The Second World War 1939–1945
In the autumn of 1939, Jung spent the time between Eranos and his return to work in the middle of October at Bollingen.
He did indeed go down to Küsnacht for a day or even for a few days whenever it was necessary, but Bollingen was always by far the best place for him to come to terms with things like the mounting tension in Europe (which he had first realized in 1926) and such catastrophes as the outbreak of another world war.
This was, I think, because the Tower was especially the place of the Self, with its totally different standpoint toward things that happen in space and time.
A dream which a woman had some years ago, during one of those periods when a third world war looked almost inevitable, may make this clearer.
In the dream she was as near panic about the war as she felt in reality, then she was infinitely reassured by a goddess-like figure coming toward her, saying: “But even if war does break out, it will not be worse to me than a bad dream.”
The East tries to identify with this point of view, declares the world to be mere illusion, and seeks liberation from the warring opposites in Nirvana.
But Jung thought that in the West we should make every effort to become conscious of the eternal standpoint, then do our best to reconcile it with three-dimensional reality in our actual life, in the here and now.
Therefore, if we are obliged to live through another world war, that is a painful fact with which we must reckon and certainly no illusion.
Jung made this idea of two standpoints particularly clear in his commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower.
He wrote of the fact that, in favorable cases, some people seem to outgrow a problem that would destroy others.
They gain a new level of consciousness, as it were, from which they can see even the worst problem in a totally different light.
He explained: What, on a lower level, had led to the wildest conflicts and to panicky outbursts of emotion, from the higher level of the personality now looked like a storm in the valley seen from the mountain top.
This does not mean that the storm is robbed of its reality but instead of being in it, one is above it.
But since in a psychic sense, we are both valley and mountain, it might seem a vain illusion to deem oneself beyond what is human.
One certainly does feel the affect and is shaken and tormented by it, yet at the same time one is aware of a higher consciousness looking on which prevents one from becoming identical with the affect and can say: “I know that I suffer.”
What our text says of indolence, “Indolence of which a man is conscious, and indolence of which he is unconscious are a thousand miles apart” holds true in the highest degree of affect.
By this time Jung was always able to reach both these standpoints (mountain and valley, Self and ego) wherever he was, but Bollingen was the place that lay directly beside the mountain, so to speak, where its outlook was most accessible to him.
Jung had a very unusual and profound love of humanity, and always took every human life seriously, so that general catastrophes, like a world war, were very hard indeed for him to accept.
It was, however, a fortunate circumstance for him that war broke out in the long summer holidays when he was always at Bollingen.
It was evident when he came back to Küsnacht in October that, although the war was still an agony to him in the valley, he could also see it objectively and calmly from above, from the mountain.
Both these points of view were present simultaneously, although the one that fitted the situation was often more evident.
One could also express it quite differently and say that in Bollingen he became fully conscious of all the suffering involved and accepted it sufficiently to be able to say:
“I know that the world including myself is going through an incomprehensible amount of suffering.”
The point of view obtained from the mountain was particularly visible at the E. T. H. lectures, which he resumed on November 3, 1939.
He had finished his Eastern texts in June and had devoted the last four lectures of the summer semester to “The Exercitia Spiritualia of St. Ignatius of Loyola,” as a Western example of his general theme of active imagination.
When he resumed these lectures, he pursued the same course as he had in Berlin six years before: he hardly referred to the outer situation but tried to open the eyes of his large audience to the reality of the psyche, to the inner life and its different point of view.
The material itself, however, led him to make a most telling point, which really struck home to many in his audience. I remember vividly thinking at the time: “At last one sees a meaning in the war.”
Jung was speaking of an introduction to the Ignatian “Exercitia Spiritualia” by an old Spanish Jesuit, Izquierdus, who lived in the early seventeenth century.
When defining the difference between mortal and venial sin, Izquierdus had said: “There is really only one mortal sin, which
consists in placing the goal in the creature instead of in God,” and “For the man who stands in mortal sin there is no God, no Heaven and no salvation.”
Jung commented that, according to this, practically the whole of Western humanity was in mortal sin.
Translated into the language Jung used in his commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower, practically “the whole of Western humanity” finds its only goal in the valley, because it no longer knows that the mountain exists.
Yet it is only from the mountain that the goal Izquierdus calls God can be seen.
Therefore—from his point of view—Western humanity is practically all in mortal sin.
We really come back again to Jung’s realization of the myth of modern man fifteen years before on the East African Athi Plains: man’s consciousness is
“indispensable for the completion of creation” if it is not to go down to its unknown end “in the profoundest night of non-being.”
There was an unpleasant uncertainty in the air after Germany conquered Poland, and the socalled drôle de guerre had begun in the West.
Military circles in Switzerland were much disquieted by the concentration of German troops on the northern border.
At that time it was thought only too likely that Germany, instead of attacking the so-called impregnable Maginot Line, would violate Swiss neutrality and attack France by that route.
There was never anything like panic, for Switzerland knew itself to be well armed and was determined to defend itself to the last man.
Even when the Maginot Line was forced and the German armies were pouring into Belgium, Holland, and France, the pressure on Switzerland did not relax.
On the contrary, still more German troops were concentrated on the Swiss border and it was afterward revealed that had France not crumpled so quickly, Germany would have tried to attack her through the comparatively level northwest of Switzerland.
The troops from the more primitive “Inner Schweiz” even swore that the Germans were prevented from crossing the Swiss border only by the Swiss saint, Niklaus von der Flüe!
Officers of these regiments told us afterward that many of their men were convinced they had seen him, preventing the Germans from touching Swiss soil.
Be this as it may, it was an unpleasant fact that the Swiss main line of defense was in the mountains, behind Zürich. I spent an evening with Emma Jung about this time and she told me how worried she was about her many grandchildren.
Emma was afraid Jung would refuse to leave his practice, but the whole family had taken a small pension near Saanen, in the Bernese Oberland and she hoped, if they were informed that the situation was desperate, he would at least consent to see them all into safety.
