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Meine Tantiemen
January 16, 2014 9:41 PM   Subscribe

Adolf Hitler was one of the richest authors of all time. But how rich was he and who gets his royalties today?
posted by paleyellowwithorange (44 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
You know who else was a rich author?




wait...
posted by louche mustachio at 9:44 PM on January 16 [31 favorites]


And so after doing a Google search for the book I was forced to do a whois hitler.org, so g'night everyone.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:48 PM on January 16


In 1933, the year Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, sales exploded to over 850,000 copies. Once he was in power, the German government purchased and distributed 6 million copies of Mein Kampf to soldiers, and average citizens alike.

Hitler would have made a great college professor.

(Just kidding, more of my professors compiled public domain or otherwise-free reading selections than required their students to buy their own books.)
posted by XMLicious at 9:57 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


I seldom read the comments. But boy does this one not disappoint.

I am curious about the store of Hitler's paintings that the US gov has in a vault. As in, what other degenerate art do we have locked away?
posted by munchingzombie at 10:08 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


I'm glad to hear that (spoiler alert) nobody wants the money.
posted by Sara C. at 10:10 PM on January 16


Mein Kampf was not an ebook best-seller
posted by empath at 10:18 PM on January 16 [7 favorites]


I think there's a lot of incorrect information in that article, tbh.
posted by empath at 10:24 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


adolf hitler
adolf hitler hot
adolf hitler feet
adolf hitler net worth

posted by Ian A.T. at 10:46 PM on January 16 [8 favorites]


munchingzombie, did you use that term on purpose?
posted by Harald74 at 10:47 PM on January 16


In Alan Bullock's Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives he claims that Hitler did not personally enrich himself on the spoils of Europe (unlike most of the other Nazi leadership, in particular Göring), IIRC. He actually had to ask for advances on his book royalties in the latter part of the war, as his expenses outpaced his income.

The question of what happened to the Nazi fortunes after the war is an interesting one, and still the recovery efforts is ongoing. Though I'm not sure celebritynetworth.com is the best place to go for information on the subject...
posted by Harald74 at 11:00 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Hitler was earning over $1 million a year from Mein Kampf royalties. That's the equivalent of $12 million a year in 2012 US dollars.

Wow Hitler originally earned money in US Dollars, how amazing that he wasn't earning Deutschemarks!
posted by efalk at 11:01 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Those Wiener schnitzels didn't come cheap.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:07 PM on January 16


how amazing that he wasn't earning Deutschemarks!

Reichsmarks. Deutsch Marks are the postwar, post-Reich replacement.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:21 PM on January 16 [9 favorites]


I find it interesting that his descendants have refused the money. If I were them, I would accept it, and donate it to a Jewish charity.
posted by lollusc at 11:22 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Of course, I guess they might not want it either... But I feel like SOMEONE should benefit.
posted by lollusc at 11:23 PM on January 16


This is interesting.

I can't vouch for the accuracy of the reporting or the numbers in that article (the dollars have a feeling to me of being somewhat inflated) but Hitler being rich by his own labours prior to achieving supremacy really helps me understand the whole terrifying charisma and svengali type love for him you see in that old footage of giddy swooning crowds. He was a popular media figure whose success was that he had become rich and famous out of obscurity and mediocrity by his own hand, not inherited or aristocratic wealth.

I knew that Mein Kampf was a popular book at the time, but did not realise it was that popular.

It must have been a material lever by which he elevated himself in the populist and celebrity rankings. And that generic popularity he then parlayed into political power.

I think this method of acceding to power, that is leverage off popular celebrity, is still in use.

I had never conflated 1930's German celebrityhood with the modern day notions of the same. Gives me pause, and fear, that plus ca change, plus ca meme chose etc
posted by Plutocratte at 12:03 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


He wasn't rich and it wasn't that popular before he became chancellor.

