[Paleopsych] Jung and the Nazis

Steve Hovland shovland at mindspring.com
Thu Nov 4 04:01:49 UTC 2004

Mark Medweth
Department of Psychology
Simon Fraser University
It is difficult to deny that Carl Jung's theories are largely overlooked in 
comparison to Freudian and other schools of thought. There are numerous 
possible reasons for such an occurrence but the most intriguing of all are 
accusations of anti-Semitism and National-Socialist support in the 1930's. 
Having been accused of such, and facing the associated stigma of scandalous 
behavior and beliefs may very well be the reason behind Jung's 
unpopularity. His relationship with Sigmund Freud, his written work on 
Jewry, his fascination with the Nazi movement, and the allegation of Nazi 
sympathy in general, seem damaging to say the least. An examination of Jung 
and his work during the period leading up to and through World War Two 
sheds greater light on such long-standing accusations and goes a long way 
toward dispelling these claims.
Nazi Sympathizer
Like many others, Jung initially welcomed the focus of unity that swept 
across the German land as the National-Socialist "revolution" took hold 
(Stern, 1976). Though as time went on and Jung grew increasingly cautious 
in his views, accusations of being a "Nazi sympathizer" emerged; 
accusations which, in some respects, seems justified as we will see.
In 1928, Carl Gustav Jung became a member of the International General 
Medical Society for Psychotherapy (Gallard, 1994). This society, which 
began two years earlier, was founded on the desire to develop a 
psychotherapeutic science with a spiritual, rather than widely popular 
material, emphasis. In the same year that Jung joined the society, so too 
did Matthias Heinrich Goring, the cousin of the now infamous Marshall, 
Herman Goring. Jung was elected vice president in 1930 and was asked to 
assume the presidency in 1933 due to the deteriorating political climate. 
It was believed that Jung, being a Swiss National and thus neutral, would 
be in a better political position to handle the role (Gallard, 1994).
Later that year, there was a reorganization of Zentralblatt fur 
Psychotherapie, the society's publication journal. The decision was made 
that two separate but aligned editions of the journal would be published: 
an international edition edited by Jung, and a German edition under the 
control of Goring for the purpose of ensuring that all material conformed 
to Nazi ideology (Sherry, 1986). It was soon after recommended by Goring 
that every practicing psychotherapist adopt Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf as a 
basic reference. This written appeal was slated for publication in the 
German edition of the journal but somehow ended up in the international 
journal above Carl Jung's signature (Gallard, 1994; Sherry, 1986). Though 
the society's headquarters were located in Switzerland and he was certainly 
far removed from this "Nazi deception," it was a commonly held belief that 
Jung accepted the presidency of a Nazified German organization; thus he 
must be a sympathizer.
His decision to accept such a position was heavily criticized by many. 
Perhaps the fact that Jung fantasized of national glory, was purportedly 
not immune to the lure of power, and felt neglected and misunderstood, 
played a role in his acceptance of the presidency for a society in which 
some members were almost certainly familiar with Mein Kampf and Nazi 
ideology (Stern, 1976). Jung, however, offered the excuse that he simply 
followed the wishes of his German (and Jewish) colleagues; his true aim was 
to save psychotherapy which could easily disappear, as he had put it, with 
a single stroke of the pen by higher authorities (Gallard, 1994). He did 
initially doubt his decision from a moral standpoint but the desire to 
preserve the interests of science made the risky effort worthwhile 
(Gallard, 1994). In the end, Jung's professional reputation was certainly 
affected by these events, though he seemed to have a blind spot to these 
ramifications. However, this blind spot, some have suggested, also allowed 
Jung to see and clarify elements which went previously undetected, out of 
which his fascination with events in Germany grew.
Jung's Fascination
Part of Jung's fascination with the Nazi movement was due to his belief 
that his archetype theory was best able to explain the "rumblings" of 
pre-World War Two Germany. He saw the Nazi movement as an enormous eruption 
of the collective unconscious he had previously postulated as far back as 
1918 (Stern, 1976). Jung believed the archetype "Wotan," which represented 
the German state of mind in the 1930's, was the return of the collective 
repressed, and constituted a great event in light of the belief that the 
Germans were experiencing a reintegration of archaic elements into their 
psyche (elements that had been, over past centuries, suppressed by various 
cultural movements).
