Sunday, November 27, 2016

18 Years Ago: Investigating the Murder of the American Nuns in El Salvador — 18 Years Before That

For the moment, this story is not readily available on the Newsweek site, so I am reprinting it here. When it is available, I will post a link.


December 7, 1998, Atlantic Edition

Not Today, Not Tomorrow


In 1980, four Americans were murdered in El Salvador. On his return there, a reporter finds that the case is not yet closed.

EIGHTEEN YEARS AGO THIS WEEK, three American nuns and a religious volunteer were abducted, raped and murdered in El Salvador. Five common soldiers were eventually convicted of the crime, but the families of Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan always suspected that the killing was ordered by higher-ranking officers. For 18 years they've tried to pursue the investigation.

Now, at last, they may be close to a break in the case. Under direct orders from President Clinton, the administration has begun releasing thousands of long-secret documents. The Salvadoran press is full of accusations drawn from those papers. Some of the convicted killers are talking. Retired Salvadoran officers are fingering erstwhile colleagues.

The key question, always unanswered, was whether senior commanders in the Salvadoran military ordered the execution of the nuns. A definitive picture of the murder has not yet emerged. But the image is getting clearer. Also apparent is a pattern of willful ignorance by American officials who were bent on protecting their fragile, promilitary policy in El Salvador throughout a brutal decade. Scott Greathead of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights in New York puts the case bluntly. Successive U.S. administrations "pursued every lead except the leads that went up the chain of command," he says. No commissioned officer with authority over the convicted soldiers was ever interrogated by Salvadoran prosecutors or American investigators.

Last March, Greathead and his colleague Robert Weiner interviewed four of the five convicted killers, then in prison. Only the squad leader, Sub-Sgt. Luis Antonio Colindres Aleman, refused to talk. The four who did talk said Colindres had told them he was acting on higher authority when he ordered them to kill the nuns.

Then the lawyers, who have been working with the church-women's families for 16 years, found two key Salvadoran generals living in Florida. One is Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova. In 1980 he was commander of the Guardia Nacional, El Salvador's rural gendarmerie. All five of the convicted soldiers served under him. So did the officers who directed the initial cover-up of the crime -- a cover-up documented in U.S. Embassy cables. Vides Casanova told the lawyers that he had no responsibility whatsoever for the crime or attempts to conceal it.

The other general found in Florida, Jose Guillermo Garcia, was El Salvador's Defense minister when the nuns were killed. Garcia, too, denied any responsibility. But he told the lawyers something that he had once said to the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador. In the words of a 1985 embassy cable to Washington: "When it became clear that the women had been murdered [Garcia] thought immediately of Colonel Edgardo Casanova."

In 1980, Col. Oscar Edgardo Casanova Vejar, to use his full name, was the regional commander of the Zacatecoluca garrison, within whose jurisdiction was the international airport. Casanova Vejar is the son of a former head of the Guardia Nacional, and a first cousin of Vides Casanova, Guardia commander in 1980 and the man who now maintains his ignorance of almost everything to do with the murders. Late last month, I went to hear Casanova Vejar's denials for myself. It was my first time in El Salvador in almost 15 years. In the early 1980s I was reporting on Central America for The Washington Post; for many Americans, and for me, the murder of the nuns has lingered as an unforgettable example of suffering in a small country that found itself a major battleground in the final days of the cold war.

El Salvador's international airport has not changed much. It's near the coast, and it's a long, lonely drive to the capital. I felt a tremor of remembered fear as the flight from Miami touched down. In 1980, each time I landed I was terrified. You saw death everywhere, all the time. Bodies were thrown into gutters and left to rot. But the killing was not random -- or not quite. Left-wing "popular organizations" with ties to guerrilla groups were trying to launch an uprising. Army officers created death squads with names like La Mano Blanca (The White Hand) to wipe out suspected revolutionaries. Hundreds, then thousands, of innocents died in the hideous process of abduction, torture and murder. And the death squads were winning. In March of 1980 even the Arch-bishop of San Salvador was gunned down. By the closing months of the year no one was immune from the slaughter. Not even Americans.

On the evening of Dec. 2, 1980, Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan went to the airport to meet Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, who were returning from a conference in Nicaragua. A Guardia soldier inside the terminal telephoned Colindres to alert him to the presence of two "suspicious women." As night fell, Colindres set up a double roadblock on the airport road. Eight of his men were assigned to hold up traffic and allow only the nuns' minibus to pass. Colindres and his squad, wearing civilian clothes, then intercepted the nuns. About an hour later, after some car problems, Colindres made at least one phone call, and possibly others, from a little Guardia outpost in the village of Rosario de la Paz. That much is well established in U.S. government documents. According to the statements taken from Colindres's subordinates by Weiner and Greathead, it was after his chat on the telephone that Colindres announced he had orders to kill the women. The bodies were left in the open to be buried, later, by what-ever peasants found them.

The nuns were the first Americans to be killed, but not the last. A month after the churchwomen's bodies were dragged out of their dusty grave near the airport, two Americans sent by the AFL-CIO to help with a land-reform program were shot down in San Salvador's Sheraton Hotel. Two right-wing civilians were arrested. De-classified U.S. documents show confidential military sources implicated members of the Guardia's intelligence section (S-2). But no one was ever brought to trial. Many officers now believed they could wage their dirty war with impunity.

The Salvadoran military grew from 11,000 men in 1979 to 57,000 in 1989, eventually underwritten by billions of dollars in U.S. aid. The toll of the war mounted: 70,000 people died. The Army was always said by Washington to be growing more professional, more conscious of human rights. Then, in November 1989 -- nine full years after the nuns were murdered -- a group of elite, American-trained Salvadoran soldiers slaughtered six Jesuit priests deemed "subversive." As a U.S. Embassy cable reported in January 1990, "if the system had brought to justice those responsible for the famous 'Sheraton murders' and for the killing of the nuns a few years ago, the signal that such crimes would not be tolerated would have been clear."