All the younger men in the family—her son and sons-in-law —were on active service in the army.
She was worried about whether or not they had enough room in their car to transport all the children, so we arranged to take my car too.
Our gasoline allowance was shrinking each month but I had enough saved up for any such emergency.
Nevertheless, I was considerably taken by surprise (for of course I did not know then that Jung had received an urgent warning from Bern) when Marie-Jeanne Schmid rang up early one morning to say the Jungs would be grateful if I would transport two of their grandchildren as soon as possible to Saanen in the Bernese Oberland.
Since that left me with one free seat, I also took Elizabeth Welsh, who had arrived from England shortly before and was also living at the Hotel Sonne in Küsnacht.
We got to Jung’s house as soon as we could, though not before their car had started, but the children whom I was to transport were still there.
Of course I knew our destination but I did not know whether Jung would go by the Brünig Pass or by Bern.
I decided on the former route, since I felt big towns were better avoided under the circumstances.
I was, however, very glad indeed to be passed by the Jungs’ car—with Jung driving—in the Sihltal, some ten miles out of Zürich. (They had also been taken by surprise and had had to go to the bank in Zürich to get money.)
Although there were a great many controls on the road, we just missed them all, and met for lunch on the other side of Lucerne at Alpnachstad, just by the funicular which goes up Mount Pilatus.
Here we learned what had caused the Jungs to take their grandchildren and daughter-in-law so suddenly to the mountains.
He had been telephoned from a very high place in Bern, late the night before, and asked to leave Zürich immediately.
The Swiss authorities had learned that Jung’s name was on the Nazi blacklist and they did not want the Germans to have an opportunity to capture him.
This information—added to Emma’s previous anxiety—left him with no choice: he had to drive the family car to Saanen, although one could see it went terribly against the grain to leave his practice at such a moment.
That morning, moreover, he had been called by a friend in the High Command of the army who said that Switzerland was almost sure to be attacked that
We made a rendezvous at Spiez, on the Lake of Thun, where the Jungs were to meet one of their younger daughters who was taking her own children direct.
I was probably to take the children I had in my car to their other grandparents on the Lake of Thun.
When we met the daughter, however, she told us it had been decided that it would be safer to take all the children to Saanen.
So we delivered them to the charming little pension the whole family had rented, situated with a beautiful view up above Saanen.
We then went on ourselves to a hotel near Gstaad, three or four miles away.
When France collapsed so quickly, the Germans refrained after all from attacking, for they knew the Swiss army could account for at least half a million of their men.
This was by no means the only time during the war that the Germans massed their troops against Switzerland, but they always thought better of it at the last moment. They used to call Switzerland “that prickly little hedgehog.”
It was only a very few days before Jung went back by train to his practice in Küsnacht, and from then on, until early July, he divided his time between there and his family in Saanen.
He was usually in Küsnacht for the middle of the week and in Saanen for a long weekend.
By this time, moreover, two or three more of Jung’s pupils had joined us at the hotel near Gstaad, and Jung used to walk over nearly every weekend to give those pupils who were still in analysis with him an hour, then stay to lunch, walking back in the early afternoon.
I was fortunate enough to have sufficient gasoline to take Jung back to Küsnacht on two of his visits. (Quite a few filling stations in the empty tourist centers conveniently “forgot” to ask cars with numbers from another canton for coupons!)
These were strange, memorable drives, through a fully armed countryside, on roads that were almost empty except for military traffic.
In the meantime, the fall of France had relieved the pressure on the Swiss border, and Jung spent all the rest of the war in Küsnacht or Bollingen.
There was no regular Eranos Tagung that summer, but at Frau Fröbe’s urgent request Jung went down to Ascona to take part in a sort of token Tagung.
It consisted of two lectures, one by Jung and one by Prof. Andreas Speiser, to a very small audience.
Jung, who wished to keep this token Tagung small, discouraged his own pupils from going.
The 1940 Eranos Tagung was therefore the only one I missed in twenty years.
Both Jung and Professor Speiser spoke on the Trinity from the viewpoint of very different fields. Jung spoke extemporaneously—as he had the year before—but a stenogram was taken and he eventually revised and expanded this lecture into “A Psychological Approach to the Dogma of the Trinity.”
It appeared in German in Symbolik des Geistes in 1948, from which version the English is taken.
The rest of the summer vacation was spent as usual in Bollingen, with days in Küsnacht when necessary.
By this time life had returned more or less to normal in Switzerland and Jung resumed his work in the autumn, both analysis and lectures at the E.T.H.
There were, of course, many fewer foreigners in Switzerland, by this time, only those of us who had settled there and occasional short-time visitors who somehow managed to get over the frontiers.
There was strong anti-German feeling all over Switzerland—it would not be exaggerating to call it hatred—and this time the Swiss were practically unanimous, not divided, as in World War I.
The few of us who were here had the great advantage of being a very small group, a thing always much appreciated by Jung.
By the autumn of 1940 private cars no longer received a gasoline allowance.
By the spring of 1941 they were no longer allowed on the roads at all, even if their owners still had some gasoline saved up. Doctors who had to visit their patients were naturally given a ration, but consultants like Jung, who worked in their own houses, got none.
I remember a French-woman, who had somehow succeeded in getting a permit to visit Jung from Paris, being unable to believe that he had no fuel for his car.
“But of course there is petrol for someone like you,” she said to him.
He assured her that the Swiss made no such exceptions and that he had no more petrol than anyone else.
Whether he could have got any for his work at the E.T.H., I do not know, but I am quite sure he never asked.
He just patiently walked nearly a mile to the station, went into Zürich by train, then took a trolley up to the university.
It must have been very tiring, but I never heard him complain.
Jung also submitted patiently to every regulation made for wartime conditions.
For instance, he plowed up the required percentage of his ground at Bollingen for the planting of potatoes.
