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Wangh, M. (1964). National Socialism and the Genocide of the Jews—A Psycho-Analytic Study of a Historical Event. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 45:386-395.

(1964). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45:386-395

National Socialism and the Genocide of the Jews—A Psycho-Analytic Study of a Historical Event

Martin Wangh

It is the intention of this paper to propose certain psycho-analytic hypotheses concerning the development of German National Socialism and its ultimately genocidal form of anti-Semitism. The viewpoint from which the events will be discussed does not seek to supplant but rather to supplement existing sociological, economic, and political perspectives (Lowenfeld, 1950p. 277). The need for such psycho-analytic contribution to the understanding of history has been discussed by many authors. Lowenfeld (1950) and Hartmann (1944); (1947pp. 360 ff.) are among the many who are favourably disposed, while Waelder (1960) strongly dissents. Freud's Moses and Monotheism was criticized because the psycho-analytic hypotheses developed therein could not be tested against historical data. This objection might be minimized if the events investigated are of recent date. Such events could be checked by historians for documentary proofs, by sociologists for statistical evidence, and for psycho-analytic confirmation or refutation they can be submitted to that considerable body of colleagues who have knowledge of these matters through introspection or clinical analytical observation. It is my hope that this paper will stimulate just such research.

To lay the foundation for the argument that will be developed here, it is important to discuss first some of the insights psycho-analysis has gained into the nature of prejudice in general, and second, to recall briefly the historical events and the ideological climate that preceded the Third Reich.

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