C. G. Jung and National Socialism
- G. Jung and National Socialism
Carl Gustav Jung is constantly being accused of having been an anti-Semite or a Nazi sympathizer and even today the recriminatory voices have not fallen silent.
The main points of the repeated accusations are his attitude toward the Jews, his acceptance of the presidency of the allegedly German Society for Psychotherapy, and his editorship of its organ, the Zentralblatt für Psychotherapie, after the Nazis came to power.
These accusations appear all the more plausible as it is generally maintained that both the Society and the Zentralblatt were “conformed” (gleichgeschaltet) to the Nazi ideology, which entailed, above all, the rigorous exclusion of Jews from membership of the said Society.
The events at the root of these reproaches took place decades ago.
In the meantime much as been forgotten and few details remain in spite of the fact that access has now been gained to the sources:
Jung’s numerous political letters from the years 1933-1945 are contained in the first of the three volumes published by Princeton University Press, as well as literature and documents relevant to the time contained in the tenth volume of Jung’s collected works, Civilization in Transition (1974), also published by Princeton University Press.
In order to arrive at an objective judgment, as far as possible, the most important facts should be briefly surveyed again – facts which present favorable, as well as unfavorable, evidence about Jung.
“I would not be doing a great man the honor which is his due if I treated the political mistakes he made at the beginning of National Socialist rule with silence” writes Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker in his article “Erinnerungen an Martin Heidegger” [Memories of Martin Heidegger], (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 16/17 April 1977).
It is in the same spirit that I have undertaken to write the following.
When the Nazis seized power (1933) Professor Ernst Kretschmer, president of the General Medical Society for Psychotherapy (Allgemeine Ärztliche Gesellschaft für Psychotherapie), resigned. As with all scientific societies that were located in Germany, the Gleichschaltung of the “General Society” seemed only a matter of time.
At this critical moment (June 1933), and at the urgent request of its leading members, Jung, then honorary vice-president, accepted the presidency in the hope of being able to avert the worst.
“Thus a moral conflict arose for me as it would for any decent man in this situation. Should I, as a prudent neutral, withdraw into security this side of the frontier and wash my hands in innocence, or should I – as I was well aware – risk my skin? … Should I sacrifice the interests of science, loyalty to colleagues, the friendship which attaches me to some German physicians, and the living link with the humanities afforded by a common language – sacrifice all this to egotistic comfort and my different political sentiments? … Consequently, no other course remained for me but to answer for my friends with the weight of my name and independent position.”
In acceding to his colleagues’ request, Jung was in an altogether different situation from Kretschmer: as a Swiss he could accept the presidency without being bound by the Nazi ideology. Unlike Kretschmer, neither his intellectual nor his political freedom was at stake.
But what only a few people know is that within a matter of months he had used his freedom as a Swiss to redraft the statutes of the Society so as to make it formally and effectively international in character, a point to which I will return.
In spite of this, it is still alleged today that Jung was president of a nazified German Society.
Even in the careful commentary to Diaries of Thomas Mann 1933-1934, published by S. Fischer Verlag in 1977, the editor, Peter de Mendelssohn, wrote that Jung had directed both the Zentralblatt and the “Ärztliche Gesellschaft,” “along National Socialist lines until 1940.”
Others maintain that Jung ousted Professor Kretschmer just in order to spread the Nazi doctrine!
– We will concern ourselves with the reasons for these rumors and distortions in the following discussion.
Before its reorganization under Jung the Society had already been international in membership, though it was dominated by the Germans, who held the main executive positions.
Jung’s amendment of the statutes, however, gave de facto existence to the “International General Medical Society for Psychotherapy,” which was composed of different national groups or sections.
Jung was president not only of this Society but also of the Swiss section.
(This still exists today under the name “Schweizer Gesellschaft für Praktische Psychologie.”) A separate German Society (“Deutsche Allgemeine Ärztliche Gesellschaft für Psychotherapie”) had been founded in Berlin (September 1933), as the “conformed” German section of the International Society.
From then on the nazified German section was only one among numerous other national groups, having as its president the psychiatrist Professor M.H. Göring, cousin of the notorious Reichsmarschall.
It is obvious that this relationship and the ominous name were sufficient in themselves to give rise to innumerable misunderstandings and misrepresentations considering the supercharged atmosphere prevailing at the time.
The Zentralblatt für Psychotherapie, which had been published in Germany since the inception of the original Society, was thereupon taken over as the organ of the International Society, whose headquarters were in Zurich, with Jung as editor.
