20 April, 2024


The Psychology Of Nazism

By Ruwan M Jayatunge

Dr. Ruwan M Jayatunge MD

The Nazi movement which did horrifying atrocities to the people was based on racial superiority. Adolf Hitler who was the main architect of the Nazi organization was supported by many intellectuals. Many leaders of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (Nazi) had many things in common. They all believed in destructive Nazi nightmare of racial hearted and ethnic cleansing. What was the psychology behind such a fascist movement which violated basic human rights? Were they psychologically deviated?

Psychologist Gustave Gilbert analyzed many Nazi leaders like Herman Goering, Albert Speer, von Ribbentrop Rudolf Hob (the commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp) etc during the Nuremberg trials and revealed the inner nature of the Nazis. He found that Nazis lacked empathy. In their personal lives they were good husbands and fathers. They loved their children. But when the dark side of their nature came in to action they could kill tens of thousands of men, women and children in the gas chambers. After committing these crimes their conscience were not shattered. They had no guilty feelings.

Nazi leaders conspired to wage war committed crimes against humanity and felt that they are doing it for the betterment of the German people. They saw other races especially Jews as sub humans. There are many theories beneath Hitler’s antisemitism. Some Germans believed that they lost the WW1 as a result of the betrayal by the Jewish businessmen who did not support the war efforts. But the truth was there were many Jewish officers who fought for Germany during the Great War. Hitler had personal experience which led to deep mistrust and hatred against Jews.

Hitler’s mother was suffering from a breast cancer and she was dying. When her Jewish doctor broke the bad news to young Hitler he thought that the physician was responsible for her death. Hence hefty anger and prejudice was building inside his mind from young days. He was capable of generalizing this anger and prejudice against the Jewish people. When he came to power Hitler’s leadership caused the Holocaust or the genocide of approximately six million European Jews during the WW2.

Nazis committed atrocities in the occupied territories. In the Eastern Europe especially in the USSR they unleashed horrible aggression. Women were raped in front of their husbands and children, men were killed in masses, and some were driven to forced labor. In all these events their lack of empathy and lack of remorse were pronounced greatly. According to Gustave Gilbert Nazis leaders had a dual nature. Above all they believed that they were doing the right thing.

Based on the interviews of the Nazi leaders Gustave Gilbert published a book called Nuremberg Diary in 1947. These documents disclose the psyche of the Nazi leaders. When the Nazi leader Herman Goering was interviewed by Gustav Gilbert, Goering said: “Of course the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. . . . But after all it is the leaders of the country that determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along.”

People can always be brought to the will of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

Goering was obsessed by Hitler’s personality. On one occasion Goering said my conscious is Führer’s (Hitler’s) conscious. They were ready to follow Hitler under any circumstances. Therefore many Nazis leaders shared a common mental structure.

Nazis were able to create a mass hysteria and mass conditioning of the German people. Millions of people believed in Nazi propaganda and adored Hitler. No doubt that Hitler was a charismatic leader and an excellent orator. Gilbert studied the inner nature of Adolf Hitler. In 1950; Gilbert published The Psychology of Dictatorship. In this book, Gilbert made an attempt to portray a profile of the psychological behavior of Adolf Hitler.

Why Hitler preached racial superiority? Has he had any doubts about his origin? Hitler’s grandmother Anna Maria Schicklgruber became pregnant while working as a servant in a Jewish household. Hitler made daring attempts to conceal this factor and had fears that his pure Aryan blood was contaminated. When he was about to be the absolute leader of the Germany one newspaper published an article stating that the shape of Hitler’s nose is more Hungarian than German. Hitler was furious about this article and eventually he hunted the journalist who wrote it. Hitler admired the music of Wagner. Wagner was an anti-Semite.