But "the system" had done all it was able or willing to do with the conviction of Colindres and his squad. In 1980 and 1981, even as Guardia commander Vides Casanova said he was conducting an investigation, his senior officers were directing a cover-up. Only when a young U.S. diplomat named Carl Gettinger developed an independent source in the Guardia -- a lieu-tenant involved with so many death-squad activities that embassy cables referred to him as "Killer" -- was the case broken. Killer wore a wire and got Colindres confessing on tape. The sergeant was arrested and finally, in 1984, he and his men were convicted.

At that point, U.S. and Salvadoran officials might have started a more intense effort to discover any involvement by higher-ranking officers: for example, who did Colindres phone on the night of the murder? But even after Defense Minister Garcia and another top officer told the embassy in 1985 they suspected that Casanova Vejar was involved in the crime, there was no follow-up. Instead, Killer's tape -- known as "the special embassy evidence" -- was cited, unseen and unheard by the public, as proof that no higher orders were given. Yet the transcript, finally released this year, does not settle that question. When Colindres was polygraphed by the FBI, he was never asked if he was ordered to "detain," "arrest" or "execute" the four women; he was asked only if he was told to "commit an outrage against them." That he answered in the negative "without any sign of deception," according to the documents. The suspicion that Colindres was not interrogated thoroughly has left the families of the murdered women bitter. He was released from jail last summer and is now in hiding.

In El Salvador last month, Casanova Vejar was quick to return the American lawyers' calls. His position as the leading suspect among higher officers had already been headlined in the Salvadoran press. I asked if I could sit in on the meeting between him and the lawyers, and he agreed. A dignified man with blow-dried gray hair, he now runs a small trucking company west of the capital. Since his retirement from the Army, he has traded his uniform for a polo shirt, his web belt for a leather one from Tommy Hilfiger.

Casanova Vejar said he had nothing to do with the killing of the nuns. The first news he got of the incident, he said, was when Gettinger, the embassy officer, called him after the women went missing. In any case, said Casanova Vejar, Colindres and his men did not report to him. There was, he said, a "Special Defense Command" in charge of the international airport. (In Florida a few days later, I repeated that line to General Garcia, the former Defense minister. Special Defense Command? "That's the first I ever heard of it," he said, shaking his head.)

Greathead and Weiner were not convinced. To believe Casanova Vejar's contention that he knew nothing, one must assume that in a small command in rural El Salvador, a lowly sergeant like Colindres could take it into his head to deploy 14 men, disrupt traffic out of the airport, target, kidnap, rape and murder four American women religious workers, then leave behind their unburied bodies and their burned-out vehicle with no one the wiser at headquarters. Casanova Vejar shrugged. "Something can be happening five kilometers away," he said, "and we wouldn't know it."

The role of Casanova Vejar was not the only lead pursued by the Lawyers Committee last month. The Americans also talked to former military commanders who told them Guardia officers in the province where Ita Ford and Maura Clarke had their mission had spread word the women were "subversives." Such information was sent to the intelligence division of the Guardia, the S-2, in the capital, then distributed to outposts all over the country. In El Salvador in those days, such a report was tantamount to a death warrant.

A key officer in Guardia intelligence at the time was Lt. Isidro Lopez Sibrian, who was implicated by a U.S. investigation into the Sheraton killings, but was released by Salvadoran courts. He subsequently spent a term in jail for his role in a kidnap-for-profit racket. Under a new penal code, which went into effect this year, Lopez Sibrian was released from prison for good behavior. He left the country -- a violation of his parole -- and is now believed to be living in Mexico. The Lawyers Committee has asked the State Department to help track him down and send him back to jail for questioning about the nuns case.

Today there are no roadblocks at the El Salvador airport. The Guardia Nacional has been disbanded. In the capital, the Sheraton Hotel has changed its name. Since the fighting ended in 1992. Salvadoran politics have been transformed. The democratic process is taking hold. But the culture of violence, and vengeance, remains, and is likely to as long as so many murders -- tens of thousands of them committed in the war -- go unsolved in the peace.

In his little air-conditioned office far outside San Salvador, the blow-dried Colonel Casanova Vejar tries to fend off the lawyers' questions by talking about his daughter. In 1989, on her 21st birthday, he says, she was gunned down in front of his house. Her body was almost torn to pieces by the 30 bullets blasted into her. "Nobody investigated that," he said. "Nobody looked into that." To his listeners, he seemed to be playing for sympathy, without making any direct link with the accusations leveled against him in the nuns case. "It was just because I was a colonel," he said. As the lawyers and I interviewed more government officials and retired Army officers, it was clear that many did indeed feel sympathy for Casanova Vejar's loss. "There is a sense that he got his," says one retired colonel. "So maybe he should be left alone."

In a country that wants to forget the past and move on, it is easy to see how such sentiments can take hold. For the nuns' families, however, those feelings are bound to be mingled with others. The families, says Ita Ford's brother William, are simply looking for justice. "People who do these things should know that maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some day somebody is going to catch up with them." Almost two decades after the nuns' murders, the search for justice continues.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Transition-relevant reprint from 1980: Amb. Robert White Says Reagan Team Hurts Salvador Policy

The Washington Post has made a great many of my stories from Central America available online, but I can't seem to find this one among them. I am posting it here as a help to readers until it becomes available on

Envoy Assails Reagan Aides On El Salvador;
Envoy Says Reagan Team Hurts Salvador Policy

BYLINE: By Christopher Dickey, Washington Post Foreign Service

SECTION: First Section; A1

LENGTH: 1302 words


U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador Robert E. White today accused President-elect Ronald Reagan's advisers of "weakening my authority to carry out the policy of [the Carter] administration" in the midst of a crisis that threatens to destroy the U.S.-backed Salvadoran regime and could lead to expanding armed conflict and an extremist take-over.

