Reality and Wirklichkeit

Objective and Subjective Reality

By Ernst Manon

Between 1996 and 2000, “span-the-gap” articles by various authors have appeared in small German periodicals.1 These articles attempt to build a bridge between the camp of Holocaust researchers who are objective and reality-oriented in their approach, and the more orthodox researchers who are subjective and perception-oriented. The authors have attended numerous Holocaust trials and obtained a realistic picture of what goes on there, but they still urge understanding for those who cannot tolerate objective reality. These individuals live in a world which is very different from that of the scientific camp, a world they have created for themselves within an alternative reality.2 Hostility prevails between the camps on account of their differing basic attitudes, which is in fact a confrontation between Natural Science and Natural Religion, or, between objective reality and Jungian Wirklichkeit.3 In Jung’s usage, Wirklichkeit, “das, was wirkt” means something which creates an effect, result, or impression. (No single English word translates Wirklichkeit.)

In the revisionist camp, there are mostly exact scientists, engineers, and other reality-oriented persons; when they encounter their counterparts from the other camp, there are often angry misunderstandings, which can split families, friendships, even generations. As an illustration of the reality-oriented person, let us take a mechanical engineer who is given the task of developing a new motor. Applying natural laws and his professional expertise, he carefully makes drawings and then constructs a prototype. Lo and behold, the new motor works as designed. As Damian points out, Reality and Wirklichkeit are in agreement here. There are no grounds for conflict.

Why is the situation so different when we are dealing with the Reality/Wirklichkeit complex in a philosophical or religious context? Why must there be discord between reality and its effects? Isn’t it conceivable that matters, which are subjective by nature, that is, matters whose reality is perceived rather than matters whose reality is independent of mind (such as myths, legends, religions, world views, ideologies, or whatever we want to call them) could exist in accord with objective realities, or at least not in fundamental contradiction to them?

Psychologically speaking, two opposing tendencies can be distinguished here. One is man’s desire to bring his concept of the world into accord with the actual world itself. When this is not possible, the distressing phenomenon occurs which Leon Festinger calls “Cognitive Dissonance” in his theory of that name. The struggle to overcome Cognitive Dissonance is synonymous with research enlightenment and empirical knowledge. The other tendency is the attempt to escape a reality, which is unacceptable or perceived as unacceptable, and create a refuge from the vicissitudes of life, perhaps even to master life itself. Who can truthfully say that, given certain circumstances, he would completely reject such strategies for dealing with “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?” Catastrophe, illness, sorrow, death, the sense of meaninglessness, and, not least, the recognition that justice does not always prevail have always driven man to seek such solutions. The common denominator in this complex of problems is perhaps the anxiety inherent in life itself. Not everyone is able to perceive that, as Kant put it:4

“As for the failures of philosophical attempts at Theodicy, the problem is caused by asking the wrong question.”

Spinoza elaborated on the problem in these words:5

“How presumptuously foolish man is! His presumptuousness results from his lack of a correct concept of both god and nature, which causes him to confuse god’s dispensations with those of mortal man. This in turn causes man to believe that nature is so limited that he is its most excellent part.”

Maimonides was of the same opinion:6

“The source of error is that the ignorant man, along with his ilk throughout the masses, judges the universal according to the standard of the human individual. Every ignorant man imagines that the entire universe exists only for his individual self, as though no other beings existed. When events occur against his wishes, the ignorant man concludes that existence is filled with evil. But if these people would consider the entire universe, and consider what an insignificant part they are, the truth would be revealed to them.”

Again, we have two fundamentally opposed strategies for dealing with the problem posed by Kant, Spinoza, and Maimonides. One strategy consists of methods of consolation: ostensible explanations, avoidance, denial, and, last but not least, the various religions. The other strategy involves the use of paradox. For example, someone afflicted with existential anxiety might be able to cope with it by “cultivating” it, in a sense; “das Übel an die Wand malen(“painting the evil on the wall.)

Paradox as Therapy

This is a psychological trick for coping with fear. In 1928, Ossip Mandelstam wrote about his technique for exorcising anxiety by telling himself:7

“Anxiety has taken my hand, is leading me by the hand. A white knitted glove, a mitten with no fingers. I love and adore anxiety. I almost said: When anxiety is with me I need have no fear.”

