Jung-Kirsch Letters

Dr. med. James Kirsch
Hayarkon str. 101
Tel-Aviv
8 June 1934

Honored Dear Dr. Jung:

Please accept my most sincere thanks for your detailed letter and your kind willingness to discuss the Jewish problem.

Particularly I would like to thank you for accepting my writing with such gracious understanding.

I have to admit that, without believing some of the specific accusations, my image of you was somewhat darkened, especially after Fraulein Wolff told me that, if you had been a German, you would have voted for the Nazis.

I realize now that I was mistaken in this respect, or rather that I misunderstood you.

I fell into the trap of accepting a collective prejudice, where you were intending to give me a personal criticism.

I did not go so far as believing you capable of a non-individual stupidity like anti-Semitism, but thought it necessary to inform you of these rumors, and since they’ve produced such a reaction from you,

in the form of your clear and unequivocal letter, a great burden has been lifted from my heart.

I need not reassure you that no further proofs are necessary.

With great joy I welcome your successful achievement at the Nauheim Congress in today’s Germany.

The following small memory from youth may make my reaction to you understandable.

From my ninth year on, I had a very good Christian friend; he was my chum.

When I was twelve and a half, from one day to the next, this friend stopped talking to me and never said another word.

For an entire week I couldn’t find out from him the reason for his strange behavior.

I searched for all sorts of personal reasons in myself, of course, but found none.

Finally I learned from classmates the motivation for the sudden break-up: I was a Jew “squared.”

A thing like that sticks and shows the whole ambiguity of being a Jew in the midst of other peoples.

I recalled your wonderful explanations during the Berlin Seminar, where you demonstrated how the idea of ritual murder was projected onto Christians and later onto Jews, and the underlying subjective process experienced by the person originating such projections.

So I also wondered where the hook might be located
in you, on which the Jews can hang the projection of anti-Semitism.

Obviously, I am taking into account the Jew’s readiness to cry “anti-Semitism” whenever anyone expresses a personal criticism.

I think it’s possible to project anti-Semitism onto you because you have opinions about the Jew which may be correct, but only insofar as they reflect the Galut existence, as it is called in the Kabbalah, the banishment of the Shekhinah (the Jewish anima).

Essentially you list four points to substantiate your interpretation of Jewish psychology.

They have had no culture of their own.

1) In my opinion, the Jews did have their own culture. They lived a thoroughly creative life in pre-Christian times.

True, they did not leave behind temples, artworks, or great music, but instead a great book, the Bible, which is a great literary collection of most diverse and antithetical, individual and national experiences of this people.

This literary monument is governed by one theme: the relationship to God and God’s predilection of Israel, God’s authority among the Jewish people.

This leading idea was absolutely capable of creating its own culture, and it is imprinted on the Jewish soul. It is amazing to discover in analyses how vividly this Jewish antiquity still lives in the Jewish soul of today.

Of course, there are plenty of broadly oriental ideas in the Bible, but just as the Bible-Babel dispute has shown, a creative conception existed in ancient Israel, distinct from

other oriental cultures. It’s certainly similar to the relationship between German culture and European.

As shown by Dr. Haussermann, the significance of the great prophetic personalities was based on their connection with the unconscious.

In his work, unfortunately, he did not mention the biblical texts that reflect the interpretation of dreams and other manifestations of the unconscious.

You would see then that they conform exactly to yours.

Just last week I wrote an essay for the Palestinian public which won’t tell you anything new, but may be of interest to you in the overall context of these things.

I’ll put it in the mail to you in the same post.

Now it is interesting – and with this begins the problem of post-biblical Judaism – that a new concept of the relationship with the divine emerged at the time of Jeremiah.

The Jerusalem priesthood believed that national misfortune could be avoided, and God could be appeased, if ritual rules – they created new ones and codified old ones – were adhered to as closely as possible.

A fence was erected around the teachings. It was the general principle to build as many new fences as possible.

As a consequence the Jews got stuck in the narrows.  In an effort to escape this narrows, they now needed other cultures.

This practice of staying behind fences is de facto a fear of the unconscious.

At this point began a stabilizing of the level of consciousness attained up to that point, and a desperate self-seclusion, avoiding new expansions of consciousness through the experience of the unconscious.

Jesus and his way of redemption were necessarily rejected, a process which you’ve described precisely in Types, in the chapter on Prometheus and Epimetheus.  relative consciousness, which you cite as a second point, has an entirely different character from (for example) the Chinese.

As far as I can judge the Chinese intellectual, the Chinese path led to a whole – “completion” not “perfection”.

Jewish consciousness, on the other hand, has the characteristic that something essential is missing; something suppressed lives in the Jewish soul, which induces even in the educated Jew the most peculiar affects and hysterical reactions.

This rejection of Christ has, it seems to me (Jews will never admit this) determined the fate of the Jews. From a Jewish viewpoint, Christianity is its shadow (and also vice versa, by the way, but that’s the Christians’ concern).

It’s historically demonstrable that in every era when the Jewish people attempted to realize the idea of the Messiah, great disturbances also erupted in the Christian world. Sabbatai Zwi  the religious wars, Zionism National Socialism.

There’s a striking coincidence here.

