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


Dear N., 7 October 1946

It is not a simple matter to write to you.

I am trying to put myself in your shoes so as to give you an intelligible answer.

You are obviously not yet in a position yourself to form any conception of the mood of the world towards everything and everybody that comes from Germany.

Every personal relationship is overshadowed by what has happened, since everybody was affected by it in the most personal way.

Had, for instance, the Germans visited Switzerland, you would not now be able even to write to me anymore.

I really do not know what your attitude is to these facts and real possibilities that hung over us like doom year after year, or rather, how you judge their effect on non-Germans.

From the answer of your Swedish acquaintance you surely must have seen that there are any number of difficulties which, as I have discovered from the many letters I have received from Germany, are hardly appreciated in Germany itself.

For us non-Germans they are on the contrary only too plain.

The letters from my German acquaintances invariably begin where they left off in 1939 or earlier.

These people obviously approach one as though nothing had happened in between, except for a few untoward accidents like disease, getting bombed out, losing a relative,

They take it entirely for granted that individual relationships are something extramundane, or that the individual exists in himself, apart from his family and nation, and therefore has no solidarity with them let alone any responsibility for them.

This curious emancipation is like anticipating the highest goal of psychic differentiation and has a chilling effect on the ordinary mortal, rather like that of a Zen Master on the Christian Westerner.

Anyone who has attained this emancipation has reached nirvana and thus made himself unreal.

There is nothing wrong with that, only one would not expect such a person to turn to people again.

That would be too spooky and moreover lacking in style.

Had the average German really attained this liberation from the social coil by a special act of grace, then the mass phenomenon of a “people’s community” would be inexplicable.

But since a mass movement did in fact exist, the emancipation of the individual must be spurious since it needed compensating.

Accordingly the truth would be that the German, like every civilized person (not to mention the primitive!) , is answerable for his family and his nation. He must take into account his relation to the surrounding world if he wants to spare himself some very unpleasant experiences.

He would do well to realize the views and sensitivities of other people who feel a solidarity with their country if he is not to miss the mark completely.

A non-German would presuppose sufficient family responsibility, both in himself and others, not to take it as a matter of course that if he were in the German’s shoes he would be received with open arms.

If, for instance, my family had done a mortal injury to another family, or ruined them, I would certainly not take the restoration of friendly relations with a member of that family for granted; on no account could I ignore the attitude of my family as completely as my German correspondents do.

This impressive peculiarity of German psychology has led me to conclude that there must be a remarkable unconsciousness of the collective responsibility of the individual.

This fact might also explain the peculiar susceptibility to mass psychosis, which compensates the deficiency of consciousness in the most effective way, but downwards (hence the leftward-turning swastika!) .

I realize that you may feel my answer thoroughly absurd, but I would remind you that it was not we who had the mass psychosis.

I would have maintained a tactful silence had you not expressed the earnest wish to have an answer from me.

I think you should no longer take German psychology as self-evidently valid, but must consider the reactions of foreigners if you want to establish any relations with representatives of the so-called “second-class” nations.

I know that in the sphere of your individual consciousness you do not think like that.

But I miss in your letter the consciousness of collective responsibility, which for us is an indispensable requirement not only of politeness but of human feeling in general.

I know that this condition is very difficult for you because to you it seems so ridiculous.

But I do not doubt that if you take the trouble to think it through thoroughly you will see the logic of it.

Recently a letter burst into the house from Bruno Goetz,Z the writer, in which he expressed the wish to visit me immediately.

I replied that it was too painful for me to talk with Germans as I had not yet got over the murder of Europe.

Whereupon he drenched me with a flood of literary vituperation.

To which I rejoined: Q.E.D.

Herr Goetz with his thoughtful answer has once again, but unconsciously, ridden roughshod over the feelings of the non-German in true Teutonic fashion, in order to intoxicate himself with the elation of his noble anger.

This is no longer seasonable.

The Herrenvplk has become obsolete; the stupendously harmless Herr Goetz still doesn’t know that.

As a matter of fact he knows nothing at all, and appears mightily justified in his own eyes.

I am sorry for these people who have failed to hear the cock crowing for the third time.

If I had belonged to a secret society which had tried to murder you in a disgraceful way and you had miraculously escaped, it is not altogether improbable that you would feel some hesitation towards me.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. 1, Pages 443-446.