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Rickels, L.A. (1995). Nazi Psychoanalysis: Response to Werner Bohleber. Am. Imago, 52(3):345-358.

(1995). American Imago, 52(3):345-358

Nazi Psychoanalysis: Response to Werner Bohleber Related Papers

Laurence A. Rickels


To clear the static on the direct lines between reunification of the Germanies and the return of German nationalism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism, Werner Bohleber makes the Germans a “Presence of the Past.” But midway he proposes a group-level intervention which responds to the worldwide recycling of World War Two since the end of the Cold War. As has been documented elsewhere, for example in a 1992 volume on anti-Semitism edited by Bohleber, the outbreak of stray, projected hostilities in Germany after the fall of the wall was symptomatically in sync with the eternal rerun of total war phantasms we watched during the Gulf War. From the German response to the opening shot of the war, which followed the leader, to the phantasm of portable gas chambers (made in Germany) strapped to the buzz bombs of the Battle of Britain: World War Two was back on the air. But it wasn't only this media war that stayed tuned to receptions that were decontextualized and haunting precisely to the extent that, according to Theodor Adorno's reckoning (112), they referred to the recent past, the past that always flashes back as primal; on another channel we found ourselves watching the old programs or pogroms that were rerunning all over Europe following the end of the divide between the two Germanies. Television was not the “liberator” of the Eastern-European countries (which we had last visited, while they were still safely behind the Iron Curtain, in Shoah).

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