Interesting Book published: Gives me the creeps.....ricklbert

Revealed: the amazing story behind Hitler's second book
Thirty years after Hitler wrote his last and largely unknown book, it was discovered by Jewish scholar Gerhard Weinberg - who has spent four decades trying to publish it in English. He spoke to Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson
Last Updated: 9:46PM BST 24 Sep 2003


Gerhard Weinberg: 'I'm not Hitler's press agent'

In 1958, Gerhard Weinberg made the kind of discovery that features in every historian's dreams. During his summer holidays, the young American scholar had been examining captured German military documents in the US Army archives, which - back then - were housed in a converted torpedo factory in Alexandria, across the Potomac from Washington DC. Before being shipped back to Germany, each one was being microfilmed.

Humdrum work, but Weinberg was alert to a remote yet exciting possibility. In a memoir, one of Hitler's secretaries had mentioned a "secret" book about Nazi foreign policy - Weinberg's special subject. Then, when Hitler's Table Talk was published by Hugh Trevor-Roper (later Lord Dacre) in 1953, there was a reference to this "unpublished work" by Hitler himself. Weinberg hoped to track it down one day, though it was not easy to know where to look.

One day, leafing through the contents of a green box-file, he found a folder labelled "Draft of Mein Kampf". Inside was a 324-page typescript: "The moment I looked at it, read the opening lines and the attached document on its confiscation, it became obvious to me that this was not a draft of Mein Kampf. In fact, this was the book to which I had seen references," he says.

It was a dramatic moment: Weinberg had unearthed a previously unknown second book by Hitler, the only one he ever wrote after Mein Kampf. "This thing in fact existed and was here! It really existed, it had survived," says Weinberg, recalling his excitement. "Lots of stuff, after all, had been destroyed - and now this could be made accessible to anybody who had an interest in it."

By a stroke of good fortune, it had already been declassified by the authorities, which meant there was nothing to stop Weinberg making it public. Before there could be any question of publication, however, he had to be sure that it was authentic. Though this was a quarter of a century before the great "Hitler Diaries" hoax - which damaged the reputations of the Times, the Sunday Times and the late Lord Dacre - Weinberg was already aware of the danger of forgery.

The document itself, though yellowing, was in decent condition. Weinberg applied the logical methods of Sherlock Holmes: "If you look carefully, you can see that it has been dictated straight on to a typewriter, because, periodically, there is a space and then a full stop or a comma. In other words, the person who was typing thought there was another word coming and had already hit the space bar, then realised it was the end of the sentence or there was a comma coming. And I knew from other information that it was a practice of Hitler's to dictate on to the typewriter. So the physical appearance of the document was consistent with the way that Hitler actually operated."

The provenance of the typescript was good: it had been found among other documents known to be genuine. According to the brief report appended by the American officer who confiscated it in 1945, this copy had been kept in the safe of the Nazi publishing house and then handed over by Josef Berg, the manager, who thought it had been written "more than 15 years ago" (i.e. before 1930).

The Munich Institute for Contemporary History, which had also been searching for the Hitler book, told Weinberg that it had received correspondence about it. Among the letters was one from a man called Lauer, who said that, during the war, Berg had shown him the manuscript of a book by Hitler.

"I checked up: who is Lauer and why would anybody show him secret things out of the safe?" said Weinberg. "It turned out that this was a man who had edited a whole bunch of songbooks for the Nazi party, so he knew his way around the publishing house. So it made sense that Berg, a close friend with whom he had worked there, might make himself important by saying: 'Hey - you know what we got here?' "

Berg, who was still alive, then provided a crucial detail. Writing to the institute in 1958, he mentioned that there had been another copy of the typescript. Weinberg seized on this: "At one point, after the first couple of hundred pages of what we used to call ribbon [top] copy, it suddenly changed, and the last 100 or so pages were clearly carbon copies. That suggests to me that when they were collating it, back in 1928, somebody goofed. There were, at one point, two copies - at least.

"Now, this combination of information, and a careful reading of the text, convinced me that there was no question but that this was authentic. The bits and pieces of evidence fitted together and made sense.

