Inside the Third Reich of Dreams -or- Hitler's "Mein Kampf": Part 1

Dedicated to my parents Paul and Hella Goldhagen

Setting the Political Stage for the Nazi Movement -or- Triumpf of the Will

"The most striking success of a revolution based on the philosophy of life will always have been achieved when the new philosophy of life as far as possible has been taught to all men and, if necessary, later forced upon them...."  Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf (My Battle)

Hitler's quote above speaks to us about his revolutionary Battle and a philosophy of life. His martial philosophy would later be represented in Leni Reifenstahl's film Triumph of the Will. The political idea of "Triumph", dates back to antiquity especially in Roman times where it was a civil ritual religious ceremony to celebrate military outcomes of battle. Alfred Adler following Nietzsche's and Schoepenhauer's lead believed that the "will to power" was the historical mainspring and driving force of humanity. The political outcome of Hitler's My Battle was celebrated at the Nuremberg Rallies which were intended to suasively symbolize the Nazi's solidarity of the German people. My Battle would later become political policy, instituted in part by the Nuremberg Racial Laws. Hitler and the Nazi's public policies created and ontologically institutionalized the Third Reich of Dreams.

Before entering the political stage that was the Third Reich of Dreams, we must first be able to politically frame the 19th century European and German psychodynamic antecedents which can be traced to Johannn Gottlieb Fichte who is considered one of the founding fathers of German nationalism. The "Congress of Vienna" had redrawn the map of Europe at the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and formed an increasingly polarized political framework until 1914. The Realpolitik of the "Concert of Europe" that lasted from 1814 to 1914 defined the European political landscape. The dream of Otto von Bismarck who unified Germany in 1871 into the German Empire (read IIDR interpretation The Culture Wars) was a key turning point in European history. Bismarck's dream set a series of European culture war events in motion whose tragic path would eventually lead to the Great War. Politicians especially towards the end of the 19th century were increasingly turning to the political uses of the gospels of anti-Semitic hatred. The tip of the political iceberg of the growing European maelstrom of anti-Semitism (Judenhass) was publically aired in 1898 in France by Emile Zola J'Accuse who uncovered the French government's injustice known today as the Alfred Dreyfus Affair. Dreyfus was a Jew and a French Army General staff officer who was accused and convicted of espionage for the Germans on circumstantial evidence and sent to Devil's Island.

At the political turn of the 20th century, modern cultural imperialism and militarism of the European continent and the globe started to become a geo-political reality. Carl Gustav Jung had an oracular dream in 1913 about the coming of the World War I and its' far reaching political, physical and psychological effects on Europe (read IIDR interpretation, Memories, Dreams and Reflections of World War I) and Europeans. Jung's prophetic grotesque nightmare can be seen as being caused by geopolitical policies and an political escalation of a barbaric European militarism. Jung had intuitively sensed the unbridled fury of modern warfare and the military madness that would lead to the tragic sea of blood, destruction and death that would visit European civilization.

With the end of WWI also came the political end of the German Empire. The traumatic psychological consequences of World War I surprised mental health providers like Freud and Jung who had difficulties in coming to grips with what is now termed post-traumatic stress disorder and what Erich Fromm would describe as malignant narcissism. Those returning from the war reported repetitive nightmares and the re-experiencing of battlefield events. Freud would go on to write Civilization and its Discontents which was strongly influenced by WW I and its aftermath. In the historical wake of WW I, not only had women lost their men and children lost their fathers, there also was the so-called "the Lost Generation", those whose coming of age story was influenced by the "Great War". From a literary perspective, The Waste Land, T. S Eliot portrayed Europeans as being in an epochal spiritual crisis, marked by intellectual corruption, and sexual impotence. Having reviewed the Arthurian legends in Jessie Weston's From Ritual to Romance, Eliot hoped to renew the spiritual and intellectual voyage of Western civilization. Both James Joyce Ulysses and Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, had similar messages that astutely characterized the social problems of modern European urban consciousness.  