I remember one day, when we were all working on those potatoes, he found a dead mouse and, thinking it would interest my Cairn terrier, threw it to her.
For some reason, however, she took this as a personal insult and came to me complaining bitterly.
He was amused at her offended dignity and quite amazed, when she saw him again three weeks later, that she cut him dead on the platform of Küsnacht station.
Since she generally greeted him with the greatest enthusiasm wherever she met him, he asked: “Whatever is the matter with the dog? She simply turns her
back on me.” I said I expected it was still the mouse. “Oh, dear,” he replied, “I quite forgot my bush manners when I did that!”
The great Swiss doctor and alchemist, Paracelsus, died in 1541.
In spite of the war, the four hundredth anniversary was much celebrated in Switzerland and Jung was asked to lecture both at Basel, on September 7, and at the big celebration in Einsiedeln, on October 5.
The first lecture was called “Paracelsus, the Physician.”
The second—which went much deeper—was called “Paracelsus as a Spiritual Phenomenon.”
Both lectures were published in German together in 1942 as Paracelsica but, whereas the first was published almost as it was given, Jung took a lot
of trouble in the autumn of 1941 to work out and enlarge the second, for, as he explained in the Preface to Paracelsica, it was not possible in a lecture to give any idea of the enigmatic figure of Paracelsus himself, who is hidden behind his numerous medical, scientific, and theological writings.
In fact, Jung said that it is very difficult to solve the riddle of Paracelsus and that the reader should consider his essay as a mere attempt to see something of the secret philosophy of Paracelsus and not think that he laid claim to having said anything conclusive on this difficult subject.
Be this as it may, he certainly held his large audience in Einsiedeln spellbound, that October evening, in the large lecture hall that lies behind the cathedral and monastery buildings adjacent to the fields containing the young stock of the horse breeding center for which Einsiedeln is famous throughout Switzerland.
Altogether, those few days which we spent in hotels in Einsiedeln were a most welcome oasis in a particularly dark time of the war, when Germany was practically the ruler of Europe.
Although very different, it reminded us of earlier years at Ascona, when we had all stayed at the Monte Verità Hotel. Einsiedeln is indelibly connected with Paracelsus, for he was born in a cottage, still standing, only two or three miles away.
Something of his atmosphere still remains.
Moreover, it is a place of pilgrimage.
The Black Madonna of Einsiedeln is said to have brought about many cures and rescues.
The monastery, with its large boys’ school and its horse breeding establishment, also has a special charm of its own.
Jung once spent a few days’ holiday in Einsiedeln later during the war and came back unusually pleased with its abbot and the other monks, and with the whole restful atmosphere of the place.
Although the Einsiedeln Paracelsus celebration stands out in my memory as an unusually meaningful time, the two Eranos meetings of 1941 and 1942, though much changed from before the war, were also worthwhile gatherings.
No one came who was not living in Switzerland, but in 1941 Jung gave one of his best Eranos lectures on the “Transformation Symbolism in the
Mass,”8 and in 1942 another alchemical lecture, “The Spirit Mercurius.”
The Hungarian professor Karl Kerényi, who later took refuge in Switzerland and who was destined to become a veritable pillar of Eranos, lecturing every year until quite recently, first came in 1941.
Max Pulver, the Swiss graphologist, also became a regular lecturer in 1941, and some other Swiss professors replaced the foreign professors who could no longer attend the meeting.
Of course, life was very different without our cars and we missed the Jungs in our daily life, for from then on they stayed in the flat over the lecture hall.
But there was a very nice hotel, the Collinetta, in Moscia, quite close to Eranos, where Toni Wolff and many of our old Verità group lived happily in 1941 and 1942.
Then, unfortunately, it ceased to be a hotel.
After that there was no general hotel and everybody had to lodge in Ascona, or very near it, with a transportation problem to Eranos in the hot August days.
It was in 1942 that Jung was asked by some leading Swiss and a German psychiatrist to help in an attempt they planned to make to reestablish peace.
Jung threw himself into this project at first with considerable enthusiasm.
It was kept completely secret at the time, of course, and I knew about it only because Jung thought I would be a suitable person to take their message to
England. “No one would ever suspect you,” he said.
Moreover, since the person they wanted to approach in England was Archbishop Temple (whom Jung knew, respected, and liked), I should —from my past—have had no difficulty in getting an interview with him.
The German doctor was far from being Nazi, but through his profession he had direct access to Nazi headquarters.
He reported that Hitler was becoming doubtful if he could really win the war and might be willing, the doctor thought, to make a peace treaty acceptable to the Allies.
Jung was enormously attracted by the possibility of saving many lives and much suffering, and spoke to me of the project as something very close to his heart.
He asked me to hold myself ready but not as yet to ask the British Consulate for my papers.
It would, of course, have been easy and would have looked quite natural for me to ask to be repatriated to my own country.
On the other hand, it was most unlikely that I could get back to Switzerland until after the end of the war.
It was, therefore, with a heavy heart—for I already felt Switzerland to be my home, containing all my dearest friends—that I accepted; it was something which I realized at once could on no account be refused.
Jung told me of the project in June. Toward the end of July he asked me up to Bollingen for the day, since he evidently wanted to discuss the matter.
He was waiting by the garage when I arrived, for he had not said a word about it even to his wife or Toni Wolff; it was at that time so hush-hush that even now I can hardly make myself write about it.
He told me the latest developments.
He was very hopeful that it would go through but he was not certain it would, and he told me to continue to delay asking for my papers.
I had dreamed of the project for the first time the night before and, when he heard this, he at once asked for the dream.
I dreamed that it was his son, still a very young man in the dream, who was running the project, and a voice informed me that nothing could come of it.
But, it added, it should never be held against him, for it was motivated by the very purest love of humanity.
Jung swore quite fluently and said: “Oh, damn it! Am I being too naïve?”
He then added that somewhere he had always feared it was a pipe dream, but that we would still wait to see what happened, before making a decision of any sort.
