Why would Mein Kampf be required reading on a "Fundamentals of Western Culture" class? I have to do a paper for this class using Mein Kampf as my primary source document.  I'm having difficulty...

Why would Mein Kampf be required reading on a "Fundamentals of Western Culture" class?

I have to do a paper for this class using Mein Kampf as my primary source document.  I'm having difficulty coming up with a topic.  I have some idea of a relationship between the "Third Reich" and its attempt to establish a sense of nationalism and superiority based on a propaganda campaign which included the celebration of national figures in the arts, sciences and even philosophy.  Names like Luther, Wagner, Beethoven and Nietzsche are displayed as examples of superiority and 'Germanness".  However, if I'm correct, I don't understand what this has to do with Western Culture.

Help?

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Asked on by dfiveuu01

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I suspect that when you think of studying Western culture, what comes to mind is the study of all that we value in Western culture, without stopping to consider that there might be pathological aspects of Western culture worthy of study as well.  The Western culture that is glorified in Mein Kampf, Germanic culture, is being asserted as superior to all other cultures, for the purposes of German domination of the world.  Is this worthy of study?  I think it is, for at least a few reasons. 

You may want to consider first that if there is a Western culture, there is an Eastern culture, too.  And historically, it is the West's firm belief in the superiority of Western culture that has allowed it to colonize, dominate, and nearly destroy huge swathes of the Eastern world, even unto this day. Hitler was using one particular kind of Western culture as propaganda to do the same.  Isn't this worthy of discussion?  

More particularly, since Hitler was promoting what was Western culture, Jewish culture was a natural and logical foil, since it is Eastern in origin.  Ironically, of course, Jewish people have historically made huge contributions to Western culture, too, but that was hardly something Hitler could afford to acknowledge as he put forth his propaganda in the interest of creating a common enemy for the German people to unite against.

Culture is also a means of nation-building, and this was also part of Hitler's plan, a rebuilding of Germany, which had been decimated in World War I.  Culture is a great unifier, and part of the reason the world has moved mostly beyond nation states to nations.  France and Italy as nations are fairly recent constructs.  Germany as we know it today is, too.  When one unifies a larger group of people based upon culture, national pride begins to grow.   

Hitler's use of German Western culture as the superior Western culture, to unify Germany, with the intent of world domination, was successful insofar as unification was concerned, but the consequences were pathological and worthy of examining. There is clearly a dark side to Western culture.   

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