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The Roots of Nazi Psychology

Hitler's Utopian Barbarism

Jay Y. Gonen

Publication Year: 2013

" Was Hitler a moral aberration or a man of his people? This topic has been hotly argued in recent years, and now Jay Gonen brings new answers to the debate using a psychohistorical perspective, contending that Hitler reflected the psyche of many Germans of his time. Like any charismatic leader, Hitler was an expert scanner of the Zeitgeist. He possessed an uncanny ability to read the masses correctly and guide them with ""new"" ideas that were merely reflections of what the people already believed. Gonen argues that Hitler's notions grew from the general fabric of German culture in the years following World War I. Basing his work in the role of ideologies in group psychology, Gonen exposes the psychological underpinnings of Nazi Germany's desire to expand its living space and exterminate Jews. Hitler responded to the nation's group fantasy of renewing a Holy Roman Empire of the German nation. He presented the utopian ideal of one large state, where the nation represented one extended family. In reality, however, he desired the triumph of automatism and totalitarian practices that would preempt family autonomy and private action. Such a regimented state would become a war machine, designed to breed infantile soldiers brainwashed for sacrifice. To achieve that aim, he unleashed barbaric forces whose utopian features were the very aspects of the state that made it most cruel.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky


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The Roots of Nazi Psychology

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p. ix-ix

I thank Noel Kinnamon, who provided excellent copy editing to the book. I am also deeply indebted to very special persons who are all both colleagues and friends. David Beisel gave the manuscript a thorough editing and ...

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1 The Role of Ideologies

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pp. 1-18

The resonance which Hitler's words evoked among many Germans in the period between the two world wars has been of great interest to Germans and non-Germans alike. The basic premise of this study is that the Nazi success in mobilizingl ...

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2 The Jewish Danger

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pp. 17-69

In 1919, when Hitler was thirty years old and still in the army, one of his superiors, Staff-Captain Karl Meyer, passed on to him a letter by Adolf Gemlich, the former liaison man of Munich District Headquarters. Gemlich's...

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3 The Leadership Principle

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pp. 71-97

Hitler's conception of leadership was a very important part of his ideol ogy and served as the glue that tied everything into a unified whole. First and foremost his conception holds magical promises for the people. Its basic premise ...

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4 The Expansion of the Living Space

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pp. 99-136

We have seen that Hitler, the self-appointed political genius, prescribed the leadership principle as the indispensable magical tool for implement ing all the requirements of racial destiny. Moreover, by mid-1933 ...

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5 The Folkish State

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pp. 137-168

In promoting the idea of the folkish state, Nazi ideology aspired to build up an ideal state form that would maximize the people's chances to actualize the full potential of their inner folkish spirit. A precondi ...

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6 Ideology as Psychology

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pp. 169-211

It is time now to put together Hitler's basic ideological principles with an emphasis on their underlying psychological meanings, which were First Principle: The world is permeated by an il ...


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pp. 213-218


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pp. 219-224

E-ISBN-13: 9780813143675
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813121543

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013