C. G. Jung on Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini (1938)From H. R. Knickerbocker’s interview with Dr. Jung for Cosmopolitan magazine
What would happen if you were to lock Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin in a room together and give them one loaf of bread and one pitcher of water to last them a week? Who would get all the food and water, or would they divide it?
I doubt if they would divide it. Hitler, being a medicine man, would probably hold himself aloof and have nothing to do with the quarrel. He would be helpless because he would be without his German people. Mussolini and Stalin, being both chiefs or strong men in their own right, would probably dispute possession of the food and drink, and being the rougher and tougher, would probably get all of it.
There were two types of strong men in primitive society. One was the chief who was physically powerful, stronger than all his competitors, and the other was the medicine man who was not strong in himself but was strong by reason of the power which the people projected into him. Thus we had the emperor and the head of the religious community. The emperor was the chief, physically strong through his possession of soldiers; the seer was the medicine man, possessing little or no physical power but an actual power sometimes surpassing that of the emperor, because the people agreed that he possessed magic—that is, supernatural ability. He could, for example, assist or obstruct the way to a happy life after death, put a ban upon an individual, a community or a whole nation, and by excommunication cause people great discomfort or pain.
Now, Mussolini is the man of physical strength. When you see him you are aware of it at once. His body suggests good muscles. He is the chief by reason of the fact that he is individually stronger than any of his competitors. And it is a fact that Mussolini’s mentality corresponds to his classification: he has the mind of a chief. Stalin belongs in the same category. He is, however, not a creator. Lenin, created; Stalin is devouring the brood. He is a conquistador; he simply took what Lenin made and put his teeth into it and devoured it. He is not even creatively destructive. Lenin was that. He tore down the whole structure of feudal and bourgeois society in Russia and replaced it with is own creation. Stalin is destroying that.
Mentally, Stalin is not so interesting as Mussolini, who resembles him in the fundamental pattern of his personality, and he is not anything like so interesting as the medicine man, the myth—Hitler.
Anybody who takes command of one hundred and seventy million people as Stalin has done is bound to be interesting, whether you like him or not.
No, Stalin is just a brute—a shrewd peasant, an instinctive powerful, beast—no doubt in that way far the most powerful of all the dictators. He reminds one of a Siberian saber-toothed tiger with that powerful neck, those sweeping mustaches, and that smile like a cat which has been eating cream. I should imagine that Genghis Khan might have been an early Stalin. I shouldn’t wonder if he makes himself Czar.
Hitler is entirely different. His body does not suggest strength. The outstanding characteristic of his physiognomy is its dreamy look. I was especially struck by that when I saw pictures taken of him during the Czechoslovakian crisis; there was in his eyes the look of a seer. There is no question but that Hitler belongs in the category of the truly mystic medicine man.
As somebody commented about him at the last Nürnberg party congress, since the time of Mohammed nothing like it has been seen in this world. This markedly mystic characteristic of Hitler’s is what makes him do things which seem to us illogical, inexplicable, curious and unreasonable. But consider—even the nomenclature of the Nazis is plainly mystic. Take the very name of the Nazi State. They call it the Third Reich. Why? Because the First Reich was the Holy Roman Empire and the second was the one founded by Bismarck and the third is Hitler’s.
But there is a deeper significance. Nobody called Charlemagne’s kingdom the First Reich nor Wilhelm’s the Second Reich. Only the Nazis call theirs the Third Reich. Because it has a profound mystical meaning: to every German the expression “Third Reich” brings echoes [missing words?] who more than once has indicated he is aware of his mystic calling, appears to the devotees of the Third Reich as something more than mere man.
Again, you take the widespread revival in the Third Reich of the cult of Wotan. Who was Wotan? God of wind. Take the name ‘Sturmabteilung”—Storm Troops. Storm, you see—the wind. Just as the swastika is a revolving form making a vortex moving ever toward the left—which means in Buddhist symbolism sinister,
[Hitler] is the loudspeaker which magnifies the inaudible whispers of the German soul until they can be heard by the German’s unconscious ear.
unfavorable, directed toward the unconscious. And all these symbols together of a Third Reich led by its prophet under the banners of wind and storm and whirling vortices point to a mass movement which is to sweep the German people in a hurricane of unreasoning emotion on and on to a destiny which perhaps none but the seer, the prophet, the Fuehrer himself can foretell—and perhaps, not even he.
