By David Chirko, A.B.

Psychologically oriented researcher & author

Sudbury, Ontario

…the inability to mourn is…an example of a long-lasting group-psychological phenomenon. – Mitscherlich and Mitscherlich (1975, xvi)

Group Psychology of a Sinister System

Psychologist, psychoanalytic historian, and chess master Reuben Fine (1979), describes how aggression impacts large groups, like the activities of the Third Reich toward Germany’s citizens during and after World War II and the Holocaust (1939-1945).  He avers that Alexander Mitscherlich, “…the leading German analyst of the postwar era….” (p. 434)1 was perturbed by the flagitious attitudes of his countrymen—the German body politic–who worked conjunctly with the ideals of National Socialism.  Fine says Mitscherlich correctly stated that social violence cannot be grasped by the psychoanalyst alone.  Thus, empirical sociological research should also address the magnitude of intrapsychic conflict involved.  Warfare, where unconscious motivation couples with objectives that seem rational, cannot be understood as a collective process if a society’s institutional functions are ignored.  For it is, Fine explains, “…through them…not only the rational aims and regulatory tasks but also…aggressive needs of a leadership group can be transmitted to the whole population” (p. 229).  Further, this originates in individual needs, where values are subverted, when what they consider radically unacceptable in peacetime is normalized during wartime.  Therefore, they might now support and reward the economic and political quest of a hegemony.  Fine also says that Mitscherlich ascertained extensive “…self-alienation….” (p. 434) experienced by Germans after the war, because of their inability to mourn over those who had suffered under fascism, thereby leaving them in an illusory frame of mind. 

Text That Defined A Sociopolitical Collective

The Inability to Mourn: Principals of Collective Behavior (1975), by Mitscherlich and his fellow analyst and wife, Margarete (nee Nielsen; half Danish)2, first scrutinized the phenomenon of mourning, following the spoils of fascism after the Second World War.  American European history expert Margot Drekmeier (1976), in her review of the aforementioned text, explains how it psychoanalytically delved the development of the defenses against remorse, shame, and guilt in Germans over what their fellow, multifarious citizens perpetrated, but suppressed.  Therein, many Germans thought they were immune from any personal responsibility.  However, as she declares, “The reality…being…disguised is the…destruction of millions of Jews, Poles, and Russians, and…sacrifice of millions of Germans and others….” (p.328).  She explains that the Mitscherlichs described how resistance—both individual and collectively endorsed, with its ensuing conflicts–fomented pathological denial, repression, and projection, which assisted the Germans as a people to dissociate themselves from the pangs of conscience and a beleaguered self-esteem.  Drekmeier asserts that Germans can appreciate the suffering of others via a “working through,” which is the irrevocable recall of horrendous happenings and one’s implication in them, then facing up to the ambivalence they had toward their Fuhrer, Adolph Hitler.

Mitscherlichs on Mourning

Mourning “…is a painful intrapsychic process that occurs in response to the loss of an important object relationship….” (Auchincloss & Samberg, 2012, p. 159).  Moreover, one must adapt to an altered reality by abandoning the connection to the object (person or group) previously acknowledged, through embracing a relationship with the mentally internal object that is modified.  Loving recollections then become apparent, which maintain healthy human attachments.  Mourning becomes pathological when it is colored by extended and unresolved depression (or melancholia3, as it was earlier called) and may entail deep feelings of guilt and shame.  Mitscherlich and Mitscherlich (1975, p. 26) allude to the 1917 work of Sigmund Freud (1957, p. 246), wherein they declare that with mourning the person feels depleted, however, their personal sense of worth is unwavering.  In the case of melancholia they experience a huge loss of self-esteem, whereby their ego strength is reduced considerably.  Through contagion this can occur on a mass scale.

Mitscherlichs (1975, pp. 27-28) explain that mourning can only happen when one person feels empathy for another person, who completes them through their otherness; a person’s choice of narcissistic object (someone like oneself) is thereby witnessed.  People select the, now gone, objects which will follow their own image, as it acclimatizes itself to their fantasy.  This corresponds to Hitler fulfilling the belief of his greatness in his devotees.  In turn, people projected what they believed to be the great philosophy of Hitler’s onto other German inhabitants, making them unique.  Thus, Hitler did not feel he would have to account for his loss, and Germans had revealed their unworthiness of him, not surfeiting his narcissistic hopes, just as he did not succeed in fulfilling the regular German’s fantasies of omnipotence, as they had expected from him.

