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Ir
'r'f-rLl Qullsf ioN oF Gl-llLrr Gtrii1."i'
The
OUESTIOI{
of
GERMAI{
.
GUILT
By KARL JASPERS
TRANSLATED sv E. B. ASHTON

BOOKS NEW YORK


"lrRrcoRN
Ccr*,lo tb Gonboo
2ow"
I
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)
rl

[-adies and Gentlernen:


I
'.llhose of you who sat in these rooms as students in recent
t
years are now thinking, perhaps, Everything suddenly sounds
rrltogether different; the cast has changed; the course of
political events presents the figures-now these, now those-
1t
rl .rspuppetsi as organs of power they recite their little versesi
t
whichever way they talk, none can be trusted, for professors
il
Llo not bite the hand that feeds them, either.
rfl

l
I can.understand this distrust in all young people awak-
1}tr tt
ened to full consciousness during the past twelve years, in
fi,
!
this environment. But I beg you in the course of your studies
| -i' to keep an open mind for the possibility that now it may be
li,
ili clifferent-that now there really may be truth at stake. You
It
!l
I a.re the ones who are called upon, each to help in his place
I so that truth may be revealed. For the time being, listen to
l

rny conception of the situation of the sciences at the univer-


['i
sity, and examine it. It is as follows:
In some sciences you will hear scarcely anything different
from the past years. There, scholars who remained true to
themselves have always taught truth. You will have met
trrany a teacher again who in tone of voice as well as in the
contents and fundamental views of his lectures faced you
the same as he was all through these years.
(t)
-- -'f .------
:

l
- I

l On the orher hand, notably in the philosophical and polit_ pr.essed. Given room, it grows ouf of the essence of human
;1,! ical fields, you may receive a strange impression. There .iirt"n...
everything does indeed sound altogether difierent. True, if To be sure, all thought and research depenci on the
) I
those who studied here before lgj3 or even in the first
years political situation. But the difierence is whether thought and ! 6
'l
I
afterwards were to come bacs they probably would ,ro,.
, ,er"r..h are forced and used for their own purPoses by the l*
coinciding basic attitude in many of us. But there, too,
it political power, or whether they are left free. because the i
may be possible to feel a change wrought by the upheavals political power wants free research, a region free from its I
of this decade. And the change of c".t is a f"ct. T"rchers immediate influence.
I who would expound the National-Socialist phraseology to Before 1933 we had permission to think and talk freely,
I
you have vanished. Others have reappeared as old *"I'ou, and now we have it again. The present political situation is
of the past; or joined as young ones in a metamorphosis to a military government, and a German government which,
freedom and candor, while ,til now they had to wear
masks. being set up by authority of the other, is itself not yet a
Again I ask you: beware the premature conclusion that democratic government but an authoritarian one' But neither
only the opposite of recent values is taught, that we are by the military government nor by the German one is a line
talking just as before though in reverse, fighting what used
' of thought and research imposed uPon us. Both leave us free
to be glorified and glorifying what used to be iought_that for truth.
in elther caser"today as yesterday, the doctrine was a result Today this does not yet mean that 1ve are free to pass

