to read volume one of Mein Kampf....I would strongly suggest that the book ought to be reserved just for hard-core socialists who really get enthusiastic about the philosophy and want the Hitler-take on socialism.

Looking at this 2016 period, the 85,000 copies and what interest might lie in the book.....I might come to suggest that some people are in search of the Hitler-myth and trying to understand what drove the Nazi Party from 1919 to 1945.  There might be a few Nazi-enthusiasts among this 85,000 but I think the bulk are intellectuals in search of an understanding.  The history classes, the hundreds of books published since the early 1950s, the hundreds of public-TV documentaries....all come up short to the general public.

I generally place the blame on this lack of understanding on the fact that the German always wants to start this understanding in 1919 with the conclusion of the war, or in the 1930 with the step-up by the Nazi Party.  No one ever wants to go back to the 1800s, or revisit the Roman state of Germania which goes back 2,000 years.

This story, whether historians like or like a lego-creation where various details would fit better if you understood Roman history, the arrival of the Jewish traders into the region, the Catholic Church domination, the 30 Year's War, and the whole period of the 1800s where 200 various kingdoms, empires, city-states, etc....were forged into one fragile nation.  Toss in a immature guy like Wilhelm II, and a cluster of political philosophies which were in their infancy and you have fertile ground for National Socialism and the Nazi Party.  You just need one effective voice for the party, and the whole thing takes off.

More copies to be sold in 2017?  I would imagine so.  The thing is....if you go back to the 85,000 individuals who bought the copy in 2016 and ask if they read the whole two-volume set.....and I doubt if you'd find more than a third of this group who will admit they wrapped up the two volumes.

Worth discussing?  German journalists may beat this around for weeks and have public forums to explain this, but it's simply curiosity and a desire for one simple answer....which doesn't exist.

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