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]


Although space will not permit a detailed analysis of the operation of the various psyqhological streams we have enumerated, in the determination of his everyday behavior, a few have aroused sufficient speculation to warrant a place in our study. One of the outstanding of these is his rages. Most writers have regarded these as temper-tantrums, his reaction to minor frustrations and deprivations. On the surface they appear to be of this nature and yet, when we study his behavior carefully, we find that when he is confronted by a real frustration or deprivation, such as failure to be elected to the Presidency or being refused [Page 233] the Chancellorship, his behvaior is exactly the opposite. He is very cool and quiet. He is disappointed but not enraged. Instead of carrying on like a spoiled child, he begins immediately to lay plans for a new assault. Heiden, his biographer, describes his characteristic pattern as follows:

"When others after a defeat would have gone home despondently, consoling themselves with the philosophic reflection that it was no use contending against adverse circumstances, Hitler delivered a second and a third assault with sullen defiance. When others after a success would have become more cautious, because they would not dare put fortune to the proof too often and perhaps exhaust it, Hitler persisted and staked a bigger claim on Destiny with every throw."

This does not sound like a person who would fly into a rage at a trifle.

Nevertheless, we know that he does fly into these rages and launches into tirades on very slight provocation. If we examine the causes of these outbursts, we almost invariably find that the trigger which sets them off is something which he considers to be a challenge of his super-man personality. It may be a contradiction, a criticism or even a doubt concerning the truth or wisdom of something he has said or done, or it might be a slight or the anticipation of opposition. Even though the subject may be trifling or the challenge only by implication, or even wholly imagined, he feels called upon to display his primitive character. Francois-Poncet has also detected and described this reaction. He writes:

"Those who surround him are the first to admit that he now think himself infallible [Page 234] and invincible. That explains why he can no longer bear either criticism or contradiction. To contradict him is in his eyes a crime of 'lese-majeste'; opposition to his plans, from whatever it may come, is a definite sacrilege, to which the only reply is an immediate and striking display of his omnipotence."

As soon as his display has served its purpose and cowed his listeners into submission, it is turned off as suddenly as it was turned on. How great is the insecurity which demands such constant vigilence and apprehension!

Fear of domination.

We find this same insecurity at work when he is meeting new people and particularly those to whom he secretly feels inferior in some way. Earlier in our study we had occasion to point out that his eyes had taken over a diffuse sexual function. When he first meets the person he fixates him with his eyes as though to bore through the other person. There is a peculiar glint in them on these occasions which may have been interpreted as an hypnotic quality. To be sure, he uses them in such a way and tries to over-power the other person with them. If he turns his eyes away, Hitler keeps them fixed directly on him or her but if the other person returns this gaze Hitler turns his away and looks up at the ceiling as long as the interview continues. It is as though he were mtching his power against theirs. If he success in overpowering the other person, he rudely follows up his advantage. If, however, the other person refuses to succumb to his glance, he avoids the possibility of succumbing [Page 235] to theirs. Likewise, he is unable to match wits with another person in a straightforward argument. He will express his opinion at length but will not defend it on logical grounds. Strasser says:

"He is afraid of logic. Like a woman he evades the issue and ends by throwing in your face an argument entirely remote from what you were talking about."

We might suspect that even on this territory he cannot expose himself to a possible defeat which would mar the image he has of himself. He is, in fact, unable to face real opposition on any ground. He cannot speak to a group in which he senses opposition but walks out on his audience. He has run out of meetings with Ludendorff, Gregor Strasser, Bavarian Industrialists, and many others, because he could not risk the possibility of appearing in an inferior light or expose himself to a possible domination by another person. There is reason to suppose that his procrastination is not so much a matter of laziness as it is a fear of coming to grips with a difficult problem. Consequently, he avoids it as long as possible and it is only whe! the situation has become dangerous and disaster lies ahead that his "inner voice" or intuition communicates with him and tells him what course he should follow. Most of his thinking is carried on subconsciously which probably accounts for his ability to penetrate difficult problems and time his moves. Psychological experiments in this field seem to indicate that on this level the individual is often able to [Page 236] solve very complex problems which are impossible him on the level of consciousness. Whenever we turn in studying Hitler's behavior patterns we find the spectre of possible defeat and humiliation as one of his dominant motivations.


His passion for constructing huge buildings, stadia, bridges, roads, etc., can only be interpreted as attempts to compensate fbr his lack of confidence. These are tangible proofs of his greatness which are designed to impress himself as well as others. Just as he must be the greatest man in all the world, so he has a tendency to build the greatest and biggest of everything. Most of the structures he has erected he regards as temporary buildings. They are, to his way of thinking, on a par with ordinary mortals. The permanent buildings he plans to construct later on. They will be much larger and grander and will be designed to last at least a thousand years. In other words, these are befitting monuments to himself who plans on ruling the German people for that period of time through his new view of life.

It is also interesting to note the frequency with which he uses gigantic pillars in all his buildings. Most of the buildings are almost surrounded by them and he places them in every conceivable place. Since pillars of this sort are almost universally considered to be phallic symbols, we may regard the size and frequency as unconscious attempts to compensate for his own impotence. His huge pageants serve a similar purpose. [Page 237]


No study oh Hitler would be complete without mentioning his oratory talents. His extraordinary gift for swaying large audiences has contributed, perhaps more than any other single factor, to his success and the rartial realization of his ideal. In order to understand the power of his appeal, we must be cognizant of the fact that for him the masses are fundamentally feminine in character. To Hanfstaengl and other informations he has frequently said, "Die Masse ist ein Weib", and in MEIN KAMPF he writes:

"The people, in an overwhelming majority, are so feminine in their nature and attitude that their activities and thoughts are motivated less by sober consideration than by feeling and sentiment."