In November 1933 he wrote to his German colleague Dr. R. Allers, “As president of an international medical Society for Psychotherapy I am the more or less involuntary editor of this organ.”
He was put in a very difficult position when a German special issue was planned to be published by Professor Göring.
It was to contain a declaration – likewise drafted by Professor Göring – by which the German branch of the society committed itself to Hitler’s political and ideological principles.
Whether through negligence or by mistake (or, one asks retrospectively, by design?), Göring’s manifesto appeared not only in the supplement Deutsche Seelenheilkunde (Leipzig 1934) but, in slightly different form, also in the current December 1933 issue of the Zentralblatt – without Jung’s having been informed of this fact by the managing editor (Dr. W. Cimbal, Hamburg).
An issue appearing under his name as editor and carrying the Nazi manifesto was a grave embarrassment to him.
In the eyes of the world it was even worse: the Swiss psychiatrist, Dr. Gustav Bally, launched a sharp attack on Jung in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (27 February 1934) and therewith the discussion began.
Most of the later attacks were based on Bally’s article.
That he himself did not consider Jung’s behavior an unequivocal profession of National Socialism, or that he was prepared to be corrected, is clear from the fact that two years later he joined with Jung once again to work on the collaboration of the various schools of analytical psychology.
One may have honest doubts as to whether Jung acted correctly in sitting down at a table with German doctors at that time of terror, even if he did so under the auspices of an international society.
If we wish to form, as far as possible, an objective judgment, we must raise a question of principle which even today, decades later, has still received no definitive answer:
Should the dissociation from an incriminated nation, and its spiritual isolation, be considered necessary, or should one, on the contrary, call for collaboration in the interests of “coexistence”? Jung opted for collaboration with the doctors and psychotherapists of Nazi Germany and thus exposed himself to the judgment of his contemporaries and of posterity.
In his “Rejoinder to Dr. Bally,” which, like Bally’s attack, still makes for instructive reading today, Jung set out the personal reasons that led him to his decision: above all he was concerned with the preservation of the young science of psychotherapy, which at a single stroke of the pen in high places could have been swept under the table in Germany.
For its sake he was willing to risk his person and his name.
“The main point is to get a young and insecure science into a place of safety during an earthquake, and that was my aim in helping to reorganize the psychotherapeutic movement in Germany.”
He was out to help suffering humanity, regardless of nationality and differences of political sentiment.
The core of his defense is contained in the following words, which sum up his attitude at that time:
“The doctor who, in wartime, gives his help to the wounded of the other side will surely not be held a traitor to his country.”
To judge the difficulties faced by a scientific society during the years of the Nazi revolution one may take for comparison the fate of the Freud group of the Psychoanalytic Society in Nazi Germany. Paul Eitingon, the Jewish-Polish member of its executive committee, was replaced by the German “Aryan” Felix Boehm, and Freud declared himself in agreement with Eitingon’s resignation.
In the same fateful year (1933), the Jewish members “voluntarily” seceded in order to “preserve the integrity of psychoanalysis in Nazi Germany.”
Lewis Mumford seized on these facts – they are reported in Ernest Jones’ biography of Freud – and compared them with Jung’s all-too-tolerant attitude and his cooperation with the “Nazi-controlled German psychological society,” calling it “a hardly less reprehensible Freudian parallel.”
But expressly in this connection it should be noted that one of Jung’s first official acts as president of the International Society was the implementation of a statutory provision which worked in favor of his Jewish colleagues in Germany.
At the Congress of the International Society at Bad Nauheim in May 1934, Jung stipulated that the German-Jewish doctors who had been ejected or excluded from the German section could individually become members of the International Society with equal rights, thus preserving their professional and social status.
Even though this measure later proved ineffective in the face of the Nazi terror, it was nevertheless Jung’s intention to come directly to the aid of his Jewish colleagues in Germany in the face of the anti-Semitic restrictions promulgated by the Nazi regime.
His stipulation that the Society be “neutral as to politics and creed” affirmed its complete independence of the German section. This independence was further secured by a proviso within the statutes that, “No national group may represent more than forty percent of votes present.”
Even before this (19 March 1934), Jung informed his Danish colleague, Dr. O. Brüel,
“I shall also endeavor to keep the international organization on absolutely neutral ground and to regulate the relations between the groups by special statutes in such a way that it is impossible for any one group, no matter how numerous its members may be, to influence the policy of the Society as a whole.”