"When civil war breaks out in this country, I hope they get their chance to serve," said White, his hands gripping the arms of the chair as he talked to two American reporters this morning.
His anger was focused on the leak to the press last week of a so-called "hit list," prepared by members of the Reagan transition team, that named White as one of several ambassadors accused of improperly acting as "social reformers" and slated for removal soon after Reagan's inauguration Jan. 20.
White, 54, a career diplomat, is also concerned about the unannounced presence in El Salvador last week of Cleto Di Giovanni Jr., a conservative Central American analyst with ties to several members of the Reagan transition team. White and other U.S. officials here said Di Giovanni had presented himself as being on an official mission for the incoming administration.

The message he carried, said an embassy official who met Di Giovanni during his visit, was that the Reagan team's public denials of support for a rightist military coup should be disregarded.

A spokesman for the Broad National Front, a leading right-wing organization, implied Di Giovanni was here to gather information for Reagan that would balance that provided by the Carter administration.
Reached in Washington, Reagan State Department transition team head Robert Neumann, repeating last week's denials, said today that the leaked "hit list" was neither policy nor official team recommendation. He said the documents were "a collection of individual papers" written by team members and represented "the first cut" of opinions that may be part of the final recommendations sent to Reagan. c
Also contacted in Washington, Di Giovanni said that he had gone to El Salvador on personal business and that he "did not represent Reagan nor have I ever represented Reagan" in this or any other mission. A former CIA official who served six years in South America, Di Giovanni said he currently operates a "security consultants" firm that helps Salvadoran businessmen learn to protect themselves against terrorist attacks.
Neumann also said that Di Giovanni "certainly wasn't sent by us" on a trip to El Salvador or anywhere else. Apparently referring to similar reports that have plagued the Reagan team over the past several weeks, Neumann said "we have half a dozen pretend emissaries all over the world who are complete hoaxes."
Another transition team member said that Di Giovanni, who has published a number of articles critical of Carter's policy in Central America, including one in the current edition of The Washington Quarterly co-authored with Reagan foreign policy advisor Roger Fontaine, informed the team he was traveling to El Salvador and asked if he could carry a message.
"Not only was he not authorized" to speak for the incoming administration the team member said, "he was strongly discouraged" from making the trip because it was "thought perhaps he would be misunderstood."
The vehemence of White's charges indicate both the extent of the tension here and the depth of policy disagreements between the outgoing and incoming administrations in this part of the world. The situation also illustrates the strong belief of the right here that Reagan will abruptly change U.S. policy in the region.
After a year of widespread political violence and uncertainty, the current Salvadoran crisis began with the murder last month of five prominent leftist political leaders. It became extremely grave a week ago when four American women missionary workers were savagely tortured and killed.
U.S. aid to the government was suspended pending an investigation of the murders, and a special high-level U.S. diplomatic mission was sent here to look into the question of institutionalized violence and the government's stability. The team left El Salvador today and is expected to report to Carter later in the week.
The entire government El Salvador is in the process of restructuring itself, and its final composition could be decisive not only in determining the immediate future of El Salvador but of the entire Central American region, because of the danger of the conflict here spilling over into other countries.
The Carter administration has sought to establish and nurture a moderate coalition government of civilian and military men, which has instituted sweeping reforms in the 14 months since the ouster of Gen. Carlos Humberto Romero's corrupt conservative regime.
U.S. backing of the government, a five-member junta composed of two Christian Democratic politicians, an independent and two military representatives, has been largely successful White believes, in undercutting what was a growing threat of leftist insurrection.
But both the left and the right have sought to undermine this policy. The orientation of the regime has become increasingly conservative, and since early November the extreme right has been marshalling forces both inside and outside the government to launch a coup to take control.
"Right now," White said, "in this critical juncture when there is clearly a lot of pressure being placed on military officers to move this government to the right, the various mixed and contradictory signals coming out of various people who think they speak for the Reagan administration have accentuated this problem and made the crisis much sharper."
White called a statement during a television interview by Reagan's top foreign policy adviser, Richard Allen, a helpful step in clearing up some of the misperceptions and confusion.
Allen, acting indirectly on a request by White, said on ABC's "Issues and Answers" that the Reagan administration will follow "a balanced policy. . . . In the case of El Salvador the alternative to the existing junta today is extremism on either side."
But White said that the leaked report about ambassadors, reportedly prepared by Reagan State Department team member Pedro San Juan, "has struck a heavy blow at the Christian Democrats and moderate military officers" struggling to avoid a coup by undermining White' ability to reinforce their position.
This, White believes, will ultimately play into the hands of the radical left. "Progressive elements in the government, with our solid backing, have sought to defeat the violent left by instituting profound reforms designed to improve the terrible social conditions in this country that foster insurrection," White said.
These policies, which included one of the most sweeping land reform programs in Latin America history, the nationalization of the banks and of foreign commerce, "have succeeded," White said, "to the extent that the chances are overwhelming that the next administration will not have to confront the type of leftist threat that the Carter Administration had to confront over the past year.
"The policy of supporting a new model, a non-Marxist, prodemocratic model of profound social, political and economic changes has been successful in defeating the leftist drive," White said.
About attempts to put an end to "officially sponsored or tolerated violence" by the government White was less optimistic following the murders of the churchwomen and "six leftist leaders in broad daylight in the middle of El Salvador."
"This has brought into question whether there exists authority, will and ability to control these terrible abuses and this is the critical question before us," White said.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Carl Jung on Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini (1938) - Populism, Symbolism, Tyranny and "Poor White Trash"

In late 1938, Cosmopolitan magazine published Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist H. R. Knickerbocker's interview with C. G. Jung. The only extant copy I was able to find on the Web was published in 2012 on a blog called Carl Jung Depth Psychology, but the text there is without clear differentiation between the questions and answers, and with no paragraph breaks. As best as possible, I have tried to present it here in more readable form. If you have a printed edition and can offer corrections, please do.

I am posting this now because of growing concerns about the resurgence of populism and its particular brands of tyranny in Europe and the United States.