ofrpolitical compulsion and thus no real truth. No; at least discretionary judgments.
J
it is not so in all places. Where it is, there would indeed be The situation as a whole does not permit entirely free
no essential difference. The way of thought would not have public discussion of every decisive world-political question
t
changed, only the direction of aggressiveness or mendacious which now plays a part in the political struggle of the powers'
glorification. This is a matter of course. Though it may be painful and
I
ri nof an ideal situation, political tact may at times exact silence
By our manner of teaching we professors will have to
on certain questions and facts everywhere in the world, in
r show that the radical difference-though also marked in
the interest of the most propitious solution' Truthfulness
certain contents--decisively lies in the very way of thinking.
demands that we admit this, but no one has the right
to
If what was taught before was propaganda, neither science we like and
lodge a complaint. Talking about all things as
nor philosoph we are now not to adopt another point of
please is license, anYhow.
view but to return to the way of thinking as a critical rnove-
Only what we say ought to be unconditionally true'
ment, to research which is true cognition. This can be sup- n* a topic for lectures
The political events *ln";",
(8) it"
\/
--!
t
at the university in the sense
of our being engaged in politics. which is not and shouid not be our theme. Yet what we want
criticism or praise of the actions
d of government is never the to ponder is a condition precedent for our judgment in politics
business of lectures_but
the .cienlific .lu.ifi.rtion of
factual structure is. its aswell.
I want to speak from philosophical motives, for our own
enlightenment and encouragement. Truth shall help us find
our way.
But all that denotes ao repression For these considerations we shall first visualize two neces-
oi oill.r.urch, only a sities, the consciousness of which I deem particularly indis-
f:1."^r:l:i:: .. refrain ;,"*;;;s
business: dabbling in political
in", * never our pensable to Germans in our present situation.
'We
must 1""t1
L*
*;;;;;';;"^; il: io talk with each other, and we mutually must understand l-e
day. To me it seems that
only m"tice would consider
, restraint of our research into the truth. that and accept one another in our extraordinary difierences' f^.
, These difierences are so great that in borderline c"et *" I f
. It means, rather, that we f""" ro try by all means, and
, "."
in all directions, to discover appear to each other like peopie of different nations' i

tr" *"troa;cally explorable.


We have the chances of discussion
and of our manifold
views, but we also run the Ter,rINc w:rrr Eecrr Orrrn
risks of dis*auion,an;;r.*
This again does not mean that
in p..Lrs1ra- ;lg;;
we have freedom to engage We have to get our spiritual bearings in Germany, with one
.plopagand, oJrn"o, be tolerated if another. We have no common ground yet' We are seeking
. in llne with the political **,
oiiJ uy. at the university to get together.
f it would even then be a calamity.-W;
; not have to capture
truth by quick statements. We U. fto* the platform is necessarily one-sided' We do
have to test, to weigh, to
,:*.j::.tfi,.j." ald.rro not converse here. Yet what I expound to you has grown out
(talking with each other" which all of us do, each in
con, to question our
own assertions. Truth does ""p;;;;; of the
not exirt ,.r..Jrrra;." rcady_ every-
his own circle. The manner in which this takes place
onry in ".
made for delivery; it exists
in the thoughtfuIness of reason. ^"ii"a]., movement, where is the ethos of the atmosphere we live in'
Eveqyone must deal in his own way with the thoughts I
IY"]"Y:_':,,
* far applies to our uniyersity as such, Ie is not simply to accePt as valid- but to weigh'
H:J:::Ili:1,'::::tn
gested problems
i';' ;;.;;;;J;"
",.
of tension ,r" ..p".i;.;;.
I walt to- speak to you ,bout ou" .it.,dorrr'arrd
"*porn. to oPPose but to test, visualize and examine'
nor simply
. That is to saY, i

we do ,rot just want tlTiterate our opinions but to


so I
shall hear
constantly skirt the immediate
actuality but to
"i.""*o. politics, what the otirer thinks. We do not just want to assert
(ro) ( ,, )
-
It
Ili reflect connectedly, listen to reasons, remain prepared for a takethelineofleastresistance;itisdifficult'ledbythe
il, l newinsight.W-S_m*Lk*:SSf,!",tbs*-obgf"j-o".sy_99_.s9g.f hj*Ss al:solute resolution through all mobility
and pliability of
in fact, we virtually want thought, to stay on the determined path'
) fum*hE*g_*,t*"p-9i1l.1,"Jieg;
Tese difficulties let us go astray in opposite
directions'
,l to seek out opposing views. To get at the truth, an opPonent
on one
is more important than one who agrees with us. Finding the We make no headway if we play off the aberrations
t
is there a middle way'
common in the contradictory is more important than hastily side against those on the other' Nor
i
Itather, man's way to truth lies in the realm
of the causes
I
seizing on mutually exclusive points of view and breaking
when we
off the conversation as hopeless. to which those aberrations are due' There we go
can really talk with each other' To that
end something must
I It is so easy to stand with emotional emphasis on decisive
I
judgments; it is difficult calmly to visualize and to see truth constantly remain in us that trusts the
other and deserves
silence is possible in
in full knowledge of all objects. If is easy to break off com- his trust. Then, amidst discussion, that
which men listen together and hear the truth'
I