After the Bad Nauheim Congress (May 1934), and at Jung’s special request, his assistant, Dr. C.A. Meier of Zurich, secretary-general of the International Society (now Professor Emeritus at the Swiss Federal School of Technology, Zurich), was appointed managing editor of the Zentralblatt.
Later, in 1936, when Professor Göring became co-editor of the Zentralblatt – a fact with which Jung is often reproached – it was due to Jung and Meier that the Zentralblatt was not “conformed,” and it continued to publish unbiased reviews of books by Jewish authors, as well as contributions by foreign writers such as H.G. Baynes, Esther Harding, and C. Baudouin.
In 1938 the last congress of the International Society took place under Jung’s presidency at Oxford. On this occasion the University of Oxford conferred upon him the degree of Doctor honoris causa.
Jung’s Presidential Address dealt with the points common to the different schools of psychotherapy; his aim was to give psychotherapy, on this common basis, a well-merited place among the other branches of medical science.
This had been Jung’s goal for a long time: in May 1936 at his instigation representatives from the Freud, Adler, Jung and phenomenological schools were chosen for “the first attempt to get the various schools to cooperate.”
In his address to the Oxford Congress he referred to this work: “The Swiss Committee of Psychotherapy has made the attempt to formulate those points about which all psychotherapists, working along the lines of psychological analysis, could agree.
The democratic spirit of Switzerland has helped us to avoid all absolutism and we succeeded in producing Fourteen Points of mutual agreement.”
By 1939 the relationship of the German section to the other national groups had become very difficult indeed.
When the Germans tried to overwhelm the Society with a large Italian, a Hungarian, and even a Japanese group, Jung demanded binding assurances regarding the nonapplication of the “Aryan regulations.”
As these were not forthcoming, he resigned from the presidency.
In accordance with the statutes, the presidency should then have passed to the vice-president, Dr. Hugh Crichton-Miller, of London.
But in 1940 Professor Göring declared peremptorily and illegally that the International Society, together with the Zentralblatt, had “conformed” and transferred its headquarters from Zurich to Berlin. Henceforth it ceased in practice to exist.
Jung’s efforts on behalf of his German-Jewish colleagues, within the framework of the “International Society,” were known only to a few people; but during those critical years he also helped countless individual Jews with advice and active support.
These Jews, many of whom were or became his friends, have made this publicly known, and there is no need to go into details here.
In 1934 he included in his book Wirklichkeit der Seele [Reality of the Soul] (Zurich, 1934) a contribution by the Jewish author, Hugo Rosenthal: “Der Typengegensatz in der jüdischen Religionsgeschichte” [The Type-Difference in the Jewish History of Religion], and in the same year he wrote a foreword to the book of his Jewish pupil, Gerhard Adler: Entdeckung der Seele [Discovery of the Soul] (Zurich, 1934).
By his helpful activity Jung proved that he was anything but an anti-Semite.
His strenuous efforts did not, however, prevent him from publicly pointing out, as a psychologist, the difference between Jewish and non-Jewish psychology.
Because of the racial fanaticism in Germany at the time, this was taken as an expression of Nazi sentiment and continues to be interpreted even today as a further proof of Jung’s anti-Semitism.
No Jew who is conscious of himself as a Jew will deny that such a difference exists.
But the fact that Jung dragged it into the limelight at this particular moment, when being a Jew was enough to put one in danger of one’s life, and that he placed the topic of differences of racial psychology on the scientific program of the International Society, must be regarded as a grave human error.
Even though the most atrocious consequences of the hatred of the Jews became public knowledge only later, the slightest hint of Jewish “differentness” served at that time as fuel for further fanaticism.
In this respect the medical discretion enjoined on every physician would have been the order of the day.
The fact that Jung did not observe it accounts for the reserve many Jews and non-Jews feel toward his personality.
Besides this, in his writings at that period, Jung expressed views on the Jewish character and on Judaism which were false and gave offense.
Above all, his assertion that “the Jew, who is something of a nomad, has never yet created a cultural form of his own … since all his instincts and talents require a more or less civilized nation to act as a host for their development” has aroused much ill-feeling.
Statements like this sprang from a lack of comprehension of Judaism and Jewish culture which is scarcely imaginable today, though it was widespread at the time.
Thus even Freud, the Jew, could assert in 1908: “We Jews have an easier time [than Jung], having no mystical element.”
