Joe Emersberger
Editing: Roderic Day

Mein Kampf: Hitler’s Love Letter to Western Imperialism (2022)

18 minutes | English | Art & Propaganda Fascism & Colonialism The Crew


“Appeals to all civilized and reasonable people.”

Volume I of Hitler’s Mein Kampf [My Struggle] was published in 1925. Volume II was published in 1926. [1] It’s important to bear these dates in mind because, according to historian David Schmitz, in 1933, when Hitler first became Chancellor of Germany, US officialdom was “not distraught.” In fact, George A. Gordon, the US charge d’affaires in Berlin, told Washington that Hitler led a “moderate” faction of the Nazis, which “appeals to all civilized and reasonable people.” [2] In 2015, footage emerged of British Royal Family members giving Nazi salutes in 1933. Defending the footage, Buckingham Palace said that “No one at that time had any sense how it would evolve. To imply anything else is misleading and dishonest.” [3]

This is nonsense.

Western governments were obviously capable of doing rudimentary intelligence work like reading Mein Kampf, which Hitler wrote while in prison after attempting a coup. So, what was it about Mein Kampf that might have put Western imperialists at ease? The short answer is that Hitler also happened to be a Western imperialist who was obsessed with annihilating Marxists.

His explicitly stated intention in Mein Kampf was, through mass murder, to eradicate Marxism in Germany and Eastern Europe. The primary goal was the destruction of Soviet Russia in order to transform Germany into a major European super-state: “This colossal Empire in the East is ripe for dissolution” he wrote. [4] After this goal was accomplished — and Marxism eradicated — Germany could then get to work seizing colonies outside Europe: “The German people will have no right to engage in a colonial policy until they shall have brought all their children together in the one State.” [5]

Marxists were not a secondary target for Hitler

Hitler’s savage antisemitism was inextricably linked to his anti-Marxism. As an aspiring young artist in Vienna (he was born and raised in Austria) he said “my eyes were opened to two perils, the names of which I scarcely knew hitherto and had no notion whatsoever of their terrible significance for the existence of the German people. These two perils were Marxism and Judaism.” [6] Throughout the book he conflates Jewish people with Marxists, or else depicts Marxism as the deadliest weapon deployed by Jews in a quest for world domination:

On the day when Marxism is broken in Germany the chains that bind Germany will be smashed for ever. [7]

Marxism[’s] final objective was and is and will continue to be the destruction of all non-Jewish national States […] [8]

[…] the life-work of the Jew, Karl Marx. His Capital became intelligible to me now for the first time. And in the light of it I now exactly understood the fight of the Social-Democrats [9] against national economics, a fight which was to prepare the ground for the hegemony of a real international and stock-exchange capital. [10]

Hitler said that Bolshevism (Marxism as applied in Soviet Russia) was ultimately driven by “the aspiration of the Jewish people to become the despots of the world” and that it would triumph in Germany if it is not crushed in Russia: “The struggle against the Jewish Bolshevization of the world demands that we should declare our position towards Soviet Russia.” [11]

In Mein Kampf, it seems Hitler more frequently conflates Jews with Marxists (or Social-Democrats) than with capitalists. His theory was that Jews first infiltrated powerful circles as financiers, then disarmed the hatred of the masses towards them by controlling the press. Lastly, Jews solidified their power by seizing control of anticapitalist forces: “the Jew […] in a short while became the leader of their struggle against himself. […] And thus the Marxist doctrine was invented.” [12]

In Marxism, Hitler saw anti-racist and anti-elitist ideas that were a complete negation of his own, and a dire threat:

Such is the true essence of the Marxist Weltanschauung [worldview] […] The destruction of the concept of personality and of race removes the chief obstacle which barred the way to domination of the social body by its inferior elements, which are the Jews. […] in reality its aim is to enslave and thereby annihilate the non-Jewish races. [13]

The assumption that all races are alike leads to the assumption that nations and individuals are equal to one another. And international Marxism is nothing but the application — effected by the Jew, Karl Marx — of a general conception of life to a definite profession of political faith; […] he used his keen powers of prognosis to detect the essential poisons, so as to extract them and concentrate them, with the art of a necromancer, in a solution which would bring about the rapid destruction of the independent nations on the globe. But all this was done in the service of his race. […] Marxism itself systematically aims at delivering the world into the hands of the Jews. [14]

Referring to Marxism, Hitler asked “Is it possible to eradicate ideas by force of arms? Could a Weltanschauung be attacked by means of physical force?” He concluded that it could be, but only if the extermination campaign has the “moral support” that comes from working “in the service of a new idea or Weltanschauung which burns with a new flame.” [15]

It’s important to add that Hitler regarded most people, including his beloved German “Aryans,” as quite stupid. German schools, Hitler said, should have students spend less time reading and more time developing their physical fitness; basically producing “real men” who’d become soldiers, and producing the healthy women who would give birth to them. [16] Hitler’s book only once cautioned against getting carried away with the premise that most people were stupid: “Generally speaking, one should guard against considering the broad masses more stupid than they really are.” [17] He also said that orators were more effective propagandists than writers for reaching “the masses,” and that written propaganda should be very concise and dumbed down. [18] Hitler clearly wrote Mein Kampf (which is 600 pages long) for a trusted audience with whom he believed he could be fairly honest. [19]