Mitscherlichs (pp. 23-24) say that the previous goings-on with the Nazis were de-realized, that is, stripped of any reality.  Therefore, the German people could not mourn for the passing of the Fuhrer as a real person, but as someone who typified a collective ego ideal (see below), because of their defenses against anxiety, guilt and shame.  Germans were dependent on, and handed over responsibility to, Hitler.  He was, ultimately, an internal object for them, who resuscitated and reflected omnipotence.  The Allied powers who defeated Hitler devalued him and this led to the tossing aside of the narcissistic object and, consequently, an indigence of the German people’s ego, followed by their self-directed, personal devaluation.

Key Psychological Entities

Personal ego and social ego

Mitscherlichs (1975) state that it was only recently the personal ego, which “…aspires to independence….” (p. 236) was embraced, thereby opposing cultural mandates to resolve conflict.  The social ego is sculpted by society’s norms and processes, because “…the transmission of information about desirable and undesirable behavior is social” (p. 238).

It was through “…identification, the interlacing and separation of the personal and social ego once more show clearly” (pp. 248-249).  Regarding the social background of fascism, Romanian-born American Jewish historian Eugen Weber (1964) states, “The individual is a product of the clan, taught the sociologist Emile Durkheim…collective consciousness has its own existence, prior to individual consciousness” (p. 8).

Ego ideal and collective ego ideal

Salman Akhtar (2009), says the ego ideal is, “… the inner image of oneself as one wants to become” (p. 89).  It is the counterpart to the conscience or superego, which excoriates one for moral transgressions, leading to guilt.  The ego ideal, on the other hand, punishes one with shame and dejection for falling short of expectations.  When applied at a social level, it becomes the collective ego ideal.

Aggression and ego ideal

Mitscherlichs (1975) say “No…values…alter the fact…humanity is dominated by…a…readiness for aggression.  Furthermore, anyone who…by stimulating projective tendencies, to direct…aggression onto scapegoats, can be certain of…power over men” (p. 87).  This applied to the Nazi approach to German Jewry, Marxists, and Slavs (or Untermensch). 

Mitscherlichs (pp. 287-288) described a fusion of the ego in the people and the ego ideal, involving a leader.  They can then be truculent with their enemies, sans any tinctures of sympathy or guilt via a concerted and excited identification with Hitler.  Fantasies of omnipotence then collectively pervade the masses.  The ego ideal sanctions aggression in such circumstances.  Older, healthy identifications and ideals must reappear to assuage the situation, such as after the war, with mourning.

Origins of Anti-Semitism

Gary R. VandenBos (2015, p. 355) defines ego weakness as that which resides in a conflicted, anxious person who cannot handle stress or frustration, and therefore employs immature defense mechanisms, perhaps becoming neurotic.

Professor Benjamin Y. Fong (2018, p. 759), says that ego weakness has become the psychoanalytic descriptor of the authoritarian personality.  He comments on German born (Jewish/Italian) American social philosopher Theodore W. Adorno, et al’s (1950) characterization of what the authoritarian personality entails: aggression, submission, and conventionalism.

Arab studies professor Fadi A. Bardawil (2018), as well, comments on Adorno, et al; their inchoative point being anti-Semitism is that which becomes the antecedent to fascism.  Adorno, et al emphasized that neurotic mechanisms could not explain it, and that anti-Semites were not psychotic.  Bardawil says that “One of The Authoritarian Personality’s major insights is that anti-Semitism has a functional character.  It is relatively independent of its object” (p.776).  Adorno, et al’s object, unlike Mitscherlichs’, is not mere scapegoatism.  The advantage or utility of anti-Semitism, is that it encompasses, quoting Adorno, et al, “…an intellectual alienation of the individual from society” (1950, p. 618).  Barawil says Adorno, et al asserted the alienated person was disoriented and intimidated by incertitude, befuddled by the complexity and abstractness of the world, ergo, they embraced anti-Semitism—the lucid and simple answer.

Then there is the “Fascist state of the mind,” where the psyche becomes ideologically controlled and all opposition is extirpated.  The complex becomes the simple, sculpting a cocksure state, while an aura of purity permeates.  Being bereft of opposition fashions a moral void, wherein a victim must be selected by the subject to contain such a void and the mental state then becomes an act of violence (Akhtar, 2009, p. 106).