The poet and psychiatrist Ernst Augustin wrote in one of his novels that “Schizophrenia is nothing more than fear of existing.” He depicts schizophrenia as the partitioning of the interior and exterior worlds; indeed, it is the conditio humana.8

An old proverb tells us that we should not “paint the devil on the wall.” With this trick however, we are attempting just the opposite; we have a paradoxical intention. It is not surprising that it was a Jewish physician and psychiatrist, Viktor Frankel, who made it a therapeutic concept. One of his best examples was the case of a patient who began sweating when he shook hands with his supervisor. He would expect to break out in a sweat when he had to shake hands again, and the very anxiety of expectation contributed to driving the sweat of fear from his pores. Frankel advised his patient to deliberately try to sweat in front of the supervisor; thus the “wind was taken from the sails” of his anxiety. This is a very congenial method since one can apply it to childhood traumas without a therapist and thus avoid the cost of treatment:9

“The patient needs to objectify his neurosis and distance himself from it. He should learn to look his anxiety in the face, even to laugh in its face. [...] Nothing allows the patient to distance himself from himself as does humor.”

We all know that it is not advisable to tell a performing artist “good luck!” or wish him success before a public appearance. Instead of this we say, “Break a leg!” Before any risky undertaking, we tell ourselves that it is bound to fail. The performer is said to have stage fright; he fears that he will fail and suffer ignominy. The pictorial artist is afraid he will literally fall from his scaffold and break his neck or leg.10 By clearly stating, even ritually wishing for the cause of anxiety to occur, “the wind is taken from the sails” of one’s anxiety in a parodistic manner. One feels free and unburdened.

The point to be made is that a person suffering from existential anxiety should avoid repressing it. He should imagine it, fantasize it, and keep it in mind so as to effectively banish it. However, the goal is healing, not adopting a lifestyle of anxiety obsession. Such is the case when the Jews say “In every generation THEY try to annihilate us.” Or when Hitler is depicted as the embodiment of Haman, or Germans as Amalek, in order to help the Jews cope with their identity problems.

Michael Wolffsohn, Jewish historian at the University of the German Armed Forces in Neubiberg near Munich, acknowledges:11

“It is part of the tragic absurdity of Diaspora Jewish existence that, for nonreligious Jews, only the Holocaust can compensate for Jewish nada or nothingness (existential anxiety.) Thus it remains the sole support of Jewish identity. [...] The Holocaust memory of the nonreligious Jews, the majority, has far reaching consequences for the relationship of most Jews to Germany. They assume that the Federal Republic of Germany is still the same old National Socialist Germany with its homicidal attitude toward Jews. This is not real Germanophobia or hatred of Germans as such, but rather a desperate and understandable search for Jewish identity.”

Alain Finkielkraut goes a step further and speaks of role reversal:12

“In an age when people live hand to mouth and without spiritual perspective, Judaism appears to offer an enviable justification for existence [...] while the average man, the pointlessly meandering Goy, has become a rootless, homeless, philosemitic man without characteristics.”

Also in this vein:13

“At the end of the 20th Century, how sweet it is to be a Jew! We are no longer the villains of history – we have become history’s darlings.”

A more dangerous method of seeking “salvation from evil” is to jump into the abyss. In Psyche und Erlösung, Siegmund Hurwitz writes:14

“The heretical Cabalists of the Sabbatical Movement evolved the theory that before one can achieve salvation, one must have sinned first. They based their theory on the familiar Bible quotation ‘Thou shalt love thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and all thy strength.’ An ancient Bible commentary, the Sifre, as well as the Talmud (Babylonian Talmud, Berakot Tract 9.5) had interpreted ‘all’ to mean that it is possible to serve God not only with good impulses, but with bad impulses as well. The heretical cabalists methodically formulated and followed such ideas to a logical conclusion. Like the followers of the gnostic Karpokrates in the first half of the Second Century A.D., they credited their master with the conclusion that ‘Ye can receive absolution only for sins which ye commit.’ [What seductive logic they used to arrive at the conclusion that one must first sin in order to be forgiven and saved from eternal damnation!] The gravity of the sins which the Redeemer takes upon himself is a precise criterion of His blessedness. The only differences of opinion that exist among his followers concern whether the commission of such sins is reserved for the Messiah alone, or whether they may be committed by his followers as well.”

Referring to the “Brothers of the Free Spirit,” who revered this principle, Caesarius von Heisterbach announced as early as 1222:15

“He who lives in the lap of the Holy Ghost can commit every sin, because God also resides therein and He can not sin.”