As a boy Hitler was tormented, humiliated and mocked by his father. Hitler’s father punished him for a slightest mistake he made. When he became an adult leader he ruled the Germany with an iron fist. His aunt Johanna was a schizophrenic patient and little Hitler was terrified by his aunt’s psychotic behavior. In the later years Hitler ordered to terminate every psychiatric person in Germany. He could not stand them.

In his speech in 1937 April Hitler said,

All that concerns me is never to take a step that I might later have to retrace and never to take a step which could damage us in any way. You must understand that I always go as far as I dare and never further. It is vital to have a sixth sense which tells you broadly what you can and cannot do.

Hence Hitler was determined to continue his destructive efforts despite the protests made by the civilized world. He misinterpreted the religion and used it to justify his atrocities against Jewish people. In his autobiography Mein Kampf (P46) Hitler mentions the following statement.

I believe to-day that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. In standing guard against the Jew I am defending the handiwork of the Lord.

Henry Murray, a prominent personality specialist at Harvard University hypnotized that Hitler was deeply confused about his sexuality. Analyzing the metaphors in his book Mein Kampf, Murray says that Hitler was unable to come to terms with his complex sexuality. Henry Murray claimed that Hitler was both impotent and a “fully fledged masochist”. His niece Galee became so tormented by his sexual jealousy and committed suicide. Hitler’s sexual inadequacy may have led to exorbitant cravings for superiority. Lothar Machtan has argued in his book The Hidden Hitler that Hitler was homosexual.

Although Hitler proclaimed that the Third Reich was invincible and would last for thousands of years the system was collapsing in front of his eyes. In the verge of the defeat his passion for Germany changed dramatically. Adolf Hitler issued his infamous “Nero Decree,” the order to destroy all German industry and infrastructure. Hitler’s Minister of War Industry Albert Speer sabotaged this auto destructive plan. On 30 April 1945 when the Red Army was advancing Hitler committed suicide with Eva Braun in the Führerbunker.

Psychology of Nazism demonstrates the savage part of the human nature. Leaders can tune the people and make them hate and terminate other ethnic groups without remorse. When the people are being desensitized they follow the leaders blindly. Influential charismatic negative leadership can bring total chaos to the Humankind.

Following poem reveals the life time suffering of a victim of the Auschwitz concentration camp and the magnitude of trauma caused by the Nazi ideology.

Auschwitz (By Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge )

My heart cried
When my feet touched Auschwitz
Although many years have passed
It seems like yesterday

I was brought here
Along with my family
We traveled three nights in a cattle train
Fully packed and had no space to move

When my little sister asked for water
I gave my water bottle with a small loaf of bread
Then she slept on my lap
But I was awake all the time

When the train stopped
The Doors were opened
There were no welcome signs
The SS men came with guns and dogs
SS-Totenkopfverbände greeted no one

When I saw Sonder- Commanders
I could read their eyes
They moved like living dead
Gave no word or smile

It was winter and I felt cold
I took a deep breath
My inner mind whispered
You have come to the land of death

When the Commandant came
We were separated
Some went to the labor camp
And the others to the gas chamber

They gassed  my parents
Along with my little sister
Their ashes were scattered
All over Auschwitz

Countless nights
I lived with the memory of my family
I worked all day long
But we were under fed

Famine and cold
Fear and beatings
Humiliations and torture
Every single day
We experienced death

There was no hope
There was no salvation
Only option left was
The electrified fence

After many years
We heard rumors
The War is going to end
And the Red Army is moving towards Berlin

In the final days of the War
The Nazis were frantic
Joshua said
They might terminate us all
On the 27th January 1945
The Red Army came to Auschwitz
Many of us were walking skeletons

They gave us food
And said soon the War will be over
Many became astonished
But my feelings were numbed

On the day of the liberation
Auschwitz survivors were parted
Many went to their homes
But I had no place to go
Because my family was no more
With Joshua I moved to Santa Barbara

Many years after the war
Again I came to Auschwitz
Not as a prisoner this time
But as a witness

This is the place they eliminated my entire family
I remembered  my parents and my little sister
They went through the gas chimney
Without telling me good bye

I tightly held Joshua’s hand
When I saw the remnants of the gas chamber
I felt despair
I had no tears to cry

I could hear many voices in this place
Million and half
Men women and children
Who were murdered by the Nazis
Then I clearly heard my little sister saying
Sara thank you for coming to see me

I closed my eyes
I wanted to be alone

Why did they do this to us?
Why Why ?