Freud knew so little of Judaism that he was totally unaware of the rich mysticism of the cabala and the mystic wisdom of Hasidism.
A general interest in Judaism, particularly among non-Jews, was initiated – strangely enough – during the Hitler era and became even stronger with the founding of the state of Israel.
Since then the works of Martin Buber, Gershom Scholem, Franz Rosenzweig, and many others have become known to a wider public.
They have helped to deepen a general knowledge of Judaism and Jewish culture or to explain them for the first time.
For all the justified accusations leveled at Jung and for all our sense of disappointment, we should not forget that when he spoke of the difference of Jewish psychology he, unlike the Nazis, did not imply any “depreciation” of it.
This is quite apparent from an unprejudiced reading of his formulations, but is frequently overlooked.
Certainly Jung did not make it easy for his readers to read his mind.
When he wrote that the subjective premise, or the “personal equation” of the Jew implied “no depreciation of Semitic psychology, any more than it is a depreciation of the Chinese to speak of the peculiar psychology of the Oriental,” this could easily be misunderstood by anyone who did not know Jung.
Jung could not take it for granted that his readers were aware of his veneration for the Chinese mind and Chinese culture.
(In 1929 his commentary on the Chinese Taoist text, The Secret of the Golden Flower, was published with the Sinologue, Richard Wilhelm.)
Thus his comparison had just the opposite effect to the one intended: it aroused resentment and correspondingly distorted reactions, and soon one was reaing in the press that Jung had compared the Jews to a Mongolian horde!
Jung, to put it briefly, saw the Jews as a “race with a three-thousand-year-old civilization,” whereas he attributed to the “Aryans” a “youthfulness not yet fully weaned from barbarism.”
The former possessed in Jung’s eyes the inestimable advantage of greater consciousness and differentiation, while the latter were closer to nature and unlike the Jews, capable of creating new cultural forms.
For Jung the epithet “barbarism” was anything but a compliment.
It should be remembered that long before the advent of the Nazis, psychological race differences had been a theme for discussion among psychoanalytic researchers and therapists.
In August 1909 Jung wrote to his wife from New York about a stroll with Freud in Central Park: “We talked a lot about Jews and Aryans.”
As persecution and hostility towards the Jews has been part of centuries of European history, it was natural that an eminent Jew and an eminent Christian should, in all friendliness, turn to this subject.
The first references to this appear in Jung’s writings as early as 1913, but they were never an expression of anti-Semitism.
On the contrary, his statements were concerned with the fact that the “personal equation” had to be taken into account in psychology more than in any other science.
In psychology the object of knowledge is at the same time the organ of knowledge, which is true of no other science … If the organ of knowledge is its own object, we have every reason to examine that organ very closely indeed, since the subjective premise is at once the object of knowledge which is therefore limited from the start.
In other words, since it is the psyche that cognizes the psyche, a subjective element must attach to all psychological cognition, therefore it is not a matter of indifference who it is that utters the “psychological truth.”
Into old age Jung emphasized that the subjective character of his own psychology as well as that of Freud, Adler, and others, as conditioned by individual type, time, culture, etc.
In his earlier years he even understood every psychology as a “subjective confession.”
And with regard to psychoanalysis, which was of special concern to him because of his one-time collaboration with Freud, he never overlooked, any more than did its founder, the specifically Jewish component of its fundamental conceptions.
In a letter to Karl Abraham written in 1908, Freud stressed the Jewish character of his thoughts and of psychoanalysis as though it were self-evident.
Be tolerant and don’t forget that really it is easier for you to follow my thoughts than for Jung, since to begin with you are completely independent, and then racial relationship brings you close to my intellectual constitution, whereas he, being a Christian and the son of a pastor, can only find his way to me against great inner resistances.
His adherence is therefore all the more valuable.
I was almost going to say it was only his emergence on the scene that has removed from psycho-analysis the danger of becoming a Jewish national affair.
At the word “Christian,” Jones adds in a footnote: “The customary Jewish expression for ‘non-Jews.’ ”
Freud’s words reveal the sentiments of a great Jew who had a deep knowledge of psychic relationships and looked beyond the human limitations of the moment.
For him to acknowledge the Jewish character of psychoanalysis did not imply any depreciation of it!
The succeeding generation mostly thought and felt very differently about this matter, and it is only recently that important Jewish thinkers have begun to understand that Freud’s work is largely conditioned by his Jewishness.
A short but highly significant analysis of its unconscious Judaistic basis may be found in an essay by Erich Neumann, “Freud and the Father Image.”