What would happen if you were to lock Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin in a room together and give them one loaf of bread and one pitcher of water to last them a week? Who would get all the food and water, or would they divide it?

I doubt if they would divide it. Hitler, being a medicine man, would probably hold himself aloof and have nothing to do with the quarrel. He would be helpless because he would be without his German people. Mussolini and Stalin, being both chiefs or strong men in their own right, would probably dispute possession of the food and drink, and being the rougher and tougher, would probably get all of it.

There were two types of strong men in, primitive society. One was the chief who was physically powerful, stronger than all his competitors, and the other was the medicine man who was not strong in himself but was strong by reason of the power which the people projected into him. Thus we had the emperor and the head of the religious community. The emperor was the chief, physically strong through his possession of soldiers; the seer was the medicine man, possessing little or no physical power but an actual power sometimes surpassing that of the emperor, because the people agreed that he possessed magic—that is, supernatural ability. He could, for example, assist or obstruct the way to a happy life after death, put a ban upon an individual, a community or a whole nation, and by excommunication cause people great discomfort or pain.

Now, Mussolini is the man of physical strength. When you see him you are aware of it at once. His body suggests good muscles. He is the chief by reason of the fact that he is individually stronger than any of his competitors. And it is a fact that Mussolini’s mentality corresponds to his classification: he has the mind of a chief. Stalin belongs in the same category. He is, however, not a creator. Lenin, created; Stalin is devouring the brood. He is a conquistador; he simply took what Lenin made and put his teeth into it and devoured it. He is not even creatively destructive. Lenin was that. He tore down the whole structure of feudal and bourgeois society in Russia and replaced it with is own creation. Stalin is destroying that.

Mentally, Stalin is not so interesting as Mussolini, who resembles him in the fundamental pattern of his personality, and he is not anything like so interesting as the medicine man, the myth—Hitler.

Anybody who takes command of one hundred and seventy million people as Stalin has done is bound to be interesting, whether you like him or not.

No, Stalin is just a brute—a shrewd peasant, an instinctive powerful, beast—no doubt in that way far the most powerful of all the dictators. He reminds one of a Siberian saber-toothed tiger with that powerful neck, those sweeping mustaches, and that smile like a cat which has been eating cream. I should imagine that Genghis Khan might have been an early Stalin. I shouldn’t wonder if he makes himself Czar.

Hitler is entirely different. His body does not suggest strength. The outstanding characteristic of his physiognomy is its dreamy look. I was especially struck by that when I saw pictures taken of him during the Czechoslovakian crisis; there was in his eyes the look of a seer. There is no question but that Hitler belongs in the category of the truly mystic medicine man.

[Not clear if this was Knickerbocker or Jung speaking here.]As somebody commented about him at the last Nürnberg party congress, since the time of Mohammed nothing like it has been seen in this world. This markedly mystic characteristic of Hitler’s is what makes him do things which seem to us illogical, inexplicable, curious and unreasonable. But consider—even the nomenclature of the Nazis is plainly mystic. Take the very name of the Nazi State. They call it the Third Reich. Why? Because the First Reich was the Holy Roman Empire and the second was the one founded by Bismarck and the third is Hitler’s.

Of course. But there is a deeper significance. Nobody called Charlemagne’s kingdom the First Reich nor Wilhelm’s the Second Reich. Only the Nazis call theirs the Third Reich. Because it has a profound mystical meaning: to every German the expression “Third Reich” brings echoes [missing words?] who more than once has indicated he is aware of his mystic calling, appears to the devotees of the Third Reich as something more than mere man.

Again, you take the widespread revival in the Third Reich of the cult of Wotan. Who was Wotan? God of wind. Take the name ‘Sturmabteilung”—Storm Troops. Storm, you see—the wind. Just as the swastika is a revolving form making a vortex moving ever toward the left—which means in Buddhist symbolism sinister, 

[Hitler] is the loudspeaker which magnifies the inaudible whispers of the German soul until they can be heard by the German’s unconscious ear. 

unfavorable, directed toward the unconscious. And all these symbols together of a Third Reich led by its prophet under the banners of wind and storm and whirling vortices point to a mass movement which is to sweep the German people in a hurricane of unreasoning emotion on and on to a destiny which perhaps none but the seer, the prophet, the Fuehrer himself can foretell—and perhaps, not even he.

But why is it that Hitler, who makes nearly every German fall down and worship him, produces next to no impression on any foreigner?

Exactly. Few foreigners respond at all, yet apparently every German in Germany does. It is because Hitler is the mirror of every German’s unconscious, but of course he mirrors nothing from a non-German. He is the loudspeaker which magnifies the inaudible whispers of the German soul until they can be heard by the German’s unconscious ear. He is the first man to tell every German what he has been thinking and feeling all along in his unconscious about German fate, especially since the defeat in the World War, and the one characteristic which colors every Aryan soul is the typically German inferiority complex—the complex of the younger brother, of the one who is always a bit late to the feast. Hitler’s power is not political; it is magic.

What do you mean by magic?

To understand this you must understand what the unconscious is. It is that part of our mental constitution over which we have little control and which is stored with all sorts of impressions and sensations; which contains thoughts and even conclusions of which we are not aware.

Besides the conscious impressions which we receive, there are all sorts of impressions constantly impinging upon our sense organs of which we don’t become aware because they are too slight to attract our conscious attention. They lie beneath the threshold of consciousness. But all these subliminal impressions are recorded; nothing is lost.

Someone may be speaking in a faintly audible voice in the next room while we are talking here. You pay no attention to it, but the conversation next door is being recorded in your unconscious as surely as though the latter were a dicta-phone record. While you sit here my unconscious is taking in quantities of impressions of you, although I am not aware of them and you would be surprised if I should tell you all that I have already learned unconsciously about you in this short space of time.