Concerning the third point, nomadism, I would like to believe that this phenomenon does not represent a nomadic nature but rather a restless wandering on the basis of a repressed complex.

For that reason, too, the Christian legend has portrayed the Jew as Ahasuerus.

You certainly know many people who have become restless through being cut off from the unconscious, who project the anima and seek salvation in every possible and impossible way, e.g. even in psychoanalysis, but never within themselves.

The same is true for the Jews as a people.

After the destruction of the temple, too, the Jews led a life in exile which was distinctly their own and – one may even say – they developed their own culture.

Essentially it consisted of preservation and annotation (Talmud!) and had something otherworldly about it.

At stake was always the preservation of what was their own, as the struggle with Hellenism clearly shows.

The Jews assimilated Hellenism, they weren’t devoured by it.

Thus I have to concede to you – and this is the fourth point – that Greek antiquity had a great influence on Jewish psychology, but compared to what gave Jewish antiquity its character, it had only secondary importance.

Jewish culture in the Christian era presents a difficult and many-sided problem, but one can surely say it existed. It was simply of no consequence in world history any more.

What was remarkable about the Spanish-Arabic period was that two different cultures lived there symbiotically.

There is no question that Spanish-Jewish culture was inspired by the Spaniards, but Jewish culture made its very own contribution, as its great Hebrew poets, philosophers and physicians show.

Also, at a later time, the powerful movement of Chassidism proves the creative energy of the Jewish people.

But this creative achievement of Chassidism was very short-lived, because it failed to find the historic thread from the prophets to Jesus and did not have the strength to deal with rabbinical formalism and the “ethical” conception of religion.

The evidence of Jewish culture is that the Hebrew language has survived almost continually, and all great works by Jews have been written in Hebrew (or Aramaic). (Zohar,86 Chassidism, Ibn Gabirol, Jehuda Halevi !
)
With the French Revolution a new historic era begins also for the Jewish people.

Here begins the purge of Jews, dissolving the Jewish ways of life which had existed heretofore, the disavowal of Jewishness, assimilation and cessation of the living Hebrew language, which from then on was used only literarily by the so-called “Maskilim” (representatives of the Enlightenment).

Only in this period, when the Jew could no longer lead his own life in any way, and felt himself to be a member of other nations, can I accept what you, dear Doctor, write about the Jews, namely that they are the upholders and promoters of other cultures.

The fact that the Jews repressed their Jewishness during the era of assimilation explains – besides the Christ-complex – also the psychological break of personalities like Heine, as well as the soulless materialism of such inspiring but destructive individuals as Marx and Freud.

I find your criticism of Freud essentially correct; it matches the image of the Jews during their period of assimilation in the previous
century, and such Jews still exist today in droves.

I also understand, and it appears historically necessary, that the Germanic soul has protested against Freud’s life threatening psychology of godless- and homelessness and – thanks to you – has discovered the creative depths.

As two thousand years of suffering shows and especially the sorrowful events of the year 1933 – the Jew has injured himself gravely by his negative valuation of the unconscious.

Since Moses Hess (self-emancipation), Jews have been involved in a severe and bitter psychological analysis of Galut Jewishness.

Extensive literature exists on the subject which elucidates particularly the psychological, sociological, and “salvation-historical” situation of the Jews.

The Jews no longer wanted to wait for the Messiah sent by God; they wanted to put an end to the Galut.

Again they take their fate into their own hands and dare to be unhistorical, by trying to start ab ova.

Thus they returned to the historic soil of Palestine.

Conditions and circumstances are fundamentally different here than in any of the lands of the Galut, but what will come of it is, of course, an entirely open question.

In order to respond properly to your letter, I had to give you this detailed account of my interpretation of history.

You once told me your way could be very meaningful for the Jews.

Since I’ve become very familiar with the Bible and have been living in Palestine, I understand now more than ever how enormously
important for us is your vivid conception of the unconscious and the approach to the experience of the unconscious.

For me, at least, it was only through you that it became possible to understand the experiences of the prophets, the Messianic idea, and to rediscover what was lost in the consciousness of the Jewish people since the time of the prophets.

It is the pure draught from the unconscious.

It goes without saying that for now this is only happening in a few individuals, but I believe that in this way the magic spell, the Ahasuerus curse, will be broken.

In closing, I would like to inform you that Dr. Neumann, who for some time apparently has been living in Tel Aviv, just around the comer from my place, has not yet found an occasion to get in touch with me.

To be ignored in this manner does not really surprise me since as I mentioned to Fraulein Wolff in Berlin he was already describing himself in June 1933 as the only Jungian analyst in Palestine.

In any case, Zionism is a great experiment, which finds its foundation and its meaning in the fact that the Jews believe in their creative strength.

Whether such creativity exists and will give the Jewish people a new character will be revealed in time.

I strongly believe in it and am unconditionally bound to this experiment.

To be an upholder and promoter of a culture would not give the slightest meaning to my existence.

I would prefer to discover even the smallest truth, as long as it grows on my pile of manure, rather than disseminate the largest truth to a foreign culture.

I am planning to come to Ascona in August and hope to be able to speak to you then, but I’d be very happy if you would send me a reply to this letter.

With my most cordial greetings, As always,

yours truly,

JAMES KIRSCH ~James Kirsch, Jung-Kirsch Letters, Page Page 48-54