In other words, his uconscious frame of reference, when addressing a huge audience, is fundamentally that of talking to a woman.

In spite of this, his insecurities assert themselves. He never is the first speaker on the program. He must always have a speaker precede him who warms up the audience for him. Even then he is nervous and jittery when he gets up to speak. Frequently he has difficulty in finding words with which to begin. He is trying to get the "feel" of the audience. If it "feels"' favorable, he starts in a rather cautious manner. His tone of voice is quite normal and he heals [sic] with his material in a fairly objective manner. But as he proceeds [Page 238] his voice begins to rise and his tempo increases. If the response of the audience is good, his voice becomes louder and louder and the tempo faster and faster. By this time all objectivity has disappeared and passion has taken complete possession of him. The mouth which can never utter a fragment of profanity off the speaker's platform now pours forth a veritable stream of curses, foul names, vilification and hatred. Hafstaengl compaes the development of a Hitlerian speech with the development of a Wagnerian theme which may account for Hitler's love of Wagnerian music and the inspiration he derives from it.

This steady stream of filth continues to pour forth until both he and the audisnce are in a frenzy. When he stops he is on the verge of exhaustion. His breathing is heavy and uncontrolled and he is wringing wet with perspiration. Many writers have commented on the sexual components in his speaking and some have described the climax as a veritable orgasm. Heyst writes:

"In his speeches we hear the suppressed voice of passion and wooing which is taken from the language of love; he utters a cry of hate and voluptousness, a spasm of violence and cruelty. All those tones and sounds are taken from the back-streets of the instincts; they remind us of dark impulses repressed too long."

And Hitler himself says:

"Passion alone will give to him, who is chosen by her, the words that, like beats of a hammer, are able to open the doors to the heart of a people."

[Page 239]

Undoubtedly, he uses speaking as a means of talking himself into the super-man role and of living out the role of "Identification with the Agressor". He carefully builds up imposing enemies - Jews, Bolsheviks, capitalists, democracies, etc., in order to demolish them without mercy (these are all inventions of the Jews to his way of thinking and consequently in attacking any one of them he is fundamentally attacking the Jews). Under these circumstances. He appears to the naive and unsophisticated listener as the Great Redeemer of Germany.

But that is only one side of the picture. On the other side we have the sexual attack which, in his case, is of a perverse nature. It finds expression in his speaking but due to the transformation of character everything appears in reverse. The steady stream of filth he pours on the heads of his "feminine" audience is the reverse of his masochistic perversion which finds gratification in having women pour their "filth" on him. Even the functions of the physical organs is reversed. The mouth which, under ordinary circumstances, is an organ of injection and is surrounded with inhibitions and prohibitions, now becomes the organ through which filth is ejected. Hitler's speaking has been aptly described as a "verbal diarrhea". Rauschning describes it as an oral enema. It is probably this unconscious sexual element in his speaking which holds such a fascination for many people. [Page 240]

His appeal.

A word may be added in connection with the content of his speeches. Strasser sums it up very concisely when he says:

"Hitler responds to the vibrations of the human heart with the delicacy of a seismograph...enabling him, with a certainty with which no conscious gift could endow him, to act as a loudspeaker proclaiming the most secret desires, the least permissible instincts, the sufferings and personal revolts of a whole nation."

We are now in a position to understand how this is possible for him. In regarding his audience as fundamentally feminine in character, his appeal is directed at a repressed part of their personalities. In many of the German people there seems to be a strong feminine-masochistic tendency which is usually covered over by more "virile'" characteristics but which finds partial gratification in submissive behavior, discipline, sacrifice, etc. Nevertheless, it does seem to disturb them and they try to compensate for it by going to the other extreme of courage, pugnaciousness, determination, etc. Most Germans are unaware of this hidden part of their personalities and would deny its existence vehemently if such an insinuation is made. Hitler, however, appeals to it directly and he is in an excellent position to know what goes on in that region because in him this side of personality was not only conscious but dominant throughout his earlier life. [Page 241]

Furthermore, these tendencies were far more intense in him than in the average person and he had a better opportunity of observing their operation. In addressing an audience in this way he need only dwell on the longings, ambitions, hopes and desires of his earlier life in order to awaken these hidden tendencies in his listeners. This he does with inordinate skill. In this way he is able to arouse the same attitudes and emotions in his listeners that he himself now experiences in connection with this type of adjustment, and is able to direct these into the same channels that he has found useful. Thus he is able to win them to his new view of life which sets a premium on brutality, ruthlessness, dominance, determination, etc., and which frowns upon all the established human qualities. The key throughout will be to strive to be what you are not and to do your best to exterminate that which you are. The behavior of the German armies has been an outstanding manifestation of this contradiction. To the psychologist it seems as though the brutality expressed towards the people of the , occupied countries is motivated not only by a desire to prove to themselves that they are what they are not, but also by, a vicarious masochistic gratification which they derive from an identification with their victims. On the whole, one could say of many of the German troops what Rauschning said of Hitler: [Page 242]

"...there lies behind Hitler's emphasis on brutality and ruthlessness the desolation of a forced and artificual inhumanity, not the amorality of the genuine brute, which has after all something of the power of a natural force."

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