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Irene Harand: One Woman's Answer to Hitler

​On this day one of the most despicable books in human history was published, "Mein Kampf (My Struggle)" by Adolf Hitler. The story of that book, its author, and ​its consequences are well known. We want to tell you instead, the story of one courageous woman, Irene Harand, who published a response knowing full well it put her own life at risk.


The is the amazing story of of "Sein Kampf (His Struggle, and Answer to Hitler")

 

Portrait of Irene Harand beside the German title of "His Struggle"

 

An obscure book was published in 1935 in Austria called Sein Kampf ("His Struggle, an Answer to Hitler") in which the author, Irene Harand, went through Hitler's Mein Kampf ("My Struggle") tearing to shreds his anti-Semitic claims, allegations, and ideology which swept through Germany and Austria from the time of publication in 1925.

 

The book, translated into English in 1937, is chock full of refutations of anti-Semitic libels which Hitler used liberally in Mein Kampf, such as "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion":


The text of the Protocols from beginning to end is nothing but a mess of lies and forgeries.

Any reflective individual who reads the Protocols will see at first glance that they are criminal fantasies of the worst order, and that the Jews have had no possible connection with them. The Nazis cannot Produce one iota if evidence that they are authentic. (pg. 175)


 

Page 175 from "His Struggle"

 

 


Harand also attacked the idea that Jews are without a culture of their own and infiltrate societies for the sake of their own self-preservation:


Hitler maintains that the Jews never possessed a culture of their own, but always borrows their intellectual substance from other peoples.

[…]

These Hitlerian comments on cowardice, lack of idealism and self-sacrifice in the Jews are totally devoid of any truth. (ph. 118)


 

Page 118 from "His Struggle"


Harand, a Catholic Austrian, made no qualms about putting to the forefront the way Christianity itself drove anti-Semitic ideas, which later became entrenched outside of religious ideas of Judaism and into social ideas regarding the Jews. She deconstructed these ideas throughout the text in clear and easy language, giving examples, and exposing the fabrications of stereotypes and lies.


The time between 1933 and the Anschluss of Austria in 1938, was a time of action for Irene Harand, who worked tirelessly and endlessly against the anti-Semitic incitement that swept through Austria after Hitler's rise to power in Germany. She became a thorn in the side of the Austrian Nazi party for her activism and efforts to denounce Nazism and anti-Semitism.

 

Part of Irene Harand's activism included a lecture circuit that took her all over Europe. During the Anschluss she happened to be in England.  She decided against returning to Austria and ultimately immigrated to the United States, where she used her connections to provide visas for over 100 Austrian Jews, helping them escape the Nazis.

 

In 1968 Yad Vashem recognized Irene Harand as Righteous Among the Nations.


This article was written with the help of Archivist Dr. Stefan Litt and information gathered from Yad Vashem.