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Social question was aroused for Adolf Hitler - Mein Kampf.

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Adolf Hitler.
Social questions were aroused for Adolf Hitler.

Once my interest in the social question was aroused, I beganto study it with all thoroughness. It was a new and hitherto unknown worldwhich opened before me.

  In the years 1909 and 1910, my own situation had changed somewhatin so far as I no longer had to earn my daily bread as a common laborer.By this time I was working independently as a small draftsman and painterof watercolors. Hard as this was with regard to earnings-it was barely enoughto live on- it was good for my chosen profession. Now I was no longer deadtired in the evening when I came home from work, unable to look at a bookwithout soon dozing off. My present work ran parallel to my future profession.Moreover, I was master of my own time and could apportion it better thanhad previously been possible.

  I painted to make a living and studied for pleasure.

  Thus I was able to supplement my visual instruction in the socialproblem by theoretical study. I studied more or less all of the books Iwas able to obtain regarding this whole field, and for the rest immersedmyself in my own thoughts.

  I believe that those who knew me in those days took me for aneccentric.

  Amid all this, as was only natural, I served my love of architecturewith ardent zeal. Along with music, it seemed to me the queen of the arts:under such circumstances my concern with it was not 'work.' but the greatestpleasure. I could read and draw until late into the night, and never growtired. Thus my faith grew that my beautiful dream for the future would becomereality after all, even though this might require long years. I was firmlyconvinced that I should some day make a name for myself as an architect.

  In addition, I had the greatest interest in everything connectedwith politics, but this did not seem to me very significant. On the contrary:in my eyes this was the self-evident duty of every thinking man. Anyonewho failed to understand this lost the right to any criticism or complaint.

  In this field, too, I read and studied much.

  By 'reading,' to be sure, I mean perhaps something differentthan the average member of our so-called 'intelligentsia.'

  I know people who 'read' enormously, book for book, letter forletter, yet whom I would not describe as 'well-read.' True they possessa mass of 'knowledge,' but their brain is unable to organize and registerthe material they have taken in. They lack the art of sifting what is valuablefor them in a book from that which is without value, of retaining the oneforever, and, if possible, not even seeing the rest, but in any case notdragging it around with them as useless ballast. For reading is no end initself, but a means to an end. It should primarily help to fill the frameworkconstituted by every man's talents and abilities; in addition, it shouldprovide the tools and building materials which the individual needs forhis life's work, regardless whether this consists in a primitive strugglefor sustenance or the satisfaction of a high calling; secondly, it shouldtransmit a general world view. In both cases, however, it is essential thatthe con tent of what one reads at any time should not be transmitted tothe memory in the sequence of the book or books, but like the stone of amosaic should fit into the general world picture in its proper place, andthus help to form this picture in the mind of the reader. Otherwise therearises a confused muddle of memorized facts which not only are worthless,but also make their unto fortunate possessor conceited. For such a readernow believes himself in all seriousness to be {educated,' to understandsomething of life, to have knowledge, while in reality, with every new acquisitionof this kind of 'education,' he is growing more and more removed from theworld until, not infrequently, he ends up in a sanitarium or in parliament.

Never will such a mind succeed in culling from the confusion of his ' knowledge' anything that suits the demands of the hour, for his intellectual ballastis not organized along the lines of life, but in the sequence of the booksas he read them and as their content has piled up in his brain If Fate,in the requirements of his daily life, desired to remind him to make a correctapplication of what he had read, it would have to indicate title and pagenumber, since the poor fool would otherwise never in all his life find thecorrect place. But since Fate does not do this, these bright boys in anycritical situation come into the most terrible embarrassment, cast aboutconvulsively for analogous cases, and with mortal certainty naturally findthe wrong formulas.

  If this were not true, it would be impossible for us to understandthe political behavior of our learned and highly placed government heroes,unless we decided to assume outright villainy instead of pathological propensities.

  On the other hand, a man who possesses the art of correct reading will, in studying any book, magazine, or pamphlet, instinctively and immediately perceive everything which in his opinion is worth permanently remembering, either because it is suited to his purpose or generally worth knowing. Oncethe knowledge he has achieved in this fashion is correctly coordinated within the somehow existing picture of this or that subject created by the imaginations it will function either as a corrective or a complement, thus enhancingeither the correctness or the clarity of the picture. Then, if life suddenly sets some question before us for examination or answer, the memory, if this method of reading is observed, will immediately take the existing pictureas a norm, and from it will derive all the individual items regarding thesequestions, assembled in the course of decades, submit them to the mind forexamination and reconsideration, until the question is clarified or answered.

  Only this kind of reading has meaning and purpose.

  An orator, for example, who does not thus provide his intelligencewith the necessary foundation will never be in a position cogently to defendhis view in the face of opposition, though it may be a thousand times trueor real. In every discussion his memory will treacherously leave him inthe lurch; he will find neither grounds for reinforcing his own contentionsnor any for confuting those of his adversary. If, as in the case of a speaker,it is only a question of making a fool of himself personally, it may notbe so bad, but not so when Fate predestines such a know-it-all incompetent to be the leader of a state.

  Since my earliest youth I have endeavored to read in the correct way, and in this endeavor I have been most happily supported by my memoryand intelligence. Viewed in this light, my Vienna period was especially fertile and valuable. The experiences of daily life provided stimulation for a constantly renewed study of the most varied problems. Thus at last I was in a position to bolster up reality by theory and test theory by reality,and was preserved from being stifled by theory or growing banal through reality.

  In this period the experience of daily life directed and stimulatedme to the most thorough theoretical study of two questions in addition to the social question.

  Who knows when I would have immersed myself in the doctrines and essence of Marxism if that period had not literally thrust my nose into the problem!

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler: Chapters Below.

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