The Frankists, who were the successors to the Sabbatianists in the 18th Century, likewise cherished the “felix culpa” or holy sins, which in their case took the form of ritual libertinism. They relied upon a capricious interpretation of Psalms 146: “Praise the Lord, who permits everything that is forbidden.” For them, everything was allowed including lying and adultery. All morality was perverted into the opposite of itself as truth became absurdity. Some of Jakob Frank’s mottoes were:

“Cast away all that you have learned;

Trample upon all the laws you have been taught and obey no one but me;

Everything which I reject will pass away;

I was sent to destroy everything;

How could God tolerate a world filled with death and misery?

This contradicts His omnipotence... no, the creator of this world can not be the true God!”

The religious rites of the Frankists consisted of ecstatic singing and dancing accompanied by wild clapping of hands. They were similar to the rites of the Chassids and Chlysten of old Russia (as described by Geißler) except that women were allowed to participate. The ceremonies ended with everyone’s disrobing and indulging in sex orgies. In view of the passionate nihilism of the Frankists, Arthur Mandel (the author reporting) was reminded of the speeches, language and customs of our Rebels of ’68.16 In Walter Laqueur’s writings as well, we are reminded that Sabbatianist ideas are not restricted to the past:17

“The Godhood (Schechina) manifests itself in every activity of man, even in his sins.”

What Was Hatched in Viennese Coffee Houses

The following sentences from an article by Ilona Duczynska, the wife of Karl Polanyi and an “apostolic member” of a Communist circle, are taken from The Communist International by Franz Borkenau, published in England in 1939:18

“A theoretician, who was perhaps the only real thinker in Hungarian Communism, gave this answer to my question as whether Party leaders were allowed to deceive and mislead their fellow party members. He said that Communist ethics acknowledged the necessity of doing evil as their highest duty. He explained that this was the greatest sacrifice which the Revolution demanded of its followers [...] and said the true Communist was convinced that the dialectic of history would transform evil into good.”

Borkenau had himself been a Communist and was giving a glimpse of that secret indoctrination which justified abandoning normal human understanding and conventional morality. It still exerts a lingering fascination on Western intellectuals. To the esoteric elite, it offered the intoxicating vision of the blessed moment following the “Last Things.” This dialectical theory of evil was never openly stated in so many words, but the communistic gospel spread as secret insight from mouth to mouth until its adherents finally recognized the real measure of a “true Communist.” The theory began with an obscure Communist movement of “about 30 persons, sitting around Viennese coffeehouses.”

According to Borkenau, the theoretician of the group was named Georg Lukacs. His father was the very wealthy owner of a textile factory named Jozsef Lowinger from the South Szeged region in South Hungary, who began calling himself “von Lukacs” after obtaining a nobility patent in 1901. His mother derived from one of the oldest and wealthiest Jewish families in Eastern Europe, a family which had produced several of the best known Talmudic scholars and rabbis. George despised her on account of her grand bourgeois affectation and vast possessions; even in elite high school he had been fascinated by Franciscan poverty. The suicide of the artist Irma Seiler, on whom he had a mighty crush, was a decisive turning point in his life. Tormented by the idea that he was a great sinner, he found refuge in Dostoyevsky who taught him that a virtuous life presupposes purity of soul, but that one can achieve salvation through sin. Furthermore he was fascinated by Fichte’s philosophy of history. He often spoke of Fichte, “who said that Mankind must pass through the age of absolute sinfulness on the way to salvation. This age is now at hand; and whoever hesitates to obey the command of the age does not avoid sin, but rather avoids the only path which delivers us from sin.”

Lukacs joined the Hungarian Communist Party around the end of 1918. He had accomplished “the leap across the abyss of faith” which leads to “metamorphosis of the entirety of a man’s existence.” This great leap brought forth a large group of “virtuosos of political morality” whose lives oscillated constantly between sin and enlightenment. They lived in constant and terrible uncertainly as to whether salvation or damnation awaited them at the end. When Lukacs embraced Communism, he was aware “that he was choosing sin, because Man could achieve salvation only through Sin. Sin was Power.”19 At the end of his essay “Tactics and Ethics,” which he wrote shortly after joining the Party, he wrote:

“To commit murder is forbidden. Murder is an absolute and unforgivable sin; it is most certainly not allowed. And yet it has to be done. In other words, only the unflinching murderous activity of Man who knows beyond all doubt that murder is not to be condoned under any circumstances, can be truly and tragically moral.”