By 1936, Jung's excitement waned as he recognized (and clearly stated) the 
demonic aspect of Hitler and the Nazi movement (Gallard, 1994). However, 
according to his theories, there is an inherent duality of the archetype, 
leading Jung to the expectation that the evil side would turn into its 
opposite, allowing these forces to humanize. Thus, Jung believed a new and 
positive cultural form would emerge and remained hopeful (Gallard, 1994). 
Such hopefulness was frowned upon by those opposed to the Nazis but, as we 
will later see, his medical profession may have accounted for his unpopular 
views. Despite these events there were other damaging accusations. His 
relationship with Freud, it has been suggested, represented a darker side 
to Jung's Jewish attitudes.
Jung and Freud
The anti-Semitism charges in the 1930's were dismissed as having been 
started by a vengeful Sigmund Freud in order to discredit Jung's work 
(Sherry, 1986). These accusations, however, were continually repeated by 
Freudians and stuck with Jung wherever he went. It is true that a 
superficial glance of Jung's attitude concerning Freudian psychology seems 
frighteningly similar to Nazi phraseology. Jung referred to the Freudian 
school of thought as subversive, depreciatory, undermining, obscene, and 
smutty-minded, while the Nazis described Jews as alien, subversive, 
lascivious, and parasitic (Stern, 1976). His statements may have sounded 
anti-Semitic but Stern (1976) proposes they were more correctly 
attributable to the resentment that periodically overcame him; he may have 
overshot his initial target, which was undoubtedly Sigmund Freud (Stern, 
1976). These anti-Semitic accusations by Freudians, Jung warned, were a 
confirmation that psychoanalysis was a Jewish psychology (Sherry, 1986). It 
seemed that no one, without facing charges of anti-Semitism, could 
criticize Freud's work. Did Jung's resentment of Freud arise because he was 
anti-Semitic? It is more likely that this tension between the two grew out 
of their necessary separation as coworkers and colleagues.
It is true that Jung had a conflictual relationship with a prominent Jew - 
Sigmund Freud. It was Freud, however, who first emphasized cultural and 
religious differences between the two (Gallard, 1994). What originally 
brought Freud and Jung together was their common belief that the 
unconscious was a reality. In the end, however, the separation of the two 
collaborators was necessary because of different fundamental views that 
could not be reconciled: Freud concentrated on the physical and biological 
background of the unconscious, while Jung conceptualized the psyche in 
terms of polarities (Franz, 1975).
Jung believed that both the biological as well as the spiritual aspects 
belonged to the very nature of the unconscious. In later years, Jung 
explained the separation as a typological difference in temperament (Franz, 
1975). Freud's work corresponded to an extroverted approach to science 
while Jung's methods were more of an introverted concern. It is clear that 
differences between the two were at a fundamental, structural level rather 
than racially or religiously based. In a 1929 text, Jung contrasted their 
two theories and no mention was ever made of Freud's religious origins 
(Gallard, 1994). In 1939, Jung spoke about Freud after the eminent thinkers 
death and again made no mention of religious or racial differences, though 
the time in history would have been an opportune moment to do so, 
considering the rise of the Nazi movement and the general feeling of 
dislike toward the Jews in Germany. In Jung's own words, "I am absolutely 
not an opponent of the Jews, even though I am an opponent of Freud's. I 
criticize him because of his materialistic and intellectualistic - last but 
not least - irreligious attitude and not because he is Jewish" (Jung, 
1934b, as cited in Gallard, 1994, p. 218).
To this day, the two schools of thought are opposed to each other. This 
opposition probably resides in the typological differences alluded to by 
Jung. The Freudian outlook is much closer to the extroverted orientation of 
our Natural Sciences while Jung's approach is of a more subjective nature 
(Franz, 1975). Whether one is satisfied that he was an opponent of Freud 
because of professional and not religious differences, Jung was also 
accused of writing, throughout the 1930's, what some consider to be 
anti-Semitic statements about Jews in general.
