Library > Reading Corner > Irene Harand: One Woman's Answer to Hitler

Irene Harand: One Woman's Answer to Hitler

​One of the most despicable books in human history ever published is Mein Kampf. 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 Sein Kampf, His Struggle, An Answer to Hitler.

By Melody Barron, the National Library of Israel

 

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

 

In 1935 an obscure book was published in Austria titled 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 the book's antisemitic claims, allegations, and ideology which swept through Germany and Austria from the time it was first printed in 1925.

 

Harand's book, translated into English in 1937, is chock full of refutations of the antisemitic libels which Hitler used liberally in Mein Kampf. Harand rips into "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" like so:


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 attacks 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 borrowed 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. (pg. 118.)


 

Page 118 from "His Struggle"




Harand, a Catholic Austrian, made no qualms about putting to the forefront the way Christianity itself drove antisemitic ideas; ideas that became entrenched outside of religion and into social bias regarding Jewish people. She deconstructed these ideas throughout her book Sein Kampf in clear and easy language, giving examples, and exposing the fabrications of stereotypes and lies.



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

 

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; it was then that 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 Dr. Stefan Litt of the Archives Department of the National Library.