But why is it that Hitler, who makes nearly every German fall down and worship him, produces next to no impression on any foreigner?
Exactly. Few foreigners respond at all, yet apparently every German in Germany does. It is because Hitler is the mirror of every German’s unconscious, but of course he mirrors nothing from a non-German. He is the loudspeaker which magnifies the inaudible whispers of the German soul until they can be heard by the German’s unconscious ear. He is the first man to tell every German what he has been thinking and feeling all along in his unconscious about German fate, especially since the defeat in the World War, and the one characteristic which colors every Aryan soul is the typically German inferiority complex—the complex of the younger brother, of the one who is always a bit late to the feast. Hitler’s power is not political; it is magic.
What do you mean by magic?
To understand this you must understand what the unconscious is. It is that part of our mental constitution over which we have little control and which is stored with all sorts of impressions and sensations; which contains thoughts and even conclusions of which we are not aware.
Besides the conscious impressions which we receive, there are all sorts of impressions constantly impinging upon our sense organs of which we don’t become aware because they are too slight to attract our conscious attention. They lie beneath the threshold of consciousness. But all these subliminal impressions are recorded; nothing is lost.
Someone may be speaking in a faintly audible voice in the next room while we are talking here. You pay no attention to it, but the conversation next door is being recorded in your unconscious as surely as though the latter were a dicta-phone record. While you sit here my unconscious is taking in quantities of impressions of you, although I am not aware of them and you would be surprised if I should tell you all that I have already learned unconsciously about you in this short space of time.
Now, the secret of Hitler’s power is not that Hitler has an unconscious more plentifully stored than yours or mine. Hitler’s secret is twofold: first, that his unconscious has exceptional access to his consciousness, and second, that he allows himself to be moved by it. He is like a man who listens intently to a stream of suggestions in a whispered voice from a mysterious source and then acts upon them. In our case, even if occasionally our unconscious does reach us as through dreams, we have too much rationality, too much cerebrum to obey it. This is doubtless the case with Chamberlain, but Hitler listens and obeys. The true leader is always led. We can see it work in him. He himself has referred to his Voice. His Voice is nothing other than his own unconscious, into which the German people have projected their own selves; that is, the unconscious of seventy-eight million Germans. That is what makes him powerful.
Without the German people, he would not be what he seems to be now. It is literally true when he says that whatever he is able to do is only because he has the German people behind him or, as he sometimes says, because he is Germany. So, with his unconscious being the receptacle of the souls of seventy-eight million Germans, he is powerful, and with his unconscious perception of the true balance of political forces at home and in the world, he has so far been infallible.That is why he makes political judgments which turn out to be right against the opinions of all his advisers and against the opinions of all foreign observers.
When this happens, it means only that the information gathered by his unconscious, and reaching his consciousness by means of his exceptional talent, has been more nearly correct than that of all the others, German or foreign, who attempted to judge the situation and who reached conclusions different from his. And of course, it also means that, having this information at hand, he is willing to act upon it.
I suppose that would apply to the three really critical decisions he made, each of which involved the acute danger of war: when he marched into the Rhineland in March, 1936, and into Austria in March, 1938, and when he mobilized and forced the Allies to abandon Czechoslovakia. Because in each one of these cases we know that many of Hitler’s highest military advisers warned him against doing it, since they believed the Allies would resist, and also that if war came Germany would be bound to lose.
Precisely! The fact is that Hitler was able to judge his opponents better than anyone else, and although it appeared inevitable that he would be met by force, he knew his opponents would give in without fighting. That must have been the case especially when Chamberlain came to Berchtesgaden. There for the first time Hitler met the elder British statesman. As Chamberlain proved later at Godesberg, he had come to tell him, among other things, not to go too far or Britain would fight. But Hitler’s unconscious eye which so far has not failed him, read so deeply the character of the British Prime Minister that all the later ultimatums and warnings from London made no impression whatever on his unconscious: Hitler’s unconscious knew—it didn’t guess or feel, it knew—that Britain would not risk war. Yet Hitler’s speech in the Sports Palace when he announced to the world a holy oath that he would march into Czechoslovakia October 1st, with or without the permission of Britain and France, indicated for the first and only time that Hitler the man, in his supremely critical moment, had fear of following Hitler the prophet. His Voice told him to go ahead, that everything would be all right. But his human reason told him the dangers were vast and perhaps overwhelming. Hence for the first time Hitler’s voice trembled; his breath failed. His speech lacked form and trailed off at the end. What human being would not be afraid in such a moment? In making that speech which fixed the destiny of perhaps hundreds of millions of people, he was a man doing something of which he was deathly afraid but forcing himself to do it because it was ordered by his Voice.