These ideas go directly back to Lukacs’ lectures on the writings of Boris Sawinkow, the terrorist leader of the Social Revolutionary Party. Writing under the pseudonym of V. Ropschin, Sawinkow had published the autobiographical novel Konj Blednyj (The White Horse) in 1909. For him, terrorism was an act of love, a deed which, like the resurrection of Jesus, would culminate in “Socialism, and the advent of Paradise on Earth.” When Lukacs was appointed Peoples’ Commissar for Education, he declared his goal to be to “revolutionize the human spirit.” Later, as political commissar of the Fifth Division, he once had eight soldiers of the Red Army shot for desertion. “With this, order was by and large restored,” he wrote. In his novel Magic Mountain (1924), Thomas Mann developed a riveting portrait of Lukacs in a disguised form. It is the character of Leo Naphtas, the Jewish-Jesuit revolutionary who horrifies the liberal Settembrini by cold-bloodedly praising Terror as the means of liberating the epoch from its infantile liberalist faith in the Good.20

Lukacs was probably familiar with Dostoyevsky’s novel The Demons as well. In the character of the revolutionary Pjotr Werkowjenski, the poet gives us a portrait of Sergej Netschajew, who developed a catechism for revolutionaries in 1869. An excerpt:21

“The revolutionary is consecrated. For him there are no personal interests, business affairs, emotions, or human bonds. He possesses nothing at all, not even a real name. His soul is completely captivated by a single exclusive interest, thought and passion: Revolution! [...] Deep in his heart, he has dissolved all the ties that bind one to civilization and the bourgeois order. He has severed all connections with laws, conveniences, conventions, morality and conventions that have validity in this world; and not just verbally, but absolutely. He is the irreconcilable enemy of the bourgeois world; and if he continues living in it, it is only to destroy it. [...] A Revolutionary participates in the life of the State and its economic classes (the so-called civilized world) and exists in its surroundings, only because he believes in its imminent and total destruction. If he is attached to anything whatsoever in the bourgeois world, he is not a true Revolutionary. [...] Our entire unsavory society is divided into several categories, the first of which consists of those who are condemned to death without hesitation. [...] The second category includes those who are provisionally allowed to live so that they, with their monstrous deeds and dealings, will drive the masses to the inevitable uprising.”

Lukacs characterized the concept of “messianic utopianism” as “out-hegeling Hegel, an intellectual concept which boldly rose up against all existing reality and attempted to outdo the master.”22 According to Courtois, the Utopian’s will to apply a doctrine which has no relationship to reality was the real motive for Lenin’s terror as well, in which he adopted and further developed the model of Netschajew.23 Was Lukacs familiar with the story of Sabbatai Zwi, the false Messiah of the 17th century who made a political program of his motto “Salvation through Sin,” or with that of Jakob Frank, Zwi’s successor in the 18th Century? Or Karpokrates?

Nonreligious Jews

Boris Sawinkow’s paradoxical idea about murder – that it is not allowed and yet has to be, and is therefore moral in a genuinely tragic sense – is also found in the writing of Rudolf Bienenfeld. On the eve of the Second World War he depicted the spiritual state of nonreligious Jews, in which certain fundamental ideas of Jewish religion are unconsciously passed on to succeeding generations, as follows:24

“It is an unprovable conviction that under no conditions is aerial bombardment of undefended civilian population allowable... but it is also an article of faith, opposing and equally indisputable, that such a crime is allowable if the bombardment serves the prestige of the mother country.”

The spiritual existence of the Jewish individual is built on maxims such as these. He finds them so self-evident that he can have no doubts about them; so convincing that he can accept no evidence to the contrary. Bienenfeld gave this candid description of Jewish mentality in a lecture before the Jewish Society for Sociology and Anthropology in Vienna on 10th November 1937, even pointing out to his audience that it was the birthday of Friedrich Schiller. At that time, who would have believed that two million tons of aerial bombs would soon be dropped on German cities, specifically targeting working-class neighborhoods, in order to bolster the prestige of various motherlands – including one which did not yet exist?

“Words Can Kill” (Michel Friedman)

Jakob Pinchas Kohn, rabbi and Doctor of Philosophy from Leipzig, wrote in the Jewish Encyclopedia for 1927:25

“Calumny is strictly forbidden in the Bible (Lev. 9, 16). [...] Like a red thread, this warning against the greatest of crimes makes its way through the Talmud. According to Arach 15b and j. Pea 15d, it surpasses even the three deadly sins. [...] Calumny surpasses all other types of weapons which kill only in close proximity; it is like the arrow, which kills at a distance as well. Such is the slanderer: he kills in Syria while speaking in Rome. [...] Life and death are within the power of the tongue (Spr. 18, 21). In other words: just as the hand kills, so can the tongue.”