In 1930, he sold 55,000 copies, according to this article. That's not even a best seller. 850,000 after he became chancellor is comparable to what Obama made the year he became president from his books, and nobody would argue that his success as an author made successful as a politician (quite the reverse in both cases, really).
posted by empath at 12:46 AM on January 17 [4 favorites]


(Just kidding, more of my professors compiled public domain or otherwise-free reading selections than required their students to buy their own books.)

My stepdad once told me about an upper-level math class he took in college (this would've been 1980 or so) where the prof handed out ten dollar bills to everybody in the class, explaining that they were using the book he wrote because he felt it was the best book for the topic, not so he could force the students to give him money.

(This was the same book whose index had entries for "math, sex in: see sex in math" and "sex in math: see math, sex in".)
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:40 AM on January 17 [7 favorites]


Since this was already a thread about Hitler and someone already did the "do you know who else..." joke, I was waiting for the Obama comparison. Good one, empath!
posted by crossoverman at 2:32 AM on January 17


Yeah i realized that i had just compared hitler to obama in a non-ironic fashion after i posted it. I like to live on the edge.
posted by empath at 2:44 AM on January 17 [10 favorites]


I think it's weird that so few charities want this money. It seems like the irony of taking money from people who think Hitler had some good ideas and putting it toward things Hitler would have hated would be worth it to somebody.
posted by NoraReed at 4:45 AM on January 17


As long as we're going with the risible comparisons, I just imagined Queen Elizabeth reading that article, thinking of all the stamps and coins with her face on them, and going, "Damnit!"
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:03 AM on January 17 [3 favorites]


From the article: Who would want to be seen at an airport, or a coffee shop or at the dentist office holding a copy of Mein Kampf in front of your nose?

I have twice, a couple of weeks apart, seen the same young man, reading Mein Kampf (in Spanish, Mi Lucho), on a bus in Buenos Aires.

Interestingly enough, on both occasions we were travelling through Abasto at the time, one of the main Jewish residential areas of the city.
posted by jontyjago at 5:08 AM on January 17


I'm glad I'm not a history teacher. My class would groan as I cover hitlers first attempt at government overthrow with a Salt-n-Pepa inspired ditty "Putsch it Real Good".
posted by dr_dank at 5:31 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


The important question is, was the first edition of Mein Kampf printed in Antiqua or Fraktur?
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:28 AM on January 17


Beware of author-itarian government.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 6:43 AM on January 17


From Wikipedia's article on Alan Cranston, later Democratic US Senator from California:
When an abridged English-language translation of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf was released, sanitized to exclude some of Hitler's anti-semitism and militancy, Cranston published a different translation (with annotations) which he believed more accurately reflected the contents of the book. In 1939, Hitler's publisher sued him for copyright violation in Connecticut; a judge ruled in Hitler's favor and publication of the book was halted.
posted by ogooglebar at 6:58 AM on January 17


The important question is, was the first edition of Mein Kampf printed in Antiqua or Fraktur?

Fraktur (or similar blackletter typeface), to judge by the title page (sorry about the Daily Mail link).
posted by jedicus at 7:09 AM on January 17


NoraReed, I imagine a lot of charities don't want the money because of the complicated politics of it.

Imagine if it was a known thing that, for example, the Red Cross got a large cut of the profits from Mein Kampf. How many people would use that as another reason the Red Cross is a terrible organization -- they profit off of antisemitism!

Even worse, can you imagine the conspiracy theories that would arise if the money was openly accepted by Jewish charities?

Even if you don't see it as blood money, Hitler's image is so bad that any group who can be easily associated with him will take a hit to their reputation.
posted by Sara C. at 7:29 AM on January 17


From the article: Who would want to be seen at an airport, or a coffee shop or at the dentist office holding a copy of Mein Kampf in front of your nose?

I have twice, a couple of weeks apart, seen the same young man, reading Mein Kampf (in Spanish, Mi Lucho), on a bus in Buenos Aires.

Interestingly enough, on both occasions we were travelling through Abasto at the time, one of the main Jewish residential areas of the city.