Now, the secret of Hitler’s power is not that Hitler has an unconscious more plentifully stored than yours or mine. Hitler’s secret is twofold: first, that his unconscious has exceptional access to his consciousness, and second, that he allows himself to be , moved by it. He is like a man who listens intently to a stream of suggestions in a whispered voice from a mysterious source and then acts upon them. In our case, even if occasionally our unconscious does reach us as through dreams, we have too much rationality, too much cerebrum to obey it. This is doubtless the case with Chamberlain, but Hitler listens and obeys. The true leader is always led. We can see it work in him. He himself has referred to his Voice. His Voice is nothing other than his own unconscious, into which the German people have projected their own selves; that is, the unconscious of seventy-eight million Germans. That is what makes him powerful.

Without the German people, he would not be what he seems to be now. It is literally true when he says that whatever he is able to do is only because he has the German people behind him or, as he sometimes says, because he is Germany. So, with his unconscious being the receptacle of the souls of seventy-eight million Germans, he is powerful, and with his unconscious perception of the true balance of political forces at home and in the world, he has so far been infallible.That is why he makes political judgments which turn out to be right against the opinions of all his advisers and against the opinions of all foreign observers.

When this happens, it means only that the information gathered by his unconscious, and reaching his consciousness by means of his exceptional talent, has been more nearly correct than that of all the others, German or foreign, who attempted to judge the situation and who reached conclusions different from his. And of course, it also means that, having this information at hand, he is willing to act upon it.

I suppose that would apply to the three really critical decisions he made, each of which involved the acute danger of war: when he marched into the Rhineland in March, 1936, and into Austria in March, 1938, and when he mobilized and forced the Allies to abandon Czechoslovakia. Because in each one of these cases we know that many of Hitler’s highest military advisers warned him against doing it, since they believed the Allies would resist, and also that if war came Germany would be bound to lose.

Precisely! The fact is that Hitler was able to judge his opponents better than anyone else, and although it appeared inevitable that he would be met by force, he knew his opponents would give in without fighting. That must have been the case especially when Chamberlain came to Berchtesgaden. There for the first time Hitler met the elder British statesman. As Chamberlain proved later at Godesberg, he had come to tell him, among other things, not to go too far or Britain would fight. But Hitler’s unconscious eye which so far has not failed him, read so deeply the character of the British Prime Minister that all the later ultimatums and warnings from London made no impression whatever on his unconscious: Hitler’s unconscious knew—it didn’t guess or feel, it knew—that Britain would not risk war. Yet Hitler’s speech in the Sports Palace when he announced to the world a holy oath that he would march into Czechoslovakia October 1st, with or without the permission of Britain and France, indicated for the first and only time that Hitler the man, in his supremely critical moment, had fear of following Hitler the prophet. His Voice told him to go ahead, that everything would be all right. But his human reason told him the dangers were vast and perhaps overwhelming. Hence for the first time Hitler’s voice trembled; his breath failed. His speech lacked form and trailed off at the end. What human being would not be afraid in such a moment? In making that speech which fixed the destiny of perhaps hundreds of millions of people, he was a man doing something of which he was deathly afraid but forcing himself to do it because it was ordered by his Voice.

[Not sure all of this is Knickerbocker] His Voice was correct. Now who knows but that his Voice may continue to be correct? If it does, it will be very interesting to observe the history of the next few years because, as he said just after his Czech victory, Germany stands today on the threshold of her future. That means he has just begun and if his Voice tells him that the German people are destined to become the lords of Europe and perhaps of the world, and if his Voice continues always to be right, then we are in for an extremely interesting period, aren’t we?

Yes, it seems, that the German people are now convinced they have found their Messiah. In a way, the position of the Germans is remarkably like that of the Jews of old. Since their defeat in the World War they have awaited a Messiah, a Savior. That is characteristic of people with an inferiority complex. The Jews got their inferiority complex from geographical and political factors. They lived in a part of the world which was a parade ground for conquerors from both sides, and after their return from their first exile to Babylon, when they were threatened with extinction by the Romans, they invented the solacing idea of a Messiah who was going to bring all the Jews together into a nation once more and save them. And the Germans got their inferiority complex from comparable causes. They came up out of the Danube valley too late, and founded the beginnings of their nation long after the French and the English were well on their way to nationhood. They got too late to the scramble [for colonies] and for the foundation of empire. Then, when they did get together and made a united nation, they looked around them and saw the British, the French, and others with rich colonies and all the equipment of grown-up nations, and they became jealous, resentful, like a younger brother whose older brothers have taken the lion’s share of the inheritance.

This was the original source of the German inferiority complex which has determined so much of their political thought and action and which is certainly decisive of their [whole] policy today. It is impossible, you see, to talk about Hitler without talking about his people, because Hitler is only the German people.

It occurred to me that the last time I was in America that one could make an interesting geographical analogy about Germany. In America I noticed that somewhere on the East Coast there exists a certain class of people called “poor white trash” and I learned that they are largely descendants of early settlers, some of them bearers of fine old English names. The poor white trash were left behind when some of the people with energy and initiative climbed into their covered wagons and drove West. Then, in the Middle West you meet the people I consider the most stable in America; I mean psychologically the best balanced. Yet in some places farther west you meet some of the least-balanced people. Now, it seems to me that, taking Europe as a whole, and including the British Isles, you have in Ireland and Wales the equivalent of your West Coast. The Celts possess colorful imaginative faculties.

Then, to correspond to your sober Middle West, you have in Europe the English and the French, both of them psychologically stable peoples. But then you come to Germany, and just beyond Germany are the Slav mujiks, the poor white trash of Europe. Now, the mujiks are people who can’t get up in the morning, but sleep all day. And the Germans, their next door neighbors, are people who could get up, but got up too late. Don’t you remember how the Germans even today represent Germany in all their cartoons?

Yes, “Sleepy Michael,” a tall, lean fellow in a nightgown and nightcap.