munication with defiant assertions; it is difficult ceaselessly,


another but to
beyond assertions, to enter on the ground of truth. It is easy Therefore we do not want to rage at one
against the
to seize an opinion and hold on to it, dispensing with further try to find the way together' Emotion argues
fanatic will' nor
cogitation; it is difficult to advance step by step and never to truth of the speaker. W1 want to affect no
I bar further questioning. to outshout each other' We do not want to
engage in melo-

dramatic breast-beating, to ofiend the


other' nor to engage
I )M" must restore the readiness to think, against the tend- merely to hurt the
I to have everything prepared in advance and, as it were, in self-satisfred p.aise of things intended
another'
"rrry
i placarded in slogans. One requirement is that we do not other. We do not want to force opinions on one
must be no bar-
,. j intoxicate ourselves with feelings of pride,
of despair, of But in the common search for truth there
reticence' no comforting
i[ i"alg"rtion, of defiance, of reveng",
i i"aig"rtion, revenge, of scorn, but that we riers of charitable reserve, no gentle
1 ::ot1-but
'We that might not be raised'
, put these feelings on ice and perceive reality. must sus- deception. There can be no question
for granted' no sentimental and
I i pend such sentiments
r the world.
to see the truth, to be of good will in

Yet this, too, applies to talking with each other: it is easy


no,frirrg to be fondly taken
no practical Iie that would have io
be untouchable. But even less can
be gu"rded or that would
it be permitted brazrnly
unfounded'
to think everything tentatively and never to come to a deci- to hit each other in the face with challenging'
together; we must feel our
sion; it is difficult to make the true resolve in the lucidity frivolous judgments' We belong
each other'
of universally oPen thought. It is easy to shirk responsibility common cause when we talk with
to each other' we merely continue
by talking; it is difficult absolutely, but without obstinacy, When we talk aloud
to maintain a resolution. It is easy always in a situation to whatandhoweachindividualinwardlytalkstohimself.
(tz) ( )
},
rl

tj
tfr
im Let us not claim a legit-
\ii In this kind of taiking none is the other's judge; everyone I bcen created by our own strength'
t1,,, 'j is both defendant and judge at the same time. All our talks li^".y which is not due us.
I
are darkened by such accusations, by the moralizing which
' A. toduy every German government is an authoritarian \
rl has for ages mingied with so many conversations and keeps government set up by the Allies, so every German' ."::t{ |
I
I
dripping into our wounds like poison, whatever it may be in. of us, owes the scope of his activities today to the AIIies' I
I aimed against. We cannot remove this shadow but we can will or permission. This is a cruel fact' Truthfulness Prwents
us trom
1

u, fro forgetting it even for a day' It preserves


i
make it constantly lighter. We can have the right impulse: I
I

I we do not want to accuse, except in the case of definite crimes arrogance and teaches us humility'
are today'
, capable of objective determination and of punishrnent. AII Aorrg the survivors, ainQng those on topr.there
,l
I
through these years we have heard other people scorned. lrs ever, the outraged, impassioned oirs, all 'll'+[ing
they