Some weeks later, at a concert one evening during the Eranos Tagung, he came to sit by me and murmured under cover of the music: “Yours was an Abraham’s sacrifice, we have had to give up the whole idea!”
He added: “The Nazis are too evil, no peace can be made with them, the whole thing will have to be completely destroyed, whatever it costs.”
The next day, during the journey back to Küsnacht, he told me what had happened.
When it was mentioned to Hitler, he had flown into one of his berserker rages, and the German psychiatrist had saved his life only by escaping to Switzerland, where he had to remain for the rest of the war.
Jung told me that since the unconscious had begun criticizing the project, he had lost his enthusiasm and his earlier trust in it, but was glad, under the circumstances, that it had settled itself without his being forced to withdraw his support.
This was typical of Jung’s attitude to the unconscious: he always sacrificed his ego will to the superior wisdom of the unconscious; in this case it was a great sacrifice, for he had been set on the hope of saving untold suffering and lives; but he never obeyed it blindly or hastily, only after a careful consideration of all the pros and cons.
Once this question was settled, I never heard him mention it again.
The war revealed the most ardent patriotism in Toni Wolff.
I always knew Switzerland mattered tremendously to her, but she was over fifty when the war broke out and I admit I was surprised that she put her time and her car voluntarily and unstintingly in the service of the Frauenhilfsdienst (roughly, Women’s Helpers Service).
She was already threatened by arthritis and the rough life was anything but good for her, but she spared herself nothing.
She was in the motorized section and of course had to sleep in dormitories, often under cold and uncomfortable conditions.
Edward Bosshard, a mutual friend of Toni’s and mine, who had been a young colleague of Toni’s father in Japan, told me that he knew her commanding officer and he had told him that Toni was the most valuable asset her unit possessed: not because she was a good driver, in fact she was seldom allowed to drive a car, but because she had such a marvelous influence on her much younger companions.
She could inspire them to work as no one else could and never countenanced any relaxation until the last job was done.
She never spared herself, in spite of her much greater age and increasing arthritis, and her example worked miracles in her environment.
She continued too long, however, after the doctors had begged her to let them demobilize her, and paid for it by constant pain during the last years of her life.
It also gradually cut her off from the greatest pleasure of her life: her stays with Jung at Bollingen.
His Tower was too near the lake for her; when there her hands went back on her and refused the service she asked of them.
I never once heard her complain, though I doubt if she was ever out of pain, but, unless one asked, she never mentioned it, and forced herself to do everything as long as she possibly could.
The year 1943 was the first time, since he began in 1933, that Jung did not lecture at Eranos, although he and Emma Jung attended the meeting as usual.
Jung’s creative libido was already flowing into his greatest book, the Mysterium Coniunctionis, and he felt he could not divert it in order to write a lecture for the Eranos Tagung that year, whose theme was “Old Sun Cults and the Symbolism of Light in Gnosis and Early Christianity.”
This was, of course, a great loss for the Tagung and a grief to Frau Fröbe-Kapteyn, though she was somewhat consoled by Jung’s consenting to attend.
He also took a leading part in the discussions, held on the terrace after the lectures, or at Frau Fröbe’s own round table.
The lectures were enriched that year by the French professor Louis Massignon who somehow managed to attend.
He had lectured before the war at Eranos, from 1937 to 1939, and we had all appreciated his lectures on Islam and his experience of Islamic countries.
I no longer remember how he managed these appearances in the midst of the war, but I know we were pleased to see him.
Another addition to the lectures in 1943 was Prof. Hugo Rahner from Innsbruck.
He belonged to a Jesuit community which had taken refuge from the Nazis in Switzerland.
He continued to lecture at Eranos all the while his order was in Switzerland.
He was a specialist on the writings of the Fathers of the Church, a well-known author and an unusually good lecturer, as well as a charming personality.
Jung had much more time for his alchemical studies and writing during the war than he had ever had before.
He still had a very large practice, but with most of his foreign patients and pupils segregated by the war in their own countries, he no longer had to work such long hours.
He had already given up his lecturing and the children’s dreams seminar at the E.T.H. in 1941, and for the first time since the “confrontation with the unconscious” he had some time for himself, freed from the pressure that had been incessant since 1919.
He still went every other Saturday evening to the lecture at the Psychological Club.
He repeated his Eranos lectures there, for naturally only a very small percentage of the club had heard them in Ascona.
He also had small discussion groups from time to time, and no one sincerely asked him for help without response.
But at last he had time to write books on alchemy, as he had been wanting to do for so long.
The first result was Psychology and Alchemy, completed, to judge by the date of the preface, by January, 1943. The first Swiss edition, however, was not published until 1944.
Although Parts II and III had originally been his Eranos lectures of 1935 and 1936, they were so much revised, enlarged, and rewritten that they seemed almost new to his readers, and the long and particularly illuminating introduction and the end of the book were entirely new.
Psychology and Alchemy had hardly been completed before Jung started on his opus magnum, the Mysterium Coniunctionis.
The first chapters of that book were all written before Jung’s illness in 1944. Although the suffering of the war was always hard for Jung to bear, World War II was nevertheless an exceedingly creative time for him.
The year 1943 brought the loss of two very dear friends: Heinrich Zimmer and Peter Baynes.
In 1940, Professor Zimmer had left Oxford—where he never felt able to take root, although he made a good connection with the Analytical Psychology Club in London and made friends with Peter Baynes—and with his family had gone to New York.
We knew at the time only that he was teaching at Columbia University and was apparently all set for a successful new career in America, when he died quite suddenly on March 18, 1943, of pneumonia.
We heard, however, after the war from a mutual friend that once again, as in Oxford, he had been unable to take root and never felt at home in New York.
The language was a great difficulty, he never really mastered English, and this friend—who was American by birth but completely bilingual—said that he always insisted on talking German, even in public, which was naturally anything but politic.
