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] [Page 225]

Obviously, Hitler could not rationalize his projection as long as he stood by himself as a single individual, nor could he combat the Jew single-handed. For this he needed a large group which would fit the picture he had created. He found this in defeated Germany as a whole. At the close of the war it was in a position almost identical with his own before the transformation had taken place. It, too, was weak and exposed to further attack and humiliation. It, too, had to be prepared to eat the dirt of the conquerors and during the inflation period, it, too, was confused, pasive and helpless. It, therefore, made an excellent symbol of his earlier self and Hitler again shifted his personal problems to a national and racial scale where he could deal with them more objectively. Providence had "given" him the spark which transformed him over-night. It was now his mission to transform the remainder of the German people by winning them to his view of life and the New Order. The Jews now played the same role in the life of Germany as his effeminate, masochistic and perverse adjustment had played in his own life. He now resolved to become a politician.

Many writers have expressed the opinion that Hitler's anti-Semitism is motivated primarily by its great propaganda value. Undoubtedly, anti-Semitism is the most powerful weapon in his propaganda arsenal and Hitler is well aware of it. He has even expressed the opinion on several occasions that the [Page 226] Jews would make Germany rich. All our informants who knew him well, however, agree that this is superficial and that underneath he has a sincere hatred for the Jews and everything Jewish. This is in complete agreement with our hypothesis. We do not deny that he often uses anti-Semitism porpagandistically when it suits his purpose. We do maintain, however, that behind this superficial motivation is a much deeper one which is largely unconscious. Just as Hitler had to exterminate his former self in order to get the feeling of being great and strong, so must Germany exterminate the Jews if it is to attain its new glory. Both are poisons which slowly destroy the respective bodies and bring about death.

"All great cultures of the past perished only because the originally creative race died off through blood-poisoning."

"...alone the loss of purity of the blood destroys the inner happiness forever; it eternally lowers man, and never again can its consequences be removed from body and mind."

The symbolism in tehse quotations is obvious and the frequency with which they recur in his speaking and writing bears testimony to their great importance in his thinking and feeling processes. It would seem from this that unconsciously he felt that if he succeeds in ridding himself of his personal poison, his effeminate and perverse tendencies as symbolized in the Jew, then he would achieve immortality. [Page 227]

In his treatment of the Jews we see the "Identification with the Aggressor" mechanism at work. He is now practicing on the Jews in reality the things he feared the victors might do to him in fantasy. From this he derives a manifold satisfaction. First, it affords him an opportunity of appearing before the world as the pitiless brute he imagines himself to be; second, it affords him an opportunity of proving to himself that he is as heartless and brutal as he wants to be (that he can really take it); third, in eliminating the Jews he unconsciously feels that he is ridding himself, and Germany, of the poison which is responsible for all difficulties; fourth, as the masochist he really is, he derives a vicarious pleasure from the suffering of others in whom he can see himself; fifth, he can give vent to his bitter hatred and contempt of the world in general by using the Jew as a scapegoat; and sixth, it pays heavy material and propagandistic dividends.

Early political career.

Armed with this new view of life Hitler sought for opportunities to put his resolve to become a politician into effect and start on the long road which would redeem Germany and lead her to new greatness and glory. This was not easy in post-war Germany which was now engaged in violent internal strife He remained in the Reserve Army for a time where he engaged in his "first political activity" - that of spying on his comrades. His duties were to mingle with the men in his [Page 228] barracks and engage them in political discussions. Those who voiced opinions with a Communict flavor he reported to his superior officers. Later, when the offenders were brought to trial, it was his job to take the witness stand and give the testimony which would sent these comrades to their death. This was a severe trial for his new character but he carried it off in a brazen and unflinching manner. It must have given him tremendous satisfaction to find that he actually could play this new role in such an admirable fashion. Not long afarwards it was discover that he had a talent for oratory and he was rewarded for his service by being promoted to instructor. The new Hitler, the embryo Fuehrer, was beginning to pay dividends.