The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J. Evens provides insight into the mounting political, economic and social tensions during the Weimar Republic era of Germany which paved the way for Nazi facism to become a viable political alternative. Much like in Eugene Sue's Mysteries of Paris, the cultural mileau and social problems of the Weimar Republic period were dramatically unveiled by Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye to Berlin which would later provide the screenplay basis for the Hollywood film Caberet. The Nazi movement's cultural theatrical stage is ontologically set, political support for their revolutionary movement was to be found in the para-military Freikorps (Free Corps).

Klaus Theweleit's Male Fantasies provides a study about the psychological foundations of the post WW I German male paramilitary (Freicorp) society and facistic consciousness. Hitler's Mein Kampf promised Germans to politically avenge the WW I group narcissistic trauma and depersonalization of Germany. Hitler's rise to power and seizure of absolute dictatorial control was directed towards a militaristic revolution of male Aryan revenge and payback. Now, the political and military stage was set. The beginning of the tragic tale of Nazi Germany's frame story of the Third Reich of Dreams is ready to dramatically unfold on the German, European and global international political stage.

Albert Speer and Hitler's Third Reich of Dreams

Mental cruelty as seen by Erich Fromm Anatomy of Destructiveness as; "the wish to humiliate and to hurt another person's feelings" and "is probably more widespread than physical sadism." Many posttraumatic nightmares that have been received by the International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR), speak of such cruelty, crimes against humanity, ontological trauma and psychological injuries, read IIDR article Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.

Fromm provides a number of dreams that he sees as illustrations of malignant aggression and applies this idea to provide his readers with an understanding of Adolf Hitler's psychological development of his personality. The wounding of narcissism often paves the road to pathological narcissistic personality disorders. Fromm reports a dream he received from Albert Speer Hitler's chief architect and a Nazi State Minister who was convicted at the Nuremberg War criminal trials. Speer reported having the following dream while in prison on September 12, 1962:

"Hitler is to come for an inspection. I, at the time still a Minister of State, take a broom in my hands to help sweep up the dirt in the factory. After the inspection I find myself in his car, trying vainly to put my arm into the sleeve of my jacket which I had taken off while sweeping. My hand lands again and again in the pocket. Our drive ends at a large square surrounded by government buildings. On one side is a war memorial. Hitler approaches it and lays down a wreath. We enter the vestibule of one of the government buildings. Hitler says to the adjutant: 'Where are the wreaths?' The adjutant to the officer: 'As you know, he now lays wreaths everywhere.' The officer is wearing a light-coloured, almost white uniform made of some sort of glove leather: over the jacket he wears, as though he were an altar-boy, a loose garment decorated with lace and embroidery. The wreath arrives. Hitler steps to the right of the hall where there is another memorial with many wreaths at its base. He kneels and begins to intone a plaintive melody in the style of a Gregorian chant, in which is repeated again and again a long-drawn out ‘Jesus-Maria'. Numerous memorial plaques line the walls of this long high-ceilinged, marble hall. Hitler in an ever faster sequence, lays wreath after wreath, which are handed to him by the busy adjutants, the row of memorial plaques seems endless."

The dream interpretation that follows is an ontological re-working of Erich Fromm's ideas about Hitler's and Nazi Germany's malignant aggression. In conjunction, I have also used Charlotte Beradt's Third Reich of Dreams to explore Hitler's political control over the cultural dynamics of German Dream Vision. The dreams Beradt collected make transparent the dramatic social psychological roots of obedience to authority, destructiveness and violence. They provide sufficient forensic evidence to see and understand Hitler's and the Nazi's tragic Aryan will to power madness and crimes against humanity.

