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The Roots of Nazi Psychology: Hitler's Utopian Barbarism

Jay Y. Gonen
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    The Roots of Nazi Psychology
    Book Description:

    " Was Hitler a moral aberration or a man of his people? This topic has been hotly argued in recent years, and now Jay Gonen brings new answers to the debate using a psychohistorical perspective, contending that Hitler reflected the psyche of many Germans of his time. Like any charismatic leader, Hitler was an expert scanner of the Zeitgeist. He possessed an uncanny ability to read the masses correctly and guide them with ""new"" ideas that were merely reflections of what the people already believed. Gonen argues that Hitler's notions grew from the general fabric of German culture in the years following World War I. Basing his work in the role of ideologies in group psychology, Gonen exposes the psychological underpinnings of Nazi Germany's desire to expand its living space and exterminate Jews. Hitler responded to the nation's group fantasy of renewing a Holy Roman Empire of the German nation. He presented the utopian ideal of one large state, where the nation represented one extended family. In reality, however, he desired the triumph of automatism and totalitarian practices that would preempt family autonomy and private action. Such a regimented state would become a war machine, designed to breed infantile soldiers brainwashed for sacrifice. To achieve that aim, he unleashed barbaric forces whose utopian features were the very aspects of the state that made it most cruel.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4367-5
    Subjects: History, Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. 1 The Role of Ideologies
    (pp. 1-16)

    The resonance which Hitler’s words evoked among many Germans in the period between the two world wars has been of great interest to Germans and non-Germans alike. The basic premise of this study is that the Nazi success in mobilizing the masses was not due merely to the deliberate use of fear and terror but primarily to the Nazi ideological messages that fell right on target.

    Any progress in fathoming the underlying causes of this responsiveness, which characterized the interaction between the leader and the masses during the Nazi era, could advance our understanding of the fateful course of events...

  5. 2 The Jewish Danger
    (pp. 17-70)

    In 1919, when Hitler was thirty years old and still in the army, one of his superiors, Staff-Captain Karl Meyer, passed on to him a letter by Adolf Gemlich, the former liaison man of Munich District Headquarters. Gemlich’s letter was a request for a position paper on the danger posed by Jewry. Hitler dutifully and gladly complied and wrote his first political statement (Maser 1976, 209–13). It included some telling pronouncements:

    To begin with, the Jews are unquestionably a race, not a religious community. . . . Everything that makes the people strive for greater things, be it religion,...

  6. 3 The Leadership Principle
    (pp. 71-98)
    Heil Hitler

    Hitler’s conception of leadership was a very important part of his ideology and served as the glue that tied everything into a unified whole. First and foremost his conception holds magical promises for the people. Its basic premise appears to be quite simple: if the right person becomes supreme leader or dictator, every problem will be solved. But the apparent simplicity of this sweeping promise masks a complexity of interconnected basic assumptions. These assumptions relate to the presumed lessons of German history as well as to the different natures of the German folk and of other races. Hitler took these...

  7. 4 The Expansion of the Living Space
    (pp. 99-136)

    We have seen that Hitler, the self-appointed political genius, prescribed the leadership principle as the indispensable magical tool for implementing all the requirements of racial destiny. Moreover, by mid-1933 he presumably had become that folk-appointed supreme leader that the leadership principle so clearly mandated. Being the right person in the right position, he knew what was happening and what had to be done to effect national recovery. At long last the degrading national impotence was being neutralized by the establishment of the leadership principle at all levels of the central nervous system, so to speak, of the folkish state. As...

  8. 5 The Folkish State
    (pp. 137-168)

    In promoting the idea of the folkish state, Nazi ideology aspired to build up an ideal state form that would maximize the people’s chances to actualize the full potential of their inner folkish spirit. A precondition for a lasting future success of this endeavor was for the folkish state to integrate the people into a united community of folk comrades or kindred souls who share a common racial awareness. For that lofty purpose to be accomplished, it was necessary to implement the leadership principle throughout the folkish state. Hitler’s reasoning had been that since this principle rejected the democratic mass...

  9. 6 Ideology as Psychology
    (pp. 169-212)

    It is time now to put together Hitler’s basic ideological principles with an emphasis on their underlying psychological meanings, which were extracted in the course of this exploration.

    First Principle: The world is permeated by an ill-understood mortal danger. At this eleventh hour, the historical clock for removing this danger is about to run out.

    The Jewsare a killer alien race whose inherent nature is to destroy its victimized hosts parasitically. Being duplicitous by nature, they are frequently cunningly disguised and at times are even utterly invisible. They thus represent a mortal danger to the national organism from within...

  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 213-218)
  11. Index
    (pp. 219-225)