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]

Transformation of character.

Although a thought of this kind would have certain pleasurable aspects to a masochistic person, it would also arouse fear of consequences together with violent feelings of guilt and disgust. If the thought kept recurring at frequent intervals and refused to be suppressed, we can easily imagine that it might drive an individual into such depths of despair that death would appear as the only solution. Hitler's fear of death has already been reviewed and it is possible that it was this alternative which shocked him out of his former self. Certain it is that in his public utterances, as well as in his actions, he attributes extraordinary powers to the fear of death.

"I shall spread terror by the surprise employment of my measures. The important thing is the sudden shock of an overwhelming fear of death."

[Page 219]

And in MEIN KAMPF he tells us that:

"In the end, only the urge for self-preservation will eternally succeed. Under its pressure so-called 'humanity', as the expression of a mixture of stupidity, cowardice, and imaginary superior intelligence, will melt like snow under the March sun."

Sentiments of this sort suggest rather strongly that he was brought face to face with the prospect of his own death and that in order to save himself he had to rid himself of a bad conscience as well as the dictates of the intellect. The following quotations illustrate his attitude towards conscience and the need of rendering it inactive:

"Only when the time comes when the race is no longer overshadowed by the consciousness of its own guilt, then it will find internal peace and external energy to cut down regardlessly and brutally the wild shoots, and to pull up the weeds."

"Conscience is a Jewish invention. It is a blemish like circumcision."

"I am freeing men from the restraints of an intelligence that has taken charge; from the dirty and degrading modifications of a chimera called conscience and morality"

And of the intellect he says:

"The intellect has grown autocratic and has become a disease of life,"

"We must distrust the intelligence and the conscience and must place our faith in our instincts."

Having repudiated these two important human functions, he was left almost entirely at the mercy of his passions, [Page 220] instincts and unconscious desires. At the crucial moment these forces durged to the fore in the form of an hallucination in which an inner voice informed him that he was destined to redeem the German people and lead them to greatness. This, for him, was a new view of life. It opened new vistas to him particularly in connection with himself. Not only did it confirm the vague feeling he had had since childhood, namely, that he was the "Chosen One" and under the protection of Providence, but also that he had been saved for a divine mission. This revelation served to crystallize his personality on a new pattern. He writes:

"In the hours of distress, when others despair, out of apparently harmless children, there shoots suddenly heros of death-defying determination and icy coolness of reflection. If this hour of trial had never come, then hardly anyone would ever have been able to guess that a young hero is hidden in the beardless boy. Nearly always such an impetus is needed in order to call genius into action. Fate's hammer-stroke, which then throws the one to the ground, suddenly strikes steel in another, and while now the shell of everyday life is broken, the erstwhile nucleus lies open to the eyes of the astonished world."

In another place he writes:

"A fire had been lighted, and out of its flames there was bound to come some day the sword which was to regain the freedom of the Germanic Siegfried and the life of the German nation."

[Page 221]

How, one may ask, was it possible for a person with Hitler's past life and abnormal tendencies to take this seriously? The answer is relatively simple. He believed it because he wanted to believe it - in fact, had to believe it in order to save himself. All the unpleasantries of the past he now interpreted as part of a great design. Just as it was Fate which ordained he should be born on the Austrian side of the border, so it was Fate which sent him to Vienna to suffer hardships in order to take the "milk-sop out of him by giving him Dame Sorrow as a foster-mother" and "kept him at the front where any negro could shoot him down when he could have rendered a much more worthwhile service elsewhere," and so it was probably Fate which decreed his past life and tendencies. These were the crosses he had to bear in order to prove his mettle. He might have been speaking about himself when he said of Germany:

"...if this battle should not come, never would Germany win peace. Germany would decay and at the best would sink to ruin like a rotting corpse. But that is not our destiny. We do not believe that this misfortune which today our God sends over Germany has no meaning: it is surely the scourge which should and shall drive us to new greatness, to a new power and glory..."

Before. this new greatness, power ana glory could be achieved, however, it was necessary to conquer the misfortune. The misfortune in Hitler's case, so he probably thought, was the emotional identification he had made with his mother during childhood. He. had used this as a cornerstone for his personality [Page 222] and it was responsible for his "humanity". But it also carried with it a passive, masochistic form of adjustment which, instead of leading to greatness as he had hoped, had carried him to the brink of degradation, humiliation and self-destruction. It exposed him to untold dangers which were no longer compatible with self-preservation. Consequently, if we were to survive he must rid himself not only of his conscience and intellect but of all the traits which were associated with false "humanity". In its place he must set a personality which was in keeping with the "Law of Nature". Only after he had achieved this transformation could he feel safe from attack. To overcome his weakness and to grow strong became the dominant motive of his life.

"...feels the obligation in accordance with the Eternal Will that dominates this universe to promote the Victory of the better and stronger, and to demand the Submission of the worse and weaker."

"A stronger generation will drive out the weaklings because in its ultimate form the urge to live will again and again. break the ridiculous fetters of a socalled 'humanity' of the individual, so that its place will be taken by the 'humanity of nature', which destroys weakness in order to give its place to strength."

If our hypothesis concerning his mental processes while he lay helpless in Pasewalk Hospital is correct, we my assume that in order to quiet his fears he sometimes imagined himself as a person who far surpassed his enemies in all the [Page 223] "virile" qualities. Under these circumstances he could conquer his enemies and do to them what he now feared they would do to him. This is, of course, pure wishful thinking, but evidently this play of imagery yielded him so much pleasure that he unconsciously identified himself with this super-man image. We would guess that it was at the moment when this mechanism, which is known as "Identification with the Aggressor", operated, that the aforementioned hallucination was produced. He was no longer the weak and puny individual who was exposed to all kinds of attacks and indignities. On the contrary, he was fundamentally more powerful than all the others. Instead of his being afraid of them, they should be afraid of him.

The image Hitler created was a form of compensation for his own inferiorities, insecurities and guilts. Consequently the image negated all his former qualities and turned them into their opposites and to the same degree. All the human qualities of love, pity, sympathy and compassion were interpreted as weaknesses and disappeared in the transformation.

"All passivity, all inertia (became) senseless, inimical to life."

"The Jewish Christ-creed with its effeminate pity-ethics. '

"Unless you are prepared to be pitiless you will get nowhere."

In their place we find what Hitler' s warped mind conceived to be the super-masculine view: [Page 224]

"...if a people is to become free it needs pride and will-power, defiance, hate, hate and once again hate."

"Brutality is respected. Brutality and physical strength. The plain man in the street respects nothing but brutal strength and ruthlessness."

"We want to be the supporters of the dictatorship of national reason, of national energy, of national brutality and resolution."


When the "Identification with the Aggressor" mechanism is used, however, there is no conscious struggle within the personality in which the new personality gradually overcomes the old one. The identification takes place outside the realm of consciousness and the individual suddenly feels that he is this new person. There is no process of integration or assimilation. The old personality is automatically suppressed and its characteristics are projected onto some external object against which the new personality can carry on the struggle. In Hitler's case, all his undesirable characteristics were projected onto the Jew. To Hitler he became Evil incarnate and responsible for all the world's difficulties, just as Hitler's earlier femininity now appeared to him to be the source of all his personal difficulties, This projection was relatively easy for him to make inasmuch as in his Vienna days the Jew had become for him the symbol of sex, disease and his perversion. Now another load of undesirable qualities was poured upon his head with the result that Hitler now hated and despised the Jew with the same intensity as he hated his former self.

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