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North Korea’s reigning despot Kim Jong Un reportedly gave copies of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” to top government officials at a birthday party in his honor in January, the Washington Post reports.
The WaPo report is based on claims made by the North Korean news group New Focus International.
“The famous Nazi autobiography was reportedly distributed as what’s called a ‘hundred-copy book,’ which refers to Pyongyang’s practice of circulating an extremely limited number of copies among top officials, though most books are forbidden in North Korea,” the Washington Post reports.
“Gifts marking the leader’s birthday are typically imbued with special political significance,” the report adds.
However, as explained in the WaPo report, North Korea’s child king supposedly doesn’t value “Mein Kampf” for its anti-Semitism or for its explanation of the tenets of national socialism. Rather, Kim reportedly gave copies of the book to senior officials because he likes what Hitler had to say about economic and military reconstruction.
“A North Korean who works on behalf of the country in China told New Focus that Kim gave a speech endorsing Germany’s inter-war revival and encouraging officials to read ‘Mein Kampf,’” the Post notes.
New Focus’s North Korean source adds: “Kim Jong Un gave a lecture to high-ranking officials, stressing that we must pursue the policy of Byungjin [translation: “in tandem”] in terms of nuclear and economic development.”
“Mentioning that Hitler managed to rebuild Germany in a short time following its defeat in World War One, Kim Jong Un issued an order for the Third Reich to be studied in depth and asked that practical applications be drawn from it,” the source added.
But if Kim were honestly interested in economic and military reconstruction, his selection of "Mein Kampf" is an odd one. Indeed, along with being both long-winded and rambling, Hitler's autobiography is heavy on the racial purity and “Jewish conspiracies” and a little light on the economic recovery. There are better "how-to's" out there.
Still, it’s important to remember the symbolism of the gift. North Korea, in Kim’s mind, is basically post-World War I/pre-Hitler Germany: surrounded, outclassed, outgunned, pressed upon, but defiant (again, in Kim's mind).
And, according to Shirley Lee, New Focus’s international editor, sources say they are starting to “see hints that North Korean propagandists may be attempting to learn from Hitler’s successes.”
“One source says there have been many overt attempts to imbue Kim Jong Un with an ‘intimidating charisma,’ such as having him shout very forcefully at associates (Kim Jong Il was never seen to do such a thing) and even throwing things at people,” Lee reports.
She adds, “According to another source, this may explain why the [official state newspaper] Rodong Sinmun has been showing photos of Kim Jong Un looking angry and scary – again, unprecedented in the history of Kim presentation.”
Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter
Featured image AP photo.
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