Year
1925

Mein Kampf is published

On this day in 1925, Volume One of Adolf Hitler’s philosophical autobiography, Mein Kampf, is published. It was a blueprint of his agenda for a Third Reich and a clear exposition of the nightmare that will envelope Europe from 1939 to 1945. The book sold a total of 9,473 copies in its first year.

Hitler began composing his tome while sitting in Landsberg prison, convicted of treason for his role in the infamous Beer Hall Putsch in which he and his minions attempted to stage a coup and grasp control of the government in Bavaria. It ended in disaster, with some allies deserting and others falling into the hands of the authorities. Hitler was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment (he would serve only nine months). His time in the old fortress at Landsberg was hardly brutal; he was allowed guests and gifts, and was treated as something of a cult hero. He decided to put his leisure time to good use and so began dictating Volume One of his opus magnus to Rudolph Hess, a loyal member of the German National Socialist Party and fellow revolutionary.

The first part of Mein Kampf, subtitled “A Reckoning,” is a 400-plus page diatribe on the problems besetting Germany—the French, who wished to dismember Germany; the lack of lebesraum, “living space,” and the need to expand east into Russia; and the baleful influence of “mongrel” races. For Hitler, the state was not an economic entity, but a racial one. Racial purity was an absolute necessity for a revitalized Germany. “[F]or men do not perish as the result of lost wars, but by the loss… of pure blood.”

As for leadership, Hitler’s Third Reich would mimic the Prussian ideal of absolute authoritarian rule. “There must be no majority decisions, but only responsible persons… Surely every man will have advisers… but the decision will be made by one man.”

So there it was: War with France, war with Russia, the elimination of “impure” races, and absolute dictatorship. Hitler laid out his political agenda a full 14 years before the outbreak of war.

Volume Two of Mein Kampf, focusing on national socialism, was published in 1927. Sales of the complete work remained mediocre throughout the 1920s. It was not until 1933, the first year of Hitler’s tenure as chancellor of Germany, that sales soared to over 1 million. Its popularity reached the point where it became a ritual to give a newly married couple a copy.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Video of Titanic wreckage released

On this day in 1986, new close-up videotapes of the sunken ocean liner Titanic are released to the public. Taken on the first manned expedition to the wreck, the videotapes are stunning in their clarity and detail, showing one of the ship’s majestic grand staircases and a ...read more

Spanish Civil War breaks out

On July 18, 1936, the Spanish Civil War begins as a revolt by right-wing Spanish military officers in Spanish Morocco and spreads to mainland Spain. From the Canary Islands, General Francisco Franco broadcasts a message calling for all army officers to join the uprising and ...read more

Incident on Chappaquiddick Island

Shortly after leaving a party on Chappaquiddick Island, Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy of Massachusetts drives an Oldsmobile off a wooden bridge into a tide-swept pond. Kennedy escaped the submerged car, but his passenger, 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, did not. The senator did not ...read more

Hitler publishes Mein Kampf

Seven months after being released from Landsberg jail, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler publishes the first volume of his personal manifesto, Mein Kampf. Dictated by Hitler during his nine-month stay in prison, Mein Kampf, or “My Struggle,” was a bitter and turgid narrative filled with ...read more

Fire of Rome

A fire erupts in Rome, spreading rapidly throughout the market area in the center of the city. When the flames finally died out more than a week later, nearly two-thirds of Rome had been destroyed. Emperor Nero used the fire as an opportunity to rebuild Rome in a more orderly ...read more

FDR nominated for unprecedented third term

On this day in 1940, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who first took office in 1933 as America’s 32nd president, is nominated for an unprecedentedthird term. Roosevelt, a Democrat, would eventually be elected to a record four terms in office, the only U.S. president to serve more than ...read more

Johnson meets Thieu in Honolulu

President Lyndon B. Johnson meets South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu in Honolulu to discuss relations between Washington and Saigon. Johnson reaffirmed his administration’s commitment “to defend South Vietnam.” Thieu stated that he had “no apprehensions at all” ...read more

David Cone pitches perfect game

On July 18, 1999, New York Yankee David Cone pitches the 16th perfect game in major league history and 14th in the modern era with a no-hit, no-walk victory over the Montreal Expos. David Cone had made his name as a pitcher with the New York Mets from 1987 to 1992. His best year ...read more

Nero’s Rome burns

The great fire of Rome breaks out and destroys much of the city on this day in the year 64. Despite the well-known stories, there is no evidence that the Roman emperor, Nero, either started the fire or played the fiddle while it burned. Still, he did use the disaster to further ...read more