Talk:Mein Kampf

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It sounds like Hitler was really volked up. --Larry Sanger 22:44, 5 July 2007 (CDT)

He was totally reicht out of his mind! --Robert W King 00:12, 6 July 2007 (CDT)

Such drolleries aside, I am a bit concerned about this entry -- as it stands, it seems to set forth HItler's arguments as though they were perfectly ordinary. This is exacerbated by the lack of historical context given the book, and to the history of the ideas within it (e.g. anti-Semitism). What seems to me most notable about Mein Kampf is that, had anyone outside Germany read it an taken it seriously, they would have found every plank of Hitler's eventual platform, and realized -- perhaps -- what was at stake.

The whole notion of das volk (the "people"), the way the book builds on late 19th-century raciology, its relationship to Gustave Le Bon's The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind, all this should be addressed. That said, the WP entry is a mess! It's an overstuffed duffel full of incoherently tacked-together things -- here is something we can avoid. Russell Potter 07:37, 6 July 2007 (CDT)

Is it of the viewpoint that it's "ordinary", or is the text of the article just very plain? Although most people would agree that Hitler was probably the worst dictators of the 20th century, I would have no problem with the article if it didn't support any viewpoint whatsoever. --Robert W King 08:50, 6 July 2007 (CDT)

Well, with Hitler, I think we would not want to -- and likely not be able to -- craft an entry which supports no viewpoint. We can state the consensus of scholars as to the sources, themes, and purport of the book, and we should do so, but these scholars, inevitably, have a fairly strong critical view. If there is some other viewpoint out there about the book, we should describe it as well. Neutrality doesn't mean trying to repredsent no views at all but accurately describing all existing views, with proportion as to their degree of acceptance among scholars in this field. Russell Potter 09:31, 6 July 2007 (CDT)

Don't get me wrong Russell, I'm definately a student of the neutral school, but specifically I meant I would satisfied either way; no viewpoint or all viewpoints--only in this case though since Mein Kampf is an ideological standpoint in a book (books don't kill people--people kill people), despite it being a foundation of human extinction.--Robert W King 09:41, 6 July 2007 (CDT)
Let's wait and see how the entry develops -- I agree, just meant that the "no viewpoint" option would be by far the more difficult. Russell Potter 09:50, 6 July 2007 (CDT)

plans for the article

I'm going to be working on this one for the next few days, maybe a couple of weeks. I have my whole contribution sketched out from the bird's eye view, but patience please while I work it all together. I'm only planning to present Hitler's main ideas as he presents them, quoting amply from the source to show his professed reasoning and motivations, etc. I'm trying to minimize any sort of critical intervention. I'm not sure the general reader needs to be assured that there is/was no Jewish world conspiracy, but I would think wikilinks to such historical events as WWI, the German Revolution, Versailles, Marxism, Austria-Hungary, Russia, etc. would suffice to inform the reader who wishes for factual background aside from Hitler's representations. Importantly, Hitler opines extensively as to the uses of propaganda, which should also put his aims in perspective. Nathaniel Dektor 11:53, 6 July 2007 (CDT)


I'm glad to see the article continuing to grow, and with ambitious plans. But at the moment there seems to be an awfully high proportion of quoted material, which quite overwhelms, or seems to take the place of, discussion and analysis of the text. Russell Potter 13:35, 6 July 2007 (CDT)

No doubt, but I'll have to see how it all works as the article shapes up. Hitler's extravagant rhetorical style is an element in itself worth noting, and at 700 pages the book has a lot to say. While forging ahead I'll keep economy in mind, of course, but given such a contentious figure I would like to cite liberally to support my characterizations of what I say he says. I'd also like to convey how the NSDAP was able to front a sociopolitical program that could appeal to as many Germans as it did. Nathaniel Dektor 17:44, 6 July 2007 (CDT)

The quotes are, and will be important -- I just wouldn't want them to stand in the place of an overall analysis and outline. Also, it might be helpful if you want to show Hitler's style to give a few paraphrases from the original German. For instance, when he praises moving pictures as being able to deliver, at a single blow (auf einem klang) the same points it would take thousands of words to describe, that's a powerful moment in his theory of propaganda. Russell Potter 19:30, 6 July 2007 (CDT)

The article is shaping up nicely...but I have to say that so many quotes are problematic, not because of copyright concerns (I'll leave that to others), but because they make what should be an encyclopedia article into something different, viz., an annotated selection of readings from the book. There is actually a section of our style guide about this, composed following a few other similar cases of articles with heavy amounts of quotation; please have a look. --Larry Sanger 06:53, 11 July 2007 (CDT)

Larry makes a good point. We are not quoting from a biography of Hitler, where the long quotes would be poor policy. The article is explicating a text, trying to get inside Hitler's mind by getting inside his exact words. The exact phrasing is important and paraphrases are not so useful. (Of course the translation issue is a problem too--a scholarly explication would only use the German text.) Richard Jensen 08:02, 11 July 2007 (CDT)

Well, I'm not sure if you're agreeing or disagreeing with me. My view in my own unparaphrased words ;-) is that the best scholarly explications of texts do, of course, use exact quotations when the wording is particularly important. I agree with that much, which I guess is obvious. But these quotations are as brief as possible, and are very carefully chosen. The authors of the article are attempting to summarize, explain, and contextualize, and otherwise represent, a long and involved discourse. This usually cannot be done as well by cherry-picking and annotating quotes as it can be done by making the main narrative the author's own.

