Trump claims he’s never read Mein Kampf as he repeats anti-immigrant rhetoric

Republican denies browsing Adolf Hitler’s book but doubles-down on hateful attack line

Joe Sommerlad
Wednesday 20 December 2023 12:02
Donald Trump doubles down on anti-immigrant rhetoric after Supreme Court decision

Donald Trump has now denied ever having read Adolf Hitler’s 1925 memoir-manifesto Mein Kampf as he faces a firestorm over his recent run of anti-immigrant comments, which have been likened to the Nazi leader’s infamous “blood and soil” rhetoric.

The former president returned to the campaign trail in Waterloo, Iowa, on Tuesday evening where he doubled down on his earlier inflammatory remarks.

“It’s crazy, what’s going on. They’re ruining our country. And it’s true. They are destroying the blood of our country. That’s what they’re doing. They are destroying our country,” he said.

“They don’t like it when I said that,” he added, before denying browsing Hitler’s book.

“And I never read Mein Kampf. They said, ‘Oh, Hitler said that’. In a much different way,” he said.

“No, they’re coming from all over the world. People all over the world, we have no idea... They could be healthy. They could be very unhealthy. They could bring in disease that’s going to catch on in our country. But they do bring in crime. But they have them coming from all over the world.”

Mr Trump was speaking just hours after Colorado’s Supreme Court ruled that he should be disqualified from the state’s 2024 ballot in accordance with Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution – which rules that anyone who engages in an insurrection cannot hold public office.

The verdict will be appealed by Mr Trump’s attorneys and could yet be overturned by the conservative-majority US Supreme Court but represents a potential hammer-blow to his hopes of mounting a return to the White House, particularly if other states choose to follow suit.

The Republican has otherwise spent the week mired in controversy after declaring in an address to a New Hampshire crowd on Saturday night that immigrants were “poisoning the blood of our country”.

“They poison mental institutions and prisons all over the world. Not just in South America. Not just the three or four countries we think about,” he raved. “But all over the world they’re coming into our country, from Africa, from Asia.”

The Joe Biden campaign has since accused Mr Trump of “parroting Hitler” by drawing on the German dictator’s hateful speeches during the heyday of the Third Reich while Ruth Ben-Ghiat, an expert on authoritarianism from New York University, stated unequivocally that Mr Trump’s attack amounts to “fascist rhetoric”.

“The Nazis made the fear of ‘blood pollution’ of their master race and their civilisation a foundation of their state,” she said.

“Italian fascists talked about the threat of non-white immigrants coming in to ruin white civilisation. Trump is referencing and prolonging and echoing fascist rhetoric.”

Among Mr Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie has also denounced him, calling the comments “disgusting”.

Mr Christie warned that the GOP favourite is “becoming crazy” and “worse by the day” and is engaging in “dog whistle” tactics designed to appeal to bigots.

The scandal, in turn, led to a Vanity Fair profile of Mr Trump’s late first wife Ivana Trump from September 1990 being recirculated in which she alleged that her former spouse used to keep a book of Hitler’s speeches in his bedside cabinet.

Former US president Donald Trump address a rally crowd in Waterloo, Iowa, on 19 December 2023

Marie Brenner, the journalist behind the feature, writes that she asked Mr Trump about the truth of the anecdote, to which he replied: “It was my friend Marty Davis from Paramount who gave me a copy of Mein Kampf, and he’s a Jew.”

Mr Davis is then quoted as telling the journalist: “I did give him a book about Hitler. But it was My New Order, Hitler’s speeches, not Mein Kampf. I thought he would find it interesting. I am his friend, but I’m not Jewish.”

Mr Trump is finally reported as having told Ms Brenner: “If I had these speeches, and I am not saying that I do, I would never read them.”

Elsewhere in the piece, the writer quotes Ivana as saying that a friend of Mr Trump’s “clicks his heels and says, ‘Heil Hitler,’ possibly as a family joke” whenever he visits him in his office.

Before this week’s outrage, Mr Trump is alleged to have previously praised the Nazi party’s Fuhrer during a presidential visit to Europe in 2018, telling his then-chief of staff John Kelly, according to a recent book, that Hitler “did a lot of good things” like dragging Germany out of economic turmoil in the 1930s.

Mr Kelly reportedly pushed back against the idea immediately, according to Michael Bender’s book Frankly, We Did Win This Election (2021), telling his boss that no economic revival could justify what followed.

More recently, Mr Trump was criticised for describing his enemies as “vermin” in another address in New Hampshire in November – comments that again carried fascist undertones.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in