Jung reminded us that he had always been apprehensive, on account of the extraordinarily childlike quality of Zimmer’s hands, about his ability to grasp a difficult reality.
It was a tragedy that he had to leave his beloved Heidelberg, and one feels that if only he had been able to remain, he need perhaps not have died at the early age of fifty-two.
Peter Baynes, who had been Jung’s assistant more than once and a member of the Zürich club for twenty-three years, was an even closer friend, so it was a great shock to hear that he had also died, in England on September 6, 1943.
He was eight or nine years older than Zimmer and had been suffering from a duodenal ulcer for some years.
But, as we heard later, he had died quite unexpectedly of a tumor on the brain, which no one, not even Jung, had for a moment suspected.
He was an irreparable loss to Jungian psychology in England and his death was a great grief to everyone who knew him well, for he was, and always had been, a most lovable person.
Jung was much distressed by both these deaths.
Perhaps the greatest milestone in Jung’s attainment of wholeness—with the solitary exception of his “confrontation with the unconscious”—was provided by his illness in 1944.
I do not wish to assert that Jung attained complete wholeness; it would go against his whole Weltanschauung for me to make any such claim.
He always said the Self, and therefore wholeness, reached far beyond our comprehension, and that we should regard everything we learned as a temporary stage on the way to comprehension.
Therefore I would claim only that Jung attained the maximum amount of wholeness that was attainable to him.
Early in 1944—on February 11 to be exact—Jung was out for his daily walk.
Since his return from India in 1938, he had continued to walk as much as possible, and when the war gave him more leisure he walked several miles every day.
He was a mile or two from his home when he slipped rather badly on the snow.
This was very unusual, for right into old age Jung was unusually surefooted in snow.
He did not fall but felt that he had hurt his leg seriously.
He limped to the nearest house—fortunately it was quite close—and telephoned for a taxi to take him home.
His own physician, Dr. Jakob Stahel Sr., who was the very pattern of the old family doctor, was away, but his son, then a very young doctor, came at once and diagnosed quite correctly that Jung had broken his fibula.
He insisted on Jung’s going immediately to a large private hospital called Hirslanden on the outskirts of Zürich, and put him under a very able young surgeon.
Like many surgeons, particularly at the beginning of their work, this one probably thought more of what was right for the broken leg than for an active old man of nearly seventy, so he insisted on the limb being kept quite still.
At first Jung read his alchemistic books quite happily, but soon his active body rebelled against inactivity, and about ten days after entering the hospital he had a very bad thrombosis of the heart and two others which went to his lungs.
It was totally unexpected.
Emma Jung was in town and was contacted with great difficulty. She stayed in the hospital with him—she was able to obtain a room in another wing
but quite close—until he could go home. Jung was at death’s door and remained so for several weeks.
His life was saved by a heart specialist—Jung spoke of him as Dr. H. in Memories who was perhaps the most famous heart specialist of his time, at all events in Switzerland.
As Jung related in Memories, he became very worried about his doctor because he had seen him in a vision “in his primal form, as a basileus of Kos.
After his illness, particularly after Dr. H. died, Jung was still distressed by the idea that this death might be connected with his own almost miraculous recovery.
He pointed out that Zeus himself was said to have killed Aesculapius by a thunderbolt because he had brought back patients from death.
Later, in the Aesculapian sanctuaries, doctors might save any lives they could among their patients but were forbidden to bring anyone back from the dead.
Should they break this law, they had to pay for it with their own lives. Jung was somewhat consoled, however, when he heard that a friend of Dr. H.—another well-known Zürich specialist—had been distressed about him several months before Jung’s illness began.
He said that he had implored Dr. H. to watch his step and to permit a thorough medical examination, because, as his doctor friend stated, he looked and seemed really unwell.
Like most doctors, Dr. H., however, did not follow the advice he would certainly have given to any of his patients, and was evidently not in good health, even prior to Jung’s illness.
This vision took place when Jung was very near death.
As he related in Memories, he felt he was leaving the earth, which he could see below him as if from a thousand miles in the air, and felt “the whole phantasmagoria of earthly existence” fall away or being stripped from him, until he was left with just what he was.
In other words, he was left with the degree of wholeness he had attained during his earthly life.
At first there was a sense of annihilation, as everything familiar was stripped from him, then this became of no consequence, for he had everything he was and “that was everything.”
Jung was on the point of entering a temple hollowed out of a “gigantic dark block” of “tawny granite,” which he was longing to do because he knew all his questions would be answered there, for he would meet all the people to whom he really belonged and these were those who knew the answers to his burning questions.
Just before he entered, Dr. H. floated up in his primal form from the earth and said that he had been delegated to bring Jung a message: there was a protest
against his leaving the earth, he had no right to do so and must return. Jung was profoundly disappointed, and at that point the vision ceased.
This was the only time I know of in his whole life that Jung lost all desire to live; for several weeks he longed only to get back into the reality he had experienced in his visions and took a long time to regain his old conviction of the importance of this life, or rather that he had not already lived everything that belonged to his life on earth.
He did eventually regain this conviction and lived another seventeen years, during which he wrote his most important books and attained still further wholeness.
There were many strange synchronistic events in the environment during the time that Jung lay between life and death. I will mention only two of these.
One of his pupils had the worst attack of flu of her life and was also very near death.
Then she had a sudden vision of Jung approaching her urgently, saying: “I have decided to go back to the earth; get back into your own body as quickly as you can.”
Another pupil, who also had a very bad attack of that year’s virulent flu was suddenly horrified to find that her watch and the clock beside her bed had
stopped at exactly the same moment.
She was terrified that this might mean that Jung had died at that moment and went through great agony before she could get news of him.
As regards the “protest from the earth,” there was great suffering among Jung’s friends and pupils because no bulletins concerning his condition were issued, and it was next to impossible to get any reliable news.
This gave rise to wild and alarming rumors.
