The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Psychological Analysis & Reconstruction

[Transcription note: Bracketed [Page] links provide access to the individual images from which these transcriptions were made]

The greater the demands of his perversion became, the more he hated the Jews and the more he talked against them. Everything which was bad was attributed to them. Here was his political career in an embryo state. He now spent most of his time reading books, attending political talks and reading newspapers in cafe houses. He himself tells us in so many words that he skipped through this material and only took out those parts which were useful to him. In other words, he was not reading and listening in order to become educated sufficiently to form a rational judgment of the problem. This would have been a violation of his earlier inhibition on thinking. He read only in order to find additional justification for his own inner feelings and convictions and to rationalize his projections. He has continued this technique up to the present time. He does a great deal of reading on many diverse subjects but he never forms a rational opinion in the light of the information but only pays attention to those parts which convince him that he was right to begin with. [Page 211]

In the evening he would return to his flophouse and harangue his associates with political and anti-Semitic speeches until he became a joke. This, however, did not disturb him too much. On the contrary, it seemed to act as a stimulant for further reading and the gathering of more arguments to prove his point of view. It was as though in trying to convince others of the dangers of Jewish domination, he was really trying to convince himself of the dangers of being dominated by his perversion. Perhaps Hitler is really referring to his perversion when he writes:

"During the long pro-war years of peace certain pathological features had certainly appeared. . .There were many signs of decay which ought to have stimulated serious reflection." (MK, 315)

The same may also be true when he says:

"How could the German people's political instincts become so morbid? The question involved here was not that of a single symptom, but instances of decay which flared up now in legion...which like poisonous ulcers ate into the nation now here, now there. It seemed as though a continuous flow of poison was driven into the farthest blood vessels of this one-time heroic body by a mysterious power, so as to lead to ever more severe paralysis of sound reason and of the simple instinct of self-preservation." (MK, 2O1)

As time went on the sexual stimulation o. the Viennese environment seemed to aggravate the demands of his perversion. He suddenly became overwhelmed by the role that sex plays in the life of the lower classes and the Jews. Vienna became [Page 212] for him "the symbol of incest" and he suddenly left it to seek refuge with his ideal mother, Germany. But his pre-war days in Munich were not different from those he left behind in Vienna. His life was still one of extreme passivity and although we know little about them we can surmise that his days were filled with inner troubles.

The first World War.

Under these circumstances, we can understand why he thanked God for the first World War. For him it represented an opportunity of giving up his individual war against himself in exchange for a national war in which he would have the help of others. It also represented to him, on an unconscious level, an opportunity of redeeming his mother and assuming a masculine role for himself. Even at that time we may suppose he had inklings that he would be the Great Redeemer. It was not only his mother he was going to redeem, but also himself.

His advent in the German Army was really his first step in attempting to redeem himself as a social human being. No longer was he to be the underdog for he was joining forces with those who were determined to conquer and become great. Activity, replaced his earlier passivity to a large degree. Dirt, filth, and poverty were left behind and he could mingle with the chosen people on an equal footing. But for him this was not enough. As we. have pointed out in an earlier section, he was not content to be as clean as the average [Page 213] soldier. He had to go to the other extreme and become exceedingly clean. Whenever he returned from the front he immediately sat down and scrupulously removed every speck of mud from his person, much to the amusement of his comrades. Mend, his comrade during this time relates an experience at the front when Hitler upbraided one of the other men for not keeping himself clean and called him a "manure pile", which sounds very much like a memory of himself in Vienna.

During this period, as previously mentioned, his passive feminine tendencies were finding an outlet in his abasive conduct towards his officers. It looks as though he had not progressed sufficiently far in his conquest of himself to maintain a wholly masculine role. But with the help of others and the guidance of his respected officers he was making some progress toward what appeared to be a social adjustment. The final defeat of Germany, however, upset his well-laid plans and shattered his hopes and ambitions.

The defeat of Germany.

Nevertheless, it was this event which proved to be the turning-point in his life and determined that he would be an outstanding success rather than a total failure. UNconscious forces, some of which had been dormant for years, were now reawakened and upset his whole psychological equilibrium. His reaction to this event was an hysterical attack which manifested itself in blindness and mutism. Although the hysterical blindness [Page 214] saved him from witnessing what he regarded as an intolerable spectacle, it did not save him from the violent emotional reactions it aroused. These emotions, we may assume, were similar to those which he had experienced as a child when he discovered his aprents in intercourse. It seems logical to suppose that at that time he felt his mother was being defiled before his eyes but in view of his father's power and brutality he felt himself utterly helpless to redeem her honor or to save her from future assaults. If this is true, we would expect that he swore secret vengance against his father and, as has been shown, there is evidence to this effect.

