The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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His early conflicts expressed in symbolic form.

Unconsciously, all the emotions he had once felt for his mother became 
transferred to Germany. This transfer of affect was relatively easy 
inasmuch as Germany, like his mother, [00010171.gif Page 166] was young 
and vigorous and held promise of a great future under suitable 
circumstances. Furthermore, he felt shut off from Germany as he now 
felt shut off from his mother, even though he secretly wished to be with 
her. Germany became a symbol of his ideal mother and his sentiments are 
clearly expressed in his writings and speeches. A few excerpts will serve 
to illustrate the transfer of emotion:

"The longing grew stronger to go there (Germany) where since my early 
youth I had been drawn by secret wishes and secret love."

"What I first had looked upon as an impassable chasm now spurred me 
on to greater love for my country than ever before."

"An unnatural separation from the great common Motherland."

"I appeal to those who, severed from the Motherland, ...and who now in 
painful emotion long for the hour that will allow them to return to the 
arms of the beloved mother."

It is significant that although Germans, as a whole, invariably refer 
to Germany as the "Fatherland", Hitler almost always refers to it as 
the "Motherland.

Just as Germany was ideally suited to symbolize his mother, so was 
Austria ideally suited to symbolize his father. Like his father, Austria 
was old, exhausted and decaying from within. He therefore transferred 
all his unconscious hatred from his father to the Austrian state. He 
could now give vent to all his pent-up emotions without exposing 
himself to the [00010172.gif Page 166] dangers he believed he would 
have encountered had he expressed these same feelings towards the 
persons really involved. In MEIN KAMPF he frequently refers to the 
Austrian state, for example, in terms such as these:

 "... an intense love for my native German-Austrian country and a 
bitter hatred against the Austrian state."

"With proud admiration I compared the rise of the Reich with the 
decline of the Austrian state."

The alliance between Austria and Germany served to symbolize the 
marriage of his mother and father. Over and over again we find 
references to this alliance and we can see clearly how deeply he 
resented the marriage of his parents because he felt that his 
father was a detriment to his mother and only through the death of 
the former could the latter obtain her freedom and find her 
salvation. A few quotations will illustrate his sentiments:

"And who could keep faith with an imperial dynasty which betrayed 
the cause of the German people for its own ignominious ends, a 
betrayal that occurred again and again."

"What grieved us most was the fact that the whole system, was 
morally protected by the alliance with Germany, and thus Germaey 
herself...walked by the side of the corpse."

"...It suffices to state here that from my earliest youth I came to a 
conviction which never deserted me, but on the contrary grew stronger 
and stronger: that the protection of the German race presumed the 
destruction of Austria...that, above all else, the Royal House of 
Hapsburg was destined to bring misfortune upon the German nation."

[00010173.gif Page 167]

"Since my heart had never beaten for an Austrian monarchy but only 
for a German Reich, I could only look upon the hour of the ruin of 
this state as the beginning of the salvation of the German nation."

When we have grasped the significance of this transference of affect 
we have made a long step in the direction of understanding Hitler's 
actions. Unconsciously he is not dealing with nations composed of 
millions of individuals but is trying to solve his personal conflicts 
and rectify the injustices of his childhood. Unable to enter into a 
"give-and-take" relationship with other human beings which might 
afford him an opportunity of resolving his conflicts in a realistic 
manner, he projects his personal problems on great nations and then 
tries to solve them on this unrealistic level. His microcosm has been 
inflated into a macrocosm.

We can now understand why Hitler fell on his knees and thanked God 
when the last war broke out. To him it did not mean simply a war, 
as such, but an opportunity of fighting for his symbolic mother - of 
proving his manhood and of being accepted by her. It was inevitable 
that he would seek enlistment in the German Army rather than in the 
Austrian Army and it was also inevitable, under these circumstances, 
that he would be a good and obedient soldier. Unconsciously it was as 
though he were a little boy who was playing the part of a man while 
his mother stood by and watched him. Her future welfare was his great 
concern and in order to prove his love he was willing, if need be, 
to sacrifice his own life for her.

[00010174.gif Page 168]

The effects of Germany's defeat.

