[July 18, 2016] Know your enemy; know how he thinks, how he feels, and what his future plans are. That’s always been a key philosophy throughout my military career and the reason I bought a copy of Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler and began reading the English translation. I never finished the book because I couldn’t tolerate its boorishness. Yet, knowing the evils of Hitler the book did give me a much better understanding of this thoughts and dreams.
In my early years in the U.S. Army there was an underground skinhead movement that was loosely based on this book and other fascist writings. Largely borrowing from the symbology of the Hitler’s Third Reich, skinhead groups were a concern of senior military leaders because of their intolerance of non-white races. Skinheads still exist in the U.S. military but their numbers are now very small and the military leadership is sensitive to any outbreaks.
Hitler, as we all know, wrote Volume One of Mein Kampf (My Struggle) while in Landsberg prison – serving his sentence after being convicted of treason for his role in the Beer Hall Putsch. This was when he attempted a coup against the Bavarian government. The first part of Mein Kampf, subtitled “A Reckoning” is mostly a denunciation of the problems Germany faced by “mongrel races,” a lack of living space, and the terms of surrender at the end of World War I. It was published on this date, July 18, 1925.
We see many parallels today. Like Hitler, there are many who do not tolerate any deviation from the proscribed ideology and will use any method to punish those who are nonbelievers. Hitler’s solution was racial and ideological purity, economic socialism, and war to expand German territory. This would require absolute authoritarian rule; for all major decisions must be made by one man.
I find it important for leaders to read about those ideas that they may find repugnant or dangerous. The reason is that it provides background for leaders to understand and to oppose anyone like them from gaining power in the future. Without reading from the original texts (in this case a translation), leaders don’t have to rely upon the biases of those who summarize and analyze for us.
“How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don’t think.” – Adolf Hitler
We learn by reading and by the study of history. That is real leadership. Sadly few senior leaders today take the time to actually read and study. Like nearly all U.S. politicians for example who vote on bills that are to become law, they simply don’t read them. This flaw has lead to tragic outcomes and exposed our political leaders as superficial and untrustworthy.
Hitler’s vision of the future was very clear for those who have read his book. For example all capitalistic enterprises would be removed or fall under the direction of a centralized socialist economic plan; politics dominates economics.1 Those leaders who want to make a difference, it is then necessary for them to read books like Mein Kampf so that they may understand the ideology when they see it.
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