I have a copy of it, along with many other historical writings, and I feel bad enough having it sit on my bookshelf. It is on there but it's behind the other books. I read some of it for a paper in University and the academic in me hasn't been able to just turf it. The emotional part of me doesn't like seeing it so I compromised with myself.
posted by Jalliah at 7:29 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


I work for a charitable organization. Where do I sign up for some of that sweet Mein Kampf royalty money?

Some of our benefactors are otherwise horrifically greedy corporations (health insurance companies and Pharma) and I would *love* to tell them "Fuck off, we'd prefer to use Hitler's money."
posted by Random Person at 7:41 AM on January 17 [7 favorites]


(in Spanish, Mi Lucho)

I find this interesting, because in English, Mein Kampf is...Mein Kampf. I've never seen it published as My Struggle.
posted by malocchio at 8:05 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


Errr...not that I go looking for it often.
posted by malocchio at 8:06 AM on January 17


I'm a little disturbed by the assumption that only neo-nazis would be interested in reading the book. It's in my ebook queue because it is historically significant not because my beliefs align with the author's.

Also I'm amazed its publication is outlawed in so many countries. Man you never hear about that during banned book week do you.
posted by Mitheral at 8:12 AM on January 17 [4 favorites]


It's a curious fact that John Fante's literary career was sunk by legal action taken by Hitler over an unauthorized US publication of Mein Kampf.
posted by Scram at 8:19 AM on January 17


I got my copy from Project Gutenberg Australia so no pesky royalties to worry about.
posted by Mitheral at 8:28 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


As a couple of people noted above, this article has a lot of weird mistakes in it, enough that I wonder if the parts of the article I can't verify are correct. It's a good premise for an article and some of the research seems compelling, but is it accurate?

"At that time [2015], anyone with a printing press can sell the book within Germany and not pay a single royalty.". Technically it's a correct description of public domain, but it ignores the larger picture of Germany's anti-Nazi propaganda laws that would make any such publication very difficult.

"a few of his paintings will come up for auction ... Hitler's distant heirs would have a legitimate claim to those profits". Under what theory? Artists' estates don't get a cut of all future auction sales. (Also the article uses the word "profits" when they mean "proceeds").

"when someone buys the book today they are most likely benefiting a charitable cause that they may otherwise detest". Huh? The whole point of the article is that his royalties go to charities. Good reporting! But then why finish the article with the "may otherwise detest" line? Nowhere in the article do they even talk about what charities are getting the money (a shame, I'd be curious to know.) Why suddenly leap to the moral character of these unknown charities? Why use such a strong word like "detest"?

Maybe I'm reading Celebrity Net Worth with too high a standard, but that's a lot of strange problems in a short article that I didn't even read closely.
posted by Nelson at 8:51 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


The otherwise detest line is based on the assumption that it most of the market is neo-nazis and sympathizers.
posted by Mitheral at 8:57 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


Also I'm amazed its publication is outlawed in so many countries. Man you never hear about that during banned book week do you.

On the other hand, other banned writers like Vonnegut and Atwood hadn't killed millions of people on their way to the top. So there's that.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:51 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


Also I'm amazed its publication is outlawed in so many countries. Man you never hear about that during banned book week do you.

Banned book week has essentially nothing to do with books that have actually been banned, as in had their publication, distribution, or ownership forbidden.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:52 PM on January 17 [3 favorites]


The important question is, was the first edition of Mein Kampf printed in Antiqua or Fraktur?

Those font Nazis… You know who else was a font Nazi?

Oh wait…
posted by jonp72 at 4:14 PM on January 17


Amusingly, "Reich" in German means both, well, "Reich" (realm, empire) and "rich".
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 2:32 AM on January 18


Just imagine if he had put some vampires in.
posted by thelonius at 2:42 AM on January 18


A casual search of the gutenberg version reveals that he does mention bloodsuckers once...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:45 AM on January 18


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