Andrei Hvostov: 'Mein Kampf' was written for simple people (8)
After 70 years, Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” is back in print in Germany. Journalist Andrei Hvostov thinks it to be one of the most influential books of the 20th century and wouldn’t like to see it published uncommented in Estonian.
“This book was written for simple people. I’m not just thinking about people’s origin or profession, but of people who think in very simple patterns, who have a very simple world of ideas,” said Hvostov in ETV’s Hommik Anuga (“Morning with Anu”).
He pointed out that this was precisely what made the book dangerous. In Hvostov’s words, the simple-minded people it addresses have a very simple understanding of the world. “That’s exactly the approach of Mein Kampf,” said Hvostov, referring to the fact that Hitler’s simple answer to everything that was wrong with the world was to blame the Jews.
Hvostov added that Hitler was an evil genius whose work still influenced Estonia’s youth today. “If this book was published in Estonian in uncommented form, there would be a great lot of people in Estonian society who would read it as their new bible,” he said.
“I’ve been told by history teachers who work with primary schoolchildren that somewhere in fifth or sixth grade, part of the boys suddenly develop an enormous interest in Hitler. In the case of many, this interest soon passes, but in other cases it doesn’t. Those who don’t lose interest later make up the group we refer to as far-rightists,” he added.
The new German edition comes with 3,700 comments that unmask Mein Kampf as racist diatribe with barely a grip on reality. Historians counter Hitler’s ramblings with facts, which is meant to keep the book from becoming an extremist’s bible again.
Hvostov still believes that publishing Mein Kampf in Estonian would be dangerous, as everything connected with the book is very easy to take out of context. “This is all very dangerous, because there is great potential for accusations and interpretations,” Hvostov said.
Fritjof Hallmann, an Estonian Nazi sympathizer, allegedly translated the book into Estonian in 1934. Another attempt was made in 2003, when Peeter Kask translated a few chapters for a local publication of the Estonian Defence League, based on the freely available Russian version.