Essays

Which is the Best Translation of Mein Kampf?

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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.

Summary

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

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15 Comments

  1. aa
    September 26, 2015 at 4:39 pm — Reply

    It sounds like criminals and scalawags translated Hitler’s book. English is a Germanic dialect. It shouldn’t be difficult for an honest translation from the original. Fairness to the author is the first rule of a quote even if it’s the entire book.

  2. Waldemar
    September 26, 2015 at 5:45 pm — Reply

    I recommend that every intelligent person interested in knowing the true character of Hitler and NS learn german and read the original. The english and german languages are quite different and it’s hard to translate from one to the other. I know both english and german well and when I read english translations of german NS texts I’m always puzzled by the different impression they give; I barely recognize the meaning of the original. Modern english is loaded with cultural baggage that is alien to the german spirit. It would be better to translate into middle english (Shakespeare) or still better, old english (similar to old norse), but if you can handle such language you easily pick up german too. Those who know dutch or scandinavian but not german should read MK in those languages rather than in english.

  3. September 26, 2015 at 9:30 pm — Reply

    I recently had a chance to look through the Ford translation. It is a simplified or dumbed-down version of the German original, presumably for readers who feel that an exact translation is too challenging for them. It is not really wrong or bad, but is lacks the precision of the Ralph Manheim edition. It gives the reader the general drift of Hitler’s thought, but not with Manheim’s detail or accuracy.

    I agree with Waldemar above: ideally, it is best to read MEIN KAMPF in the original German. Use a bilingual dictionary as needed.

  4. C.E. Whiteoak
    September 27, 2015 at 12:03 am — Reply

    I don’t see how any translation can beat the so-called “Stalag Edition.” It was translated into English before the war by an unknown National Socialist. After the war broke out, it was distributed to POW camp libraries for English speaking prisoners, and so became known as the Stalag Edition. The Kindle version of this is the only Mein Kampf I have ever read, and believe me it is excellent. It is available from Amazon in Kindle format for only $3.49.

    For me, a good deal of the enjoyment of reading it was the knowledge that it was a “friendly” translation, and not something that had been annotated or otherwise “adjusted”
    to suit the you-know-whodies.

  5. Heinemann
    September 27, 2015 at 11:03 am — Reply

    The original Mein Kampf has always been unlawful in Bundes Republik. Many German immigrants brought them after the war.

    However printed versions were sold to other lands. Mine is very small print and still 782 acquired many years ago.

    It is inconceivable that an English version with its progressive verbalism could be less than 800 pages.

    Interpretations are an art and can be done but the original German is different even than present German, suffering from the plague of occupational anti culture.

    I am not surprised at the little busy bee espionage agents like Greta Lorke , who were active before , during and after the war. These were the greatest enemy just as they are in America today .

  6. Elsman
    September 28, 2015 at 2:33 am — Reply

    The Ford translation is the best. I have Manheim, Murphy, the NS edition, Stackpole and Ford and have read all of them. The Ford translation is clearly the best translated. I have compared all of them side by side and they all have the same basic information, however Ford’s translation is far easier to read and in comparing them Ford’s version is obviously more well stated. By that I mean that some editions translate German into a jumble of English word because the translator did not understand what was being translated(Very true of Murphy and Manheim) but Ford’s version is very clearly stated. Ford’s version also has lots of inserted notes which explain vague references the other translators either did not understand and left uncommented or did not understand and edited out. Get the free pdf Mein Kampf A Translation Controversy. IT is by the publisher of the Ford translation and shows comparisons of older versions and the Ford translation. It is interesting reading on its own. You can get an idea of what Mein Kampf is about from any translation but I am thoroughly impressed by the Ford translation’s quality and the amount of effort that went into verifying each sentence to make it match the original German and make sense in English and be technically accurate at the same time…..Ford explains it better than I can. It is not a dumbed down version and is quite the opposite, a more intelligent version that is better written than past translations and more researched which can be seen in the Mein Kampf A Translation Controversy book that documents the translation process.

  7. Charles.M.
    March 3, 2017 at 9:09 pm — Reply

    The best english translation of Mein Kampf is the one published by the Germans in 1940 for the planned invasion of England. Here is a link to this book that can be downloaded for free:

    https://archive.org/details/MeinKampf.StalagEditionOfficiallyAuthorizedByTheNSDAPIn1940ForTheInvasionOfBritain

    • Mark
      June 21, 2018 at 2:30 pm — Reply

      There was never a planned invasion of England. Hitler didn’t want or start the war in the West. He could’ve killed everyone at Dunkirk but let them go, hoping England would come to her senses, even after numerous generous peace offers. Which Churchill kept secret from the British people.

  8. June 19, 2018 at 11:50 am — Reply

    Thanks, James and others, for your analysis and recommendations. So many versions of the great man’s book, so little time to read them…

    Trivia: What was Mr. Hitler’s book’s title before settling on Mein Kampf?
    Answer: Heard here: https://nationalvanguard.org/2016/08/new-music-cd-call-of-the-blood/
    Click on “Listen to the Call of the Blood sampler,” and follow the cuts to Landsberg Am Lech

    The first cut in the sampler is the Horst Wessel Song. If there is a more rousing redition of it in English, I’d like to hear it.

