Carl Jung on psychic problems of the Germans
This interview with Carl Jung by Peter Schmid was published in Die Weltwoche (Zurich) for May ii, 1945, under the title “Werden die Seelen Frieden finden?” (Will the Souls Find Peace?).
“For the psychologist one thing is clear, and that is that he ought not to make the popular sentimental distinction between Nazis and opponents of the regime.
Two cases I am now treating are both outspoken anti-Nazis, and yet their dreams show that behind all the decency the most pronounced Nazi psychology is still alive with all its violence and savagery.
…A division into decent and indecent Germans is thoroughly naïve.
All of them, whether consciously or unconsciously, actively or passively, have their share in the horrors…For the psychologist the question of collective guilt, which worries politicians so much and will go on worrying them, is a fact, and it will be one of the most important tasks of therapy to get the Germans to admit this guilt.
Only when a patient sees and admits his own responsibility can individual treatment be considered.
But how was it possible that the Germans, of all people, got themselves into this hopeless psychic mess?
Could it have happened to any other nation?
< …>For primitive man the world is full of demons and mysterious powers which he fears; the whole of Nature is animated by these forces, which are nothing but man’s own inner powers projected into the outside world.
Christianity and modern science have de-demonized Nature, which means that the European has consistently taken back the demonic powers out of the world into himself, and has steadily loaded his unconscious with them.
The Germans display a specific weakness in the face of these demons because of their incredible suggestibility.
This shows itself in their love of obedience, their supine submission to commands, which are only another form of suggestion.
This hangs together with the general psychic inferiority of the Germans, the result of their precarious position between East and West.
Of all the Western peoples, they were the ones who, at the general exodus from the Eastern womb of the nations, remained too long with their mother.
Hence the Germans are profoundly troubled with a national inferiority complex, which they try to compensate by megalomania.
It is a typical adolescent psychology, apparent not only in the extraordinary prevalence of homosexuality but in the absence of an anima figure in German literature (the great exception here is Goethe).
It is also apparent in German sentimentality and “Gemütlichkeit,” which is really nothing but hardness of heart, unfeelingness, and soullessness.
All those charges of soullessness and bestiality which German propaganda levelled at the Russians apply to themselves; Goebbels’ speeches are nothing but German psychology projected upon the enemy.
The immaturity of the personality also displayed itself in a terrifying way in the German General Staff, whose lack of character resembled the squishiness of a mollusk inside a panzer.
Germany has always been the land of psychic catastrophes: the Reformation, peasant wars and wars of religion.
Under National Socialism, the pressure of the demons became so great that they got human beings into their power and blew them up into lunatic supermen, first of all Hitler who then infected the rest.
All the Nazi leaders were possessed in the truest sense of the word, and it is assuredly no accident that their propaganda minister was branded with the ancient mark of the demonized man—a clubfoot.
Ten per cent of the German population today are hopeless psychopaths.
The Germans today are like a drunken man who wakes up the next morning with a hangover.
They don’t know what they’ve done and don’t want to know.
The only feeling is one of boundless misery.
They will make convulsive efforts to rehabilitate themselves in face of the accusations and hatred of the surrounding world, but that is not the right way.
The only redemption lies, as I have already indicated, in a complete admission of guilt.
Anyone who falls so low has depth.
The Germans will recover when they admit their guilt and accept it; but the others will become victims of possession if, in their horror at the German guilt, they forget their own moral shortcomings.
I have already suggested that the only salvation lies in the piecemeal work of educating the individual.
That is not as hopeless as it may appear.
The power of the demons is immense, and the most modern media of mass suggestion —press, radio, film, etc.—are at their service.
Unfortunately it is my fate that other people, especially those who are themselves possessed by demons, think me mad because I believe in these powers.
But that is their affair; I know they exist.
There are demons all right, as sure as there is a Buchenwald.