The fundamental importance of the “personal equation” has shown that in practice nobody is able to follow the way of individuation and achieve self-realization if he is not profoundly conscious of his historical as well as of his religious background, because individuality is rooted in the collective.
Tradition, religion, and the sense of belonging to a community are among the basic requisites for any individuality, no matter whether the individual keeps faith with them or goes his own way.
But consciousness of their tradition and their roots no longer remained self-evident once the emancipation of the Jews had taken place.
Thus, as we know, it was lacking also among German Jews in the pre-Hitler period.
Many of them no longer felt themselves to be Jews but only Germans, and had forgotten their national and religious peculiarities.
This led to the concept of the “assimilated Jew,” which, for Jews conscious of their Jewishness, is a decidedly negative concept.
By contrast Jung asks (1934):
“Are we really to believe that a tribe which has wandered through history for several thousand years as ‘God’s chosen people’ was not put up to such an idea by some quite special psychological peculiarity?”
The final, and perhaps decisive, question in evaluating Jung’s position is: What was his attitude towards National Socialism as a political movement?
Some of his observations from the years 1933-34 lead one to conclude that he set his hopes on a fruitful and peaceful development in Germany, and that he was willing to give National Socialism a chance in its early days.
That the “Aryan” unconscious contains creative tensions and “seeds of a future yet to be born” was the psychological foundation of his hopes.
Only his deceptive hope that something positive, perhaps even a new culture, might emerge from the chaos can explain Jung’s attitude.
Later he admitted this himself.
In his “Epilogue to Essays on Contemporary Events” (1946) he wrote:
When Hitler seized power it became quite evident to me that a mass psychosis was boiling up in Germany. But I could not help telling myself that this was after all Germany, a civilized European nation with a sense of morality and discipline. Hence the ultimate outcome of this unmistakable mass movement still seemed to me uncertain, just as the figure of the Führer at first struck me as being merely ambivalent. … Like many of my contemporaries, I had my doubts.
Some people, disappointed by Jung’s attitude, expected a more comprehensive, perhaps more emphatic, “admission of guilt”; others took the very sobriety of this statement as proof of its sincerity.
And it would indeed be a grave falsification of the facts to speak of Jung’s guilt in identifying with the Nazi ideology.
At no time was there any such identification even though in the beginning he was fascinated by the “formidable phenomenon of National Socialism.”
Psychologically this mass psychosis represented an outburst of the collective unconscious, and as with his patients,
Jung counted on the healing and creative forces inherent in the human psyche to do their work.
He felt justified in this attitude because, as he says, the contents of the collective unconscious are themselves ambivalent.
The driving forces of a psychological mass movement are essentially archetypal.
Every archetype contains the lowest and the highest, evil and good, and is therefore capable of producing diametrically opposite results.
Hence it is impossible to make out at the start whether it will prove to be positive or negative.
My medical attitude towardssuch things counseled e to wait, for it is an attitude that allows no hasty judgments, does not always know from the start what is better, and is willing to give things ‘a fair trial.’”
It seems that in the early years it was not so easy to create a picture of the scope of the fascist movement and its “Führer.”
Freud misjudged the character of Mussolini so badly, that in the book written by Einstein and himself, Warum Krieg? [Why War?], he wrote as dedication: “For Benito Mussolini with the humble greeting of an old man, who recognizes the cultural hero in the ruler. – Vienna 26.4.33. Freud.” Aniela Jaffe, From the Life and Work of C.G. Jung, Page 58
In spite of his psychological knowledge Jung remained optimistic, which proves once again the truism that a great scientist is not necessarily a good politician!
In an interview Jung compared the Führer to a medicine-man and drew attention to his magico-mystical qualities.
This caused a great uproar and is still misconstrued today as praise.
Yet when the German Resistance poet Carl Zuckermayer said exactly the same thing in his memoirs, that “Hitler was able to put people in a trance just like the medicine-man of a savage tribe,”nobody took offense and nobody misunderstood him.
Today it is no longer doubted that Nazism and its Führer were driven by the destructive, demonic forces of a fanatical pseudoreligious movement.
Later Jung admitted that in spite of his knowledge of the psyche he did have illusions about man: he could never have imagined an outbreak of such fathomless evil.
Yet he himself, long before the advent of Hitler, had warned in 1918 of “the blond beast menacingly prowling about in its underground prison, ready at any moment to burst out with devastating consequences.”