His Voice was correct. Now who knows but that his Voice may continue to be correct? If it does, it will be very interesting to observe the history of the next few years because, as he said just after his Czech victory, Germany stands today on the threshold of her future. That means he has just begun and if his Voice tells him that the German people are destined to become the lords of Europe and perhaps of the world, and if his Voice continues always to be right, then we are in for an extremely interesting period, aren’t we?
Yes, it seems, that the German people are now convinced they have found their Messiah. In a way, the position of the Germans is remarkably like that of the Jews of old. Since their defeat in the World War they have awaited a Messiah, a Savior. That is characteristic of people with an inferiority complex. The Jews got their inferiority complex from geographical and political factors. They lived in a part of the world which was a parade ground for conquerors from both sides, and after their return from their first exile to Babylon, when they were threatened with extinction by the Romans, they invented the solacing idea of a Messiah who was going to bring all the Jews together into a nation once more and save them. And the Germans got their inferiority complex from comparable causes. They came up out of the Danube valley too late, and founded the beginnings of their nation long after the French and the English were well on their way to nationhood. They got too late to the scramble [for colonies] and for the foundation of empire. Then, when they did get together and made a united nation, they looked around them and saw the British, the French, and others with rich colonies and all the equipment of grown-up nations, and they became jealous, resentful, like a younger brother whose older brothers have taken the lion’s share of the inheritance.
This was the original source of the German inferiority complex which has determined so much of their political thought and action and which is certainly decisive of their [whole] policy today. It is impossible, you see, to talk about Hitler without talking about his people, because Hitler is only the German people.
It occurred to me that the last time I was in America that one could make an interesting geographical analogy about Germany. In America I noticed that somewhere on the East Coast there exists a certain class of people called “poor white trash” and I learned that they are largely descendants of early settlers, some of them bearers of fine old English names. The poor white trash were left behind when some of the people with energy and initiative climbed into their covered wagons and drove West. Then, in the Middle West you meet the people I consider the most stable in America; I mean psychologically the best balanced. Yet in some places farther west you meet some of the least-balanced people. Now, it seems to me that, taking Europe as a whole, and including the British Isles, you have in Ireland and Wales the equivalent of your West Coast. The Celts possess colorful imaginative faculties.
Then, to correspond to your sober Middle West, you have in Europe the English and the French, both of them psychologically stable peoples. But then you come to Germany, and just beyond Germany are the Slav mujiks, the poor white trash of Europe. Now, the mujiks are people who can’t get up in the morning, but sleep all day. And the Germans, their next door neighbors, are people who could get up, but got up too late. Don’t you remember how the Germans even today represent Germany in all their cartoons?
Yes, “Sleepy Michael,” a tall, lean fellow in a nightgown and nightcap.
That’s right, and Sleepy Michael slept through the division of the world into colonial empires, and so the Germans got their inferiority complex, which made them want to fight the World War, and of course when they lost it their feeling of inferiority grew even worse, and developed a desire for a Messiah, and so they have their Hitler. If he is not their true Messiah, he is like one of the Old Testament prophets: his mission is to unite his people and lead them to the Promised Land. This explains why the Nazis have to combat every form of religion besides their own idolatrous brand. I have no doubt but that the campaign against the Catholic and Protestant churches will be pursued with relentless and unremitting vigor, for the very sound reason, from the Nazi point of view, that they wish to substitute the new faith of Hitlerism.
Do you consider it possible that Hitlerism might become for Germany a permanent religion for the future like Mohammedanism for the Moslems?
