Cultural currents in Germanspeaking Europe

Jung's psychology must also be considered in the context of early twentieth-century German culture, with its interest in nature-mysticism and pre-Christian mythology. Several publications in recent years have raised the issue of Jung's relationship to the Nazi Party and its teachings about race and ethnic identity. The Nazis borrowed heavily from the themes and imagery of Germanic mythology, and Jung's writings also frequently mention the old Germanic gods as archetypal figures. In one example, Jung attributed Germany's headlong rush to war in 1914 with the activation of "the god of ecstasy, Wotan." When Jung's mother died, he had a dream in which Wotan came to carry her soul away. "Thus the dream says that the soul of my mother was taken into that greater territory of the self which lies beyond the segment of Christian morality . . . in which conflicts and contradictions are resolved." In addition to Jung's habit of interpreting the behavior of the German nation in terms of its "possession" by the Wotan archetype, he also accepted in 1933 the presidency of a professional society that included Nazi sympathizers in its membership,including Matthias Goring, the cousin of Hitler's Reichsmarshall, Hermann Goring. Although Jung's Swiss nationality and citizenship kept him from being caught up in German politics, his identification with German culture is obvious to readers of his works. In fact, Jung as a young man had felt his Swiss background made him a provincial outsider to the "higher glories" of "the great land of Germany."

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