If I could speak to the whole world
I would say a few words
Please do not let it happen
Never again
Never again

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0

    where were you when it happened at Mulliwaykal Sleeping not writting

    • 0

      Actually, we should appreciate professionals explain behavior of personalities before some stupid happens like that again. It is a timely article.

      Probably this doctor has written in the past, readers may have ignored the gravity of the problem.

      If there are personalities with aberrant thinking pattern it is up to the government to replace them before it is too late from their positions where they have messed up every thing and messing up with the Judiciary as well.

    • 0

      please use your brain.
      do not sit on that.

  • 0

    The holocaust was terrible, and it should never happen again. Ironically though the victims of that terrible event, have turned into bullies themselves. The Palestinian people are now suffering under the occupation of Israel, have their lands stolen, homes bulldozed, and numerous crimes against them, which has brought world condemnation of Israel. One would expect the victims of the holocaust to have more tolerance and sympathy for their neighbor who live in ghettos, and face the wrath of Israel. It seems the words “never again” applies to Israel only, while they inflict suffering on 1.5 million Palestinians.

    • 0

      The abused becoming the abuser isn’t uncommon; the oppressed Tamil became the Tiger bully.

      • 0

        David Blacker

        “the oppressed Tamil became the Tiger bully”.

        And Sri Lanka, India, Premadasa and his Sri Lankan armed forces helped the LTTE to become the bigger bullies.

        • 0

          Premadasa’s contribution to the Tigers was relatively minor, but who helped them is beside the point.

  • 0

    Dr. J’s writings, show a deep commitment to bring across psychological and psychiatric dimensions of many issues ( Nazism, popular cultural icons (hotel California) etc etc; to the general reader, while challenging the reader to go beyond “story” reading.

    yet, in a vast subject such as this one, the writer runs the risk of over generalising very very deep and huge subject areas, such as Hitler’s own personality and his psychological issues “resonating” with a huge set of followers mindset creating a huge destruction.

    While the Fuhrer’s own conflicted personality is well documented, the way in which a huge section of his compatriots mindset matched with his hatred can’t be explained with psychology or psychoanalysis.

    I am sure a professional such as dr. J is keenly aware that when he puts the ideas across to the general reader, either the limitation and generalisations are clearly mentioned or better, perhaps, different aspects are touched upon in a series of articles, that may be collated in a book, later on.

    In any case, more strength to your “elbow”.

  • 0

    @ Raja

    The truth is most of the Tamil people in the North welcomed the violence that was initiated by the immature young Tamil Militants in the early days of the conflict. They hailed these inexperienced young men who started killing unarmed policemen in the north. The general public in Jaffna called these misguided youth as “our boys”. There were no intellectual community leaders like Martin Luther Jr who could show the righteous path to the Tamil people. All they had were power hungry short sighted corrupted politicians. (They were no better than the politicians of the South) Later the immature young Tamil Militants turned their guns on these Tamil politicians. (Remember Amirthalingam) The Tamil Diaspora pumped millions of money to the conflict while Prabhakaran forcefully recruited Tamil children to the war destroying Tamil culture and Tamil identity.

    At the end what happened ? . After 30 years you have had your ancestral homes destroyed, your communities are disintegrated and your identities are shattered. Have you earned the respect internationally ? When you people go to a Western country and show your passport they think you are a Tamil Terrorist / drug smuggler / or a suicide bomber. You are subjected to harassment and discrimination.