That’s right, and Sleepy Michael slept through the division of the world into colonial empires, and so the Germans got their inferiority complex, which made them want to fight the World War, and of course when they lost it their feeling of inferiority grew even worse, and developed a desire for a Messiah, and so they have their Hitler. If he is not their true Messiah, he is like one of the Old Testament prophets: his mission is to unite his people and lead them to the Promised Land. This explains why the Nazis have to combat every form of religion besides their own idolatrous brand. I have no doubt but that the campaign against the Catholic and Protestant churches will be pursued with relentless and unremitting vigor, for the very sound reason, from the Nazi point of view, that they wish to substitute the new faith of Hitlerism.

Do you consider it possible that Hitlerism might become for Germany a permanent religion for the future like Mohammedanism for the Moslems?

I think it highly possible. Hitler’s “religion” is the nearest to Mohammedanism, realistic, earthy, promising the maximum of rewards in this life, but with a Moslem-like Valhalla into which worthy Germans may enter and continue to enjoy themselves. Like Mohammedanism, it teaches the virtue of the sword. Hitler’s first idea is to make his people powerful because the spirit of the Aryan German deserves to be supported by might, by muscle and steel.

Of course, it is not a spiritual religion in the sense in which we ordinarily use the term. But remember that in the early days of Christianity it was the church which made the claim to total power, both spiritual and temporal! Today the church no longer makes this claim, but the claim has been taken over by the totalitarian states which demand not only temporal but spiritual power. Incidentally, it occurs to me that the “religious” character of Hitlerism is also emphasized by the fact that German communities throughout the world, far from the political power of Berlin, have adopted Hitlerism. Look at the South American German communities, notably in Chile.

(It surprised me that in this analysis of the dictators nothing had been said of the influence of the fathers and mothers of the strong men. Doctor Jung assigned them no major role.)

It is a great mistake to think that a dictator becomes so on account of personal reasons, such as that he had a strong resistance to his father. There are millions of men who resisted their fathers just as strongly as, say, Mussolini or Hitler or Stalin, but who never became dictators or anything like dictators.The law to remember about dictators is: “It is the persecuted one who persecutes.” The dictators must have suffered from circumstances calculated to bring about dictatorship. Mussolini came at the moment when the country was in chaos, the workmen out of hand and a threat of Bolshevism was terrifying the people. Hitler came when the economic crisis had reduced the standard of living in Germany and increased unemployment to an intolerable level, and after the great inflation of the currency which, although stabilization had come, had impoverished the whole middle class. Both Hitler and Mussolini received their power from the people and their power cannot be withdrawn.

It is interesting that both Hitler and Mussolini base their power chiefly upon the lower middle class, workers and farmers. But to go on with the circumstances under which dictators come to power: Stalin came when the death of Lenin, unique creator of Bolshevism, had left the party and the people leaderless and the country uncertain of its future.

Thus the dictators are made from human material which suffers from overwhelming needs. The three dictators in Europe differ from one another tremendously, but it is not so much they who differ as it is their peoples.

Compare the way the German people think and feel about Hitler with the way the Italians think and feel about Mussolini. The Germans are highly impressionable. They go to extremes; are always a bit unbalanced. They are cosmopolitan, world citizens; easily lose their national identity; like to imitate other nations. Every German man would like to dress like an English gentleman. Not Hitler.

He always has dressed in his own way, and nobody could ever accuse him of trying to look as if he got his clothes on Savile Row.

Precisely. Because Hitler is saying to his Germans, “Now, bei Gott, you have got to start being Germans!” The Germans are extraordinarily sensitive to new ideas, and when they hear one which appeals to them they are likely to swallow it uncritically, and for a time to be completely dominated by it; but after a while they are equally likely to throw it violently away and adopt a newer idea, quite probably contradicting the first one entirely. This is the way they have run their political life. Italians are more stable. Their minds do not roll and wallow and leap and plunge through all the extravagant ecstasies which are the daily exercise of the German mind.

So you find in Italy a spirit of balance lacking in Germany. When the Fascists took power in Italy, Mussolini did not even remove the king. Mussolini worked not with ecstasy of spirit, but with a hammer in his hand, beating Italy into the shape he wanted it, much as his blacksmith father used to make horseshoes.

This Mussolini-Italian balance of temperament is borne out by the Fascist treatment of the Jews. At first they did not persecute the Jews at all, and even now, when for various reasons they have begun an anti-Semitic campaign, it has kept a certain proportion. I suppose the chief reason why Mussolini went in for anti-Semitism at all was that he became convinced that world Jewry was probably an incorrigible and effective force against Fascism—Leon Blum in France, especially, I think—and also, he wished to make his ties with Hitler more solid.

So you see, while Hitler is a medicine man, a form of spiritual vessel, a demi-deity or even better, a myth, Mussolini is a man, and therefore everything in Fascist Italy has a more human shape than it has in Nazi Germany, where things are run by revelation.


Stalin fought so much against the Czar’s bloody oppression that he is now doing exactly the same as the Czar. In my opinion, there is no difference at all now between Stalin and Ivan the Terrible.
Hitler as a man scarcely exists. At any rate, he disappears behind his role. Mussolini, on the contrary, never disappears behind his role. His role disappears behind Mussolini. I saw the Duce and the Parer together in Berlin the time Mussolini paid his formal visit; I had the good luck to be placed only a few yards away from them, and could study them well. It was entertaining to see Mussolini’s expression when they put on the goose step. If I had not seen it should have fallen into the popular delusion that his adoption of the German goose step for the Italian army was in imitation of Hitler. And that would have disappointed me, because I had discerned in Mussolini’s conduct a certain style, a certain format of an original man with good taste in certain matters.

I mean, for example, that it was good taste of the Duce to keep the King. And his choice of title, “Duce”—not Doge as in old Venice, nor Duca, but Duce, the plain Italian word for leader—was original and in my opinion showed good taste.

