Some speed readeing fans of 40 Foot Buffet have already finished the first month’s book and have requested the discussion questions for next month’s selection in advance.
Month 2 – Mein Kampf
While serving a five-year sentence in jail in 1925 for conspiracy to commit treason as part of the failed Beer Hall Putsch, a 36-year old Adolph Hitler began composing the first volume of Mein Kampf (or “My Struggle”). The book is one part autobiography and one part political ideology. In it one can find the foundations of the brutal policies of the Nazi party.
1. Hitler desired to defeat the “twin evils” of Judaism and the Soviet Union’s Communism in order to give Germany Lebensraum (“living-space”) to the east. Discuss the impact of Hitler’s tiny one-bedroom, cold-water flat that he shared with an obese, Jewish plumber with Communist sympathies on this desire for more “living space”. Also, would you share an apartment with Hitler, a known neat freak? How about sub-let?
Updated Discussion Topic: How would Hitler feel about shopping at IKEA with their many clever ideas for small spaces? Would this have solved the Lenesraum issue? Would Hitler have been a good candidate for Tiny House Hunters?
2. Hitler styled himself as an Ubermensch (or “Superman” or “Overman”), who would be the leader in the effort to overcome “evils” of his time. He stole the term from Friedrich Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra even though Nietzsche was neither political nor anti-Semitic. Would Hitler look good in blue tights? Would blue tights and a red cape help you overcome any “evils” in your life?
Updated Discussion Topic: Based on recently discovered documents, particularly an early draft of Mein Kampf found in auctioned contents of a storage locker rented Steve Bannon who was seriously in arrears with rent, historians are injecting new theories into the discussion of what really drove Hitler’s madness. The theory gaining most traction in academic journals is that Hitler was jealous of Nietzche’s mustache. As the pictures below attest, Nietzche had mad ‘stache skills. We know what Hilter’s mustache was like. Hitler desperately wanted Nietzche’s mustache that Hitler consider der UberSchnurrbart (the “Super Mustache” or “OverMustache”). Some research suggests that Hitler could not grow a full mustache because of injury sustained by a Jewish barber while in prison. With these new theories in mind, can you think of any other facial hair jealousies or hairstyle struggles that had an impact on history?
3. Hitler was a failed painter, was rejected twice by the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, and lacked the necessary education qualifications to fulfill his artistic dream of becoming an architect. He eventually ended up briefly in a homeless shelter. On whom did Hitler blame these failures? Do you think his anger and hatred of Communism and Jews also stemmed from his belief that Communists were behind his failure. Discuss. How have you reacted to failures in your life? Would a hug have helped Hitler at this point? Vocational training? Draw or build from the appetizers provided what you think a building designed by Hitler would look like?
4. After reading Volume 2, “The National-Socialistic Movement”, complete the rest of this joke. “Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini walk into a bar . . . “
5. Throughout history several seminal works were written or at least conceived while the author was in prison – Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”, several of the books of the New Testament written by the Apostle Paul, Machiavelli’s The Prince, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, some of Ezra Pound’s Cantos and some of O. Henry’s humorous short stories. What kind of book would you write if you were incarcerated?
Further Discussion Topic for Advanced Readers: Would world history be different if, while in jail, Hitler had written one or two screenplays for the Women-in-Prison B-movie genre (e.g., Caged Heat or Reform School Girls)? Also, discuss how the movie Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS (1974) may or may not have been influenced by Mein Kampf.
Updated Discussion Topic: Who would be Hitler’s favorite character on Orange is the New Black?
6. In the book, Hitler blames a lot of Germany’s ills on its parliamentary form of government. How do you feel about parliamentary form of government in theory? In practice in 2017? How do you think the current presidential administration feels about parliamentary government?
7. Would you like to see Mein Kampf adapted for an “on ice” performance?
From the archives (2009). Updated 2017.