We do not want to continue that. ... .ight .I"i*irrg.r"ii fo, wiat has happened ':-.3u.*
"rd
others. The man who is well ofi, who finds an audienc;'*"
I
But we always succeed only in part. We all tend to justify
ourselves, and to attack what we feel are hostile forces with thinks that this alone makes him right'
depreciating judgments or moral accusations. Today we must No one can avoid this situation altogether' Time and
we must make
examine ourselves more severely than ever. Let us make this ngain, when we get on this path for an instant, 'We are
plain : ip"Jhe*co*rsa-qf.xnnt*tha*suvivntr -smedekaw ,"real effort to find our way back to self-education'
may it stay
riifr t.. r,cpeqfi. apgaseq[lx"*iu srfi,e*Jk*nla&,.,gktekkw"F outraged ourselves. May outrage cleanse itself,
morals against moral-
\) daq.hsk*r&s,tsJ*h-gf, egqe*#use,e{khi,id"s. This implies with us as outrage against outrage, as
of soul in struggling against the
the profound injustice of blindness for the failures, for the izing. We fight forlr.ity
powerless, for those who are crushed by events. invincible in us.
,
It is ever thus. Thus was the Prussian-German noise after Thatistrueoftheworkwhichwenowwanttodotogether
as individuals'
1866 and 1870, which frightened Nietzsche. Thus was the in this lecture course' What we have thought
i
\
even wilder noise of National-Socialism since 1933. orheardinconversationshereandthere'maypartlybe
; So now we must ask ourselves whether we are not lapsing in a reflective connection' You want to partici-
i into another noise, becoming self-righteous, deriving a le-
"i".tlrrir"a connected reflections, in questions and attempted
pate in such
i gitimacy from the mere facts of our having survived and in which you will recognize what lies ready within
suffered.
"nr*".. or is aiready clear' We-want to reflect together
i fo.r.r"lt",
Let us be clear about this in our minds: that we live and it il., in fact, I expound unilaterally' But the point is not
survive is not due to ourselves. If we have a new situation, Jogti. commu,,ic'tion, but investigation and tender for
with new opportunities amidst fearful destruction, it has not examination on Your Part'
( r+) ( s )
I

t,
I lt
I
lt Brainwork is not all that this requires. The intellect must A proudly silent bearing may for a short time be a justi-
,f, I put the heart to work, rouse it to an inner activity which in lic,d mask, to catch one's breath and clear one's head behind
) turn carries the brainwork. You will vibrate with me or it. tsut it becomes self-deception, and a trap for the other,
against me, and I myself will not move without a .stirring if it permits us to hide defiantly within ourselves, to bar
I at the bottom of my thoughts. Although in the course of crrlightenment, to elude the grasp of reality. We must guard I
I

this unilateral exposition we do not actually talk with each lgrinst evasion. From such a bearing there arises a mood
other, I cannot help it if one or the other of you feels almost which is discharged in private, safe abuse, a mood of heart-
personally touched. I ask you in advance: forgive me, should lcss frigidity, rabid indignation and facial distortions, Iead-

/
I
I offend. I do not want to. But I m determined to dare the ing to barren self-corrosion. A pride that falsely deems itself
ltr
I
most radi"...l,thoughts s deliberately as possible. rnirsculine, while in fact evading the issue, takes even silence
'e
" rJ I
."
In'iarning to talk with each other we win more than a :rs an act of combat, a final one that remains impotent.
l
connecting link between us. We lay the indispensable foun- Talking with each other is canceled too by speech which
,t{
,dation for the ability to talk with other peoples. rro longer speaks in private--speech which means to insult
If I
anticipate that which is to become the theme of these but not to hear an answer, waiting rather for the moment
,lectures only at their very end: for us the way of force is rf face-slapping and secretly anticipates what in reality is
;hopeless, the way of cunning undignified and futile. Full list and manslaughter, machine gun and bombing plane'
i frankness and honesty harbors not only our dignity-possible Itage can distinguish only friend and foe for a life-and-death
i.even in impotence-but our own chance. The question for struggle, talks frankly with neither and does not see men as
* 1
every German is whether to go this way at the risk of all rrren, to get along with by being ready for self-corrections'
r+ ' disappointments, at the risk of additional losses and of con- We cannot be conscientious enough in illuminating this sort
{_. venient abuse by the powerful. The answer is that this is of conflict and rupture in our intercourse.
ll i the only way that can save our souls from a pariah existence.
ii
i What will result from it we shall have to see. It is a spiritual- Trn Gnrer DIrrBnrxces srrwnBl'I IJs
I political venture along the edge of the precipice. If success
i$,
; is possibie, then it will be only at long range, We are going falking with each other is difficult in Germany today, but
, to be distrusted for a long time to come, the more important for that reason' For we differ extraordi-
Lastly, I characterize ways of remaining silent to which narily in what we have experienced, felt, wished, cherished
we incline and which constitute our great danger (I myself and done. An enforced superficial community hid that which
cannot refrain from accusing-at least not from a mental is full of possibilities and is now able to unfold'
attack on the aggressive mentality). We cannot sensibly talk with each other unless we regard
(16) (rl)
I
Ithe extraordinary difierences as starting points rather than tivc among the closest friends. Public and general, and thus
il
rY" jfinalities. We have to learn to see and feel the difficulties in nuggestive and almost a matter of course for a youth that
i
situations and attitudes entirely divergent from our own. LJg.o*r, up in it, was only the National-Socialist way of
lWe must see the different origins-in education, special thinking and talking.
I fates and experiences-of any present attitude. Now that we can talk freely again, we seem to each other I
Today we Germans may have only negative basic features ns if we had come from difierent worlds. And yet aII of us l4
in common: '-
trpcak the German language, and we were all born in this
tl {
country and are at home in it.
li iqBqssel;*esh*Aas*ir.E$safialk*qehi'pJruk-a*d*ysLe.edr We must not let the divergence faze us, the sense of being
L
I Ms. Common is the non-community. worlds apart. We want to find the way to each other, to talk
t[ In the silence underneath the leveling public propaganda with each other, to try to convince each other. Let us visualize
i
talk of the twelve years, we struck very different inner rr few typical difierences.
to the
I