Now, as I observed Mussolini watching the first goose step he had ever seen, I could see him enjoying it with the zest of a small boy at a circus. But he enjoyed even more the stunt when the cavalry comes and the mounted drummer gallops ahead and takes his place on one side of the street while the band takes its place on the other. The drummer must gallop around the band and up to the front to take his station there, and this he does without touching the reins, guiding his horse only by pressure of the knees, since both hands are busy with the drums.

On this occasion it was done magnificently and it pleased Mussolini so much he broke out laughing and clapped his hands. When he got back to Rome afterwards, he introduced the goose step and I am convinced he did it solely for his own aesthetic enjoyment. It really is a most impressive step.

In comparison with Mussolini, Hitler made upon me the impression of a sort of scaffolding, of wood covered with cloth, an automaton with a mask, like a robot, or a mask of a robot. During the whole performance he never laughed; it was as though he were in a bad humor, sulking. He showed no human sign. His expression was that of an inhumanly single-minded purposiveness, with no sense of humor. He seemed as if he might be the double of a real person, and that Hitler the man might perhaps be hiding inside like an appendix, and deliberately so hiding in order not to disturb the mechanism.

[This may be Knickerbocker's interjection] What an amazing difference there is between Hitler and Mussolini!

I couldn’t help liking Mussolini. His bodily energy and elasticity are warm, human, and contagious. You have the homey feeling with Mussolini of being with a human being. With Hitler, you are scared. You know you would never be able to talk to that man; because there is nobody there. He is not a man, but a collective. He is not an individual; he is a whole nation. I take it to be literally true that he has no personal friend. How can you talk intimately with a nation?

You can no more explain Hitler by the personal approach than you can explain a great work of art by examining the personality of the artist. The great work of art is a product of the time, of the whole world in which the artist is living, and of the millions of people who surround him, and of the thousands of currents of thought and the myriad streams of activity which flow around him.Thus it would be easier for Mussolini, who is only a man, to find a successor, than for Hitler. With good luck, I should think Mussolini might find someone to take his place, but I don’t see how Hitler can.

What if Hitler were to marry?

He cannot marry. If he married, it would not be Hitler marrying. He would cease to be Hitler. But it is incredible that he should ever do so. I shouldn’t wonder if it may be shown that he has sacrificed his sex life entirely to the Cause. This is not an unusual thing, especially for the type of medicine-man leader, although it is much

In a crowd, the qualities which everybody possesses multiply, pile up, and become the dominant characteristics of the whole crowd. Not everybody has virtues, but everybody has the low animal instincts, the basic primitive caveman suggestibility, the suspicions and vicious traits of the savage. 

less usual in the type of the chief. Mussolini and Stalin seem to lead entirely normal sex lives. Hitler’s real passion, of course, is Germany.You could say that he has a tremendous mother complex, which means that he will be under the domination either of a woman or of an idea. Idea is always female. Mind is female, because the head, the brain, is creative; hence like a womb, female. The unconscious of a man is always represented by a woman; that of a woman always by a man.

How important a role does what we call personal ambition play in the makeup of the three dictators?

I should say that it plays a very minor role in Hitler. I don’t think Hitler has personal ambition beyond that of the average man. Mussolini has more than average personal ambition, but it is not sufficient to explain his force. He also feels that he coincides with the national need. Hitler does not rule Germany. He is simply the exponent of the trend of things. This makes him uncanny and psychologically fascinating. Mussolini rules Italy to a certain extent, but for the rest he is an instrument of the Italian people. With Stalin it is different. His dominant characteristic is overwhelming personal ambition. He does not identify himself with Russia. He rules Russia like any Czar. Remember, he is a Georgian anyway.

But how do you explain Stalin’s having taken the course he has? It seems to me that Stalin, far from being uninteresting, is also enigmatic. Here you have a person who spent the greater part of his life as a revolutionist Bolshevik. His cobbler father and pious mother sent him to a theological school. In his early years he became a revolutionary and from then on for the next twenty-five years he did nothing but fight the Czar and the Czar’s police. He was put into a dozen jails and broke out of all of them. Now, how do you explain that a man who had fought the Czar’s tyranny all his life should suddenly become a kind of Czar himself?

That is not remarkable. It is because you always become the thing you fight the most. What undermined the armed force of Rome? Christianity did. Because when the Romans conquered the Near East, they were conquered by its religion. When you fight a thing you have to get very close to it, and it is likely to infect you. You must know Czarism very well in order to defeat it. Then, when you have driven out the Czar, you become a Czar yourself, just as a wild-animal hunter may become bestial. I know of one fellow who, after many years of big-game hunting in a proper sporting manner, had to be arrested because he took a machine gun to the animals. The man had become as blood-lustful as the panthers and lions he killed. Stalin fought so much against the Czar’s bloody oppression that he is now doing exactly the same as the Czar. In my opinion, there is no difference at all now between Stalin and Ivan the Terrible.

But what about the fact reported by many, and observed by myself, that the standard of living in the Soviet Union has risen considerably and is still rising from the low point of the famine of 1933?

Of course. Stalin can be a good administrator at the same time that he is a Czar. It would be a miracle if anybody could keep so naturally rich a country as Russia from being prosperous. But Stalin is not very original, and it is such bad taste for him to go about turning himself into a Czar so crudely, in front of everybody, without any concealment at all! It is really proletarian!

But you still have not explained to me how Stalin, the loyal Communist party man, the underground worker for what was then a highly altruistic ideal, should have changed into a power-grabber.

In my opinion the change came about in Stalin during the 1918 revolution. Up to that time he had labored, unselfishly perhaps, for the good of the Cause, and probably had never thought of personal 

America must keep big armed forces to help keep the world at peace, or to decide the war if it comes. You are the last resort of Western democracy.

power for himself, for the very good reason that there never appeared to be the shadow of a chance that he could even aspire to anything like personal power. The question didn’t exist for him. But during the revolution Stalin saw for the first time how you acquire power. I am sure he said to himself with astonishment, “But it is so easy!”