Polish born Jewish American historian Adolph Leschnitzer, in his text, The Magic Background of Modern Anti-Semitism (1956), remarks that Germans resented being surpassed culturally and economically by Jews.  Therefore, “German anti-Semitism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries sprang from antagonism to this tiny group which…achieved…a spectacular rise to prominence….” (p. 89).  Leschnitzer states that anti-Semitism thus instigated the dismantling of the German/Jewish symbiosis.  He also compares anti-Semitism to witchcraft mania, making it magical, and therefore the word “Magic” is used in his book’s moniker (p. ix).  Referring to Mein Kampf,he asseverates that one unifying, nefarious, scapegoating “clear target” (p. 143) was crafted by Hitler to place all of his enemies under—from capitalists to (Marxist) socialists and Russian bolsheviks—that being the Jews.  Moreover, this Nazi primeval horde mentality defines how the German masses thought they were invaded by the Jews—culpable for all of the world’s misfortunes (p. 144).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  German journalist Bernt Engelmann (who served in the Luftwaffe) later echoed much of Leschnitzer’s observations, stating that “Germany did not just lose the war.  It lost one of its richest cultural resources—the German Jew” (1984, OBC).  He documents the enormous contribution Jews made to the arts, humanities, sciences, etc., in Germany.  Therefore, there is cause for modern day Germans to mourn their national cultural loss, too.

Adolph Hitler

Social Philosophy and German Group Character

The “volk,” or “folk,” were “the people” of Germany who were, by Hitler’s standards, the elect of the human race.  Hitler (1927, pp. 384-385) speaks of “folkish,” as a specific philosophical formula—comprehended as an organization–whose principles pertain to a political party in its development.  A means therefore must be constructed for a folkish world view to guide a country going into war.  Enter: the masses–intellectuals and manual laborers (p. 460) would both be significant in leading the cause.  Ultimately, Hitler proclaims, “The folkish philosophy is…distinguished from the Marxist philosophy by the fact it not only recognizes the value of race, but…the importance of…personality…one of the pillars of its entire edifice.  These are the factors which sustain its view of life” (p. 448).  It was imparted to the collective psyche (collective ego ideal) of the German people through propaganda and indoctrination, proclaimed in mass rallies by perfervid oratories. 

Diagnosing the Fuhrer

There are a plethora of psychodiagnostic labels that have been applied to Hitler’s character over the years, and with no record of him ever visiting a psychotherapist of any sort is obfuscating.  Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Norbert Bromberg, with writer/editor Verna Volz Small (1983), came up with the diagnosis of narcissistic and borderline personality disorders, after researching the background of Hitler’s family, his growing up, adult behavior, political actions, and role as Fuhrer. 

However, earlier, German born refugee and American social psychologist and psychoanalyst Erich Fromm (1973), describes Hitler’s character slightly differently as “…extremely narcissistic…sado-masochistic, and necrophilous….”  (p. 460).  Fromm alludes to the observations of psychologist and psychoanalyst Walter Charles Langer (whose parents were German).  More extensively, psychologist Valeria Sabater (2021) covers Langer’s research for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during WWII.  The OSS Hitler Source Book (1943) utilized political psychology and the profiling of offenders, wherein Sabater states that Langer concluded that Hitler was likely “…a neurotic psychopath, a hysteric bordering on schizophrenia.”  Psychologist Henry A. Murray also contributed to the report.  It was published, under Langer (1972), with mixed responses.  Langer, who studied under Anna Freud, consulted members of Hitler’s family, healthcare provider, and friends, including Friedline Wagner (who also aided Murray [1943] with his own psychological profile report). 

Forensic psychologist Stephen Diamond (2014) contends that, “…the ability to…motivate the masses through…oration and messianic vision, such leaders…Murray observes, become the ‘incarnation of the crowd’s unspoken needs….’  At the same time…they are not merely false prophets, but…the…embodiment of evil.”  He also mentions Fromm, who described Hitler’s implacable anger.  Murray took the position, Diamond states, of “…describing him diagnostically as a borderline paranoid schizophrenic and hysterical ‘megalomaniac.’”  Diamond himself comments that “Hitler’s personality included pathological narcissism or…psychopathic narcissism” all to compensate for his inferiority feelings and painful childhood wounds.  Further, this would be tantamount to current criteria, diagnostically, for a narcissistic personality disorder.  He later alludes to Hitler’s bipolar disorder—an affective disorder–so this composite would not fully coalesce with the psychopathic element. 