Emphasis on stealing working class support from Marxists

In the last chapter of Volume I, Hitler stated that his growing movement “must try to recruit its followers mainly from the ranks of the working class. It must include members of the intellectual classes only in so far as such members have rightly understood and accepted without reserve the ideal towards which the movement is striving.” Hitler lashed out at industrialists who hurt the fight against the “internationalism” promoted by Marxists:

A movement which sincerely endeavours to bring the German worker back into his folk-community, and rescue him from the folly of internationalism, must wage a vigorous campaign against certain notions that are prevalent among the industrialists. One of these notions is that according to the concept of the folk-community, the employee is obliged to surrender all his economic rights to the employer and, further, that the workers would come into conflict with the folk-community if they should attempt to defend their own just and vital interests. Those who try to propagate such a notion are deliberate liars. [20]

Hitler saw class solidarity as an abomination (a Judeo-Marxist abomination of course) that must be replaced with racial solidarity. He actually defined a state as a “racial organism” but feared that excessive inequality could undermine racial solidarity, and thereby thwart the eradication of Marxism. He declared that “the paramount purpose of the State is to preserve and improve the race; […] Those States which do not serve this purpose have no justification for their existence. They are monstrosities.” [21]

Hitler said that use of the color red in Nazi posters was deliberately intended as a provocation (“our intention being to irritate the Left”). He wrote that “ordinary bourgeois” were shocked to see Nazis use the “symbolic red of Bolshevism” and call each other “Party Comrade.” But Hitler and his inner circle were delighted with accusations that they were Marxists: “We used to roar with laughter at these silly faint-hearted bourgeois and their efforts to puzzle out our origin, our intentions and our aims.” [22]

In that same chapter, he recounts with pride the initial exploits of the goons he formed to beat up “Reds” and enforce order during his speeches: the first Nazi “Storm Troops.” However, Hitler did not believe Nazi unions could compete with the trade unions that he saw as thoroughly controlled by Marxists:

The Marxist trade-unionist citadel may be governed to-day by mediocre leaders, but it cannot be taken by assault except through the dauntless energy and genius of a superior leader on the other side. [23]

In a rare display of modesty, Hitler said no such leader existed for this particular task, so he said it was best to wait until they had state power to establish Nazi trade unions (while of course also using state power to smash the “Marxist trade-unionist citadel”). Until they had state power, Hitler advised his followers to either leave the Marxist unions, or remain but disrupt them as much as possible.

Hitler’s racist pecking order and admiration of the British Empire

Though he hated Jewish people so much that he claimed to be repulsed by their very odor, he at least credited them with cunning or intelligence, as in the case of Karl Marx. [24] Africans on the other hand, Hitler likened to dogs:

From time to time our illustrated papers publish […] the news that in some quarter or other of the globe, and for the first time in that locality, a Negro has become a lawyer, a teacher, a pastor, even a grand opera tenor or something else of that kind. […] the more cunning Jew sees in this fact a new proof to be utilized for the theory with which he wants to infect the public, namely that all men are equal. […] The bourgeois mind does not realize that it is a sin against the will of the eternal Creator to allow hundreds of thousands of highly gifted people to remain floundering in the swamp of proletarian misery while Hottentots and Zulus are drilled to fill positions in the intellectual professions. For here we have the product only of a drilling technique, just as in the case of the performing dog. [25]

Hitler also alleged that the “cunning Jew” was happy with an “influx of negroid blood” in France which was “infecting the white race with the blood of an inferior stock” in order to “destroy the foundations of its independent existence,” and turning that region bordering Germany “into a playground for hordes of African niggers.” [26]

In another passage of the same chapter Hitler assailed the idea that merely speaking German and living in Germany could make anyone a German: “it is almost inconceivable how such a mistake could be made as to think that a Nigger or a Chinaman will become a German because he has learned the German language.” [27]

What does it say about George Orwell that he could review this obscene book and still remark that “I should like to put it on record that I have never been able to dislike Hitler”? [28] What does it say about Steve Wadhams of the CBC (in 2016!) praising Orwell’s “courage” for writing that? [29]

It’s also worth recalling that when Hitler wrote Mein Kampf the US was an apartheid state plagued with lynchings of African-Americans. [30] It was also militarily ocuppying Haiti, a majority black republic established by a successful slave revolt in 1804 (and punished by European and US white supremacists ever since). How troubling could Hitler’s virulent racism have really been to US officialdom back then, or even now [31] as it ships weapons to neo-Nazis in Ukraine to fight a proxy war with Russia? [32] And of course Winston Churchill’s racism and brutality [33] were comparable to Hitler’s. [34]

Orwell’s review dubiously claimed that Mein Kampf contained an “implied intention of smashing England” after dealing with Russia. The book clearly conveyed Hitler’s wish to one day see Germany surpass Britain as an imperial power, but preferably by making it subordinate to Germany as an ally (as Britain is today to the US) not by destroying it — the fate he undeniably intended for Marxists, Jews and Slavs. In fact, Hitler often expressed admiration and, most importantly for him, racial solidarity with the British Empire.