I think it highly possible. Hitler’s “religion” is the nearest to Mohammedanism, realistic, earthy, promising the maximum of rewards in this life, but with a Moslem-like Valhalla into which worthy Germans may enter and continue to enjoy themselves. Like Mohammedanism, it teaches the virtue of the sword. Hitler’s first idea is to make his people powerful because the spirit of the Aryan German deserves to be supported by might, by muscle and steel.
Of course, it is not a spiritual religion in the sense in which we ordinarily use the term. But remember that in the early days of Christianity it was the church which made the claim to total power, both spiritual and temporal! Today the church no longer makes this claim, but the claim has been taken over by the totalitarian states which demand not only temporal but spiritual power. Incidentally, it occurs to me that the “religious” character of Hitlerism is also emphasized by the fact that German communities throughout the world, far from the political power of Berlin, have adopted Hitlerism. Look at the South American German communities, notably in Chile.
(It surprised me that in this analysis of the dictators nothing had been said of the influence of the fathers and mothers of the strong men. Doctor Jung assigned them no major role.)
It is a great mistake to think that a dictator becomes so on account of personal reasons, such as that he had a strong resistance to his father. There are millions of men who resisted their fathers just as strongly as, say, Mussolini or Hitler or Stalin, but who never became dictators or anything like dictators.The law to remember about dictators is: “It is the persecuted one who persecutes.” The dictators must have suffered from circumstances calculated to bring about dictatorship. Mussolini came at the moment when the country was in chaos, the workmen out of hand and a threat of Bolshevism was terrifying the people. Hitler came when the economic crisis had reduced the standard of living in Germany and increased unemployment to an intolerable level, and after the great inflation of the currency which, although stabilization had come, had impoverished the whole middle class. Both Hitler and Mussolini received their power from the people and their power cannot be withdrawn.
It is interesting that both Hitler and Mussolini base their power chiefly upon the lower middle class, workers and farmers. But to go on with the circumstances under which dictators come to power: Stalin came when the death of Lenin, unique creator of Bolshevism, had left the party and the people leaderless and the country uncertain of its future.
Thus the dictators are made from human material which suffers from overwhelming needs. The three dictators in Europe differ from one another tremendously, but it is not so much they who differ as it is their peoples.
Compare the way the German people think and feel about Hitler with the way the Italians think and feel about Mussolini. The Germans are highly impressionable. They go to extremes; are always a bit unbalanced. They are cosmopolitan, world citizens; easily lose their national identity; like to imitate other nations. Every German man would like to dress like an English gentleman. Not Hitler.
He always has dressed in his own way, and nobody could ever accuse him of trying to look as if he got his clothes on Savile Row.
Precisely. Because Hitler is saying to his Germans, “Now, bei Gott, you have got to start being Germans!” The Germans are extraordinarily sensitive to new ideas, and when they hear one which appeals to them they are likely to swallow it uncritically, and for a time to be completely dominated by it; but after a while they are equally likely to throw it violently away and adopt a newer idea, quite probably contradicting the first one entirely. This is the way they have run their political life. Italians are more stable. Their minds do not roll and wallow and leap and plunge through all the extravagant ecstasies which are the daily exercise of the German mind.
So you find in Italy a spirit of balance lacking in Germany. When the Fascists took power in Italy, Mussolini did not even remove the king. Mussolini worked not with ecstasy of spirit, but with a hammer in his hand, beating Italy into the shape he wanted it, much as his blacksmith father used to make horseshoes.
This Mussolini-Italian balance of temperament is borne out by the Fascist treatment of the Jews. At first they did not persecute the Jews at all, and even now, when for various reasons they have begun an anti-Semitic campaign, it has kept a certain proportion. I suppose the chief reason why Mussolini went in for anti-Semitism at all was that he became convinced that world Jewry was probably an incorrigible and effective force against Fascism—Leon Blum in France, especially, I think—and also, he wished to make his ties with Hitler more solid.
So you see, while Hitler is a medicine man, a form of spiritual vessel, a demi-deity or even better, a myth, Mussolini is a man, and therefore everything in Fascist Italy has a more human shape than it has in Nazi Germany, where things are run by revelation.
Stalin fought so much against the Czar’s bloody oppression that he is now doing exactly the same as the Czar. In my opinion, there is no difference at all now between Stalin and Ivan the Terrible.