Political Platform of Mein Kampf -or- The Origins of German Tragic Drama

The Origin of German Tragic Drama by Walter Benjamin provides ontological insight into understanding the rhetorical nature of language and words which dramatically acts to figuratively structure the polarized rhetoric of tragedy and comedy. Benjamin differentiates German tragedy from "Trauerspiel" (Mourning Play). For Benjamin the dramatic play of mourning and melancholia finds allegorical expression in Albrecht Durer's, Melancholie I. Benjamin believed that Pedro Calderon's Life is a Dream provided a morally superior solution to the psychological problems of mourning than did its German counterparts. Using Benjamin's ideas about the German play of mourning, Hitler can be seen as a rhetorical paradigm of Durer's melancholic man who took both dark tragic and comic political action to avenge the depersonalizations of Germans and Germany caused by WW I. In this light, I believe that Hitler's Mein Kampf is a rhetorical response to his melancholic dreams and feelings of grief and depersonalization, which provided the political will to power foundation for his Third Reich of Dreams

Mein Kampf is Hitler's and the Nazi Party's political and ideological platform surrounding their beliefs about the ontological malaise of Germans, Germany and the world. Hugh Dalziel Duncan in Communication and Social Order provides insight into Hitler's Nazi ideological "instruments of domination". Duncan tells us that; "Adolph Hitler's Mein Kampf (My Battle) invokes hatred and death as guardians of German social order." We can already hear the fated echoes of tragic political irony in a 1932 speech made by Hitler, who tells us; "We have a goal and we will advocate it fanatically and relentlessly until the grave."

Kenneth Burke's essay, The Rhetoric of Hitler's Battle provides a rhetorical perspective to see the pathological social psychological influences of power and persuasion in Hitler's Mein Kampf. Burke believes that Hitler's political master race ideology used the religious ritual symbolism of the rebirth of inborn German racial superiority of the Aryans, who then become born again into the purity of their ancestral blood. Hitler's rhetorical use of erotic and sexual metaphors and the archetypal imagery of Germanic blood and soil, pollution and disease provided a racial, economic and political explanation of the malaise of post WWI Germany.

For Burke, Hitler's rhetoric amounts to a political perversion of a religious symbolic pattern by using the rhetorical and social psychological defense mechanism of the scapegoat on the Jews, Hitler could act as a demagogue who politically and ideologically focused German civilization's discontents, racial fears and hatreds (and phobias). This in turn helped to focus Hitler's cultural influence and create German solidarity, heralding the Nazi's ad hominem "Weltanschauungskrieg" (world view warfare) on all the enemies of Germany who resisted the Third Reich of Dreams

Natural Symbols -or- Group Narcissistic Purity and Danger

Mary Douglas in Natural Symbols provides an cultural anthropological way to read how people's social roles are determined by their positions in the communication superstructure of social (symbolic) networks which are regulated by authority. Douglas discusses symbolic social order, ritual and communication from the perspective of Emil Durkheim's The Division of Labor in Society where he makes an important distinction between mechanical and organic solidarity.  Applying Douglas's theories to Speer's dream and the social structure of Nazi Germany we can begin to see the meaning of what Fromm interpreted as "the mechanized manner of his grief ritual". Fromm discusses the function of group narcissism as aiding cohesion and solidarity by (rhetorically) "appealing to narcissistic prejudices".

For Fromm; "Group narcissism is one of the most important sources of human aggression...." Speer's dream illustrates that Hitler was till the very end, ritually exercising mechanical and organic solidarity over the German populace to defend Nazi Germany's Aryan values. From this perspective Speer is not only a political symbol of himself, but also a Nazi (group narcissistic) synecdoche of Hitler's megalomanical relationship to all the German people, living in Nazi Germany. Appying Douglas's ideas to the dreams Beradt collected also allows us to begin to comprehend Hitler's obsession with the Jews and the racial purity of Nazi Germany's Aryan body politic and the Third Reich of Dreams.

In Speer's dream he is helping to "sweep up the dirt" to prepare for Hitler's (political) inspection at a factory. In Purity and Danger Mary Douglas traces the meaning of dirt in different social contexts. She attempts to classify and clarify the various aspects of the nature of the concepts of the clean and unclean in different societies and times. Douglas provides a theoretical ethnographic reading of Western sacred ritual, religion and lifestyle, which she believes has been shaped by the Western ideas of pollution. We can apply these cultural ideas to understood the social context of Hitler's and the Nazi's political idiom of coprophobic preoccupation with dirt, pollution and contamination.