Everything went smoothly as long as he felt sure that all would 
turn out well in the end. He never complained about the hardships 
that were imposed on him and he never grumbled with the other men. 
He was happy in what he was doing and met the trials and tribulations 
of army life with his chin up until he discovered that things were 
going badly and that his symbolic mother was about to be degraded as 
he had imagined his real mother had been degraded in his childhood. 
To him it was as if his mother was again the victim of a sexual 
assault. This time it was the November Criminals and the Jews who 
were guilty of the foul deed and he promptly transferred his repressed 
hate to these new perpetrators.

When he became fully aware of Germany's defeat he reacted in a 
typically hysterical manner. He refused to accept or adjust to the 
situation on a reality level. Instead, he reacted to this event as he 
probably reacted to the discovery of his parents in intercourse. He writes:

"I stumbIed and tottered rearwards with burning eyes...Already a few 
hours later the eyes had turned into burning coals; it had become dark 
around me."

In another place he writes:

"While everything began to go black again before my eyes, stumbling, 
I groped my way back to the dormitory, threw myself on my cot and 
buried my burning head in the covers and pillows."

[00010175.gif Page 169]

At the time this happened he had been exposed to a slight attack of 
mustard gas. He immediately believed that he was blinded and 
speechless. Although he spent several weeks in hospital, neither his 
symptoms nor the development of the illness corresponded to those found 
in genuine gas cases. It has been definitely established that both the 
blindness and the mutism were of an hysterical nature. The physician 
who treated him at that time found his case so typical of hysterical 
symptoms in general that for years after the war he used it as an 
illustration in his courses given at a prominent German medical school. 
We know from a great many other cases that during the onset of such 
attacks the patient behaves in exactly the same manner as he did earlier 
in his life when confronted by a situation with the same emotional 
content. It is as though the individual were actually reliving the 
earlier experience over again. In Hitler's case this earlier 
experience was almost certainly the discovery of his parents in 
intercourse and that he interpreted this as a brutal assault in which 
he was powerless. He refused to believe what his eyes told him and 
the experience left him speechless.

That this interpretation is correct is evidenced by his imagery in 
dealing with the event later on. Over and over again we find figures 
of speech such as these:

"...by what wiles the soul of the German  has been raped."

"...our German pacifists will pass over in silence the most bloody rape of 
the nation."

which illustrate his sentiments very clearly.

[00010176.gif Page 170

The origins of his belief in his mission and his longing for immortality.

It was while he was in the hospital suffering from hysterical 
blindness and mutism that he had the vision that he would liberate the 
Germans from their bondage and make Germany great. It was this vision 
that set him on his present political career and which has had such a 
determining influence on the course of world events. More than anything 
else it was this vision that convinced him that he was chosen by 
Providence and that he had a great mission to perform. This is probably 
the most outstanding characteristic of Hitler's mature personality and 
it is this which guides him with the "precision of a sleepwalker."

From an analysis of many other cases we know that such convictions 
never result from an adult experience alone. In order to carry 
conviction they must reawaken earlier beliefs which have their roots 
far back in childhood. It is, of course, nothing unusual for a child 
to believe that he is some special creation and destined to do great 
things before he dies. One can almost say that every child passes 
through such a period on his way to growing up. In many people 
remnants of such early beliefs are observable inasmuch as they feel 
or believe that Fate or Luck or Providence or some extra-natural 
power has chosen them for special favors. In most of these cases, 
however, the adult individual only half believes that this is really 
so even when a whole series of favorable events may make
[00010177.gif Page 171] the hypothesis plausible. Only rarely do 
we find a firm conviction of this kind in adulthoed and then only 
when there were extenuating circumstances in childhood which made 
such a belief necessary and convincing.

In Hitlar's case the extenuating circumstances are relatively clear. 
Mention has already been made of the fact that his mother had given 
birth to at least two and possibly three children, all of whom had 
died prior to his own birth. He, himself, was a frail and rather sickly 
infant. Under these circumstances, his mother undoubtedly exerted 
herself to the utmost to keep him alive. He was unquestionably spoiled 
during this period and his survival was probably the great concern of 
the family as well as of the neighbors. From his earliest days there 
was, no doubt, considerable talk in the household about the death of 
the other children and constant comparisons between their progress 
and his own.


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