But who took the warning seriously then? And at the decisive moment Jung himself had forgotten it.
After the fearful abysses of the Nazi regime became known, Jung revised his hopeful and expectant attitude and was pitiless in his public criticism.
In these later pronouncements on Germany there may also be heard the disappointment of a man who realized just how much he had jeopardized his reputation when he staked his personality, his work, his energy, and his hopes on the collaboration with doctors and psychotherapists in Nazi Germany.
This can be seen most clearly in his essay “After the Catastrophe,” which he wrote when the gruesome drama was over.
But as early as 1936, in his essay on “Wotan,” he branded Nazism as a manifestation of the typical “furor Teutonicus,” which he saw personified in Wotan the stormgod.
In “Psychology and Religion” (1937) he criticized very sharply the tendency to mass movements then discernible in Germany  having previously warned of the dangers of this phenomenon in a lecture delivered in Cologne and Essen in February 1933.
No wonder, then, that finally in 1940 his writings were banned in Germany and his name placed on the black list.
In France his books were burned. At that moment a stumbling-block to the Nazis was the fact of his having written a foreword to a book by his Jewish pupil, Jolande Jacobi, Die Psychologie von C.G. Jung (Zurich, 1939).
At this point I’d like to mention a few facts which throw light on Jung’s later involvement in politics:
In Autumn 1939 he was asked to stand for the “Nationalrat” (the equivalent of the English House of Commons) as candidate for Gottlieb Duttweiler’s party, “Landesring der Unabhängigen” (Independents):
“I told them that I’m no politician,” he wrote in a letter (5 October 1939) “but they said that that was exactly why they wanted me, that they had politicians enogh … I’m only on the list and I insisted upon being put practically on the last line, as I still hope that I won’t be elected.”
In fact Jung wasn’t elected.
In a letter to Gottlieb Duttweiler (4 December 1939) he suggested ways of relieving the financial plight of conscripts (those liable for military service).
This ultimately led to the “Swiss Wage and Unemployment Benefit Law” to compensate for mobilization.
When Winston Churchill visited Switzerland in 1946, at his request Jung was seated next to him, both during the ceremony in the Aula of the University of Zurich and at the official supper in Schloß Allmendingen near Berne.
It is unlikely that Churchill would have sought the company of a former Nazi or Nazi sympathizer.
Well into old age Jung was concerned with the human condition in our time.
The essays in the tenth volume of his Collected Works, “Civilization in Transition,” bear witness to this.
I hope I have made it clear that despite his mistakes Jung was neither a Nazi nor an anti-Semite.
This charge has already been rebutted on several occasions in the press, with supporting documentation.
Nevertheless the legend of Jung’s Nazi sympathies persists, and even today, half a century later, it is held against him with undiminished virulence.
Hence, besides setting forth the facts of the case we must raise the no less important question of the psychological reasons for the persistence of these attacks.
An inquiry into the unconscious psychic background is thus unavoidable.
Criticism of Jung’s attitude during the years 1933-34 is justified by the facts, as is evident from the account I have given.
But it lends itself to counter-criticism when it becomes overheated, is exaggerated and one-sided, and when it glosses over or denies anything positive and falsifies the facts.
This kind of criticism is just as untenable as the opposite approach which turns a blind eye to Jung’s mistakes during those years or considers them mere trifles.
For all those who have followed the anti-Jung polemics over the years, the causes of the exaggerations and extenuations have become somewhat clearer, at any rate, in their psychological aspects.
One of the deepest roots probably lies in the relationship between Freud and Jung, which still exerts a peculiar fascination on people today, and by no means only on psychologists of the Freudian or Jungian persuasion.
The relationship between the two researchers was problematical from the start, and it ended tragically in mutual resentment which never quite died.
Ultimately, however, it was fruitful for both men and enriched them.
In their friendship and separation, so spotlighted by the world, it was not only two great personalities which confronted one another in scientific and man-to-man discussion, not only the old master and the young disciple, but, above all, the Jew and the gentile.
This lent particular weight to their encounter and explains the fervent interest which the world took, and still takes, in their relationship.
It also explains the emotionality in evaluating it, the violence of the arguments pro and con.
The plethora of reviews of the book Memories, Dreams, Reflections is exceedingly instructive in this respect.
The great majority of them concentrated on the chapter “Sigmund Freud,” which is certainly not the most important one and gives the reader insight into only a small, if significant, segment of the essential Jung and his development.
