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

To Hermann Ullmann

Dear Dr. Ullmann, 25 May 1945

As you correctly surmise, the text of the interview was not submitted to me before publication.

As is regularly the case nowadays, apparently, the interviewer prints only what he understands, putting everything in black and white and suppressing a number of vitally
important conditional or parenthetical remarks.

Unfortunately the crucial concept of collective guilt was left hanging in midair-this seems to have created the greatest furor.

Germany’s collective guilt consists in the fact that it was undoubtedly the Germans who started the war and committed the unspeakable atrocity of the concentration camps.

In so far as they were Germans and such things happened inside the German frontier, all Germans are befouled.

Furthermore, all Europeans are besmirched by these happenings since they took place on European soil.

This collective guilt is not a moral or a judicial construction but a psychological fact which in itself is irrational; in other words, if these things had happened in Switzerland and I crossed the French frontier with a Swiss passport and the French official remarked affably “Oh un cochon de Suisse,” I would regard it as natural and logical.

One only wishes the Germans could take this to heart and not commit the tactical blunder of insisting in and out of season that nobody knew of the concentration camps and nobody could have done anything about them, etc.

It is and remains a fact that these things happened in Germany and that it was Germans who did them.

Obviously we all know that there were also people in Germany who suffered under these things and fought against them.

But it is important that the Germans in general should admit their guilt and not foist it off on others.

They have even ventured to assert that the English are to blame for the concentration camps because they did not stop Hitler’s coming to power.

As to the psychopathic inferiority of the Germans, such happenings betray an alarmingly high degree of instability.

10% is putting it very low.

I reckon with the same percentage among the Swiss.

I wish you, as an outsider, could have attended German, French, English, and American congresses, to mention only one of the possible forms of social contact.

There you could have made a collection of weird and wonderful experiences.

What one then experienced in the way of tactlessness, crudity, rudeness, etc. from the German side counterbalanced the no doubt amiable qualities of many Germans.

For 30 years we have experienced nothing but Germany’s threat to her neighbours or shameful violation of them, or else her wails for understanding.

They were supposed either to knuckle under to Germany or understand and love her.

But what is Germany’s duty to Europe?

“Collective guilt” raises just this question: What is Germany’s debt to Europe after everything she has done in these years?

That is what Europe wants to hear from Germany.

It is therefore impossible for the individual German simply to shake off this obligation by laying the blame on others, for instance the wicked Nazis.

Nor can we Europeans shake off the German atrocities in the eyes of Indians or Americans.

So if a Pueblo Indian should one day say to me “You Europeans are worse than ravaging beasts,” I would have to agree politely, for in no circumstances should I win his just
estimation by shaking off from the start every trace of complicity.

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 368-370.