Hitler on Trial: Alan Cranston, Mein Kampf, and The Court of World Opinion Kindle Edition
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In the late 1930’s, Hitler was attempting to cultivate an image in the West as a fatherly leader, simply trying to get Germany back on its feet, while, in actuality, all the while, he and his Nazis were rapidly rebuilding the German war machine and perpetrating atrocities against Jews. In Germany, Hitler made no secret about his intentions, as laid out in his infamous memoir, “Mein Kampf.” But, while the book was published internationally, the translations were expurgated, removing the inflammatory language and making Hitler’s intentions seem far more benign. Alan Cranston, a young journalist who had traveled extensively in Europe, came across a copy of the English translation of “Mein Kampf” and immediately recognized it for the dangerous propaganda piece it was. So, he decided to fight fire with fire, or, in this case, to fight Hitler with his own words. Cranston wrote his own translation of “Mein Kampf” and, with the help of a friend in the publishing business, distributed it widely in pamphlet form in 1939, at least until the U.S. publisher of “Mein Kampf” brought legal proceedings to stop the publication.
I confess that, although I had heard of Alan Cranston (who later served several terms as a United States Senator from California), I was completely unaware of this incident until reading “Hitler on Trial.” I did a quick search for other published material on this subject and was surprised to learn that, although articles about Cranston’s version of “Mein Kampf” appear from time to time, “Hitler on Trial” is apparently the first book of any sort on the subject. Lorraine Tong, a former aide to Cranston, has performed a valuable service in bringing it to the public’s attention some 75 years after the events described. Tong had access to some of the Cranston family’s personal records and was able to work this material into the book to give a more fully rounded picture of young Cranston, as a 20-something journalist (he covered the Berlin Olympics in 1936) on the world stage. She also peppers the book with a number of interesting anecdotes about Cranston, Hitler, and the events taking place in Europe at that time.
Unfortunately, while Tong is to be commended for what she has accomplished here, she is clearly not a historian, and this rather brief book yet padded book (it contains a couple of chapters consisting of tributes paid to Cranston upon his retirement form the Senate and, later, after his death) seems merely like an introduction to the subject. One vital omission is Tong’s failure to point out some of the differences between the two texts. After the trial, Cranston’s publisher was ordered to destroy all copies of his version. Of course, some remain today and are collector’s items, and Tong had access to such a copy. A side-by-side comparison of an illustrative passage or two would have shown just how much Hitler tried to manipulate the facts. It also would have been helpful to get some perspective from those familiar with the case as to just how influential Cranston’s work actually was (some 500,000 copies were distributed in ten days) or might have been if publication hadn't ceased.
But any shortcomings Tong may have as an investigative reporter pale in comparison to the power of the facts themselves as she has relayed them in “Hitler on Trial.” The reach of the Internet ensures that a modern-day Hitler would never be able to perpetrate such a scam for long without today’s versions of Cranston exposing it worldwide. In 1939, however, exposing Hitler required the hard work of a few people like the actual Alan Cranston and his fellow whistleblowers in translating, editing, publishing, marketing, and distributing his book to a public unaware of the real threat posed by Nazi Germany. Regardless of the ease or difficulty of exposing such tyranny, “Hitler on Trial” provides an often fascinating and compelling example of the importance of such work.
Now that I'm a writer, I realize that history is full of stories, stories that changed lives, stories that everyone can relate to even when we come from different cultures.
This book, Hitler on Trial, is one of those stories that can change the way we view history.
Tong's experience with Alan Cranston gives us an inside view of the REAL story behind Hitler's Mein Kampf. Hitler's Mein Kampf is the autobiography (1925–27) of Adolf Hitler, setting forth his political philosophy and his plan for German conquest. However, the published US story only shows a glimpse of the REAL story that Hitler wrote.
Sometimes we don't have the privilege of knowing the REAL truth behind a story because the media only shows us one side. But there are always two sides to every story.
Alan Cranston's side of Hitler's Mein Kamp gives us an inside look into something we never saw before. It tells us what Hitler really wrote and gives us a different perspective on what was going on in the world during Hitler's reign. It gives us Mr. Cranston's view--one that we need to see.
History shapes our future. This fascinating account of Hitler is something we can all learn from.
I recommend this book.
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Lorrain Tong is giving the message a personal touch and building her authority...Read more