He must have watched Lenin and the others reach the full rank of complete power, and have said to himself, “So that is how it is done! Well, I can go them one better. All you have to do is to do away with the fellow in front of you.” He would certainly have done away with Lenin if Lenin had lived. Nothing could have stopped him, as nothing has stopped him now. Naturally, he wants his country to prosper. The more prosperous and greater his country is, the greater he is. But he cannot devote his full energies to promoting the welfare of his country so long as his personal drive for power is not satisfied.

But surely he’s got fullest power now.

Yes, but he’s got to keep it. He is surrounded by a pack of wolves. He must keep forever on the alert. I must say that I think we owe him a debt of gratitude!


For the wonderful example he has given the whole world of the axiomatic truth that Communism always leads to dictatorship.

But now let us leave this aside and let me tell you what my therapy is. As a physician, I have not only to analyze and diagnose, but to recommend treatment. We have been talking nearly all the while about Hitler and the Germans, because they are so incomparably the most important of the dictator phenomena at the moment. It is for this, then, that I must propose a therapy. It is extremely difficult to deal with this type of phenomenon. It is excessively dangerous. I mean the type of case of a man acting under compulsion.

Now, when I have a patient acting under the command of a higher power, a power within him, such as Hitler’s Voice, I dare not tell him to disobey his Voice. He won’t do it if I do tell him. He will even act more determinedly than if I did not tell him. All I can do is attempt, by interpreting the Voice, to induce the patient to behave in a way which will be less harmful to himself and to society than if he obeyed the Voice immediately without interpretation.

So I say, in this situation, the only way to save Democracy in the West—and by the West I mean America too—is not to try to stop Hitler. You may try to divert him, but to stop him will be impossible without the Great Catastrophe for all. His Voice tells him to unite the German people and to lead them toward a better future, a bigger place on the earth, a position of glory and richness. You cannot stop him from trying to do that. You can only hope to influence the direction of his expansion.I say let him go East.

Turn his attention away from the West, or rather, encourage him to keep it turned away. Let him go to Russia. That is the logical cure for Hitler. I don’t think Germany will be satisfied with a bit of Africa, big or small. Germany looks at Britain and at France with their magnificent colonial empires, and even at Italy with her Libya and Ethiopia, and thinks of her own size, seventy-eight million Germans as against forty-five million British in the British Isles and forty-two million French and forty-two million Italians and she is bound to think that she ought to have a place in the world not merely as large as that occupied by any one of the other three Western Great Powers, but much larger. How is she going to get that in the West without destroying one or more of the nations which now occupy the West? There is only one field for her to operate in, and that is Russia.

And what will happen to Germany when she tries [to settle] accounts with Russia?

Ah, that’s her own business. Our interest in it is simply that it will save the West. Nobody has ever bitten into Russia without regretting it. It’s not very palatable food. It might-take the Germans a hundred years to finish that meal. Meanwhile we should be safe, and by we, I mean all of Western civilization. Instinct should tell the Western statesmen not to touch Germany in her present mood. She is much too dangerous.

Stalin’s instinct was correct when it told him to let the Western nations have a war and destroy one another, while he waited to pick the bones. That would have saved the Soviet Union. I don’t believe he ever would have entered the war on the side of Czechoslovakia and France, unless it were at the very end, to profit from the exhaustion of both sides.

So I say, studying Germany as I would a patient, and Europe as I would a patient’s family and neighbors, let her go into Russia. There is plenty of land there—one sixth of the surface of the earth. It wouldn’t matter to Russia if somebody took a bite, and as I said, nobody has ever prospered who did. How to save your democratic U.S.A.? It must, of course, be saved, else we all go under. You must keep away from the craze, avoid the infection. Keep your army and navy large, but save them. If war comes, wait. America must keep big armed forces to help keep the world at peace, or to decide the war if it comes. You are the last resort of Western democracy.

But how is the peace of Western Europe going to be preserved by letting Germany “go East,” as you put it, since England and France have now formally guaranteed the frontiers of the new rump state of Czechoslovakia? Won’t there then be war anyway if Germany attempts to incorporate the rump state in her administrative system?

England and France will not honor their new guarantee to Czechoslovakia any more than France honored her previous pledge to Czechoslovakia. No nation keeps its word. A nation is a big, blind worm, following what? Fate, perhaps. A nation has no honor; it has no word to keep. That is the reason why, in the old days, they tried to have kings who did possess personal honor and a word. Don’t you know that if you choose one hundred of the most intelligent people in the world and get them all together, they are a stupid mob? Ten thousand of them together would have the collective intelligence of an alligator. Haven’t you noticed that at a dinner party the more people you invite the more stupid the conversation? In a crowd, the qualities which everybody possesses multiply, pile up, and become the dominant characteristics of the whole crowd. Not everybody has virtues, but everybody has the low animal instincts, the basic primitive caveman suggestibility, the suspicions and vicious traits of the savage. The result is that when you get a nation of many millions of people, it is not even human. It is a lizard or a crocodile or a wolf. Its statesmen cannot have a higher morality than the animal like mass morality of the nation, although individual statesmen of the democratic states may attempt to behave a little better.

For Hitler, however, more than for any other statesman in the modern world, it would be impossible to expect that he should keep the word of Germany against her interest, in any international bargain, agreement or treaty. Because Hitler is himself the nation. That, incidentally, is why Hitler always has to talk so loud, even in private conversation—because he is speaking with seventy-eight million voices. That’s what a nation is: a monster. Everybody ought to fear a nation. It is a horrible thing. How can such a thing have honor or a word? That’s why I am for small nations. Small nations mean small catastrophes. Big nations mean big catastrophes.

The telephone rang. In the stillness of the study and a windless day without, I could hear a patient cry that a hurricane in his bedroom was about to sweep him off his feet. “Lie down on the floor and you will be safe,” advised the doctor. It is the same advice the sage physician now gives to Europe and America, as the high wind of Dictatorship rages at the foundations of Democracy.