Which is the Best Translation of Mein Kampf?
by Martin Kerr
THERE IS an ongoing debate among National Socialists and white nationalists generally over which English language translation of Mein Kampf is the best.
We believe that the Ralph Manheim translation published by Houghton Mifflin, while not perfect, is superior to all others. Despite his undisguised hostility to Adolf Hitler and the NS worldview, Manheim’s translation is the most accurate and best captures the spirit of Hitler’s message.
Translation Not Authorized by Hitler
However, there are some people who prefer the James Murphy translation, first published by the British publishing house of Hurst & Blackett in 1939. Sadly, this preference is not based on the quality of the translation, but rather on the dishonest claim made by the publisher that the Murphy translation is the “official version” and “authorized” by Hitler himself. But that is not true.
Here is a short version of the true story: In 1936, the German government contracted with Murphy to do a translation of Mein Kampf, and Murphy made an initial rough draft. It contains numerous errors, and the prose is stilted and awkward.
However, Murphy was ill and did not have the energy to complete the project. His rough draft was obtained by Hurst & Blackett, which they published, without corrections or modification, in 1939 as the “authorized” English edition. But neither the German government nor Hitler himself ever approved Murphy’s initial draft.
It Gets Worse
But it gets worse: because he was ill, Murphy hired one Greta Lorke as assistant translator to help him out. Unbeknownst to him, Lorke was an operative of the “Red Orchestra” (Rote Kapelle, in German), the notorious Communist espionage and sabotage ring run by the Soviet Union.
Lorke saw working on the Mein Kampf translation as a perfect cover identity that allowed her to participate in Red Orchestra activities without drawing suspicion to herself. Additionally, she saw the assignment as an opportunity to discredit Hitlerism by fiddling with the passages that she translated.
Lorke’s Communist Background Well Documented
An account (sympathetic, of course!) of Lorke’s involvement in the Murphy translation may be found on pages 110-111 of the book Red Orchestra: The Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler by Anne Nelson, Random House, New York, 2009.
A fuller examination into Lorke’s role (including the insertion of deliberately erroneous material) appears in a harder-to-find earlier volume, Hitler’s Mein Kampf in Britain and America by James J. Barnes & Patience P. Barnes, Cambridge University Press, New York, 1980.
To summarize: (1) the James Murphy translation of Mein Kampf published by Hurst & Blackett was an uncorrected rough draft made by a sick man; (2) it was NOT authorized or approved by either Hitler or the German government; and (3) parts of the translation were done by the Soviet spy and saboteur Greta Lorke, who was pursuing her own anti-NS ideological agenda.
Once again, we NS recommend the Manheim translation — or better yet, the German original
Manheim Edition Not Without Fault
The Manheim translation has its faults, to be sure. Along with some useful technical notes on translation and others on historical context, it also includes a number of gratuitous, negative footnotes, as well as an anti-Hitler introduction.
More troubling are Manheim’s downright errors, however. For example, on page 490, when discussing the SA, Manheim translates Kampfgemeinschaft as “combat group,” whereas the proper translation is “fighting community,” a small but significant difference; Hitler goes out of his way to make the point that the SA should NOT be a military-style “combat group” (pp. 538-543).
On page 623, Manheim inexplicably substitutes “Jewish” for “German” in one phrase, reducing the sentence to nonsense. (Manheim’s version reads “national folkish Jewish intelligensia,” whereas Hitler’s original is “national folkish German intelligensia.”)
It is not surprising that some mistakes should occur here and there in a translation nearly 700 pages long. However, the Manheim version first appeared in 1941, and these errors should have been corrected in the numerous reprints that have been issued since then!
Authorized NS Translation Needed
Yet despite these negative points, the Manheim translation remains the best to date, overall. It is head and shoulders above all the others — especially the Murphy version!
What is needed, of course, is a translation by an expert National Socialist translator. Only a National Socialist will understand Hitler’s text, both subjectively and objectively. No translation, however, will ever beat the original!
END NOTE: A new translation, which we have not yet reviewed, claims to have overcome the limitations of earlier versions: http://www.hitler-library.org/mein-kampf-ford-translation.htm
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Source: New Order