  9. cc
    June 19, 2018 at 3:26 pm — Reply

    Does anyone know the name of the publisher of this print of Mein Kampf?

    http://www.hitler.org/writings/Mein_Kampf/

    • Martin Kerr
      June 19, 2018 at 5:03 pm — Reply

      This is the Ralph Manheim translation, first publish in 1943 and never equaled since.

      Although it contains occasional errors, it is the closest in both word and spirit to Hitler’s original German.

      Some other translations claim to be easier to read, but they are all less accurate. If you are interested in PRECISELY what Hitler had to say, stick to Manheim. If you are only interested in the general drift of his thoughts, I guess some of the others translations, like Ford, are sufficient.

  10. Steve Sandin
    June 20, 2018 at 4:35 pm — Reply

    Has anyone had a chance to read/review The newest English translation of Mein Kampf by Thomas Dalton in which Hitler’s original German is on the facing page?
    Only Volume 1 has been published. It was released in 2017. Has anyone heard when Volume 2 is slated to be released?

  11. Dominic Cornett
    October 12, 2018 at 11:01 pm — Reply

    There is another edition: Mein Kampf: The Stalag Edition: The Only Complete and Officially Authorised English Translation Ever Issued. According to Book Despoitory, it “is the only complete, unabridged, and officially authorised English translation ever issued by the Nazi party, and is not to be confused with any other version.

    Translated by a now-unknown English-speaking Nazi party member, it was printed by the Franz Eher Verlag in Berlin for the Central Press of the NSDAP in limited numbers during the years 1937 to 1944.

    Most copies were distributed to the camp libraries of English-speaking Prisoner of War (POW) camps, and became known as the “Stalag” editions (Stalag being a contraction of the German word Stammlager, or POW camp) because they all carried a camp library rubber stamp on the title page. Only a handful of copies survived the war, and the text contained in this edition has been taken directly, without amendment, from one of these extremely rare editions.

    This official translation is not to be confused with the “James Murphy” or “Ralph Mannheim” translations, both of which were edited, abridged and ultimately unauthorised. The Murphy and Mannheim editions both left out major sections of text, and contained long, clunky, badly-translated and almost unintelligibly long sentences.

    In sharp contrast, the only authorised “Stalag” edition contains none of these complicated and unnecessarily confused constructions, and is extremely easy to read, as anyone familiar with the other versions will immediately notice. Most importantly, this only authorised edition contains the full text of the original German–and none of the deliberately-inserted racial pejoratives used in the Murphy and Mannheim versions (words which Hitler never actually used in the original).

    Contrary to postwar propaganda, Mein Kampf does not contain a “plan for world domination” and instead consists of a short autobiography, the effect of the First World War upon Germany, a discussion of race and the Jewish Question, the constitutional and social make-up of a future German state, and the early struggles of the NSDAP up to 1923.

    Would this not perhaps be a superior translation to the others available?

    https://www.bookdepository.com/Mein-Kampf-Adolf-Hitler/9781643701141?ref=grid-view&qid=1539399060242&sr=1-4

  12. EPHR
    December 14, 2018 at 1:51 pm — Reply

    I agree with the other comments here. The Stalag edition is the best, better than Manheim. I don’t see how you can beat what was officially distributed by Party officials, even if only in POW camps. This is the best scan I’ve found of the Stalag edition and it claims to be from 1940:

    https://archive.org/details/MeinKampfTheStalagEditionTheOnlyCompleteAndOfficiallyAuthorisedEnglishTranslatio

    Here is another version of the Stalag edition I’ve seen floating around, but it’s not a scan. It also seems to be the only version of the Stalag edition available for purchase as a hard copy. However, it seems to have minor differences in some sections from the scanned version:

    https://endchan.xyz/.media/a18332e643d7cb83515627b693496fc0-applicationpdf

    All things considered, I stick to the scanned version of the Stalag edition because I don’t see how you can beat a translation done by an actual member of the NSDAP, which was subsequently distributed officially by Party officials. It also reads quite clearly and I find it even better than Manheim as a translation. Of course, you may have to do some history research to understand everything Hitler is talking about. But it’s a worthy and enlightening investment of time.

    If there are any doubts, you can always compare it to the original German version (if you can read German):

    https://archive.org/details/Hitler-Adolf-Mein-Kampf

  13. December 14, 2018 at 10:07 pm — Reply

    Contrary to what you and others claim, the so-called “Stalag” translation was not made by members of the NSDAP. It is a slightly revised and corrected version of the grossly inferior Murphy translation. Some errors have been removed, and the stiff, awkward wording of Murphy’s first draft in places have been smoothed over – but that is all.

    A simple comparison of the first two paragraphs of each translation (Murphy and “Stalag”) will show this.

    I also object to the dishonest way in which the “Stalag” translation has been marketed. This translation was not produced for prisoners of war, as is claimed, but rather for the English-speaking population of the Channel Isles, which was the only English-speaking territory to be occupied by the Germans during the War. Any distribution to POW camps was incidental.
    Even he designation of it as the “Stalag translation” carries unnecessary connotations, in addition to being historically inaccurate.

    The best translation of any book is that which most-accurately conveys the meaning of the original text, regardless of who translates it, and likewise regardless of whether or not it is claimed to be “authorized.”

    The Ralph Manheim translation of “Mein Kampf” remains the preeminent translation to date, all spurious claims to the contrary.

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