After Hitler came to power on January 30 1933, he told the German people that he would ensure a moral purge (purify) of all political aspects of public life, the media, education, the arts and so on. Hitler's Nazi State apparatus took control of the social infrastructure, the mass media and the culture industries, ensuring that they would promote and indoctrinate National Socialism. The Nazi's had taken a page from Karl Marx's political playbook, in that they realized that if they took political and ideological control of the media, mass communication and the ontological base and superstructure of German socialization, they controlled Germany. Moving ideologically one step further in order to accomplish his Nietzschian dream of Aryan supermen, Hitler had realized early on that the German Youth would play a political role, they would sacrifice their life blood to defend against the enemies of Germany and the Third Reich of Dreams. Arno Breker's sculpture Readiness transformed Michelangelo's David and remolded it into an Aryan art form, which celebrated the archetypal physical and psychological readiness to bear arms to defend the Nazi State.

Inside the Third Reich -or- Hitler's Nazi Night-Watchmen

While in prison, Speer had a great deal of solitude, to sort out and condense his memories, thoughts and feelings, providing him with a clear political understanding of the errors in judgment and the political psychopathological ways of both himself and Hitler. Speer while in prison wrote about his relationship with Hitler and the Nazi power elite in his memoir Inside the Third Reich. Speer knew, the Nazi State apparatus had near complete political, military and para-military command and control over the behavioural manifold of all German's. Reading the dreams that Beradt collected, we can begin to gain insight into symtomatic effects that Hitler's totalitarian propaganda machine created from a psychodynamic perspective. Political freedom of speech, thought and behaviour were nearly completely eradicated by the Nazi's propaganda techniques of censorship and mind control.

Fromm while interpreting Speer's dream makes a number of observations, which can be condensed and read in point form;

  1. Using Speer's dream, Fromm comments on Speer's characterization of Hitler; "in this case Speer clearly expresses in a "Chaplinesque style", his view of Hitler's "necrophilous" character." Specifically, Fromm sees the symbolism of wreath laying as; "an organizational ritual to the point of absurdity."
  2. In the "plaintive tones" of Hitler's character, Fromm sees as his (Hitler's) symbolic return to the religious beliefs he had as a child.
  3. The dirt that Speer is sweeping up, is according to Fromm the "symbolic expression of the dirt of the Nazi regime".
  4. Speer's inability to put his arm into his jacket, is a symbolic expression of Speers feeling that he "cannot participate further" in the Nazi system.
  5. Fromm reads the dream's ending as one that stresses; "the monotony and the mechanized manner of his grief ritual."
  6. For Fromm, in reading Speer's dream: one "recognizes that all that is left are the dead and the necrophilous, mechanical, boring Hitler." 

These interpretative observations and readings are generally correct, however they do not provide the reader with a forensic picture nor the political scope of Speer's dream as it relates to the German cultural idiom and the social psychology of Nazi Germany and the Third Reich of Dreams. In his dream and his book, Speer I believe was trying to communicate to himself, and to his reading audience a political understanding and perspective of his political role, his authoritarian conflict with Hitler, and the civic grieving ritual spectacle that was Hitler's Nazi Germany.

Robert Nozick in Anarchy, State and Utopia distinguishes between the country (the physical geography), the nation (ideological nationalism), and the State (governing institutions.) The State is the night watchman, whose public-service role is to oversee and politically protect individual rights. The State's responsibilities include institutions that uphold the laws of the land in that the police, judicial and penal systems, serve to protect persons from ontological harm by removing criminals from society, and the military, which defends citizens from foreign aggression. In a true democracy, must not the night watchmen be vigilant to serve and protect the citizen's right and civil liberties against dystopian political ontological nightmares? In the Third Reich of Dreams, the Nazis were the night watchmen of the Nazi State who never slept, politically entering the dreams of Germans to enforce Nazi ideology and policy. Under Hitler and the Nazi's, civil liberties were for all intents and purposes recinded or at best under their dictates. In the faces, eyes, ears and mind's of the court of public opinion, Beradt's collection of dreams act and can be read and serve as an informal indictment of the civic ontological depersonalization of the German public and they testify to this juristic and forensic fact.

