ein Kampf is the book that Adolf Hitler wrote during his time in prison. The translation of the title from German to English is “My Struggle” and it is best defined as a political manifesto. This book contains most of the fascist ideology with which Hitler reigned over Germany. To put it in a better perspective, this was the bible that the German citizens followed during Hitler’s rule, which also indoctrinated them with hate for Jewish people and other races.
A very rare copy of the book was sold to a private collection in 2019 for the sum of $40,000. What made this copy so rare, besides being signed by Hitler himself, is that this is one of the 20 special edition copies that were published in 1925 and offered to Hermann Esser for Christmas Eve of 1925.
Another aspect that increases the book’s value is the cover being gold-plated. The auction house Mullocks Auctioneers mentioned:
“This is most probably the rarest edition of Mein Kampf offered for auction”.
During the 1920s and 1930s, over 10 million copies were sold in Germany alone. The book was also translated to many different languages in the 1930s and sold in various countries. This was not to sell more copies, or to make Hitler a more famous author, but to actually indoctrinate other nations and races that Hitler deemed worthy based on the ideology present in his book.
Esser was another important figure within the Nazi party as he was the head editor of the Nazi newspaper Volkischer Beobachter which was filled with propaganda cover to cover. Therefore, he was the main distributor of fascist propaganda as many of the articles within the Volkischer Beobachter followed the principles outlined in Mein Kampf. Esser, later on, became a member of the Reichstag.
A book or a weapon?
If people — even to this day — do not understand the power of a book, then take this example into account, as this book changed the mind of a whole country. Of course, the book wasn’t the only indoctrinating factor, but it definitely was the main factor that made people indulge in a fascist regime. As the novelist Edward Bulwer-Lutton mentioned in 1839:
“The pen is mightier than the sword.”
Either a book, a piece of paper or even a poster, anything with words can have an impulse on a person if portrayed the right way. The reason why the book had such great success was that many German citizens understood Hitler’s struggle (besides his racist ideologies presented in the book) therefore they were touched and attracted to also understand his racist and psychopathic ideologies.
What is even more surprising is that this book is still published and still sold to this day but mainly for educational purposes such as analyses of historical texts by history academics. As I always say, we need to first understand the way the book was used as a weapon in order to understand why the events in the late 1930s happened the way they did.
Besides finding a new perspective, a reader will always try to find themselves within a book, within a character or a person that has portrayed their struggle in an autobiography or simply a characteristic that portrays a certain ideology. I believe that is it in our human nature to try and identify with anything our eyes lay upon in order to find comfort.
This isn’t the first time that a book is used as a weapon in history, there have been many such instances, some of these were even prehistoric where there weren’t any books used, but written texts that were written with the purpose of changing someone’s mind or perspective in order to think in a certain way. Although not as powerful as a book, it still has a similar effect.