The Corner Kampf Over Mein Kampf

by Steven F. Hayward

Appropo the debate about the parallels between perceptions of an AQ reader and MK (I realize I’m not a neutral party), herewith some relevant passages from From Martin Gilbert and Richard Gott, The Appeasers: The Decline of Democracy from Hitler’s Rise to Chamberlain’s Downfall (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1963): In 1933, shortly after Hitler’s ascension to office, John Wheeler-Bennett said in the House of Commons: “Hitler, I am convinced, does not want war. He is susceptible to reason in matters of foreign policy. He is greatly anxious to make Germany once more self-respecting and is himself anxious to be respectable. He may be described as the most moderate member of his party.”

During question time in the House, he admitted that he had not read Mein Kampf. Gilbert & Gott comment: “Had he done so, he might still have asserted that Hitler’s foreign policy would be pacific, at least for some years.”

Journalist Vernon Bartlett, Gilbert & Gott note, wrote that the evidence that Hitler wanted war was “very slight.” Mien Kampf included expansionist passages, but it was “unfair” to quote from it, since it was written after the failure of a revolution, ten years earlier. It was wrong to expect from a young, embittered revolutionary “the reflections . . . that might be jotted down by a respectable politician with a distinguished university career behind him and a whiskey and soda by his side.” Hitler must be treated as a mature statesman, not as a frustrated revolutionary. It was wrong to forbid German rearmament. A disarmed nation would never feel secure, and would resent being treated like a spoiled child. “How could Germany be expected not to worry about her security when her neighbors, so much better armed and equipped, talk all the time about theirs.”

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