Schlagwort-Archive: National Socialism

Apolitical Science? Wilhelm Reich and Psychoanalysis in National Socialism. An abridged version (2023)

by Andreas Peglau

Please cite as: Peglau, Andreas (2023): Apolitical Science? Wilhelm Reich and Psychoanalysis in National Socialism. An abridged version (

Here you can download the pdf version – differing in some illustrations – of the following text.

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In 2013, my dissertation „Unpolitische Wissenschaft? Wilhelm Reich und die Psychoanalyse im Nationalsozialismus“ was first published as a book. In 2015, the second edition followed and in 2017, the Psychosozial-Verlag Gießen brought it out in a third and expanded edition.

In a review, philosopher Werner Abel described it as „one of the most important books on the history of psychoanalysis, making its decline from a socially critical theory and practice to a medicalised, supposedly ‚apolitical‘ science comprehensible in detail for the first time.“.

The psychoanalyst Bernd Nitzschke stated: „The interweaving between the fate of psychoanalysis in the Nazi state and the history of Wilhelm Reich’s exclusion, persecution and emigration, which Peglau meticulously reconstructs, is the lynchpin of the book, which is an indispensable reference point for anyone who wants to deal with the Nazi history of psychoanalysts without blinkers in the future.“

I then compiled some of the most important results of my years of research in 2019 – with the kind permission of Psychosozial Verlag – in an abridged version in the orignal German. It has since been downloaded several thousand times from my website.

In order to make this information even more widely available, I have now supplemented and updated the text and translated it into English with the help of DeepL. Weiterlesen

A Marxist psychoanalyst of Jewish origins lives through the end of the Weimar Republic

After eighty-seven years, the original 1933 edition of Wilhelm Reich’s Mass Psychology of Fascism is published for the first time in its original form

Andreas Peglau

“Society must be in resistance to us, for we behave critically towards it; we prove to society that it is in large part itself the cause of neuroses.” (Sigmund Freud, 1910).

To be consistent, psychoanalysis, both as a social science and as a therapeutic method, must be critical of society. Given this, the original version of Wilhelm Reich’s Mass Psychology of Fascism, published in the late summer of 1933, can be regarded as one of the most important psychoanalytic books ever written. More particularly, Reich’s book was the first text to address the psychosocial underpinnings of the Nazi system, working in a field now referred to as right-wing extremism studies.

Nonetheless, the book’s first edition has been almost completely forgotten, only available in pirate editions or at high prices from antiquarian bookstores. Existing references to Mass Psychology of Fascism almost always mean the 1946 English-language third edition, which has been available in German since 1971. But this edition differs radically from the original version of the book. Weiterlesen

Wilhelm Reich and Willy Brandt as „High Traitors“

by Andreas Peglau[1] 

Announcement of an astonishing find: the psychoanalyst Reich and the later German Chancellor Willy Brandt were jointly targeted by the Nazi People’s Court for high treason in 1939. The role, perhaps decisive for Reich’s survival, of a hitherto unjustly unknown person is also revealed: Martin Mayer. Weiterlesen

Were there psychoanalytic writings against fascism?

Results of an (almost futile) research lasting several months.

by Andreas Peglau[1]


Already in the 1920s, Nazi greats such as Alfred Rosenberg had threatened leftist and liberal journalists who attacked the National Socialists with reprisals for the time after a possible Nazi takeover (Rosenberg 1940, pp. 92-112, 119, 401f.). Carl von Ossietzky was among those who actually paid with their lives for their contributions critical of Hitler during the Weimar Republic.
Likewise, Erich Mühsam’s published warnings against fascism probably played a decisive role in his imprisonment and murder in the Oranienburg concentration camp on July 10, 1934.
Ehm Welk was sent to the same concentration camp for three months in 1934 because he had reacted ironically to a Goebbels speech in a newspaper article (Longerich 2010, p. 260). The „National Bolshevist“ Ernst Niekisch’s book Hitler – ein deutsches Verhängnis (Hitler – a German Doom), published in 1932, and other publications critical of the regime earned him an eight-year prison term, from which he was released only in 1945, severely physically damaged (Niekisch 1932; Haffner 1980, p. 255).
The successful conservative author Ernst Wiechert was also imprisoned in 1938, first in the penitentiary and then in the Buchenwald concentration camp, after he had shown solidarity with the politically persecuted Martin Niemöller and refused to participate in the referendum on the annexation of Austria. Wiechert survived the five months of his imprisonment only with the help of fellow prisoners (Barbian 1995, pp. 398-409, 2010b, pp. 405f.; Wiechert 2008). Afterwards, Goebbels made it clear to him personally that he would be returned to the camp „at the slightest occasion,“ but then „for life and with the goal of physical extermination“ (ibid., p. 135f.; cf. Longerich 2010, p. 405).
Jan-Pieter Barbian balances: „[S]henever open criticism of the National Socialist state or the NSDAP was voiced, the Minister of Propaganda did not shy away from the threat of physical violence“ (Barbian 1995, p. 398); as soon as „a writer overstepped the political boundaries set for him by the regime, he risked not only his membership in the Reichsschrifttumskammer and thus his professional existence, but in extreme cases also his life“ (Barbian 2008, p. 20).

But to what extent did this affect psychoanalysis? Which psychoanalytic authors – before and after 1933 – exercised such unequivocal criticism in their publications? Weiterlesen