This custom is typically Swiss; illness is regarded as something that concerns only the family, so no bulletins are given out—even on famous people—as they are in other countries.
When the worst was over, I had occasion to talk over this past situation with another of Jung’s pupils who, not being Swiss herself could not understand it.
She felt somewhat bitter toward Emma Jung for not having realized the situation.
I suggested that perhaps it was right psychologically, for perhaps everybody around Jung had to suffer the maximum in order to recall him to the earth.
At that moment there was a loud report in an old tallboy in my room. (Immediately we were both reminded of the time this happened in Freud’s bookcase.14)
My friend said: “Why then it must be true.”
Immediately there was a second report, then no more.
Although Mrs. Jung was sorry when she learned how much suffering her silence had caused, and Jung himself gave orders that, in any future illness of his, regular and completely truthful bulletins were to be issued, I have always wondered whether that Swiss custom was not a blessing in disguise.
Jung had already written the early chapters of the Mysterium Coniunctionis, and before we consider the most important visions of his illness, those of the hieros gamos (the sacred marriage), I must anticipate for a moment, in order to report something he said after his illness to Marie-Louise von Franz, who worked with him on the Mysterium Coniunctionis both before and after his illness.
He said of his previous work on the book: “All I have written is correct. I need not change a word, but I only realize its full reality now.”
He even told me once that his illness had been necessary, or he could never have known the full reality of the mysterium coniunctionis.
In fact, it was presumably only because of his long and arduous work on the subject before that these visions, which he described as “the most tremendous things” that he “ever experienced,” were revealed to him.
Jung had suffered since early childhood from the opposites at war.
One need only remember this suffering when forced to think the blasphemous thought about God and his beautiful Basel Cathedral.
In fact, it started even earlier, at Laufen before he was four when he began to distrust the Lord Jesus, from realizing the dark, destructive side of this radiantly positive figure.
We have also seen how he suffered from the two world wars, when the opposites clashed against each other on a worldwide scale.
Perhaps it needs this amount of suffering from the separated and warring opposites to appreciate their union, as Jung appreciated the unique visions of the
mysterium coniunctionis or hieros gamos, which he had every night for about three weeks while he was dangerously ill and while the days were still unmitigated hell.
He told me later that, after those three weeks were over, this blissful state returned only once for about twelve hours when he had a pulse of 180.
He reported these visions fully in Memories.
They all concerned the hieros gamos, the mystical marriage, the coniunctio.
First he felt himself to be in the garden of pomegranates, where the wedding of Tifereth with Malchuth was taking place.
Or it was Rabbi Simon ben Jochai, whose disciples and friends celebrated his death as a marriage in the Beyond.
Later it was the Marriage of the Lamb in a festively decorated Jerusalem.
And, as the last image, it was All-father Zeus and Hera, who at the end of a wide valley, which formed a classical amphitheater, were consummating the mystic marriage, as it is described in the Iliad.
During all these visions he reported that he felt in an utterly transformed state.
It was as if I were in an ecstasy. I felt as though I were floating in space, as though I were safe in the womb of the universe—in a tremendous void, but filled with the highest possible feeling of happiness. “This is eternal bliss,” I thought. This cannot be described; it is too wonderful.
When he was released from the hospital, he was still feeling, as it were, homesick for this “eternal bliss” and often said we would experience freedom from the tension and clash between the opposites only after death, as if it were “a consummation devoutly to be wished.”
But many years later, after his “belief in the world had returned” and he was doing his “best to form a conception of life after death” and to describe this conception in the chapter “On Life after Death, he evidently felt that to think of his ecstasy as the usual condition of life in the Beyond would be to much “wishful thinking.”
He summed up his conclusion:
To follow out the thought that involuntarily comes to me: the world, I feel, is far too unitary for there to be a hereafter in which the rule of opposites is completely absent. There, too, is nature, which after its fashion is also God’s. The world into which we enter after death will be grand and terrible, like God and like all of nature that we know. Nor can I conceive that suffering should entirely cease. Granted that what I experienced in my 1944 visions—liberation from the burden of the body, and perception of meaning—gave me the deepest bliss. Nevertheless, there was darkness too, and a strange cessation of human warmth. Remember the black rock to which I came! It was dark and of the hardest granite. What does that mean?
He spoke afterward of that “strange cessation of human warmth” and said that, looking back, it seemed very strange to him that, on the point of entering the temple which he knew was death, he had not once thought of anyone on earth or felt any regret at leaving them.
In fact, he told me later that the “world of Europe and all my life there had quite disappeared; that is, I remembered there had been some interlude of the kind but it was of no importance whatever.”
The only earthly thought that crossed his mind was that he hoped no one would disturb his pipes, as if somewhere he knew he was going to need them again.
It was naturally very difficult and painful for his wife to endure his ardent longing for death and the temporary cessation of his usual human warmth.
It is therefore interesting to remember that after her own death she evidently experienced exactly the same thing, judging by the dream-vision Jung had of her soon after she died.
He wrote that he saw her in the prime of her life, wearing the most beautiful dress she ever had.
“Her expression was neither joyful nor sad, but, rather objectively wise and understanding, without the slightest emotional reaction, as though she were beyond the mist of affects.”
Jung commented on this dream and the result of his own visions: The objectivity which I experienced in this dream and in the visions is part of a
completed individuation. It signifies detachment from valuations and from what we call emotional ties. In general, emotional ties are very important to human beings. But they still contain projections, and it is essential to withdraw these projections in order to attain to oneself and to objectivity. Emotional relationships are relationships of desire, tainted by coercion and constraint; something is expected from the other person, and that makes him and ourselves unfree. Objective cognition lies hidden behind the attraction of the emotional relationship; it seems to be the central secret. Only through objective cognition is the real coniunctio possible.”
This idea of “objective cognition” is very difficult to realize, for it is essentially beyond the experience of most people, including my own.
But it most certainly changed and developed Jung to an incalculable extent.