Consider one of the reasons Hitler rejected the idea of an alliance with India’s independence movement just after World War I: “I as a German would far rather see India under British domination than under that of any other nation.” Moreover, he wrote that groups advocating an alliance showed that they had “learned nothing from the world war” of “Anglo-Saxon determination.” [35]

Reminiscing of World War I, Hitler said that

No sacrifice should have been considered too great if it was a necessary means of gaining England’s friendship. Colonial and naval ambitions should have been abandoned and attempts should not have been made to compete against British industries. […] This policy would have involved a period of temporary self-denial, for the sake of a great and powerful future. [36]

After the war, despite the ruin and humiliation Britain helped impose on Germany, Hitler continued to advocate for an alliance with Britain. He lamented, “Of course it is difficult for us to propose England as our possible ally in the future. Our Jewish Press has always been adept in concentrating hatred against England particularly.”

Lessons in movement-building?

Any movement, whether it be noble or evil, will grapple with similar kinds of growing pains and tactical dilemmas: internal power struggles driven by petty jealousy, difficulties merging with like minded groups, decisions about how careful to be admitting new members. Generally, when writing about movement-building tactics and propaganda, Hitler’s hateful fantasies and obsessions are toned down and he appears practical. His description of the first German Labor Party meeting he attended and is one of the few times he shows any sense of humor. He basically barged into a comfortable little club that had no interest in growing or really doing much of anything. [37] But he guessed correctly that he could take it over and do something with it.

Given the success he had building his movement, and its humble origins, there is no denying that he had good political instincts for the time and place in which he lived. He stressed intensity, action, and results. He brought in his army buddies (battle-hardened racist fanatics like himself) to make sure that happened, and to ensure he kept control. He said that calling his movement a “party” was a great way to scare away “dreamers” he thought were useless. [38]

However, Hitler was a genocidal maniac who succeeded for many years because he lived in a world run by like-minded genocidal maniacs. To a large extent, far from bursting down walls, he was walking through doors left wide open by centuries of Western imperialism. That’s ultimately the most important lesson to take from his book.

[1] The two-volume edition from the Internet Archive is cited throughout. [web] 

[2] David Schmitz, 1988. The United States and fascist Italy, 1922-1940, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, pp. 133, 140. [web] 

[3] 2015-07-18. Buckingham Palace defends footage of Queen’s Nazi salute. The Irish Examiner. [web] 

[4] Vol II, Chapter 14. 

[5] Vol I, Chapter 1. 

[6] Vol I, Chapter 1. 

[7] Vol II, Chapter 15. 

[8] Vol I, Chapter 5. 

[9] Originally the term Social-Democrat was used to refer to communists, but with the rise of explicitly communist parties the Social-Democratic party would become the compatible-left bulwark against communism. 

[10] Vol I, Chapter 8. 

[11] Vol II, Chapter 14. 

[12] Vol I, Chapter 11. 

[13] Vol I, Chapter 11. 

[14] Vol II, Chapter 1. 

[15] Vol I, Chapter 5. 

[16] Vol II, Chapter 2. 

[17] Vol I, Chapter 6, emphasis mine. 

[18] Vol II, Chapter 6. 

[19] See Michael Parenti’s Blackshirts and Reds (City Lights Books, 1997) for a discussion of how Hitler’s record in power exposed the phoniness of the pro-worker positions he took in Mein Kampf

[20] Vol I, Chapter 12. 

[21] Vol I, Chapter 4. 

[22] Vol II, Chapter 7. 

[23] Vol II, Chapter 12. 

[24] Vol I Chapter 2. 

[25] Vol II, Chapter 2. 

[26] Vol II, Chapter 13. 

[27] Vol II, Chapter 2. 

[28] George Orwell, 1940-03-21. Review of Mein Kampf. The New English Weekly. [web] 

[29] Steve Wadhams, 2016-04-24. 5 things George Orwell understood. CBC. [web] 

[30] Ed Pilkington, 2020-06-16. Racial terror: 2,000 black Americans were lynched in Reconstruction era, report says. The Guardian. [web] 

[31] Rosemary Rossi, 2022-03-12. MSNBC Guest Michael McFaul Apologizes for ‘Mistaken’ Comparison of Putin to Hitler on ‘The Rachel Maddow Show’. Yahoo! News. [web] 

[32] Benjamin Norton, 2022-03-24. Ex US official admits Ukraine conflict is NATO ‘proxy war with Russia.’ Multipolarista. [web] 

[33] Jonathan Hari, 2010-10-27. Not his finest hour: The dark side of Winston Churchill. The Independent. [web] 

[34] Margaret Kimberley, 2020-06-17. Freedom Rider: Churchill, Columbus and Leopold Fall Down. Black Agenda Report. [web] 

[35] Vol II, Chapter 14. 

[36] Vol I, Chapter 4. 

[37] Vol I, Chapter 9. 

[38] Vol 1 Chapter 12.