Criticism of the Diagnostics

British historian and specialist on Nazi Germany, Ian Kershaw (2000), refers to German historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler who, like him, was incredulous regarding Hitler’s medical condition(s) being relevant to policy development and advancement of the Third Reich.  This, because such conditions were arduous to prove with the data available.  For instance, Wehler, regarding ascertainment of Hitler’s sado-masochism, pondered what, scientifically, it would advance (Kershaw, p. 72).  Indeed, personalizing, via Hitler’s supposed psychiatric profile, everything connected with fascism and its affect on the German collective is speculative.  Rather, one should examine what built the Reich: the social conditions and institutional structures and functions, mentioned earlier.  Based on what all of the various clinicians diagnosed, the consensus indicates Hitler possessed, at least, a severe personality disorder (“Psychopathography of Adolph Hitler,” n.d.).  Nevertheless, not everybody possessing such disorder(s) becomes a dictator.


A Modern Psychoanalyst Speaks Out

Psychologist and social historian Roger Frie is a second generation Canadian of German descent, whose first language is German.  His parents and grandparents were involved in World War II, but not in any Nazi collaborative context.  While he was practising psychoanalysis Jewish patients, who either experienced the War or had family that had, would enquire about his cultural background, becoming uncomfortable when he disclosed it, possibly hampering therapy.  Frie states it was then he had to confront the past, or Aufarbeitung, therein ensconcing him in a state of denial and shame, causing him to declare, “We are more thoroughly defined by culture and history than we tend to realize” (2012, p. 219).  Frie therefore understands the conclusions drawn by the Mitscherlichs (1975), that Germans today find it arduous to discuss their country’s past.  The latter thus remind themselves of the Nuremberg trials, which zeroed in on only the biggest culprits, in order to gainsay any guilt involved via their own collective responsibility.  For many Germans’ guilt and shame could be expunged by disconnecting with the past.  Moreover, Frie adds that the Mitscherlichs found that Germans could not easily abandon their heavy identification with Hitler, either.  However, as Frie explains, the past could never be forgotten because of, for example, the student revolts and socio-political row it created in the 1960s in Germany, with their resuscitated focus on history.

Germans, et al, in Media

German-Canadian Congress spokesman Dietrich Kiesewalter (Herron, 1985), spoke out against the tendentious stereotyping of Germans in the news media and movies.  Further, he avers that most of the German soldiers in World War II were merely conscripts and had no voice in the country’s national policy.  Moreover, “Forty years after the…War, we are still implicated…with war crimes that we had nothing to do with.”

Sheri Shefa (2011), reports German-born American thespian, Eric Braeden (The Young and the Restless), disrelished the way Germans were portrayed as dolts and caricatured, in movies and media, after the desistance of World War II.  He was also aghast at the crimes Nazis earlier perpetrated against Jews.  Braeden welcomed reciprocal discussions between Americans, Germans, and Jews through his German American Cultural Society.  However, he said that was not always feasible when, regarding stereotypes of Germans, “…most of the Jewish media…have contributed to perpetuating that image….”  He stated he was filled with guilt, shame, and rancor after visiting a Holocaust Museum in Israel, but opined that there should have been a differentiation between Germans and Nazis—pertaining to who did the crime–in the wording of some of the exhibits there.

Moreover, entertainment and film attorney John W. Cones (2007), of the Film Industry Reform Movement (F.I.R.M.), attests to the “…discrimination and racism…practiced today in the U.S. film industry by…Jewish males….” (p. 210).  Furthermore, a historian, Czech born American (and former Israeli soldier), Saul Friedlander (1982), speaks of the horrors of World War II treated as kitsch (banal and imitative) in the entertainment world.  He alludes to German film director Hans-Jurgen Syberberg, who said the 1978 television mini-series, Holocaust, was produced by, ironically, Jews who were themselves once persecuted (p. xvii).  Producer Robert Berger affirmed it was not a historical documentary, but a drama. 

Although some Polish Americans extolled Holocaust overall, historian Stanislaus A. Blejwas, et al, later protested its discriminatory inaccuracy.  For instance, presenting Polish military as transporters and killers of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, where Jews and Poles fought together, as they did in the Polish Army.  Further, many Poles were also slaughtered in concentration camps, and helped save Jews.  Berger was somewhat apologetic for the series’ errors.  The BBC in the United Kingdom expunged some scenes (Henry, 1979). 

Professor Werner Sollors (1979) remarks Holocaust garnered little encomium when shown in West Germany (rebroadcast in Germany in 2019).  However, Damien McGuinness (2019) says in 1979 a third of West Germany tuned in and 86% openly discussed it, while journalists began caring about the victims.  However, commentators there derided it, as “…a kitsch melodramatic soap opera….” that bowdlerized the Holocaust.  Many thousands expressed their shame and shock after the telecast aired and Holocaust memorials opened.  The movie galvanized the pursuit of escaped Nazis and encouraged German youth to learn more about their history.  Nevertheless, people like Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf would later assert, on media, in general, “It seems to me the Holocaust is being sold – it is not being taught” (Finkelstein, 2003).  The Nizkor Project (n.d.) documents how Ernst Zundel, in Canada, decried the movie via his public screed.     