Most of the critics dished out the usual and generally accepted paradigm of Freud, the great fatherly psychologist, the creator of psychoanalysis, and Jung, the disciple, who betrayed and abandoned the “father” in order to tread his own wayward paths of which the “father” did not always approve.
It is the typical, or archetypal, father-son relationship that was acted out by the two giants.
Since every son, if he amounts to anything, will one day leave his father and perhaps outgrow him, it was inevitable that this cruel and tragic, but also perfectly natural, side of the father-son relationship should be enacted by the two protagonists.
In the eyes of many people Jung nevertheless turned traitor when he declined the mantle of the “successor” and “crown prince” (Freud’s own formula!) which the “father” wished upon him, and chose instead to follow his own creative genius.
In extreme cases the critics went so far as to diagnose Jung’s “Judas role,” as though by separating from Freud he had betrayed a messenger sent by God.
It is obvious and psychologically understandable that in any survey of the Freud-Jung relationship the contrast between Jew and gentile should play an important, indeed decisive, part, and it is equally certain that this contrast casts a shadow on the appraisal of Jung’s attitude to the Jews and to Nazism.
As I have attempted to show, Jung himself provided the cue for this.
Yet criticism, if it is to be taken seriously, must stick to the facts.
Only an unconscious emotionality that casts a veil over men’s eyes can explain why it is that Jung’s mistakes are assiduously overlooked by the one group and boundlessly exaggerated by the other.
It also enables us to understand why people who condemn Jung for his alleged Nazism and reject his work on that account can accept without qualms the philosophy of Martin Heidegger, unperturbed by the fact that he espoused Nazism as a genuine Fascist at the University of Freiburg during the early years of the regime.
This is no reflection on Heidegger’s philosophy, a point we are not discussing; our sole concern is with the question of a differential judgment and its causes. Heidegger did not play the role of an archetypal figure before the eyes of the world.
He was not the “spiritual son” of a venerated “spiritual father,” whereas Jung’s “apostasy” wounded the “father,” the great Jew, Freud.
Does anybody ask himself whether the “son” might not have been equally wounded by this separation?
It might be remembered, as Jones reports, that Freud himself was struck by the analogy with his own separation from his old teacher, Breuer, though nothing is ever heard of Freud’s “Judas role” in this connection.
Several decades have passed since the Hitler terror.
Jung died in 1961, and in retrospect even his mistakes at that period fall into place in his life and work without diminishing the stature of his personality.
To adopt the language of analytical psychology, one could speak of a manifestation of his shadow which, as an archetype, clings to every man and is often all the blacker the brighter the light his personality sheds.
Jung gave mankind too much for his shadow ever to dim his spiritual significance and his greatness as a man.
Over the years Jung revised and deepened his knowledge of Judaism.
This is evident from his later works with the wealth of Jewish source material amassed by him.
The religious attitude of the Jews, which does not exclude fear of God, corresponded to the Evangelium Aetemum (Gioacchino da Fiore), which he paraphrased in way of a personal profession: “One can love God and must fear Him.”
The unlimited support he gave to Jews and non-Jews alike during the critical years of National Socialism, and his personality as a man, are the basis upon which his Jewish pupils have reconciled themselves to his mistakes.
Large numbers of them are living today, not only in Europe and America, but also in Israel, and are spokespersons for Jungian psychology.
As we have said, Jung the researcher was fascinated by the creative contents of the collective unconscious, and this positive valuation lay behind his hopes for a fruitful development of National Socialism, that explosion of unconscious forces.
But in the course of time the decisive role of consciousness as the discriminating and responsible agent which assigns meaning to events became increasingly clear to him.
Although consciousness – hence also man’s individuality – can develop creatively only when deeply rooted in the unconscious psychic background, the humanity of man depends on his consciousness and its attitude towards the nature-bound forces of the unconscious which are both healing and destructive.
Consciousness alone decides whether it will cooperate with them or resist them.
From the typological standpoint one could describe the revision of Jung’s scientific views and the shifting of his values as the transformation of the “romantic” into the “classic,” and might speculate that the “classic” Jung would never have given National Socialism the ghost of a chance.
Those who had an opportunity to converse with Jung personally were in a better position than an outsider to see the shadow side of this great researcher and to accept it.
As evidence of this, I will quote from a letter which Gershom Scholem wrote to me in 1963 and has kindly permitted me to publish. It reports a conversation he had about Jung with Leo Baeck.
