Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
Volume One - A Reckoning
Chapter VIII: The Beginning of My Political Activity
AT THE END of November, 1918, I returned to Munich. Again I
went to the replacement battalion of my regiment, which was in the hands
of 'soldiers' councils.' Their whole activity was so repellent to me that
I decided at once to leave again as soon as possible. With Schmiedt Ernst,
a faithful war comrade, I went to Traunstein and remained there till the
camp was broken up.
In March, 1919, we went back to Munich.
The situation was untenable and moved inevitably toward a further
continuation of the revolution. Eisner's death only hastened the development
and finally led to a dictatorship of the Councils, or, better expressed,
to a passing rule of the Jews, as had been the original aim of the instigators
of the whole revolution.
At this time endless plans chased one another through my head.
For days I wondered what could be done, but the end of every meditation
was the sober realization that I, nameless as I was, did not possess the
least basis for any useful action. I shall come back to speak of the reasons
why then, as before, I could not decide to join any of the existing parties.
In the course of the new revolution of the Councils I for the first time
acted in such a way as to arouse the disapproval of the Central Council.
Early in the morning of April 27, 1919, I was to be arrested, but, faced
with my leveled carbine, the three scoundrels lacked the necessary courage
and marched off as they had come.
A few days after the liberation of Munich, I was ordered to
report to the examining commission concerned with revolutionary occurrences
in the Second Infantry Regiment.
This was my first more or less purely political activity.
Only a few weeks afterward I received orders to attend a ' course
' that was held for members of the armed forces. In it the soldier was supposed
to learn certain fundamentals of civic thinking. For me the value of the
whole affair was that I now obtained an opportunity of fleeting a few like-minded
comrades with whom I could thoroughly discuss the situation of the moment.
All of us were more or less firmly convinced that Germany could no longer
be saved from the impending collapse by the parties of the November crime,
the Center and the Social Democracy, and that the so-called 'bourgeois-national'
formations, even with the best of intentions, could never repair what had
happened. A whole series of preconditions were lacking, without which such
a task simply could not succeed. The following period confirmed the opinion
we then held. Thus, in our own circle we discussed the foundation of a new
party. The basic ideas which we had in mind were the same as those later
realized in the ' German Workers' Party.' The name of the movement to be
founded would from the very beginning have to offer the possibility of approaching
the broad masses; for without this quality the whole task seemed aimless
and superfluous. Thus we arrived at the name of ' Social Revolutionary Party';
this because the social views of the new organization did indeed mean a
But the deeper ground for this lay in the following: however
much I had concerned myself with economic questions at an earlier day, my
efforts had remained more or less within the limits resulting from the contemplation
of social questions as such. Only later did this framework broaden through
examination of the German alliance policy. This in very great part was the
outcome of a false estimation of economics as well as unclarity concerning
the possible basis for sustaining the German people in the future. But all
these ideas were based on the opinion that capital in any case was solely
the result of labor and, therefore, like itself was subject to the correction
of all those factors which can either advance or thwart human activity;
and the national importance of capital was that it depended so completely
on the greatness, freedom, and power of the state, hence of the nation,
that this bond in itself would inevitably cause capital to further the state
and the nation owing to its simple instinct of self-preservation or of reproduction.
This dependence of capital on the independent free state would, therefore,
force capital in turn to champion this freedom, power, strength, etc., of
Thus, the task of the state toward capital was comparatively
simple and clear: it only had to make certain that capital remain the handmaiden
of the state and not fancy itself the mistress of the nation. This point
of view could then be defined between two restrictive limits: preservation
of a solvent, national, and independent economy on the one hand, assurance
of the social rights of the workers on the other.
Previously I had been unable to recognize with the desired clarity
the difference between this pure capital as the end result of productive
labor and a capital whose existence and essence rests exclusively on speculation.
For this I lacked the initial inspiration, which had simply not come my
But now this was provided most amply by one of the various gentlemen lecturing
in the above-mentioned course: Gottfried Feder.
For the first time in my life I heard a principled discussion
of international stock exchange and loan capital.
Right after listening to Feder's first lecture, the thought
ran through my head that I had now found the way to one of the most essential
premises for the foundation of a new party.
In my eyes Feder's merit consisted in having established
with ruthless brutality the speculative and economic character of stock
exchange and loan capital, and in having exposed its eternal and age-old
presupposition which is interest. His arguments were so sound in all fundamental
questions that their critics from the start questioned the theoretical correctness
of the idea less than they doubted the practical possibility of its execution.