    The Tamil Diaspora collected billions of dollars by force from the poor Tamils who do odd jobs in the Western countries in harsh winters. This money was given to KP. KP gave all your hard earned money to MR. MR and family became super rich.

    Talk to your hearts, all you guys have contributed to this destruction ( material / cultural ) of the Tamil people one way or another.

    What the country need is not another racial war,both nations have to work for peace and prosperity forgetting hate.

    • 0


    • 0

      Amirthalingam and company were killed, because the LTTE understood that they were using them as a tool to deliver the Eellam, they would rule. The so-called Tamil liberation struggle ended the way it did because it became increasingly unprincipled with time. The worst damage it did was to destroy the conscience of the Tamils.

      The Sri Lankan governments too have been the trend setters in unprincipled behaviour and brought the nation today to where it is – where there is deep decay in all our institutions, including the presidency, the legislature and judiciary. Every citizen is a victim now of a system on the brink of collapse. The CJ episode is awakening the consciousness of the people enough to recognise that something is seriously wrong with how we are governed.

      A change in the manner in hitch we are governed is what we need urgently. This will reconcile the country more than anything else would. When every citizen feels he is being justly treated by his country, reconciliation would be the natural outcome.

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 0

    Rudolf Hob?? You mean Rudolf Höss, sometimes also spellt Höß? Come on! And the inacurrancy goes on and on in this “article” which is fit for some high school pamphlet.
    Stick to Rock’n’Roll themes, pal!

    • 0

      It’s unfortunate that you were not able to get the sense of this article, and I don’t have any personal/professional to defend the writer.

      Since you mention of mistakes that were so glaring they affect the overall idea and also the facts presented, kindly mention them so other readers can use your knowledge.

      BTW, I don’t think anyone misses what you meant though you wrote truely, instead of truly.

  • 0

    The issues of race and religon need to be kept separate from politics and governance. The rulers of a country must be impartial and altruistic towards all its citizens irrespective of race or religon. Discrimination is against the priciples of justice and leads to conflict and bloodshed. This is what we see throughout the world where people are revolting aginst the unjust dictators.

    Hitler and the Nazis were a very extreme case of racial intolerance but we must recognise that the same malaise is present in many people and countries to various degrees. So it is the principle that we must abhor and reject in whatever form or degree.

  • 0

    The author gives an analysis of personalities who choose a self destructive path. Politicians and officials who ignore social norms and who do not respect the law can end up in a self destructive process. During Adolf Hitler’s era individuals with personality disorders can destroy the democracy and social norms for a long period, in the modern world under internationally dependent circumstances it is only a short lived self destructive process. According to latest news, Iran evacuate entire city of Isfahan, 1.5 million populations, Venezuelan President is having serious complications in his illness. Totalitarian regimens do not seem to survive in the present day context, Individuals with personality disorders attempting to ignore law and order and suppress democracy is a self destructive process. When the self sufficient nations also suffer what about the regimes heavily indebted and dependent on IMF loans? It is worth observing new developments in Iranian region, why do they evacuate an entire population?

  • 0

    what about the post-independence structural violence of successive governments and Sinhala mobs sponsored by them in 1956, 1958, 1977, 1981 and 1983 and more structural violence, the increasing oppression with Prevention of Terrorism Act, militarisation, …..

  • 0

    The Eye In The Sky

    There lies an eerie silence,
    on the grassy fields pock marked
    with craters scattered amongst the broken trees
    and trampled flowers where,
    forty thousand died because they were,
    in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    You are either with us or against us!
    If you remain on their side, you will die like dogs!
    But if you come over to our side, you can
    live like dogs in ‘Welfare’ barbed wire camps!

    That was the ultimatum, before the bombs
    and shells and rockets began to fall.
    Those responsible for these humanitarian atrocities,
    are now heroes in the eyes of the vocal majority who
    celebrated the death of the forty thousand,
    while the silent minorities silently wondered if they would be next!