But that can't be the main argument against making an article mostly quotations, because there are some authors who take the trouble to carefully and engagingly represent their entire book's argument in their introduction or preface. Why shouldn't CZ simply quote that, then?

The answer, of course, is that it wouldn't be our work, and to preserve the integrity of the quoted text, it could not be edited. But it is in the nature of CZ to be an original and editable work. So, that's my main argument. --Larry Sanger 08:22, 11 July 2007 (CDT)

Historians of painting will tell us in their own words what a painting looks like, but that's after we see a copy of the painting. The goal here is to report as closely as possible what was in Hitler's mind and to capture his violent rhetoric; extended quotes are called for. They tell the user what the key ideas are in the book and how Hitler expressed them. The issue here is how to treat a long primary source (Mein Kampf runs 250,000 words). The different issue in the CZ policy statements is how to handle secondary sources, which I agree should not be quoted at length. In sum, I think Nathaniel Dektor has handled it well. Richard Jensen 08:56, 11 July 2007 (CDT)
I don't think I'm re-presenting Hitler in some "Reader's Digest" form. Rather, the selection and the way of guiding the reader through them do compose an analysis of the text. The narrative is my own because I'm not simply retelling Hitler or collecting interesting quotes, but using his words to tell my own analysis. The apparently extensive excerpting is really a tiny fraction of the entire lengthy book, and doesn't retell the book. A retelling would, per Hitler's two volume structure, chronologically follow his reported intellectual development from a boy to the leader of the party, and then would lay out the movement's philosophy. Having just finished studying the complete book, however, I noted the interplay of certain themes that structure Hitler's view of everything at any time. I'm trying not just to note the existence of themes (racism, authoritarianism, idealism, leadership, etc.), but analyze how the themes work together to build a coherent picture of Hitler's project.
Looking over my plan, I'm confident I'll finish within a week or ten days, so if people can wait just a little longer that might be good while I have the complete text as fresh in my mind as possible. I'm encouraged that people have taken such an interest in this article. Nathaniel Dektor 12:52, 11 July 2007 (CDT)
Taking just the most recent additions into account:"Racial Purity, Individualism, Spirituality" -- I don't think any of these terms can simply be used unproblematically; they require some discussion in order to set Hitler's arguments in their hisorical context. "Racial purity" is a long-ago debunked notion, though one shared by others outside of Hitler's Germany -- some discussion is needed here, and CZ has a good entry on Eugenics which I wrote in part which could be linked here. "Individualism" -- Hitler uses this term in quite a different sense from its usual one, and this should be noted.
There is also a sentence (not in the quotes, but in the text) which reads: "The sublimity of Hitler's idea, requiring the masses' support and political power to execute, justifies its forceable imposition" -- this is confusing. Is it the author's intention to say that Hitler's idea is sublime? Or that its forceable imposition" is justified? I hope not. This should be rephrased as "Hitler regarded this as a sublime idea, one which justified ..." I'm sorry, Richard, I must disagree with you; the quotes here are so extensive, and so thinly joned by (in the above case, problematic) brief claims whose POV is unclear, that this does not yet read to me as an encyclopedic article should. Russell Potter 20:50, 11 July 2007 (CDT)
The article's second paragraph indicates Hitler's old-fashioned use of the idea of race. I think working in a wikilink to Eugenics would work well, so I'll do that. "Individualism" is a less controversial notion than race. Hitler promotes the individual over the masses in many places, so "individualism" doesn't mislead. Rather than incorporate a discussion of the historical uses of term "individualism" perhaps wikilinking to Individualism would suffice. Finally, please note that "The sublimity of Hitler's idea, requiring the masses' support and political power to execute, justifies its forceable imposition:" has a colon at the end. It's an interpretive claim, and the colon says "and here comes the supporting evidence." The ensuing three quotes show Hitler considers his idea sublime, that he has the right and duty to do whatever it takes to execute it, including using "violence," "the constant application of force," and the "strong-arm means" all justifiable in his and his supporters' "fanatical outlook." Nathaniel Dektor 21:44, 11 July 2007 (CDT)