Now the same thing was happening again but instead of his real mother it was his ideal mother, Germany, who was being betrayed, corrupted and humiliated and again he was unable to come to her rescue. A deep depression set in of which he writes:

"What now followed were terrible days and even worse nights. Now I knew that everything was lost....In those nights my hatred arose, the hatred against the originators of this deed."

But again he was weak and helpless - a blind cripple lying in hospital. He struggled with the problem:

"How shall our nation be freed from the chains of this poisonous embrace?"

It would seem that the more he thought about it, the more his [unreadable] him that all was lost. He probably despised and [Page 215] condemned himself for his weakness and as his hatred continued to rise in the face of this frustrating experience he vowed ten and there:

"To know neither rest nor peace until the November Criminals had been overthrown..."

Undoubtedly his emotions were, extremely violent and would serve as a powerful motive for much of the retaliation which becomes so prominent in his later behavior. There are, however, many ways of retaliating which do not involve a complete upheaval and transformation of character such as we find in Hitler at this time.

From our experience with patients we know that complete transformations of this kind usually take place only under circumstances of extreme duress which demonstrate to the individual that his present character structure is no longer tenable. Naturally we do not know exactly what went on in Hitler's mind during this period or how he regarded his own position. We do how, however, that under such circumstances very strange thoughts and fantasies pass through the minds of relatively normal people and that in the case of neurotics, particularly when they have strong masochistic tendencies, these fantasies can become extremely absurd. Whatever the nature of these fantasies might have been, we may be reasonably sure that they involved his own safety or well-being. Only a danger of this magnitude would ordinarily cause an individual to abandon or revolutionize his character structure. [Page 216]

It may be that his nightmares will yield a clue. These, it may be remembered, center on the theme of his being attacked or subjected to indignities by another man. It is not his mother who is being attacked, but himself. When he wakes from these nightmares he acts as though he were choking. He gasps for breath and breaks out in a cold sweat. It is only with great difficulty that he can be quieted again because frequently there is a hallucinatory after-effect and he believes he sees the man in his bedroom.

Under ordinary circumstances, we would be inclined to interpret this as the result of an unconscious wish for homosexual relations together with an ego revulsion against the latent tendency. This interpretation might apply to Hitler, too, for to some extent it seems as though he reacted to the defeat of Germany as a rape of himself as weel as of his symbolic mother. Furthermore, while he was lying helpless in the hospital, unable to see or to speak, he could well have considered himself an easy object for homosexual attack. When we remember, however, that for years he chose to live in a Vienna flophouse which was known to be inhabited by many homosexuals and later on associated with several notorious homosexuals, sych as Hess and Roehm, we cannot feel that this form of attack, alone, would be sufficient to threaten his integrity to such an extent that he would repudiate his former self. [Page 217]

A further clue to his thoughts during this period may be found in his great preoccupation with propaganda which, in his imagery is almost synonomous with poison.

"Slogan after slogan rained down on our people."

"...the front was flooded with this poison."

"...for the effect of its language on me was like that of spiritual vitrtol... I sometimes had to fight down the rage rising in me because of this concentrated solution of lies."

This type of imagery probably has a double significance. There is considerable evidence to show that as a child he believed that the man, during intercourse, injected poison into the woman which gradually destroyed her from within and finally brought about her death. Ths is not an uncommon belief in childhood and in view of the fact that his mother died from a cancer of the breast, after a long illness, the belief may have been more vivid and persisted longer in Hitler than in most children. On the other hand, the importance of poison in connection with his perversion has already been considered. We know about his inhibitions against taking certain substances into his mouth. These were not present during the early days of his career but developed much later in connection with his transformed character.

In view of all this it may not be too far-fetched to suppose that while he was fantasying [sic] about what the victors might do to the vanquished when they arrived, his masochistic [Page 218] and perverse tendencies conjured up the thought that they might attack him and force him to eat dung and drink urine (a practice which, it is alleged, is fairly common in Nazi concentration camps). Interestingly enough, this idea is incorporated in the colloquial expression "to eat the dirt of the victors." And in his weakened and helpless condition he would be unable to ward off such an attack. Such an hypothesis gains credence when we review the behavior of Nazi troops in the role of conquerors.

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