The Great Dictator -or- Hitler and the Ring of The Niebelung

We the readers can assume, that Fromm's allusion to the Chaplinesque, actually is referencing Charlie Chaplin's 1940 satirical film portrayal of Hitler as The Great Dictator. In one satirical scene of the film, we see the dictator (Chaplin) with great narcissistic pleasure playing with a balloon globe of the earth (see film clip), only to have the geo-political bubble burst. We can turn to comedy, to understand the dramaturgical spectacle that Speer shows us is playing out in his dream. Charlotte Beradt believed that many of the dreams she had collected spoke of the theatre of absurd much like Samuel Beckett's or Eugene Ionescu's plays where all communication starts to break down. I believe however that another form of theatre needs to be discussed, namely Antonin Artaud's "Theatre of Cruelty", which more accurately defines the political nature of The Third Reich of Dreams. In this sense, I also believe, that there is a deeper motive and method to Hitler's "ritual" political madness, namely that of a black comedy. A point I will return to later. Chaplin himself reportedly stated that he would never have made The Great Dictator had he known the extent of the Nazi atrocities.

I believe that Fromm's political characterization and reading of Hitler as a Chaplinesque figure is incorrect. Fromm who never met Hitler, had left Germany in 1934. Reportedly Oswald Spengler after meeting Hitler in 1933 characterized him for what he essentially was, an operatic "Heldentenor" (hero tenor). Hitler's Gregorian chant of Jesus-Maria found in Speer's dream seems to underscore Spengler's characterization. From Speer's dream characterization of Hitler added to Spengler's observation, we can perhaps discern how Hitler perceived himself as a mythological German political hero, rhetorically playing his never ending plaintive melody, while the laying of the wreaths for the endless honored German dead who sacrificed their lives in the name of the Reich. (The estimates of German military and civilian death toll vary from 6.5-8.5 million dead).

To reinforce the validity of such a political characterization of Hitler, let us turn to the film Triumph of the Will, which stands as one of the greatest cult spectacles and national propaganda films ever recorded (in the film, much as in Speer's dream we find Hitler laying wreaths at a war memorial). Leni Riefenstahl employed the music of Richard Wagner for parts of the film's soundtrack, Wagner's Goetterdaemmerung (part of the Wagner's opera The Ring of the Nibelungen operas were seen by many as the German national mythological epic, much like Homer's The Iliad for the ancient Greeks and Virgil's Aeneid  for the Romans.

Carl Gustav Jung in Psychology and Religion tells us; "In Nietzsche's biography you will find irrefutable proofs that the god he originally meant was really Wotan, but, being a philologist and living in the sixties and seventies of the nineteenth century, he called him Dionysos. Looked at from a comparative standpoint, the two gods have indeed much in common." Jung believed that he could see in the dreams of Germans that he treated during the Great War (WWI) the coming of a "Wotanistic revolution" (Wotan being a character of the Ring Cycle). What Jung may have failed to foresee was the embodiment of this Nazi revolution in the totalitarian form of the Third Reich of Dreams.

In Ring of Power Jean Shinoda Bolen provides an understanding of the Wagnerian Ring Cycle from a Jungian archetypal perspective. For Bolen the mythology of Ring of the Nibelung can be seen as a series of powerful dreams representing the mythology of the dysfunctional patriarchal; "family in transition which demonstrates that the quest for power is a substitute for love." If Jung asked what myth he was living, then Bolan asks if Hitler was living the myth and dream of the Ring Cycle. Bolen believes that Hitler identified himself with Wotan as well as the; "unloved and rejected Alberich the Nibelung, who forged a ring of revenge and sought to rule the world." Northrop Frye Literature and Society 1936-1989 had already in 1943 proposed such a literary reading of Hitler as Alberich.