Hitler as a man scarcely exists. At any rate, he disappears behind his role. Mussolini, on the contrary, never disappears behind his role. His role disappears behind Mussolini. I saw the Duce and the Parer together in Berlin the time Mussolini paid his formal visit; I had the good luck to be placed only a few yards away from them, and could study them well. It was entertaining to see Mussolini’s expression when they put on the goose step. If I had not seen it should have fallen into the popular delusion that his adoption of the German goose step for the Italian army was in imitation of Hitler. And that would have disappointed me, because I had discerned in Mussolini’s conduct a certain style, a certain format of an original man with good taste in certain matters.
I mean, for example, that it was good taste of the Duce to keep the King. And his choice of title, “Duce”—not Doge as in old Venice, nor Duca, but Duce, the plain Italian word for leader—was original and in my opinion showed good taste.
Now, as I observed Mussolini watching the first goose step he had ever seen, I could see him enjoying it with the zest of a small boy at a circus. But he enjoyed even more the stunt when the cavalry comes and the mounted drummer gallops ahead and takes his place on one side of the street while the band takes its place on the other. The drummer must gallop around the band and up to the front to take his station there, and this he does without touching the reins, guiding his horse only by pressure of the knees, since both hands are busy with the drums.
On this occasion it was done magnificently and it pleased Mussolini so much he broke out laughing and clapped his hands. When he got back to Rome afterwards, he introduced the goose step and I am convinced he did it solely for his own aesthetic enjoyment. It really is a most impressive step.
In comparison with Mussolini, Hitler made upon me the impression of a sort of scaffolding, of wood covered with cloth, an automaton with a mask, like a robot, or a mask of a robot. During the whole performance he never laughed; it was as though he were in a bad humor, sulking. He showed no human sign. His expression was that of an inhumanly single-minded purposiveness, with no sense of humor. He seemed as if he might be the double of a real person, and that Hitler the man might perhaps be hiding inside like an appendix, and deliberately so hiding in order not to disturb the mechanism.
What an amazing difference there is between Hitler and Mussolini!
I couldn’t help liking Mussolini. His bodily energy and elasticity are warm, human, and contagious. You have the homey feeling with Mussolini of being with a human being. With Hitler, you are scared. You know you would never be able to talk to that man; because there is nobody there. He is not a man, but a collective. He is not an individual; he is a whole nation. I take it to be literally true that he has no personal friend. How can you talk intimately with a nation?
You can no more explain Hitler by the personal approach than you can explain a great work of art by examining the personality of the artist. The great work of art is a product of the time, of the whole world in which the artist is living, and of the millions of people who surround him, and of the thousands of currents of thought and the myriad streams of activity which flow around him.Thus it would be easier for Mussolini, who is only a man, to find a successor, than for Hitler. With good luck, I should think Mussolini might find someone to take his place, but I don’t see how Hitler can.
What if Hitler were to marry?
He cannot marry. If he married, it would not be Hitler marrying. He would cease to be Hitler. But it is incredible that he should ever do so. I shouldn’t wonder if it may be shown that he has sacrificed his sex life entirely to the Cause. This is not an unusual thing, especially for the type of medicine-man leader, although it is much
in a crowd, the qualities which everybody possesses multiply, pile up, and become the dominant characteristics of the whole crowd. Not everybody has virtues, but everybody has the low animal instincts, the basic primitive caveman suggestibility, the suspicions and vicious traits of the savage,
less usual in the type of the chief. Mussolini and Stalin seem to lead entirely normal sex lives. Hitler’s real passion, of course, is Germany.You could say that he has a tremendous mother complex, which means that he will be under the domination either of a woman or of an idea. Idea is always female. Mind is female, because the head, the brain, is creative; hence like a womb, female. The unconscious of a man is always represented by a woman; that of a woman always by a man.
How important a role does what we call personal ambition play in the makeup of the three dictators?
I should say that it plays a very minor role in Hitler. I don’t think Hitler has personal ambition beyond that of the average man. Mussolini has more than average personal ambition, but it is not sufficient to explain his force. He also feels that he coincides with the national need. Hitler does not rule Germany. He is simply the exponent of the trend of things. This makes him uncanny and psychologically fascinating. Mussolini rules Italy to a certain extent, but for the rest he is an instrument of the Italian people. With Stalin it is different. His dominant characteristic is overwhelming personal ambition. He does not identify himself with Russia. He rules Russia like any Czar. Remember, he is a Georgian anyway.