7 May 1963
Dear Mrs. Jaffé:
As you are so interested in the story of Baeck and Jung, I will write it down for your benefit and have no objection to being cited by you in this matter.
In the summer of 1947 Leo Baeck was in Jerusalem.
I had then just received for the first time an invitation to the Eranos meeting in Ascona, evidently at Jung’s suggestion, and I asked Baeck whether I should accept it, as I had heard and read many protests about Jung’s behavior in the Nazi period.
Baeck said: “You must go, absolutely!” and in the course of our conversation told me the following story.
He too had been put off by Jung’s reputation resulting from those well-known articles in the years 1933-34, precisely because he knew Jung very well from the Darmstadt meetings of the School of Wisdom and would never have credited him with any Nazi and anti-Semitic sentiments.
When, after his release from Theresienstadt, he returned to Switzerland for the first time (I think it was 1946), he therefore did not call on Jung in Zurich.
But it came to Jung’s ears that he was in the city and Jung sent a message begging him to visit him, which he, Baeck, declined because of those happenings.
Whereupon Jung came to his hotel and they had an extremely lively talk lasting two hours, during which Baeck reproached him with all the things he had heard.
Jung defended himself by an appeal to the special conditions in Germany but at the same time confessed to him:
“Well, I slipped up” – probably referring to the Nazis and his expectation that something great might after all emerge.
This remark, “I slipped up,” which Baeck repeated to me several times, remains vividly in my memory.
Baeck said that in this talk they cleared up everything that had come between them and that they parted from one another reconciled again.
Because of this explanation of Baeck’s I accepted the invitation to Eranos when it came a second time.
In order to create a complete picture of Jung’s attitude to Judaism and confront the accusation of anti-Semitism with which he is often reproached, more is required than examination of his worldly activities, important though they were.
For Jung, to whom religion was the foundation of the soul – “anima naturaliter religiosa” –, the assessment of Jewish religiousness was of far-reaching significance.
The question to be asked is: what was his attitude to the God-image of the Jews, derived from the Old Testament and the mysticism of the Jewish Cabala?
I have dealt with this subject in detail elsewhere and would therefore like to draw attention here to just a few short points.
What made the greatest impression on Jung was the ambivalence of the Jewish God-image.
Yaweh is held to be creator and destroyer, gracious and punishing, light and darkness.
In Jung’s eyes, the union of these extreme opposites lent to the Jewish image a completeness superior to the Christian image of a God who is exclusively loving and kind.
Jung suspected that the reason for the conservative Jews’ inability to accept Christianity was to be sought in this difference.
He felt their God-image to be superior:
It expressed totality.
In considering the ambivalence of the God-image, Jung warned repeatedly that along with the Christian precept of the love of God, we should follow the Old Testament precept of fear of God.
Jung wrote one of his most passionate books, Answer to Job, on the subject of Job’s conflict with his God. In spite of his experience of the dark side of God – he was the victim of God’s wager with the devil – Job never doubted the existence of God’s light side. “I know that my redeemer lives.”
This inner knowledge of the contradictory nature of God lent Man a certain superiority.
The consequence was a transformation of the God-image: God became Man.
That was the “Answer to Job.”
That which the Bible portrays in mythological language as the relationship between God and Man, in psychological terms becomes the relationship between Self and Ego.
The fact that God became Man is an expression of the fact that Man became the vessel of the Divine.
It meant much to Jung when he found that the idea of a collaboration between Man and God was also contained in the writings of the cabalist Isaac Luria (16th century).
According to Luria, in the act of creation, God formed vessels to contain the light but they proved too weak and broke apart.
Thus evil entered the world and since that time all things have contained the defect of the split.
Man is called upon, however, by virtue of his consciousness, to use his deeds and thoughts, and also his prayers, to help the Creator overcome the split and reestablish unity.
In 1954 Jung wrote to a Jewish colleague: “The Jew has the advantage of having long since anticipated the development of consciousness in his own spiritual history.
By this I mean the Lurianic stage of the Kabbalah, the breaking of the vessels and man’s help in restoring them.
Here the thought emerges for the first time that man must help God to repair the damage wrought by the Creation. For the first time man’s cosmic responsibility is acknowledged.”
With these short comments the matter must rest. I hope they serve to refute the claim that Jung was anti-Semitic.
On the contrary, Jung was moved to his depths by the Jewish God-image and teaching on the relationship between Man and his God. Aniela Jaffe, From the Life and Work of C.G. Jung, Pages 52-63