As I see it, however, it means seeing things from the mountain and being freed from all identification with the valley.
Before his illness one often felt he was on the mountain; one could say that the absolute knowledge in the unconscious was accessible to him, as it might be to an immortal; but he was also often completely in the valley.
After his illness he seemed to be much more completely on the mountain, but at all times he could descend into the valley and speak and act in its terms.
Of course, I do not mean to assert that he was in any way freed from the general human ills that beset one in the valley, for, as he said, it might seem “a vain illusion to deem oneself beyond what is human.”
He still had to go through a great deal of ill-health and was still liable to be annoyed, particularly by stupidity.
Perhaps his attitude to annoyance can best be explained by an incident some years before during a discussion at the club.
Jung said that when one lost one’s temper, the battle was already lost. Emma Jung objected that in some situations anger was the only suitable reaction.
He agreed with her but added: “Only if you could just as well react without anger; to be carried away by or possessed by anger is always a defeat.”
Jung said to me more than once that one was never beyond any human emotion, such as anger or jealousy, but one could always know it.
In his chapter on “Visions” he gave the most extraordinary description of his experience, which shows us the difference in standpoint between “mountain and valley” very closely.
We shy away from the word “eternal” but I can describe the experience only as the ecstasy of a non-temporal state in which present, past, and future are one. Everything that happens in time had been brought together into a concrete whole. Nothing was distributed over time, nothing could be measured by temporal concepts. The experience might best be defined as a state of feeling, but one which cannot be produced by imagination. How can I imagine that I exist simultaneously the day before yesterday, today, and the day after tomorrow? There would be things which would not yet have begun, other things which would be indubitably present, and others again which would already be finished—and yet all this would be one. The only thing that feeling could grasp would be a sum, an iridescent whole, containing all at once expectation of a beginning, surprise at what is now happening, and satisfaction or disappointment with the result of what has happened. One is interwoven into an indescribable whole and yet observes it with complete objectivity.
This presumably portrays the quintessence of what can be experienced on the mountain.
While one is in the body, it would clearly be impossible to remain permanently outside time, for time is the condition, the essential limitation, of our earthly existence.
Looking back on how Jung was in those seventeen years between his illness and his death,
I realize that, though the mountain had been accessible to him for over a quarter of a century, since the “confrontation with the unconscious,” its quintessence was first revealed to him during his 1944 illness, and that this gave him a far greater objectivity than he had ever attained before.
There was also a vision or experience—not mentioned in Memories—which he described to Emma Jung and myself very vividly, when I visited him in the hospital during his early convalescence.
Probably it was due to the accessibility of this timeless wholeness that he was able to go on living so completely after the blows of Toni Wolff’s death in 1953 and that of his wife in 1955.
I never heard him speak of it later, but he told us then that as he was recovering from the very worst of his illness, he felt that his body had been dismembered and cut up into small pieces.
Then, over quite a long period, it was slowly collected and put together again with the greatest care.
This is a very interesting parallel to the widespread primitive rituals that were experienced by shamans or medicine men.
There are innumerable such examples all over the world, described by Mircea Eliade in his interesting book on shamanism.
For example, both in Siberia and Australia the candidate for shamanism “is subjected to an operation by semi-divine beings or ancestors, in which his body is dismembered and his internal organs and bones are renewed.”
In South America, as in Australia or Siberia, “both spontaneous vocation and the quest for initiation involve either a mysterious illness or a more or less symbolic ritual of mystical death, sometimes suggested by a dismemberment of the body and renewal of organs.”
Very frequently crystals or other symbolic stones are introduced into the renewed body.
I remember Jung saying that day that he had been obliged to do most of or all the reassembling himself, so it is interesting that Eliade wrote: “The primitive magician, the medicine man or shaman is not only a sick man, he is above all, a sick man who has been cured, who has succeeded in curing himself.”
Then idea always is that the body is put together better than it had been before.
I do not know if Jung remembered any of these parallels.
I think he was too ill to do so at the time, and he did not mention anything of the kind.
He spoke mainly of the physical side and of what an almost intolerable effort it had been in his weakened state to reassemble the whole body.
We mentioned this parallel to becoming a medicine man and how much it changed Jung, when speaking of his “confrontation with the unconscious.”
Although as a rule there is only one initiation, yet sometimes in an emergency, for example, when a great disaster threatens the tribe, the medicine man also goes through a second.
One should remember in this connection that the first of Jung’s initiations—to use that word—took place during the First World War and the second during the Second.
We simply do not know if this had to be.
Synchronistically—exactly as the end of the “confrontation with the unconscious” coincided with peace coming to the world —D-Day, which was the beginning of the end of the Second World War, took place while Jung was still in Hirslanden hospital, but after he had overcome his illness and was well on the road to convalescence.
When his body was once more assembled, Jung must have still been in the depths of the unconscious, for he told Marie-Louise von Franz that he first reexperienced his body as that of a big fish.
This was such a realistic experience that for some time, whenever he was fed with spoonfuls of soup, he felt anxious about whether it would not flow out again at his gills!
In early July, about five months after his accident, Jung was at last pronounced well enough to go home.
He stayed for some hours on the first floor—his own rooms were on the second floor—and he told me afterward that he wandered around their large room, picking up all the objects on the shelves and tables.
He said it was as if he had to assure himself that everything was as it had been before his illness, for it seemed to him that he had been so far away and for so long that it was hardly possible that everything in his home could have remained unchanged.
It was not until the spring of 1945 that he was again allowed to live a very modified version of what his life had been before.
In the meantime, he led a life that seemed to him very strange, a period in which he had more time for himself than ever before.
He worked on the Mysterium Coniunctionis with great enthusiasm, but was not strong enough to do more than at most two hours a day.
Marie-Louise von Franz saw a great deal of him during those months, for she collaborated with him on that book both before and after his illness, and had continued her research work without interruption during the time he was in the hospital.
She therefore had a great deal of the greatest interest to show him.