    The swine flu infected majority thought,
    this was a war without witnesses.
    But they did not count on one witness,
    that was too high in the sky to be destroyed or killed!
    Like they did to TV stations and journalists!
    A witness that was too far away to be intimidated or abducted in,
    ‘White Unidentified Four wheeled Objects!’
    A witness that was beyond the range of multi barrel rockets and artillery!
    A witness that could not be insulted by state media!
    A witness that could not be bribed into withholding evidence!
    The Eye In The Sky Saw It All!
    Satellite evidence that only blind patriots and idiots would deny!
    Those who survived, can rest assured that,
    the world will never forgive or forget!

  • 0

    Xyklon B was humane?

    The landscape is poxed with craters,
    Women and children and old people are,
    Not gassed to death by Xyklon B but,
    Bombed to bits by screaming jets.

    The jungle is one big concentration camp,
    Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau, Treblinka,
    All rolled into a thirty something,
    Square kilometre ”No Fire Zone”,

    3,00,000 Dravidian Jews from the wonder of Asia,
    The Idiot Island hanging from the tip of India,
    Saturated with rockets, shells and cluster bombs,
    A crude but effective “Final Solution”,

    The brainchild of the Roger Proxy Brothers,
    In hindsight Xyklon B seemed humane,
    But no one cared then,
    And no one cares now.

    ps. After reading this and the previous poem, some readers will obviously call me a Tamil or an LTTE supporter. But I am neither. I just happen to be a citizen with a conscience.

    • 0



    • 0

      “After reading this and the previous poem, some readers will obviously call me a Tamil or an LTTE supporter”

      No, they’ll just call you a bad writer.

  • 0

    Dr Jayatunga

    Why dont you analyse the psychological effects of colonialism on those who survived the massacres of invaders?

    I suppose there is good money to be made by weeping over Hitler’s crimes, but there were billions, compared to the claimed six million in Europe, in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, massacred by people belonging to these victims – Columbus, Vasco de Gama, Torres, and all the other invaders who ‘discovered’us. Mo one cares to count these victims or to weep about them.

    Effects of brain washing and greed!

    • 0

      TOL POKKA;
      do not be a MORON.

  • 0

    Dr. J’s article is praisworthy because some political leaders can become a Hitler. If one reads the content of this article carefully we are able to draw parellels with what is happening in our country at the moment under a leader with a NAZI MEDAMULANA mentality.Please read between the lines to understand the meaning of this article.

  • 0

    Be enlighten?. ok

  • 0

    The poem from Aushwitz quoted here is an indictment of a nation that lead the world in philosophy, sciences, industry and the other finer features of man. The end of that nation came by at that time because
    ego, prejudice and hatred take took over from the sublime examples of Hegel, Goethe, Martin Luther, Marx, Engels, Mozart, Luz Long et al who subverted the structures of governance by a deranged man riding the high horse of pseudo-nationalism and delusionary Aryanism. But humanism and magnanimity from the victorious was to forgive the aberrations and rebuild the great nation that serves the world well today. It is good to be guest of a Jewish friend married to a Bavarian girl living in Raunheim in the outskirts of Frankfurt many times when I visited there in recent years. The great German people have overcome their prejudices and openly acknowledge the mistakes of WWII. That is learning and culture.

    I regret I failed to note down, when I visited in the late 90s, the words of a beautiful poem in Aushwitz written by a lass gsssed there which began something like “Don’t look for your little… Mama. Her ashes are thrown around the dark and grey fields of Aushwitz..” I have since unsuccessfully tried to get the verse.

    The great German Nation overcame its mistakes, accepted her faults and regained her place in the world. Is our future unity, peace and prosperity linked to this example.


    • 0

      The German had no choice but to accept its mistakes and rebuild, because it had been utterly defeated both physically and ideologically. The victorious Allies did no such soul-searching. For SL to move forward, the defeated must accept that their ideology has been similarly defeated; and defeated perhaps because of its own flaws.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.