But how do you explain Stalin’s having taken the course he has? It seems to me that Stalin, far from being uninteresting, is also enigmatic. Here you have a person who spent the greater part of his life as a revolutionist Bolshevik. His cobbler father and pious mother sent him to a theological school. In his early years he became a revolutionary and from then on for the next twenty-five years he did nothing but fight the Czar and the Czar’s police. He was put into a dozen jails and broke out of all of them. Now, how do you explain that a man who had fought the Czar’s tyranny all his life should suddenly become a kind of Czar himself?
That is not remarkable. It is because you always become the thing you fight the most. What undermined the armed force of Rome? Christianity did. Because when the Romans conquered the Near East, they were conquered by its religion. When you fight a thing you have to get very close to it, and it is likely to infect you. You must know Czarism very well in order to defeat it. Then, when you have driven out the Czar, you become a Czar yourself, just as a wild-animal hunter may become bestial. I know of one fellow who, after many years of big-game hunting in a proper sporting manner, had to be arrested because he took a machine gun to the animals. The man had become as blood-lustful as the panthers and lions he killed. Stalin fought so much against the Czar’s bloody oppression that he is now doing exactly the same as the Czar. In my opinion, there is no difference at all now between Stalin and Ivan the Terrible.
But what about the fact reported by many, and observed by myself, that the standard of living in the Soviet Union has risen considerably and is still rising from the low point of the famine of 1933?
Of course. Stalin can be a good administrator at the same time that he is a Czar. It would be a miracle if anybody could keep so naturally rich a country as Russia from being prosperous. But Stalin is not very original, and it is such bad taste for him to go about turning himself into a Czar so crudely, in front of everybody, without any concealment at all! It is really proletarian!
But you still have not explained to me how Stalin, the loyal Communist party man, the underground worker for what was then a highly altruistic ideal, should have changed into a power-grabber.
In my opinion the change came about in Stalin during the 1918 revolution. Up to that time he had labored, unselfishly perhaps, for the good of the Cause, and probably had never thought of personal
America must keep big armed forces to help keep the world at peace, or to decide the war if it comes. You are the last resort of Western democracy
power for himself, for the very good reason that there never appeared to be the shadow of a chance that he could even aspire to anything like personal power. The question didn’t exist for him. But during the revolution Stalin saw for the first time how you acquire power. I am sure he said to himself with astonishment, “But it is so easy!”
He must have watched Lenin and the others reach the full rank of complete power, and have said to himself, “So that is how it is done! Well, I can go them one better. All you have to do is to do away with the fellow in front of you.” He would certainly have done away with Lenin if Lenin had lived. Nothing could have stopped him, as nothing has stopped him now. Naturally, he wants his country to prosper. The more prosperous and greater his country is, the greater he is. But he cannot devote his full energies to promoting the welfare of his country so long as his personal drive for power is not satisfied.
But surely he’s got fullest power now.
Yes, but he’s got to keep it. He is surrounded by a pack of wolves. He must keep forever on the alert. I must say that I think we owe him a debt of gratitude!
For the wonderful example he has given the whole world of the axiomatic truth that Communism always leads to dictatorship.
But now let us leave this aside and let me tell you what my therapy is. As a physician, I have not only to analyze and diagnose, but to recommend treatment. We have been talking nearly all the while about Hitler and the Germans, because they are so incomparably the most important of the dictator phenomena at the moment. It is for this, then, that I must propose a therapy. It is extremely difficult to deal with this type of phenomenon. It is excessively dangerous. I mean the type of case of a man acting under compulsion.
Now, when I have a patient acting under the command of a higher power, a power within him, such as Hitler’s Voice, I dare not tell him to disobey his Voice. He won’t do it if I do tell him. He will even act more determinedly than if I did not tell him. All I can do is attempt, by interpreting the Voice, to induce the patient to behave in a way which will be less harmful to himself and to society than if he obeyed the Voice immediately without interpretation.
So I say, in this situation, the only way to save Democracy in the West—and by the West I mean America too—is not to try to stop Hitler. You may try to divert him, but to stop him will be impossible without the Great Catastrophe for all. His Voice tells him to unite the German people and to lead them toward a better future, a bigger place on the earth, a position of glory and richness. You cannot stop him from trying to do that. You can only hope to influence the direction of his expansion.I say let him go East.