Surely the slandering of the German nation belongs to the most monstrous atrocities carried over from the past century to the present. Surely the previously discussed paradox is applicable here: Under no circumstances can it be done – but it is done nevertheless. If one continues the calumnies long enough, the very victims join in and slander themselves. In the words of the “cultural scientist” Aleida Assmann of the University of Constance:26

“The more clearly we state that we are not normal and erect this [Holocaust] monument in Berlin, the sooner we can proceed with normalization.”

According to Paul Spiegel, the Holocaust monument erected in the heart of Berlin was not promoted by Jews.

Alexander Mitscherlich had formulated his support for anti-German calumnies in these words:27

“Understating our guilt can not be our approach, because only when we have strength to consciously surmount our guilt will we enjoy respect.”

Obviously this contradicts the Christian exhortation to “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” since he who hates himself can have no love for others.

The Jewish revisionist writer Joseph Burg (Ginsburg), who died in 1990, had a more healthy conception of the relationship of reality and Wirklichkeit:28

“It is a fact that I am not a German, but a Jew. But, if the German nation insists on living with charges of six million gassed Jews, then I as a Jew feel uncomfortable in my skin. [...] When people nowadays speak of ‘Nazi atrocities,’ it is merely the age-old tactic of the clever thief. If six million Jews really were gassed, then the Zionist leaders would have had to be the first ones brought before the judge, since they bear the principal guilt for the war and the so-called ‘Final Solution’ to the Jewish problem. Neither the Nazis nor the German people bear the principal guilt for the Jewish debacle.”

Today Burg’s writings are outlawed in Germany. Ephraim Kishon, German’s best-known Jewish humorist, represents the politically-correct position:29

“I am a Jew. I am nationalistic, extremist, chauvinistic, and militaristic. Anybody who does not like that does not have to read my books. About our insolence? We have no alternative since we are condemned to death. When the Arabs have wiped us out, there will be demonstrations in front of their embassies. That is all there will be! The governments of the world should not give us good advice, they should give us gunboats. Whoever is anti-Israeli is anti-Semitic. That is the two-thousand-year-old answer to the problem.”

If a group of people feel comfortable in a perverse, schizophrenic and death-oriented dream world which serves them as a substitute for reality, that is a matter for them alone. It is a different matter to impose such a dream world on others, however, and I speak not only for the Germans. This can not possibly turn out well.

Were the effects of the anti-German calumnies planned? Michael Wolffsohn’s cryptic “Thesis No. 8 Concerning German-Israeli Relations” gives us food for thought:30

“The business of mourning was carried out and is still being carried out, and this is necessary. Its duration must be limited, however. Otherwise, collective therapy would be required.”

How very different conditions in Germany would be if a man such as Joseph Ginsburg were chairman of the German Central Jewish Committee – assuming that institution were even needed then!

Let us briefly refer back to Damian’s article (our first footnote) and consider these three points:

1. Surely it is clear what Popper would have thought about forbidden theories and illicit pedagogical opinions (page 386). In his “Critical Rationalism,” Sir Karl, whose parents were baptized Jews, sets forth the basic philosophy for revisionism. A great many people have not yet realized this. At any rate, Popper gave us the basis for a permanent revisionism, which constantly exposes our own views and knowledge to renewed critique. Unfortunately he has not done justice to his own postulation, as I know from a reliable source. It would have created a worldwide sensation if the best-known and most prominent Jewish philosopher of his day had expressed himself in a manner consistent with his own philosophy.

2. When the author writes that money belongs to every action, in order to justify never-ending retribution payments whose questionable basis he himself acknowledges, then he is lacking in both fairness and consistency.

3. The Grand Inquisitor was himself a Jew, as was Ferdinand II through his mother.31 A comparable personality was Lazar Moisseyevitch Kaganovitch in the 20th Century. The Jew as Ultimate Jew-hater! Here the crux of a series of articles entitled “The Jews and Their Environment,” edited by Johann Maier and published by Peter Lang, is quite informative:32

“In an unproblematic environment, when tensions are lacking and assimilation is under way, cross currents arise from Judaism itself, which have the effect of ethnic or religious profiling in order to achieve self assertion.”

The problem of the environment itself might also be considered in this light!

Notes

First published as “Realität und Wirklichkeit,” in Vierteljahreshefte fur freie Geschichtsforschung 5(2) (2001), pp. 209–214. Translated by James M. Damon.