At that time, he intended to go straight on with his opus magnum but this plan was interrupted, and he was to publish several other books before he
was able to finish the Mysterium Coniunctionis.
At the time we are considering, however, he was still working direct on the Mysterium, and since he could work only for a short time every day he
had a great deal of leisure.
He formed the habit at that time of seeing one person every afternoon, not for analysis but for a friendly talk.
This was the time we heard about the visions, which he afterward published more briefly in Memories.
He remained from July, 1944, until the spring of 1945 in Küsnacht, for although he was longing for Bollingen it was not a suitable place for convalescence.
The life there was intentionally primitive, with no modern conveniences, and it was not until April that his doctor allowed him to go, fourteen months after his accident.
Naïvely we all thought that going back to Bollingen would be a great pleasure for him.
But I vividly remember a walk with him, just after his return to Küsnacht, when my illusions were rudely shattered.
On being asked how he had enjoyed it, he replied: “It was hell.”
He then explained that he had not realized, in the comfortable life at Küsnacht, how little physical effort he could make, but at Bollingen he was reminded of that at every touch and turn.
He did not stay very long those Easter holidays, for he realized he would have to change his whole attitude to the place before he could be happy there again.
He had always done everything himself there—cut wood, draw water, manage his sailing boat, and so on—and of course for several years after such
a bad heart attack he could do none of these things for himself.
It was not the primitive life he minded; right to the end he steadfastly refused his friends’ entreaties to have at least one room with modern conveniences.
It was the helplessness of seeing jobs that needed doing and not being able to do them.
He faced the whole thing squarely, and by the summer holidays could once more be perfectly happy at Bollingen.
But this had required a very painful readaptation.
Like so many things that are sacrificed, all those things eventually returned to him, at least to some extent.
Soon after he got back from Bollingen in the spring of 1945, Jung took up a very modified form of his former life.
He no longer had lectures or a seminar at the E.T.H. and, although Basel University had given him a full professorship in 1943, he was regretfully unable to take up any work there.
In fact, he tried to give up his professorship immediately after his illness, since he felt sure he would never be able to do the work attached, but the university insisted on his grandfather’s university, where he had done the whole of his own medical training.
But he seldom gave a lecture after his illness and the added fatigue of the journey to Basel made it, of course, impossible.
The war meanwhile was slowly drawing to a close. After D-Day the Allies never looked back, and on May 7, 1945, the war in Europe came to an end.
This was naturally a great relief to Jung, who so hated war, but it was not such a well-marked event as it had been in 1918, for the war in the Pacific, which involved a great many Europeans, dragged on until later in the summer.
During this interregnum Jung celebrated his seventieth birthday, on July 26, 1945.
Since no foreigners had yet come to Zürich, he was still able to keep it on a more or less private scale.
It was not until his seventy-fifth, eightieth, and eighty-fifth birthdays that he could no longer prevent large celebrations.
He enjoyed small celebrations as much as he disliked them on a big scale.
His immediate family circle had become so large—all his children were married by this time and all of them had several children who were then growing up—so that family dinner parties were always quite as large gatherings as he really liked, especially after his 1944 illness.
Therefore, the chief celebration for his seventieth birthday was a family dinner.
However, he also had a tea party in his garden on the day itself, to which he invited all his nearest pupils and friends.
There was a marvelous atmosphere at that party, for we were all so deeply thankful, after the fright of the year before, that he was still with us to celebrate the day.
By this time his health had greatly improved; in fact, visitors were inclined to think he seemed as well as before his illness.
But his heart was always a cause for anxiety, and he had to have frequent electrocardiograms to check on its condition.
Nevertheless, he was well enough to lecture at the Psychological Club to a small audience on June 9, 1945.
The Psychological Club resisted any celebration of Jung’s birthday.
This was mainly because Toni Wolff was still on the committee and, knowing how Jung disliked any larger fuss being made of his birthday, she was able to restrain the club from doing more than giving him a present she thought he would like.
Incidentally, after the war Toni felt it was time there was a change in the presidency of the club, and she retired in favor of C. A. Meier.
But when there was great difficulty in finding a club secretary, she immediately undertook this arduous and rather thankless post and worked even harder than she had as president.
This was characteristic of Toni; she always did what she thought was best for the club and never bothered about her own prestige or power.
Emma Jung told me some weeks before the birthday that Dr. Jolande Jacobi had been eager to found an institute as a seventieth birthday present and a surprise for Jung.
Emma had been quite sure, and I fully agreed, that it would be a most unwelcome surprise, and had managed to dissuade Dr. Jacobi.
At that time Jung had entertained no idea of an institute, and in fact felt it would not suit his psychology.
When he heard about it after his birthday, he was grateful to his wife for discouraging the idea.
On August 6, 1945, the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and at last put an end to the war in the Pacific.
Was aghast at the suffering involved, but I think would probably have welcomed Colonel Laurens van der Post’s book, The Night of the New Moon, which proves to me how necessary it was.
At all events, 1945 saw the end of the worldwide clash of the opposites and left Jung much freer to devote his main attention to their union in his Mysterium Coniunctionis.
Jung much enjoyed his contact with Laurens van der Post, which began a few years after the war ended.
Laurens was one of the rare people with whom Jung could communicate concerning his living experience of Africa, its beauty, and the problems of its primitive world.
Although Jung often mentioned his loneliness in Memories, he once told me that though there was no one person with whom he could communicate all “the things that seemed important” to him, there was yet usually someone available for each of these things.
Laurens filled this role to perfection regarding the deeper side of his experience in Africa.
Like Zimmer, he became a friend not only of Jung but of many of us. On June 6, 1972, he gave the speech at the memorial meeting which is held by the C. G. Jung Institute every year on the day Jung died, and everyone agreed it was one of the best speeches, if not the best, that had ever been given. ~Laurens Van Der Post, Jung: and The Story of Our Time, Pages 192-206