C.G. Jung Letters, Vol. 1: 1906-1950

To Fritz Verzar

Dear Colleague, 31 October 1946

Please forgive me for having kept you waiting so long for my answer.

Lately I have had so much to do that it simply wasn’t possible to give your letter the attention it deserved.

But now I will delay no longer and tell you my reaction.

I am quite convinced that something ought to be done to make mankind aware of the tremendous dangers of the path they are travelling.

In some respects people are already aware that the situation is extremely dangerous, as the universal fear of war proves.

It is self-evident that it would be highly desirable to humanize humanity, but when one sees the struggle the great powers have in order to reach any kind of agreement on apparently the most reasonable measures for the well-being of the world at large, and how they fail because one or the other refuses to be talked to or cannot give way, this becomes even more impossible when certain moral questions are touched upon.

To be sure, a general agreement could be reached that human beings should not murder each other, but this would instantly be circumvented by sticking them in labour camps in Siberia, for instance, where people are not exactly murdered but are housed and fed so that they can work, and where they then perish of various diseases, while all the time the State refuses to admit that it has murdered them.

The Americans are certainly a very humane nation, or at least imagine they are, but this does not prevent so-and-so many Negroes from being lynched every year.

Moreover I have some doubts whether it would not have been more humane, for instance, to shoot Grand Admiral Raeder as he wished, instead of putting him behind bars for 30 years.

I at any rate would prefer to be shot than to spend even 10 years in prison.

When one knows how the prisoners degenerate morally and spiritually, and under what torments, one is no longer 100 per cent convinced that the death penalty would not be far more humane.

Only for outsiders, who have never been inside, is penal servitude not a hellish cruelty.

I know many cases from my psychiatric experience where death would have been a mercy in comparison with life in a prison.

Unfortunately you can’t preach to people, for if it really worked the world would long since have been converted to Christianity and then there would be no crime any more.

But that is just the difficulty, that you get nowhere with teaching and telling people.

What was the end result of hundreds of years of Christian education in Germany?

The barbarism was not touched by it in the slightest, and God knows enough was said every Sunday from all the pulpits in Europe.

I know from my practice what it takes to drive even the simplest, most obvious truth into people.

In certain cases it is simply impossible, and these are not even madmen but people who in their private life are considered absolutely compos mentis.

Of course governments could do something, but nowadays when you want anything from any government you are referred to the world situation, which causes the governments enough headaches as it is and leaves them no time to think about how the death penalty could be abolished or human life made sacred.

Fundamentally, no one is convinced enough of the absolute value and sanctity of man to guarantee him his life under all circumstances.

You can see that with damages for fatal accidents: a man’s life is worth ca. 5000 frs.

And it is unfortunately true that the more he values his own life the less he values that of his fellow man.

After what has happened in Germany I have lost the last vestiges of any illusions I may have had about man’s capacity for improvement.

If it is not possible to bring about any change in human consciousness we shall not succeed, either, in realizing an ideal which is acknowledged by all reasonable people anyway but founders again and again on the savage unreason and unconsciousness of humanity in general.

Sure I would be hopeful and would do everything in my power to support your endeavours if only I saw the slightest possibility of their meeting with success.

But unfortunately I know that no outcry and no discussion can alter things in the least.

With best regards,

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 446-448.