"All the corrections, with one exception, were made on the typewriter while Hitler was dictating. He would suddenly stop and say: 'Strike that', and Max Amann [the publisher to whom Hitler dictated the second volume of Mein Kampf as well as this second book] would 'xxx' out a few words, and then would come a new bunch of words. There is one short word corrected by ink. My guess is that this was done at the time. There is no editing; it was never worked over, even for spelling errors. It's the way it came out of the typewriter in the summer of 1928. Then it was simply stashed away."

Once the question of authenticity had been settled, Weinberg asked himself: why did Hitler's second book never appear at the time he wrote it? "I think Max [the publisher] advised him against publishing it just then," Weinberg says. It would have competed with Mein Kampf, the second volume of which was not selling well. "The following year, Hitler aligned himself with the very people he attacked in this manuscript: the people on the political Right who wanted to undo the Versailles Treaty. Hitler thought they were utter fools - but he was not about to say that in print, when they gave him money to travel all over Germany and appeal to the German people. And, later on, all kinds of other changes would have had to be made [to the book]."

Did Hitler ever refer to the book again?

"The one time when he did refer to it in his table talk was in February 1942, almost 14 years after he had written it. Obviously, in the intervening years, his decision not to publish it must reflect some kind of choice."

What was happening to Hitler when he wrote his second book in the summer of 1928? Then aged 39, he looked like a failure. Five years before, his attempted coup - the Munich beer hall putsch - had been put down ignominiously. Though Hitler had escaped with a lenient prison sentence, the Nazis would remain a fringe party for years to come.

Hitler's personal life was also a mess. He was embroiled in a sexually ambiguous relationship with his niece, Geli Raubal, which would end only when her corpse was found in his flat years later. The inquest's verdict of suicide was widely regarded as a whitewash. Whatever Hitler's role in her death, during the years before he began to enjoy the compensating stimulus of power, he struck others as a lonely, morose bachelor.

In the general election on May 20, 1928, the Nazis received fewer than one million votes and took only 12 seats in the Reichstag, out of 401. On election day, Social Democrat placards screamed: "Adolf Hitler unmasked". There were damaging accusations that Hitler had received money from Mussolini and that this had induced him to ignore Italian oppression of the German-speaking minority in the border province of South Tyrol. Though the Nazis claimed victory, the election revealed that their foreign policy, in particular, lacked coherence and popular appeal. Hitler decided to put his thoughts on paper, and spent much of June and July dictating the manuscript that we now know as his "second book".

Thirty years later, once Weinberg had established the main facts, the Munich Institute was eager to publish the book in German, and it was agreed that an English translation should appear with additional footnotes. But who owned the copyright?

The Americans, who had occupied Bavaria, had confiscated the property of the Nazi party - including its publishing house, the Eher Verlag.

"The Nazi party publishing house had owned the rights to Mein Kampf and paid Hitler huge royalties," says Weinberg. "These rights were then transferred to the Bavarian government by the Americans. But, in this case, we couldn't confiscate from the Eher Verlag what the Eher Verlag didn't own. Hitler had never signed a contract for the publication of this unpublished manuscript. So, after his suicide in 1945, the publishing rights passed to his heirs."

Aware that the question of royalties for the second book was fraught with dangers, the Munich Institute promptly bought the publishing rights from the heirs.

So far, so good. In 1961, the untitled manuscript was published in German as Hitler's Second Book: A Document from the Year 1928, edited by Weinberg and with an introduction by his old supervisor, Hans Rothfels. It was quickly acclaimed by German historians as authentic, though the public reception of this unwelcome reminder of the Nazi past was somewhat muted. Germany was more interested in the present: that year, the Berlin Wall was built overnight.

Weinberg had agreed with the Munich Institute that because of the nature of the project, it was fitting that no one should make a penny out of it. Consequently, he received no payment and there were no royalties. The next step was to publish an edition in English. It was then, however, that Weinberg heard rumours of a rival version under the title Hitler's Secret Book. Weinberg's great discovery had been pirated.

He soon discovered that the pirated edition was inaccurate: it had been translated not from the original manuscript, but from Weinberg's German edition - plagiarising his work in the process. "I was then informed that the intended American publisher [for my own English edition] was withdrawing."

Weinberg was furious. The translation by the pirates was "lousy", he says, and "an outrageous thing to do. For almost half a century, nobody would put out a decent one."

Didn't he think of suing? "To sue for piracy, you have to prove economic loss," Weinberg says. "How could I sue for lost royalties when I wasn't getting any?"