Mitscherlichs (1975) speak of denial combined with cognizance of guilt, in the German collective conscience, over Nazi atrocities when war was underway.  Citizens were intimidated by punishment, if they did not follow the Reich’s fascist ideology and orders (p. 28, note [*]).  More recently, there has been no mourning in those Germans who still embrace this Nazi rhetoric of denial.  Such is the antipathy of German immigrant and deported “Canadian”4 Ernst Zundel5, a renowned expositor of denialism and author of The Hitler We Loved & Why (1977).  For proclaiming that the Holocaust never transpired he was put on trial, which Barbara Amiel (1985) expatiates on.  Therein, she says, Zundel was pronounced guilty February 28, 1985, of circulating a book (Did Six Million Really Die? The Truth at Last, by Richard Verrall, 1974), which resulted in “…causing harm to racial and social harmony….” (p. 11).  (His conviction here, and again later, was overturned [National Post, 2017].)  However, she notes, Zundel was acquitted of the more grievous second charge of knowingly instigating harm through his booklet (The West, War, and Islam, 1980).  Amiel (p. 11) declares it purports there was “…a world conspiracy of Zionists, Communists, Freemasons and bankers” endorsing the belief that the Holocaust was authentic.  This asseveration, that there were always conspirators to deal with, Amiel avers, was the reason Hitler was instrumental in inaugurating the Holocaust in the first place, to eliminate them. 

Amiel alludes to the news media and how Germans were, postwar, tendentiously projected because of the Reich’s racial liquidation procedures, and how it must have traumatized a younger Zundel.  He then became skeptical, apprising the world otherwise, through his mission of denial.6  It is not known if a mental disorder made Zundel entertain his denialist views, because there are no psychiatric evaluations or psychological tests done on him available (so “denial” would not be a proven defense mechanism to battle guilt or shame, but strictly his political strategy).  Inaugurators of hate, like Zundel, Canadian journalist Warren Kinsella (1995) assures us, today “…are known as anti-Semites, or white supremacists, or neo-Nazis….” (p. 2), alive and ubiquitous.  Zundel was deported from Canada in 2005 and found guilty in Germany in 2007 of “incitement” and denying the Holocaust (Samyn, 2007), thus immured for five years.  By 2017 he had passed on his Weltanschauung to other denialists who continue to flourish in racist ranks.

Collective Mourning Today

Jackson Long (2023) describes, for current times, how the nature of collective mourning following a cataclysmic event is fostered.  There are, for instance, historical centers in the camps, and memorials, throughout the world, devoted to remembering those murdered during the Holocaust.  Also, there are the yearly memorial services commemorating those who perished in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States.

Causes of the inability to mourn:

A dearth of empathy for those victimized;                       Being intimidated by the engulfment of unbearable emotions or loss of control;                                                        Proud, too decent for, entitlement that precludes one from acknowledging their errancy or imperfections;

Protection of their self, identity, and image from being besmirched;

Eschewment of being amerced, denounced, or having to face conflict;
Adherence to the position that the past is of no consequence.

Consequences of the inability to mourn:

A distorted view of reality, and historical, or memorable, events.

Emotions that become repressed or displaced on other objects.

The development of anger, anxiety, dejection, guilt, or paranoia.

The wipeout of relationships and one’s very identity.

Erosion of social connections or trust.

Propensity for anti-social acts, or violence.

Long remarks that Mitscherlichs “claimed…Germans exhibited a collective defense mechanism of denial, repression, rationalization, and projection.”  Moreover, they avoided facing their feelings, opting for addressing revivifying their economy and sovereignty, then suppressing the historical.  They maintained a collective narcissism that precluded empathy with victims and finding fault in themselves.  Mitscherlichs admonished Germans about reiterating their past or creating fresh forms of fascism if they did not surmount their inability to mourn.