Jung and Jewish Psychology
In the very first issue of the Zentralblatt fur Psychotherapie, with Jung 
as editor, he wrote that the universal aspect of the psyche should not be 
allowed to hide the particular characteristics that are evident from 
belonging to any given cultural or religious group. In fact, Jung touched 
on this topic - differences between Jewish and Germanic psychology - on 
many occasions which highlights his "concern to give voice to those 
viewpoints which report on the 'imponderable differences' between men, and 
by exposing them, to reach a synthesis" (Gallard, 1994, p. 209). Such may 
be the case, but Jung's emphasis on religious and cultural differences of 
the psyche was a serious breach of ethics in consideration of the time in 
history (Gallard, 1994). To accentuate such differences between Jewish 
psychology and other schools of thought fed into Nazi propaganda.
Furthermore, Jung continually failed to explain exactly what he meant by 
his oftentimes paradoxical writing, thus leaving him open to criticism. In 
light of this, the accusations of ant-Semitism seem hardly surprising. As 
an example of paradoxical writing, Jung, at one point, likened Jewish 
psychology to Chinese psychology. At that time in history however, the 
Chinese culture was not well known; they were a remote people, not valued 
by others, and were of an entirely different cultural realm (Gallard, 
1994). It is not surprising that such an idea could be taken as a further 
attack on Jews. Yet unknown to most, Jung had spent years immersing himself 
in Far Eastern culture and found somewhat of an authentication of his 
ideas. His great respect for the Chinese culture implies that he was 
complimenting Jewish psychology. In fact, at one point, he stated that Jews 
were more vastly conscious than the barbaric Germanic people and had a 
higher degree of civilization and adaptability (McGuire, & Hull, 1977).
In relation to such differences that Jung so eagerly emphasized, it was his 
belief that the cultural specificities were the universal heritage of 
humankind which can be found in all people (Gallard, 1994). However, an 
effort must first be made to recognize these particulars which usually show 
themselves as differences. This notion would explain why Jung was so intent 
on highlighting differences between Jewish and Germanic psychology: he 
simply wished to initiate discussion on, what many considered, sensitive 
matters (Sherry, 1986). Though some would later suggest that through 
addressing Jewish psychological differences, he was really unconsciously 
addressing Freud, it is clear that he failed to understand the possibility 
of misinterpretation and the dangerous misuse of what he wrote. If Jung 
could be accused of anything, it would be his poor timing in light of the 
events unfolding around him in pre-war Europe.
Having considered these accusations - of being a Nazi sympathizer and 
anti-Semite - it is worth considering often overlooked public statements 
expressed by Jung as the war approached.
Jung's Own Words
As early as 1918, Jung knew something unfavorable was arising within 
Germany. His words of the "blond beast stirring in its subterranean 
prison...threatening us with an outbreak that will have devastating 
consequences" (Jung, 1947, as cited in Welsh, Hannah, & Briner, 1947) serve 
as an early warning of what was to come. Just ten years later, he wrote on 
how each person is unconsciously worse when acting within a crowd rather 
than individually. Jung warned the world that the larger an organization 
becomes, the more the people are prone to immorality and blind ignorance 
(Jung, 1947, as cited in Welsh, Hannah, & Briner, 1947).
In 1933, in a lecture given in Cologne, Germany (at the same period in 
history when others accused him of Nazi-sympathy), Jung leveled a full 
blown warning about people as a collective suffocating the individual, 
leaving those in the crowd anonymous, irresponsible, and dangerous. Jung 
implied that Hitler (and Nazism) was the inevitable cause of such 
collectivenes. Four years later, in 1937, Jung spoke at Yale University in 
the United States, relaying his belief that the movement seen in Germany 
was explained by a fear of neighboring countries supposedly possessed by 
devilish leaders. In stating that no one can recognize their own 
unconscious underpinnings, the possibility that Germany was projecting 
their own condition upon their International neighbors was evident (Jung, 
1947, as cited in Welsh, Hannah, & Briner, 1947). This fear leads to the 
nationalistic duty to have the biggest guns and the strongest army.