But it was a personal catastrophe: "At this point, I was a young associate professor," Weinberg says. "This book seemed to me of considerable importance for the scholarly profession, and for someone starting on an academic career, to have that stolen was a very unpleasant experience."

Was there anything he could do? "I wrote a letter to the New York Times, which they declined to publish. In those days, apparently, the newspapers weren't interested in uncovering plagiarism."

Over the next 40 years, Weinberg made repeated efforts to interest other publishers in a new, scholarly edition. "I'm not Hitler's press agent, obviously, but one of the things that outraged me about this is that we're not talking about somebody of no importance. We're talking about one of the central figures of the 20th century - and the man wrote all of two books. One of these is not available in a reliable English-language edition, which is why I am pleased that, at last, it will be."

Serious scholars have always known that the pirated edition is not reliable. Ian Kershaw's highly acclaimed biography of Hitler, for example, only refers to Weinberg's German edition in the footnotes. Hardly any English-speaking non-specialist has any inkling that Hitler's Second Book exists.

How did Weinberg himself get involved in all this? The truth is that Hitler had already overshadowed his life long before he discovered the manuscript that is his chief claim to fame.

In 1928, the same year that Hitler dictated his second book, Gerhard Weinberg was born in Hanover. His father was a pillar of German society: a judge, a soldier in the Great War, a Treasury civil servant. There was one problem: the Weinbergs were Jews.

When the Nazis came to power, Weinberg senior lost his job. Working from his flat, he devoted himself to helping other Jews to overcome the chicanery of the Nazi bureaucracy which made emigration so difficult.

"My older brother got beaten up so often that my parents took him out of school and sent him to a school in Berlin," Weinberg says. "I guess I had a thicker skull, so I put up with the beatings until November 1938, when Jewish children in the public schools were expelled."

After the nationwide pogrom known as Kristallnacht, the Weinbergs decided it was time to leave. "The British Government was one of the few that changed the rules after Kristallnacht. People waiting for quota numbers to go to the United States, and who had a means of support without a job, could do their waiting in England.

"A school in Swanage said it would take two boys, and another in Bournemouth said it would take a girl - so my father put my brother, sister and me on a boat to Southampton. I arrived the day before my 11th birthday and stayed at boarding school until the summer of 1940, when we moved to London where I had a grandstand view of the first big raids of the Battle of Britain."

In September 1940, the military police brought his father, who had been interned, up to Glasgow, where the family were reunited. They then set sail on the Cameronia, one of the very last passenger ships allowed to cross the Atlantic - "We zigzagged, not in convoy, with lifebelts on all the time, to New York," recalls Weinberg, who later became an American citizen.

However, members of his extended family fell victim to Hitler's "Final Solution". "The majority of my father's family, including his aunts, an uncle, and cousins whom I had met, together with some relatives of my mother, were murdered."

Weinberg's German experience marked him, and his life's work has been a prolonged meditation on his former countrymen: "I have come to think it important for people not to look on the Nazi experience in two ways that are very dangerous and very bad. One of them is to look on it as a kind of freak show. It's not a freak show: it's a coherent, horrible system.

"Equally dangerous is the opposite: that this is some kind of a German genetic defect. It isn't. Not only were there decent people in Germany, but these Nazis were people like other people. Human beings can do awful things, and can turn away from awful things and reform themselves.

"It's a very comforting thought that this is a German peculiarity and nobody we know would ever dream of doing any such things. That's nonsense, and very dangerous nonsense. The potential both for good and for evil is in all people."
Hitler's Second Book, edited by Gerhard L Weinberg, is published in the United States on October 1 by Enigma Books. To order a copy for £25 plus £2.25 p&p, call Telegraph Books Direct on 0870 155 7222


New member
I refuse to read books such as this. Why should I insult my country (England) by reading books my Nazi leaders who killed some of my family and my friends' family?


I think all Country's have done the Same here in the U.S. and all over the world people are still killing there own in different way's....but sometime is interesting so that we can know the backgrounds of what we did not see....


New member
I refuse to read books such as this. Why should I insult my country (England) by reading books my Nazi leaders who killed some of my family and my friends' family?
It's funny though - many Universities in England has banned Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice - but I bet Shakespeare never killed a Jewish soul, or did he!