Turn his attention away from the West, or rather, encourage him to keep it turned away. Let him go to Russia. That is the logical cure for Hitler. I don’t think Germany will be satisfied with a bit of Africa, big or small. Germany looks at Britain and at France with their magnificent colonial empires, and even at Italy with her Libya and Ethiopia, and thinks of her own size, seventy-eight million Germans as against forty-five million British in the British Isles and forty-two million French and forty-two million Italians and she is bound to think that she ought to have a place in the world not merely as large as that occupied by any one of the other three Western Great Powers, but much larger. How is she going to get that in the West without destroying one or more of the nations which now occupy the West? There is only one field for her to operate in, and that is Russia.
And what will happen to Germany when she tries [to settle] accounts with Russia?
Ah, that’s her own business. Our interest in it is simply that it will save the West. Nobody has ever bitten into Russia without regretting it. It’s not very palatable food. It might-take the Germans a hundred years to finish that meal. Meanwhile we should be safe, and by we, I mean all of Western civilization. Instinct should tell the Western statesmen not to touch Germany in her present mood. She is much too dangerous.
Stalin’s instinct was correct when it told him to let the Western nations have a war and destroy one another, while he waited to pick the bones. That would have saved the Soviet Union. I don’t believe he ever would have entered the war on the side of Czechoslovakia and France, unless it were at the very end, to profit from the exhaustion of both sides.
So I say, studying Germany as I would a patient, and Europe as I would a patient’s family and neighbors, let her go into Russia. There is plenty of land there—one sixth of the surface of the earth. It wouldn’t matter to Russia if somebody took a bite, and as I said, nobody has ever prospered who did. How to save your democratic U.S.A.? It must, of course, be saved, else we all go under. You must keep away from the craze, avoid the infection. Keep your army and navy large, but save them. If war comes, wait. America must keep big armed forces to help keep the world at peace, or to decide the war if it comes. You are the last resort of Western democracy.
But how is the peace of Western Europe going to be preserved by letting Germany “go East,” as you put it, since England and France have now formally guaranteed the frontiers of the new rump state of Czechoslovakia? Won’t there then be war anyway if Germany attempts to incorporate the rump state in her administrative system?
England and France will not honor their new guarantee to Czechoslovakia any more than France honored her previous pledge to Czechoslovakia. No nation keeps its word. A nation is a big, blind worm, following what? Fate, perhaps. A nation has no honor; it has no word to keep. That is the reason why, in the old days, they tried to have kings who did possess personal honor and a word. Don’t you know that if you choose one hundred of the most intelligent people in the world and get them all together, they are a stupid mob? Ten thousand of them together would have the collective intelligence of an alligator. Haven’t you noticed that at a dinner party the more people you invite the more stupid the conversation? In a crowd, the qualities which everybody possesses multiply, pile up, and become the dominant characteristics of the whole crowd. Not everybody has virtues, but everybody has the low animal instincts, the basic primitive caveman suggestibility, the suspicions and vicious traits of the savage. The result is that when you get a nation of many millions of people, it is not even human. It is a lizard or a crocodile or a wolf. Its statesmen cannot have a higher morality than the animal like mass morality of the nation, although individual statesmen of the democratic states may attempt to behave a little better.
For Hitler, however, more than for any other statesman in the modern world, it would be impossible to expect that he should keep the word of Germany against her interest, in any international bargain, agreement or treaty. Because Hitler is himself the nation. That, incidentally, is why Hitler always has to talk so loud, even in private conversation—because he is speaking with seventy-eight million voices. That’s what a nation is: a monster. Everybody ought to fear a nation. It is a horrible thing. How can such a thing have honor or a word? That’s why I am for small nations. Small nations mean small catastrophes. Big nations mean big catastrophes.
The telephone rang. In the stillness of the study and a windless day without, I could hear a patient cry that a hurricane in his bedroom was about to sweep him off his feet. “Lie down on the floor and you will be safe,” advised the doctor. It is the same advice the sage physician now gives to Europe and America, as the high wind of Dictatorship rages at the foundations of Democracy.
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