Carl Jung on psychology of fascism in his famous interview “Werden Die Seelen Frieden Finden?” (“Will the souls find peace?”)

Four days after the unconditional surrender of the German
Army at Rheims, this interview by Peter Schmid was published
in Die Weltwoche (Zurich) for May n, 1945, under the title
"Werden die Seelen Frieden finden?" (Will the Souls Find
Peace?). The interview probably took place somewhat earlier.
A partial translation was published by the newspaper PM (New
York), May 10, 1945.

Q. Do you not thinк that the end of the war will bring about great changes in the psyche of Europeans, particularly the Germans, who are now awakening as though from a long
and terrible dream?
A. Indeed I do. As to the Germans, we have a psychic prob-
lem ahead of us the magnitude of which cannot yet be fore-
seen, though its outlines can already be discerned in the
cases I am treating. For the psychologist one thing is clear,
and that is that he ought not to make the popular senti-
mental 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. When Field Marshal
von Kiichler,(1 Georg von Kiichler (1881-196?), led the Nazi
invasion of western Poland in September 1939. He was tried and
sentenced to prison as a war criminal by the Nuremberg
Tribunal.) questioned by a Swiss reporter about the
German atrocities in Poland, exclaimed indignantly: "Excuse me, that wasn't the Wehrmacht, it was the Party!"
this proved that a division into decent and indecent Ger-
mans is thoroughly naive. All of them, whether consciously
or unconsciously, actively or passively, have their share in
the horrors; they knew nothing of what was going on and
yet they did know, as though party to a secret contrat genial.
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. Even now 1
am receiving many applications from Germans who want
to be treated by me. If they come from those "decent Ger-
mans" who want to foist the guilt onto a couple of men in
the Gestapo, I regard the case as hopeless. I shall have no
alternative , but to answer the applications with a questionnaire asking certain crucial questions, like "What do you
think about Buchenwald?" Only when a patient sees and
admits his own responsibility can individual treatment be
Q. 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?
A. Here you must allow me to go back a bit and to recapitu-
late my theory as to the general psychic antecedents of this
National Socialist war. Let us take a small practical exam-
ple as a starting point. One day a woman comes to me and
breaks out into the wildest accusations against her husband :
he is a veritable devil who torments and persecutes her,
and so on and so forth. In reality the good man is a per-
fectly respectable citizen, quite innocent of any such de-
monic intentions. Where does this crazy idea come from in
this woman? It is the devil in her own soul that she is
projecting; she has transferred her own wishes and her
own rages to her husband. I make this clear to her; she
admits it and becomes a contrite little lamb. Everything seems to be in order. And yet that is just the thing I find
most disquieting, because I don't know where the devil,
who had previously attached himself to the image of the
husband, has gone to. Exactly the same thing happened on a large scale in the history of Europe. 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 un-
conscious with them. Out of man himself the demonic
powers rise up in revolt against the supposed spiritual con-
straints of Christianity. The demons begin to break out in
Baroque art: the columns writhe, the furniture sprouts
satyr's feet. Man is slowly transformed into a uroboros,
the "tail-eater" who devours himself, from ancient times a
symbol of the demon-ridden man. The first perfect example
of this species was Napoleon.
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 submis-
sion to commands, which are only another form of sug-
gestion. This hangs together with the general psychic in-
feriority of the Germans, the result of their precarious posi-
tion 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. Finally they did get out, but arrived too late, while
the mujik never broke loose at all. Hence the Germans are
profoundly troubled with a national inferiority complex,
which they try to compensate by megalomania: "Am deut-
schen Wesen soil die Welt genesen" (Roughly, "the German spirit will be the world's salvation." A
Nazi slogan derived from a poem by Emanuel Geibel (1815-84 - though they are none too comfy in their own skins! 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 "Gemutlich-
keit," which is really nothing but hardness of heart, un-
feelingness, and soullessness. All those charges of soulless-
ness 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 squashiness of a mollusc inside a
panzer. Germany has always been the land of psychic catastro-
phes: the Reformation, peasant wars and wars of religion.
Under National Socialism, the pressure of the demons be-
came 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 pos-
sessed 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 psy-
Q. You have been talking of the psychic inferiority and de-
monic susceptibility of the Germans, but do you thin\ this
also applies to us Swiss, so far as we are Germanic in origin?
A. We are insulated against this susceptibility by the small-
ness of our country. If eighty million Swiss were piled to-
gether the same thing might happen, for the demons hurl themselves by preference on the mass. In any collectivity
man is rootless and then the demons can get him. Hence the
technique of the Nazis never to form individuals but only
huge masses. Hence, too, the faces of the demonized man of today: lifeless, rigid, blank. We Swiss are protected
against these dangers by our federalism and our individual-
ism. Such a mass accumulation would not be possible with
us as it was in Germany, and in this isolation lies perhaps
the therapy with which one can conquer the demons.
Q. But what will happen if this therapy is carried out by bombs
and guns? Won't military subjection of the demonized
nation merely intensify the feeling of inferiority and ma\e
the disease worse?
A. 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 feel-
ing 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 indi-
cated, in a complete admission of guilt. Mea culpa, mea
maxima culpa! Out of honest contrition for sin comes divine
grace. That is not only a religious but also a psychological
truth. The American treatment of conducting the civilian
population through the concentration camps and letting
them see all the abominations committed there is therefore
quite right. Only, the object lesson should not be driven
home with moral instruction; repentance must come from
inside the Germans themselves. It is possible that positive
forces will emerge from the catastrophe, that from this in-
troversion prophets will once again arise, for prophets are as
characteristic of this strange people as the demons. Anyone
who falls so low has depth. In all probability there will be
a miraculous haul of souls for the Catholic Church — the
Protestant Church is too split up. There are reports that the
general misery has reawakened the religious life in Ger-
many; whole communities fall to their knees in the evenings, beseeching God to deliver them from the Antichrist.
Q. Then one can hope that the demons will be banished and
that a new and better world will rise on the ruins?
A. No, the demons are not banished, that is a difficult task
that still lies ahead. Now that the angel of history has
abandoned the Germans, the demons will seek a new victim.
And that won't be difficult. Every man who loses his
shadow, every nation that falls into self-righteousness, is
their prey. We love the criminal and take a burning interest
in him because the devil makes us forget the beam in our
own eye when observing the mote in our brother's and in
that way outwits us. 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. We should not
forget that exactly the same fatal tendency to collectivization
is present in the victorious nations as in the Germans, that
they can just as suddenly become a victim of the demonic
powers. "General suggestibility" plays a tremendous role in
America today, and how much the Russians are already
fascinated by the devil of power can easily be seen from the
latest events, which must dampen our peace jubilations a
bit. The most sensible in this respect are the English: their
individualism saves them from falling for the slogan, and
the Swiss share their amazement at the collective unreason.Q. Then we must anxiously wait and see which way the
demons go next?
A. 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. But Christian-
ity, too, was able to hold its own against an overwhelming
adversary not by propaganda and mass conversions — that
came later and was of little value — but by persuasion from
man to man. And that is the way we also must go if we
wish to conquer the demons.
I don't envy you your task in writing about these things.
I hope you will succeed in presenting my ideas in such a
way that people won't find them too strange. 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



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Lena Bloch

Lena Bloch


Background in psychology of learning, literature, philosophy, math.