In 1940, most of these words were published in German but were quickly 
suppressed. As a result of Jung's views about Germany and particularly 
Adolf Hitler, he ended up on the Nazi "blacklist" (Jung, 1947, as cited in 
Welsh, Hannah, & Briner, 1947). When France was later invaded, the Gestapo 
destroyed Jung's French translations as well. In no uncertain terms, Jung's 
writings and lectures served as a warning for the conflict to come. As 
well, Jung's own words opposed the accusations of Nazi sympathy and 
anti-Semitism. It would seem then, in light of the above, that the answer 
to the question of Nazi sympathy and anti-Semitism is fairly clear.
Was Jung a Nazi sympathizer and ant-Semite? The answer is most likely no. 
Jay Sherry (1986) suggests that Jung's bitterness toward Freud as well as 
his fascination with his archetype theory coming to life caused him to 
miss, on a feeling level, what was unfolding in a historical sense. Jung 
clearly showed the importance he placed on mythical symbols and 
transformations, and his choice to describe events psychically (in 
mythological terms) rather than from a psychiatric or sociological 
standpoint may have obscured his view of his predicament (Gallard, 1994). 
As well, his initial enthusiasm about the Nazi movement was likely a result 
of the polarity of his theory. If each archetype contains the seeds of good 
as well as evil, it is difficult at the start to judge whether a positive 
or negative resolution will take place. His medical background may have 
counseled him to a "wait and see" attitude in light of this polarity (Jung, 
1947, as cited in Welsh, Hannah, & Briner, 1947). Jung stated that, "a 
doctor needs a certain optimism in order to save everything that can 
possibly be saved, even when things look very black. One simply cannot 
afford to let oneself be too much impressed by the apparent or real 
hopelessness of a situation, even though this should entail exposing 
oneself to a certain danger" (Jung, 1947, as cited in Welsh, Hannah, & 
Briner, 1947). This attitude leaves no room for initial negative judgments, 
but leads one to proceed cautiously and optimistically. This would account 
for the numerous accusations that Jung possessed an initial 
give-them-a-chance attitude toward Hitler and the Nazi movement (Sherry, 
One should also keep in mind that, from Jung's standpoint, 
pre-National-Socialist Germany was one of the most differentiated cultural 
countries in the world, and represented the intellectual background to 
which the Swiss were tied through language and friendship (Jung, 1947, as 
cited in Welsh, Hannah, & Briner, 1947). Jung admits that, as Hitler seized 
power, he consoled himself in the fact that Germany was indeed a civilized 
European nation with a strong sense of discipline and morality. Thus, to 
Jung (as well as countless others), the ultimate outcome seemed confusing 
and uncertain (Jung, 1947, as cited in Welsh, Hannah, & Briner, 1957).
Finally, Marie Louise von Franz (1975) knew Jung up to his death and never 
perceived the slightest trace, conscious or unconscious, of 
National-Socialist or anti-Semitic support. To the contrary, she states 
that Jung frequently spoke against Hitler and the Nazis in distinctly 
unambiguous terms. The fact that some of his most devoted pupils - Erich 
Neumann, Gerhard Adler, James Kirsch, and Aniela Jaffe - were Jewish and 
that racism was quite contrary to Jung's well known aspirations of 
universality suggests the accusations are somewhat misguided (Stern, 1976). 
As a result of these insights, it is best to infer that Jung's misplaced 
optimism and the mistake of talking too much proves the truism that "a 
great scientist is not necessarily a good politician" (Franz, 1975, p. 63). 
Franz, M. L. von. (1975). C. G. Jung: His myth in our time. New York: G. P. 
Putnam's Sons.
Gallard, M. (1994). Jung's attitude during the second World War in the 
light of the historical and professional context. Journal of analytical 
psychology, 39, 203-232.
McGuire, W., and Hull, R. F. C. (1977). C. G. Jung speaking. New Jersey: 
Princeton University Press.
Sherry, J. (1986). Jung, the Jews, and Hitler. Spring: an annual of 
archetypal psychology and Jungian thought. Texas: Spring Publications.
Stern, P. J. (1976). C. G. Jung: The haunted prophet. New York: George 
Welsh E., Hannah, B., and Briner, M. (Trans.) (1947). Essays on 
contemporary events. London: Kegan Paul.

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