"Identification with the Agressor" is, at best, an unstable form of adjustment. The individual always has a vague feeling that something is not as it should be, although he is not aware of its origins. Nevertheless, he feels insecure in his new role and in order to rid himself of his uneasiness he most prove to himself, over and over again, that he is really the type of person he believes himself to be. The result is a snow-ball effect. Every brutality must be followed by a greater brutality, every violence by a greater violence, every atrocity by a great atrocity, every gain in power by a greater gain in power, and so on down the line. Unless this is achieved successfully, the individual begins to feel insecure and doubts concerning his borrowed character begin to creep in [Page 229] together with feelings of guilt regarding his shortcomings. This is the key to an understanding of Hitler's actions since the beginning of his political activities to the present day. This effect has not escaped the attention of non-psychological observers. Francois-Poncet, for example, writes in the French Yellow Book:

"The Chancellor chafes against all these disappointments with indignant impatience. Far from conducing him to moderation, these obstacles irritate him. He is aware of the enormous blunder which the anti-Jewish persecutions of last November have proved to be; yet, by a contradiction which is part of the dictator's psychological make-up, he is said to be preparing to enter upon a merciless struggle against the Church and Catholicism. Perhaps he thus wishes to wipe out the memory of past violence with fresh violence..." (p. 49)

The mechanism feeds on itself and must continue to grow in order to maintain itself. Since it has no real foundations to support it, the individual can never quite convince himself that he is secure and need fear no longer. The result is that he can brook no delays but must plunge ahead on his mad career.

Hitler's political career shows these tendencies to a marked degree. Scarcely had he affiliated himself with the group which had founded the Party than he connived to get control over it. Then followed a rapid expansion of membership, the introductiom of terror, a series of broken promises, collusions and betrayals. Each brought him fresh gains and new power, but the pace was still too slow to satisfy him. In 1923 he believed himself to be strong enough to undertake a [Page 230] Putsch and seize the reins of government. The Putsch failed and Hitler's conduct during it has been the subject of much comment. There are a number of versions c oncerning what happened. Some report that when the troops fired on them Hitler fell to the ground and crawled through an alley which carried him to safety while Ludendorff, Roehm and Goering marched ahead. Some claim that he stumbled, others that he was knocked down by his bodyguard who was killed. The Nazi version is that he stopped to pick up a small child who had run out into the street and been knocked down! Years later they produced a child on the anniversary of the event to prove the story!

From a psychological point of view it would appear that he turned coward on this occasion and that he did fall down and crawl away from the scene of activities. Although he had usurped considerable power and had reason to have faith in his new character, it seems unlikely that it was sufficient for him to actually engage the recognized authority in physical combat. His attitude towards recognized superiors and authority in general would make such a direct attack improbable. Furthermore, his reactions after his escape would seem to indicate that his new role had temporarily failed. He went into a deep depression and was restrained from committing suicide only by constant reassurances. When he was taken to Landsberg prison he went on a hunger strike and refused to eat for three [Page 231] weeks. This was his response to being placed again in the position of the vanquished. Perhaps memories of his fantasies in the hospital were returning to harass him! It was only after he discovered that his jailers were not unkindly disposed to him that, he permitted himself to be persuaded to take food.

During his stay in Landsberg he became much quieter. Ludecke says:

"Landsberg had done him a world of good. Gone from his manner was the nervous intensity which formerly had been his most unpleasant characteristic."

It was during this period, that he wrote MEIN KAMPF and we may suppose that his failure in the Putsch made it necessary for him to take a fresh inventory and integrate his new character more firmly. He resolved, at this time, not to try another Putsch in the future but to gain the power by legal means alone! In other words, he would not participate again in an open conflict with the recognized authority.

His rise to power.

It is scarcely necessary for us to trace the history of his rise to power and his actions after he achieved it. They all follow along the same general pattern we have outlined. Each successful step served to convince him that he was the person he believed himself to be but brought no real sense of security. In order to attain this he had to go a step higher and give additional proof that he was not deluding himself. Terror, violence and ruthlessness grew with each advance and [Page 232] every recognized virtue was turned into a vice - a sign of weakness. Even after he became the undisputed leader of the nation, he could not rest in peace. He projected his own insecurities onto the neighboring states and then demanded that they bow to his power. As long as there was a nation or a combination of nations more powerful than Germany, he could never find the peace and security h' longed for. It was inevitable that this course would lead to war because only by that means could he crush the threat and prove to himself that he need no longer be afraid. It was also inevitable that the war would be as brutal and pitiless as possible for only in this way could he prove to himself that he was not weakening in his chosen course but was made of stuff becoming to his conception of what a victor should be.

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