Study in Current German Attitudes

German social and political author, Marcel Furstenau (2018), outlines what the Bielefeld Institute for  Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence (IKG) presented in its “MEMO Germany: Multidimensional Memory Monitor,” in 2018.7  Andreas Zick, Institute director, pursues what Germans remembered about their history.  In the past, commemorating the Holocaust was the cynosure.  Nevertheless, the sincerity of such has been called into question as anti-Semitism has proliferated.  This because radical right persons have declared that German collective guilt for World War II atrocities has been plundered for propagandistic motives.  Zick avers that a ‘guilt cult’ maintained in today’s Germany does not approximate what the overall population opines.  It’s more subtle than that.  

In IKG’s survey, there were more than a thousand people interviewed, via telephone, by Zick’s research team. 


17.6% said they possessed active Nazis in their families during the War. 

18% maintained that some of their relatives assisted possible victims.

54.4% said they had some relatives who were victims.

10% acquiesced with the statement “even though I have not done anything wrong myself, I feel guilty for the Holocaust”;

98.4% said they learned about Nazism in school.

The internet, as well, aided young Germans in their quest to acquire Holocaust information.  However, a more permanent understanding of this historical event was received in their frequenting the memorial sites.  Emotionally, it was the preservation of the extermination camps that impacted them most. 

32.5% had a concerted interest in the history of Germany.

27.7% held a very strong interest in Germany’s history.

25.6% opined that the Holocaust could reoccur.

21.6% were very concerned the Holocaust could again come about.

Summary and Conclusions 

Life, like a game of chess, has a king and their pawns.  For Germans, 1933-1945, their Third Reich chessboard had its dictator, Adolph Hitler, and his Nazis whom he directed.  As in chess, “There is an alteration of thought and action, rather than a…replacement of action by thought” (Fine, 1967, p. 68).  Fascists thought about genocide, then assumed action, carrying it out.  Hitler’s aggression, through the collective process of warfare, reflected Germany’s needs.  This, best comprehended when we examined  anti-Semitism in society’s institutions (Fine, 1979), be they academic, corporate, or governmental.                                                         

After World War II, what should have followed was mourning: how one responds to significant loss, which, sans depression or decrement of self-esteem, is salubrious (Auchincloss & Samberg, 2012).  As psychoanalysts demonstrated, Germans then had to embrace a new and changed reality, discarding previous narcissistic attachments to Hitler and fascism.  Eventually, love was supposed to supplant rancor, but this was not the case, socially (Mitscherlich & Mitscherlich, 1975).

To preclude reoccurrence of previous events, the “working through” process, realized by indelible recall of horrific happenings, whatever one’s involvement, was to be employed (Drekmeier, 1976).  Germans could thereby confront the ambivalence they shared toward Hitler and then empathize with the suffering of humankind, facilitated by education.

The German body politic following World War II experienced any one of the following: alienation, anxiety, dejection, frustration, guilt, remorse, shame, and stress.  Defense mechanisms utilized to combat those emotions included: denial, derealization, displacement, dissociation, identification, projection, rationalization, repression, resistance, and suppression (Mitscherlichs, 1975; Drekmeier, 1976; Auchincloss & Samberg, 2012; VandenBos, 2015; Adorno, et al, 1950; Frie, 2012; Shefa, 2011; Long, 2023; Furstenau, 2018).

Development of personal ego and social ego (Mitscherlichs, 1975; Weber, 1964), ego ideal and collective ego ideal (Akhtar, 2009), culminating in the ego ideal and aggression (Mitscherlichs, 1975), amongst Germans, emboldened an exciting identification with Hitler.  The concomitant fantasies–bereft of empathy or guilt–exalted power, thereby encouraging violence.

Ego weakness was defined (VandenBos, 2015) and its relationship to the authoritarian personality type (Fong, 2018).  Such a type involves submission, aggression and conventionalism (Fong, 2018; Adorno, et al, 1950).  It was noted that anti-Semitism was rooted in an alienated individual’s fear of uncertainty in a complex world, and preceded fascism (Bardawil, 2018; Adorno, et al, 1950).  The fascist mentality was explained as embracing the simplistic and quashing all dissenters (Akhtar, 2009).  Anti-Semitism magically resembled witchcraft mania–where all of Hitler’s enemies were relegated under one rubric–through German resentment toward Jews over their cultural and economic success, thus snapping a longtime symbiosis.  Scapegoatism, save for in Adorno, et al’s model, occurred and the Nazi primeval horde mentality defined how the German masses thought they were invaded by Jews—culpable for the world’s misfortunes (Leschnitzer, 1956).  Also observed was what Germany lost culturally with the destruction of Jewry (Engelmann, 1984). 

Hitler’s social philosophy of the volk, or common man, and disdain for Marxism, in order to build group character, was outlined (1927).

