In this essay, Orwell goes over Mein Kampf and the way it was received around its release.

At first, translations of the work where actually favourable towards Hitler. The property-owners and the ruling class saw him in a positive light, mainly because he put a halt to the labour movement. Then, Hitler started some… dubious programs. This led for a reissuing of the translation (with proceeds going to the Red Cross).

Hitler’s views, though, had remained the same between the two issues. Orwell notes that Hitler’s worldview had not developed at all during this time, unaffected by changes around him.

What Hitler wanted was hundreds of millions of Germany living in a sprawling empire. His vision of the empire was basically a large dystopia where men are either bred for war, or for the cultivation of resources for war. The way he convinced Germans to buy into this grim ideology lies with the fact that Socialists and Communists were the big boogeyman at the time. Industrialists wanted to smack those groups, and backed Hitler who had already gained a following after convincing working class Germans to join him. He was basically a demagogue backed by capitalists.

In gaining his following, Orwell particularly notes Hitler’s personality and his appeal. His pathetic face looks like a man who has suffered many wrongs, but persevered through via force of will. He is the martyr -a Prometheus!- who made it through to the other side, still bearing the scars inflicted by the enemies, whom he points out for the rest. He appears like the underdog, a man who is fighting in vain for the good cause, a man who is doomed to fail but deserves to win.

He also opposed the West’s “joy for life”, the ease and comfort of the western way of life not leaving room for patriotism, for “salt of the earth” joys, like earning one’s bread and such. The working class of Germany appreciated that greatly, feeling he is a peer. They wanted to find meaning in their struggle, they wanted a more heroic destiny, and Hitler served it to them on a silver plate.