On this day: Hitler released from prison

December 20 1924: When the Nazi leader wrote Mein Kampf

By Jennifer Lipman, December 20, 2010

In 1924 the future Nazi leader was locked up in the Landsberg prison in the German state of Bavaria.

He had been charged and convicted for high treason for attempting to seize power in Germany in the failed Munich Putsch coup the previous year. He spent 264 days behind bars in total.

It was in this period that Hitler wrote the book that would become the literary backbone to Nazi ideology: Mein Kampf, or My Struggle. It was written with the help of Rudolf Hess, his deputy, who had also been involved in the Putsch and sent to prison.

A combination of Hitler’s personal story and political ideology, Mein Kampf set out Hitler’s vision for Germany’s future, including the extermination of the Jewish people.

eventually ran to two volumes. A Landsberg prison official reportedly said Hitler hoped the profits from the tract would enable him “to fulfill his financial obligations and to defray the expenses incurred at the time of his trial”.

Since the Holocaust the book has been published around the world and is available in many booksellers, both physical and online, and it has been adopted by various extremist factions. In 2009 it emerged that Indian business studies students were being told to read Mein Kampf and Hitler’s autobiography for educational purposes, with Hitler presented to them as a management guru.

Copyright on the manuscript expires in 2015, meaning that from then any group could release it. However under German law publishing it is illegal, although some Jewish organisations have pressed for this to be changed, arguing that making it difficult to get hold of renders it glamorous to extremists.

What the JC said: Mein Kampf is the blueprint of man reduced to the jungle beast…it proclaims the right if the stronger who is right simply because he had successfully asserted his strength – provided only that he has preserved the purity of his “Aryan” race…Brutality, to the point of extermination, is a key word in Hitler’s book, as if ruthlessness, hate, terror, “fiery fanaticism” and “infallible intolerance,” and the great leader’s genius us found in nothing so much as in his ability to manipulate the “bestiality” of the masses.

See more from the JC archives here

Last updated: 9:29am, December 20 2010