Clinicians contended Hitler was malignantly narcissistic and/or anti-social (Bromberg & Small, 1983; Fromm, 1973; Langer, 1943; Diamond, 2014; Murray, 1943).  Nevertheless, it was argued, because of dearth of data, aberrations in Hitler’s personality were inconsequential to the German body politic that morphed after he came to power (Kershaw, 2000).

In the Aftermath, to begin, it was found that the ramifications of Germans practicing psychoanalysis on Jewish patients today was forbidding, because the former needed to mourn first (Frie, 2012).

It has been asserted that Germans, and others, were unfairly stereotyped in media because of the Nazis’ role in World War II (Herron, 1985; Shefa, 2011; and Cones, 2007).  Movies, like Holocaust, were found to be “kitschy,” but had encouraged discussion, learning, shame, mourning, opening of memorials, and even denial (Friedlander, 1982; Henry, 1979; Sollors, 1979; McGuinness, 2019; Nizkor, n.d.). 

Ernst Zundel was exposed for advancing the Nazi agenda, by denying the Holocaust through his unsubstantiated, conspiratorial views (Amiel, 1985; Kinsella, 1995; Schermer, 1997; Samyn, 2007; MoT, 2022).

The German people could not mourn because many of them didn’t have empathy, were too proud or concerned about their reputation, and being publicly assailed, or did not think the past was worth dwelling on.  Further, the consequences of not mourning might have led to an inaccurate view of history, an existential crisis, or criminal acts (Long, 2023).

                                                                                                                                                                                         Finally, via surveys, it was discovered how more Germans today should have felt remorse or mourning, nevertheless, a sizeable percentage still worried the Holocaust could reoccur.  Thus, visiting extermination camps, preserved for memory, had the most acute impact, psychologically, on youth groups (Furstenau, 2018).


1The Nazis upended psychoanalysis in Germany and Alexander Mitscherlich helped rebuild it after the War, becoming “…its most important propagator” (Dehli, 2009).  However, according to historian of Germany, Geoffrey Cocks (1985), psychoanalysis still existed–sans Jews–in some fashion by participating Gentiles in the Goring Institute, founded by neuropathologist and psychotherapist Matthias Heinrich Goring, cousin of Hermann Goring.  Cocks also says, “Most…Jewish psychoanalysts escaped abroad, although fifteen…died in concentration camps” (p. 91) and psychoanalysis was deemed by Nazis “…a Jewish ‘poisoning of the soul’….” (p. 87).   

2Margarete and Alexander Mitscherlich both have backgrounds in medicine, the latter, in neurology.

3”Melancholia” is a term for depression that has passed into desuetude (VandenBos, 2015, p. 635).

4Zundel was never legally a Canadian citizen (Samyn, 2007).

5American author (of German origin) Michael Shermer (1997), conducted interviews in Toronto with Zundel in 1994 and 1995.  Interestingly, if one speaks of group mourning and its guilt component, he says Zundel embraced an opposite tack by distributing stickers, yammering: “GERMANS! STOP APOLOGIZING FOR THE THINGS YOU DID NOT DO!” (p. 199).

6Like Zundel, other deniers proclaim that Jews like “…to prey upon the sympathies of the world and extort money from post-war Germany in order to establish the State of Israel” (Museum of Tolerance [MoT], 2022).  MoT also notes that “Most Holocaust deniers want to wash away the stain of Nazism…to make Nazism an acceptable political alternative….”  And, further, MoT states that “Holocaust denial is an updated version of an alleged Jewish conspiracy….  The common denominator…is anti-Semitism.” (denying Jews their suffering, making them appear mendacious).

7Responsibility and Future (EVZ), headed by CEO Andreas Eberhardt, is the foundation that helped cultivate the study and will employ its accrued results to assist Germans to innovatively deal with their collective remembrance of the past.


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Some Background

Hamas is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood and was ratified in 1987 in Gaza with the uprising, or intifāḍahThey demand a shariah Palestinian state on 1967 borders.  Hamas does not acquiesce with the Oslo peace accords PLO and Israel negotiated in the mid 1990’s.  Basically, Israel, Canada, the United States, the European Union, Egypt, and Japan deem Hamas as terrorists.  Iran, Syria, and Lebanese Hezbollah are its allies (Al Jazeera, 2023).

Gaza Strip came into being as a separate entity, administratively, in 1948 when present day Israel was formed.  The latter occupying it at that time, and again in 1967–through the Six-Day War—thereby administering it.  From 1954 it has been a terrorist base, from which their militants penetrated Israel (Wigoder, 1975).