But what in the eyes of others was a weakness of Feder's arguments, in my
eyes constituted their strength.
It is not the task of a theoretician to determine the varying
degrees in which a cause can be realized, but to establish the cause as
such: that is to say: he must concern himself less with the road than with
the goal. In this, however, the basic correctness of an idea is decisive
and not the difficulty of its execution. As soon as the theoretician attempts
to take account of so-called 'utility' and 'reality' instead of the absolute
truth, his work will cease to be a polar star of seeking humanity and instead
will become a prescription for everyday life. The theoretician of a movement
must lay down its goal, the politician strive for its fulfillment. The thinking
of the one, therefore, will be determined by eternal truth, the actions
of the other more by the practical reality of the moment. The greatness
of the one lies in the absolute abstract soundness of his idea, that of
the other in his correct attitude toward the given facts and their advantageous
application; and in this the theoretician's aim must serve as his guiding
star. While the touchstone for the stature of a politician may be regarded
as the success of his plans and acts-in other words, the degree to which
they become reality-the realization of the theoretician's ultimate purpose
can never be realized, since, though human thought can apprehend truths
and set up crystal-clear aims, complete fulfillment will fail due to the
general imperfection and inadequacy of man. The more abstractly correct
and hence powerful the idea will be, the more impossible remains its complete
fulfillment as long as it continues to depend on human beings. Therefore,
the stature of the theoretician must not be measured by the fulfillment
of his aims, but by their soundness and the influence they have had on the
development of humanity. If this were not so, the founders of religion could
not be counted among the greatest men of this earth, since the fulfillment
of their ethical purposes will never be even approximately complete. In
its workings, even the religion of love is only the weak reflection of the
will of its exalted founder; its significance, however, lies in the direction
which it attempted to give to a universal human development of culture,
ethics, and morality.
The enormous difference between the tasks of the theoretician
and the politician is also the reason why a union of both in one person
is almost never found. This is especially true of the so-called 'successful'
politician of small format, whose activity for the most part is only an
'art of the possible,' as Bismarck rather modestly characterized politics
in general. The freer such a 'politician' keeps himself from great ideas,
the easier and often the more visible, but always the more rapid, his successes
will be. To be sure, they are dedicated to earthly transitoriness and sometimes
do not survive the death of their fathers. The work of such politicians,
by and large, is unimportant nor posterity, since their successes in the
present are based solely on keeping at a distance all really great and profound
problems and ideas, which as such would only have been of value for later
The execution of such aims, which have value and significance
for the most distant times, usually brings little reward to the man who
champions them and rarely finds understanding among the great masses, who
for the moment have more understanding for beer and milk regulations than
for farsighted plans for the future, whose realization can only occur far
hence, and whose benefits will be reaped only by posterity.
Thus, from a certain vanity, which is always a cousin of stupidity,
the great mass of politicians will keep far removed from all really weighty
plans for the future, in order not to lose the momentary sympathy of the
great mob. The success and significance of such a politician lie then exclusively
in the present, and do not exist for posterity. But small minds are little
troubled by this; they are content.
With the theoretician conditions are different. His importance
lies almost always solely in the future, for not seldom he is what is described
by the world as 'unworldly.' For if the art of the politician is really
the art of the possible, the theoretician is one of those of whom it can
be said that they are pleasing to the gods only if they demand and want
the impossible. He will almost always have to renounce the recognition of
the present, but in return, provided his ideas are immortal, will harvest
the fame of posterity.
In long periods of humanity, it may happen once that the politician
is wedded to the theoretician. The more profound this fusion, however, the
greater are the obstacles opposing the work of the politician. He no longer
works for necessities which will be understood by the first best shopkeeper,
but for aims which only the fewest comprehend. Therefore, his life is torn
by love and hate. The protest of the present which does not understand the
man, struggles with the recognition of posterity-for which he works.
For the greater a man's works for the future, the less the present can comprehend
them; the harder his fight, and the rarer success. If, however, once in
centuries success does come to a man, perhaps in his latter days a faint
beam of his coming glory may shine upon him. To be sure, these great men
are only the Marathon runners of history; the laurel wreath of the present
touches only the brow of the dying hero.