Speer's dream provides the Wagnerian musical code key to recognize the political operatic hero leitmotif of Hitler's cult of personality, charismatic leadership and the Third Reich of Dreams. For Fromm, Hitler's childhood experiences and religious beliefs while growing up, would shape his cult of personality leadership style. We can still watch the German Ring spectacle of masculine mythology, mysticism and ritual cult symbolism that were the Nuremberg Rallies. (listen to and watch Hitler's speech) from the film Triumph of the Will. We find Hitler (and the Nazi Party) personified as the glorified hero of Germany with his holy army (the Third Reich being the successor to the medieval Holy Roman Empire of German social order). Hitler's Nazi State apparatus and ideological propaganda machine influenced, controlled and defined the manifold spectacle, the social networks, the political language, and the minds and thoughts of Germans. The cult ritualistic chant of obedience, the Sieg-Heil salute by the masses gathered for Hitler, closes the political spectacle that was the Nuremberg ceremonies.

Nazi Germany on Film -or- Triumph of Political Propaganda

The use of the combination of politics, rhetoric and theatre had existed long before the modern technologies of mass communication. It was the Nazi's however who politically implemented their archetypal Wotanistic revolution by the use of propaganda and indoctrination that the modern tools of mass media offered. Founded on March 13, 1933 Joseph Goebbel's Ministry of Propaganda and Enlightenment created for the Nazi's a political vehicle to take control of German culture, media, mind and consciousness. Hitler and the Nazi's ushered in a new era of psychological warfare one in which Goebbel's propaganda machine would create what we now term from a literary perspective as an Orwellian society.

Hillmar Hoffmann's Triumph of Propaganda provides the social psychological basis for understanding Hitler and Nazi Germany's use of film for facistic political purposes. Hitler had already stated in Mein Kampf that; "The art of propaganda...lies in the understanding the emotional ideas of the great masses and finding, through the psychologically correct form, the way to the attention and thence to the heart of the broad masses." Hitler's use of film to promote the Nazi's stage vehicle of mythic German consciousness, "seized the attention of the ‘masses' and pointed the way to disaster that ultimately befell the Germans and many other nations."

Anton Kaes From Heimat to Hitler: The Return of History as Film tells us that political history intervenes in private stories and lives. Kaes provides insight and understanding of the Nazi's politics of representation of media images, specifically in film. The representational realism of Nazi propaganda films featured "Germany on location", with Hitler the producer, Goebels the director, the Nazi elite as the stars and Albert Speer as the dramatic set designer. The Nazi's militaristic theatrical stage and fascistic rhetorical style of the Third Reich's glorified iconography of SS uniforms, swastikas and rally's were all choreographed to artistically shape the visual memory of the spectator. This demagogical treatment of the visual images of Hitler, the leader (Fuehrer) can then be stylized as a living German monument. For Kaes the visual analysis of Hitler and the Nazi's staging games of submission to authority, is based on their dramatic tautological rhetoric of obedience and sacrifice.

In propaganda we can often find the political theatrical control of the medium, message, and messenger. Harold D. Lasswell's model of communication asks,;"Who says what, in which channel to whom, with what effect?" Lasswell Psychopathology and Politics uses clinical psychology to understand the political aspects of the development of personality and psychopathological behaviour. The political frame work of communication becomes poisoned when censorship, deception, biased and prejudiced propaganda rules the mind. Lasswell believed what was needed was a forward looking clinical politics of prevention of psychopathology. Applied to Beradt's collection of dreams, political prevention had become nearly impossible. From the time that Hitler had seized power to the day that he committed suicide April 30, 1945, there were few real opportunities to replace or remove him from power. Repeated attempts to assassinate Hitler failed.

Propaganda can take dramatic forms other than those of agit-prop and street theatre. During World War II the English-language broadcasts of "Lord Haw Haw"  (William Joyce) and "Tokyo Rose" (Iva Ikuko Toguri D'Aquino and others) became notorious if eventually ineffectual mouthpieces for, respectively, Germany and Japan. The British responded to Lord Haw Haw's propaganda with their own, embodied in Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror. Propaganda today does not convey the forthrightness of agit-prop, nor the participatory qualities of street theatre. Rather, it disingenuously breeds the politics of paranoia by warning us that, in criticizing, say, the U.S. occupation of Iraq, we give comfort to the enemy. Such a political climate of conspiracy, fear and anxiety continues to find its way into our thoughts and dreams.

All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.