While I think the quotes are illustrative of Hitler's arguments in Mein Kampf, such lengthy quotes in a relatively shorter article may constitute a copyright violation. Houghton Mifflin still retains copyright in the Mannheim translation, even though it donates all the royalties to charity (see this article). I think we should get permission from the publisher if we're going to have such extensive quoted material. Russell Potter 08:18, 10 July 2007 (CDT)

Yeah, maybe, let's see how it goes though. I'll still be working on it the next week or ten days. That's an interesting point with the contention over the publishing and royalties. Nathaniel Dektor 18:31, 10 July 2007 (CDT)
Extensive quotations from a historically important book are called for. In terms of the 4 fair use copyright criteria, we are using a 2500 words -- a small % of the entire book. (It is NOT the % of our article that is quotation, it is the % of the book.) Richard Jensen 06:35, 11 July 2007 (CDT)
The "less than 10% criterion" is generally for academic fair use, yes, but I'm not completely certain that this is the standard, when it comes to quotations, that would necessarily be applied to Citizendium. My problem with these quotes is also that such extensive use of quotes is not really encyclopedic. We need more analysis here and less reliance on direct quotes. In any case, Richard, I'll defer to your judgment here. Russell Potter 09:11, 11 July 2007 (CDT)
The copyright issue is not very important. The actual words of Hitler are not copyright, only the translation. We are quoting about 1% of the text, which is certainly inside fair use standards. It's a different questions whether there is too much quoting. I don't think so in this case. It's very hard for a student to work through this very long, turgid book (The Gutenberg version is 1.8 million bytes or about 250,000 words). Paraphrases are used, but most commentators emphasize Hitler's rhetoric (a key part of his mesmerizing hold on Germans.)Richard Jensen 09:27, 11 July 2007 (CDT)
Are there important differences between the Public Domain translation and the copyrighted version? Why not just use the PD version? If there *are* important differences, why not be safe? Just ask them permission! It'll take 39 cents and 5 minutes.  —Stephen Ewen (Talk) 13:54, 11 July 2007 (CDT)
Here is the link  —Stephen Ewen (Talk) 14:05, 11 July 2007 (CDT)
I see now the Project Gutenberg version would not be considered PD in the U.S., where CZ's servers are. Also, see for some pretty good info.  —Stephen Ewen (Talk) 14:10, 11 July 2007 (CDT)

According to the source, Houghton Mifflin's copyright over the translation began in 1943 and was renewed in 1971.  —Stephen Ewen (Talk) 13:59, 12 July 2007 (CDT)


The adjective "folkish" ("völkische") appears more than a dozen times here, but is never commented on or defined. WP has an excellent entry here on the Völkisch movement; some account of this history is much needed here, and early on. Russell Potter 09:29, 12 July 2007 (CDT)

The way Hitler uses the term in the book is in the article's first paragraph and the one following that contains the quote from page 383. I think a wikilink to the CZ article on the folkish movement would be good. Nathaniel Dektor 16:15, 12 July 2007 (CDT)


As of morning EST July 11th, the article's original text runs to 1,979 words, and the quotations run to 2,628 words. That's more than 30% more quoted material than original. This is clearly not in accord with CZ's style policy, which states:

"As a general rule, we should not use quotations that are longer than one sentence, and we should not use many quotations in any one article. The purpose of a quotation is typically to illustrate or support some point. Quotations are, therefore, texts that support the main text, which the Citizendium writes.
There are at least two main reasons for this policy against many and long quotations.
First, such quotations prevent collaboration on the substance of the text (quotations are uneditable). It is inherently biased to have an extended quote that speaks for the Citizendium, since in that case the Citizendium is made to endorse a whole series of points that are only that source's idiosyncratic views. Second, the practice of adding a long quotation cannot be generalized. If we have a long quotation that supports one point, why should we not have long quotations that support every point? There is a vast universe of books and other potentially supporting verbiage. We can find long quotations for everything, if we wanted to. Therefore, unless there is some particularly good reason to use a quotation beyond one sentence, don't do it; summarize.
The exceptions will, perhaps, be in cases where texts themselves are the primary subject of an article. Even in this case, extended quotations are to be used sparingly and only with excellent justification." --Larry Sanger 09:47, 12 July 2007

Article should be posted after rewrite

Sorry to have to do this, but there is a serious problem with the article that really must be fixed before further development. As editor-in-chief, I'm saying that the article is simply not acceptable simply due to the sheer amount of quotation it has. I mean no disrespect toward anyone, and don't wish to put anyone off; but our policy about quotation is indeed our policy, and it is my job ultimately to enforce it. Please either expand the surrounding text, or reduce the amount of quotation. I leave it to you to decide best how to do this. Then, let's move the article back to the main namespace page.