Among them must be counted the great warriors in this world
who, though not understood by the present, are nevertheless prepared to
carry the fight for their ideas and ideals to their end. They are the men
who some day will be closest to the heart of the people; it almost seems
as though every individual feels the duty of compensating in the past for
the sins which the present once committed against the great. Their life
and work are followed with admiring gratitude and emotion, and especially
in days of gloom they have the power to raise up broken hearts and despairing
To them belong, not only the truly great statesmen, but all
other great reformers as well. Beside Frederick the Great stands Martin
Luther as well as Richard Wagner.
As I listened to Gottfried Feder's first lecture about the 'breaking
of interest slavery,' I knew at once that this was a theoretical truth which
would inevitably be of immense importance for the future of the German people.
The sharp separation of stock exchange capital from the national economy
offered the possibility of opposing the internationalization of the German
economy without at the same time menacing the foundations of an independent
national self-maintenance by a struggle against all capital. The development
of Germany was much too clear in my eyes for me not to know that the hardest
battle would have to be fought, not against hostile nations, but against
international capital. In Feder's lecture I sensed a powerful slogan for
this coming struggle.
And here again later developments proved how correct our sentiment
of those days was. Today the know-it-alls among our
bourgeois politicians no longer laugh at us: today even they, in so far
as they are not conscious liars, see that international stock exchange capital
was not only the greatest agitator for the War, but that especially, now
that the fight is over, it spares no effort to turn the peace into a hell.
The fight against international finance and loan capital became
the most important point in the program of the German nation's struggle
for its economic independence and freedom.
As regards the objections of so-called practical men, they can
be answered as follows: All fears regarding the terrible economic consequences
of the ' breaking of interest slavery ' are superfluous; for, in the first
place, the previous economic prescriptions have turned out very badly for
the German people, and your positions on the problems of national self-maintenance
remind us strongly of the reports of similar experts in former times, for
example, those of the Bavarian medical board on the question of introducing
the railroad. It is well known that none of the fears of this exalted corporation
were later realized: the travelers in the trains of the new 'steam horse
' did not get dizzy, the onlookers did not get sick, and the board fences
to hide the new invention from sight were given up-only the board fences
around the brains of all so-called 'experts' were preserved for posterity.
In the second place, the following should be noted: every idea,
even the best, becomes a danger if it parades as a purpose in itself, being
in reality only a means to one. For me and all true National Socialists
there is but one doctrine: people and fatherland.
What we must fight for is to safeguard the existence and reproduction
of our race and our people, the sustenance of our children and the purity
of our blood, the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our
people may mature for the fulfillment of the mission allotted it by the
creator of the universe.
Every thought and every idea, every doctrine and all knowledge,
must serve this purpose. And everything must be examined from this point
of view and used or rejected according to its utility. Then no theory will
stiffen into a dead doctrine, since it is life alone that all things must
Thus, it was the conclusions of Gottfried Feder that caused
me to delve into the fundamentals of this field with which I had previously
not been very familiar.
I began to study again, and now for the first time really achieved
an understanding of the content of the Jew Karl Marx's life effort. Only
now did his Capital become really intelligible to me, and also the struggle
of the Social Democracy against the national economy, which aims only to
prepare the ground for the domination of truly international finance and
stock exchange capital.
But also in another respect these courses were of the greatest
consequence to me.
One day I asked for the floor. One of the participants felt
obliged to break a lance for the Jews and began to defend them in lengthy
arguments. This aroused me to an answer. The overwhelming majority of the
students present took my standpoint The result was that a few days later
I was sent into a Munich regiment as a so-called 'educational officer.'
Discipline among the men was still comparatively weak at that
time. It suffered from the after-effects of the period of soldiers' councils.
Only very slowly and cautiously was it possible to replace voluntary obedience-the
pretty name that was given to the pig-sty under Kurt Eisner-by the old military
discipline and subordination. Accordingly, the men were now expected to
learn to feel and think in a national and patriotic way. In these two directions
lay the field of my new activity.
I started out with the greatest enthusiasm and love. For all
at once I was offered an opportunity of speaking before a larger audience;
and the thing that I had always presumed from pure feeling without knowing
it was now corroborated: I could 'speak.' My voice, too, had grown so much
better that I could be sufficiently understood at least in every corner
of the small squad rooms.
No task could make me happier than this, for now before being
discharged I was able to perform useful services to the institution which
had been so close to my heart: the army.
And I could boast of some success: in the course of my lectures
I led many hundreds, indeed thousands, of comrades back to their people
and fatherland. I 'nationalized' the troops and was thus also able to help
strengthen the general discipline.
Here again I became acquainted with a number of like-minded
comrades, who later began to form the nucleus of the new movement.
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