What just happened

Khaled Qadomi, a spokesman for Hamas, apprised Al Jazeera that they went on the military offensive October 14th to let the world know of Israel’s horrific treatment of Palestinians, and destruction of their holy sites and mosques, over a period of decades. 

What Started the Kerfuffle

British journalist Robert Fisk (2006) refers to the prescient words of Lebanese historian George Antonius and statesman Winston Churchill, in 1938, who said that if the Jews, in order to escape Nazism, migrated to Palestine for a safe homeland, they would displace the Arabs there and the persecuted may well become the persecutors (pp. 450-451).  Ironically, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe (2006) discusses the huge forced migration of Palestinians by Israelis at gunpoint, their villages being annihilated, and the slaughter of civilians there in 1948.

According to Palestinians, this, coupled with the fact that their Koran, speaking of Muslims as “the faithful,” states that, “…the most implacable of men in their enmity to the faithful are the Jews….” (5:82).  Jews are labelled as “…apes and swine….” (5:60).  Muslims, the “masters,” had the right to kill Jews and purloin their land, when it is states, “…some you slew and others you took captive.  He made you masters of their land…” (33:26).  As can be seen, Muslim hostility toward Jews has been around for eons. 

Bill Warner (The Jaipur Dialogues. 2021), an expert on political Islam, explains that 51% of what is found in all of the Koran, Hadith, and Sira combined, is devoted to nonbelievers (like Jews and Christians), termed Kafirs, and spoken of vituperatively. He adds that this is political Islam (like Hamas), and it has always worked for Muslims in achieving their aims.  He quotes the prophet’s words from the Hadith: “According to Allah, any Jew or Christian that is aware of me, but dies before accepting my prophecy will be sent to Hell” (2010, p. 37).    

Apparently, Hamas is not just against Zionism, either.  The Hamas Charter or The Hamas Covenant, 1988, modified in 2017, advocates the murder of Jews (Eshman, 2023).  Very similar to the sentiments found in Mein Kampf (although Hitler never averred outright therein he wanted to kill Jews at that time).  Keep in mind that there are Palestinians who don’t support Hamas (Mohammed, 2023).

Psychopathology Present                                                                                  

J.K. Sheindlin (2015, pp. 81-286), describes, based on how he sees Muhammed symptomatologically presenting himself in the Hadith, many mental disorders he purportedly suffered from, including narcissistic personality disorder and psychopathy.  Like Hitler, Muhammed never visited a psychotherapist, thus, we may never know how mentally ill he might have been, and therefore how that impinged on how he advanced his political agenda.  Nevertheless, Carrie Kennedy and Eric Zillmer (2006, pp. 287-289) look at, for instance, Muhammed’s current day minions and allies of Hamas, the Salafi jihadi terrorists, and the assumption of them being afflicted with narcissistic personality disorder.  This, occurring as disloyalty to avenge their parents symbolically, because of earlier being victimized by them or childhood trauma, does not hold true.  They were well adjusted and the enemies of jihad were the far away United States, not their parents or state, nearby.  Kennedy and Zillmer examine paranoid disorders behind Salafi jihad, however, for example, their demonizing of their adversaries is de rigueur in any military.  Moreover, being a terrorist and being mentally ill may have no causal connection.  Adverting to the authoritarianism described by Adorno, et al (1950), they find that such terrorists often came from caring, overprotective families with parents who doted on them, in lieu of harsh authoritarian backgrounds.  It is the Koran that made them authoritarian.  No doubt they experienced the alienation Adorno, et al spoke of, but such is so often implicated in the human condition.  The concept of scapegoatism, which several other authors earlier employed to explain anti-Semitism, does not usually fill the bill here.


Although political and socioeconomic factors are key, and no matter to what degree historically applicable, today Koranic authoritarianism is an integral part of Islam–regardless of which caused the other (Kuru, 2022).  This, indubitably, pertains to Hamas, whose spiritual sentiments melded with unbridled anti-Semitism, because of long standing grievances, as the Germans had with other Europeans after the signing of The Treaty of Versailles.  Hamas is, as well, indoctrinated by the theological and political propaganda in the Koran, similar to the rhetoric found in Mein Kampf.   Fascist elements will usually be exploited, as in Nazism with its concentration camps, although both Muslims and their enemies have placed their prisoners in similar facilities.  The same modus operandi for Hamas Muslims, through their devotion to Muhammed, reflects the methodology of The Third Reich and its adherence to Hitler: that being a quintessential hatred for an object – the Jewish people. 

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