Please do not undo this while I'm gone; it is an editor-in-chief decision. --Larry Sanger 09:47, 12 July 2007 (CDT)

I'm going to finish the anti-Semitism section, then see what can be done. Nathaniel Dektor 17:47, 12 July 2007 (CDT)

I've now finished the anti-Semitism section, which completes my analytical summary of what Hitler does with his book. Because Hitler is such a contentious and casually iconic figure I think in this case the article benefits particularly from showing his words. I think this is a good time for Russell to append the analyses and critical receptions of the book he has talked about, and then we can see how the article shapes up from there. Nathaniel Dektor 19:01, 12 July 2007 (CDT)

Question of form: I think that the tense of the verbs in the entry should be the past tense, as this is not a work of fiction (in the usual sense) and it's important to see Hitler's claims in the context of their historical moment. Russell Potter 22:57, 12 July 2007 (CDT)

Nathaniel, the article simply will have to be deleted, and your work will have been for nothing, if you cannot render it in an acceptable form. I'm not going to argue with you about the merits of "showing his words." --Larry Sanger 23:11, 12 July 2007 (CDT)

I don't have any arguments in mind. I meant to say I'm done with what I intended to do and if Russell would like to add the material he's mentioned would be important to the article, but which I've asked him until now to patiently hold, then that would be good: we could see what we've got and decide on the best next step. But no, I can't render it in an acceptable form. I assure you, though, I won't consider my work to have been for nothing if you delete it. Nathaniel Dektor 23:59, 12 July 2007 (CDT)

I have invited User:Adam Carr and User:Ori Redler by email to stop in and have a look here, to see what they might collaborate with.  —Stephen Ewen (Talk) 01:13, 13 July 2007 (CDT)

Stephen Ewen asked me to stop by.

I think there are several problems here:

  1. There is no context whatsoever. MK does not exist in a vacuum -- it's a work written by a person in a specific historical context and without this context, it loses all its importance.
  2. Quoting should be done for a purpose, and this purpose ought not to be to "show what he wrote" (i.e., as evidence) but to help us understand what he meant by that (i.e., knowledge).
  3. The chapters "Dissatisfaction with Germany's Leadership after Bismarck" to "The Calamity of the World War, Revolution, and Treaty of Versailles" presents Hitler's crude coffee-house-talk re-digestion of popular opinion at the time, and this should be noted, and the chapters should be considerably shortened. It would suffice if we mention that this is a rehash of popular opinion, and note others who held similar views.
  4. Hitler's rejection of Marxism is described, but the many similarities between his views and those of Marxism is not mentioned nor put in context. Much of the National-Socialists view were Socialist or Marxist in essence, replacing Class with Race (and often not even that).
  5. Hitler held to a mercantilistic world view, masqueraded as primitivism, and this is not mentioned at all. Quotes give the information, but they come without any context.

Ori Redler 10:48, 13 July 2007 (CDT)

Mein Kampf/Tutorial

I have posted at CZ Talk:Article Mechanics#On quotes arguing that there may be some rare exceptions where relaxing the rule about quotations in lieu of editor discretion might be a good idea. I may be wrong there, but for a Mein Kampf/Tutorial I really do think more extensive quotations need to be allowed. Simply, Richard Jensen is spot-on right in this: "It's very hard for a student to work through this very long, turgid book (The Gutenberg version is 1.8 million bytes or about 250,000 words). Paraphrases are used, but most commentators emphasize Hitler's rhetoric (a key part of his mesmerizing hold on Germans)." And Nathaniel Dektor is right to see a central role for Hitler's own words within a text attempting to illuminate the same. To be really beneficial, a tutorial on Mein Kampf might quite heavily rely on quotations from the work, and I think by policy this should be allowed. In fact, some of the material Nathaniel has written for the article might be refashioned for the tutorial...assuming we get permission from Houghton Mifflin, which I'd hope would not be a problem.  —Stephen Ewen (Talk) 03:45, 14 July 2007 (CDT)

Stephen, I'd respectfully disagree with you (and with Richard) here. Whether the prose of the book is turgid or not, CZ isn't Cliffs Notes. And, as Ori has pointed out, there's just not enough historical contextualization here yet to make this article truly meaningful. What's needed is an historically informed discussion of the book, with an overview of influences, contexts, and consequences, using only those quotes which are really vital to illustrating Hitler's points (as opposed to paraphrasing them). (Even a "tutorial" would need to do the same, I feel), Russell Potter 13:34, 16 July 2007 (CDT)

Article removed, page deleted, talk page kept

It seems clear that the author of this article has no intention to rewrite it in accordance with our policy regarding quotations. I believe it is unreasonable to ask others to rewrite it for him.

Therefore, I'm making a decision as editor-in-chief to move the article to Cold Storage. If the article's author should wish to restore a more suitable version, he may of course do so. --Larry Sanger 02:27, 26 July 2007 (CDT)