attitudes and passed through very different inner develop- There were our conceptions of events, differing
ments. We have no uniformly constituted souls and desires point irreconciliability: some went through the whole
of
and sets of values in Germany. Because of the great diversity clisrupting experience of national indignity as early as 1933,
in what we believed all these years, what we took to be true, tthers after June 1934, still others in 1938 during the
,vhat to us was the meaning of life, the way of the transfor- 1942, when defeat
Jcwish pogroms, many in the years sirce
,.mation must also be different now for every individual. Pruu4uv, or since
trclrlrE probable,
became 1943 when it became certain,'1
'' {l ' \&e are all being transformed. But we do not all follow the ,o*" not until it actually r -'-- -' i 1945' EgLJb"i
happened
---r
same path to the new ground of common truth, which we ",rd
I nt smup*lq5-rflasJhtoy,ee.of*&"v.ffy a*g#y*c..h+nq* ; i
rt seek and which reunites us. In such a disaster everyone
tni-s:hsrsJhtrs-#x.-xffi -*e-tr*s*-,lnkihsx.-hm*Ji i
ti
may let himseif be made over for rebirth, without fear of
dishonor. What we must painfully renounce is not alike for
rl s -e rdpj lhg *Rmg*k-xg9#l **
Some radically sougi llie lilt siurc and took the con-
iH all-so little alike that one man,s renunciation may impress sequences.They desired intervention and invasion by the
ri
another as a gain. We are divided along difierent lines of Western powers as early as 1933; for they saw that now,
I disappointment. with the gates slammed on the German prison, delivery
f That the differences come into the open now is due to could only come from outside. The future of the German
t{re fact that no public discussion was possible for twelve
years, and that even in private life all opposition was con-
I
i
fined to the most intimate conversations and was often fur-
I
( 18 )
ii )
This delivery did not take place. The way led on
L+-!gfp.lj.
to 1945, to the most fearful destruction of all our physical
and moral realities.
Ucstapo victim or one of those who, eve1."th9ygh-i*.*.f,
p,'utited by the rgime. Virtlly' n.tyolii' i i';ilffi"
le lrrtives and friends, but how he lost them-in front-line
But this view is by no means general among us. Aside
torntlat, in bombings, in concentration camps or in the mass
from those who saw or are still seeing the Golden Age in
rrrurders of the rgime-results in greatly divergent inner
National-Socialism, tirele wgre opponepts of National_
rtlitudes. Millions of disabled are seeking a way of life.
"Sncialism wo we{e eonvinced no4etheless that a victory of I lundreds of thousands have been rescued from the concen-
Hitlef Qgrmany would not result in the destruction of tlution camps. Millions are being evacuated and forced to
.,G.srmanism. Ip.tgpd, they foresaw grrt future based on
^ r.,xrm. The greater part of the male population has passed
uqh.4 riumph, o lhe theory that a triumphant Gerany
through the prisorrer-of-war camps and gathered very dis-
immediaqeiy o after Flitler,s death-would rid
-y,lether sinrilar experiences. Men have come to the limits of humanity
itseJf of the partr. They did not believe the old saying that
the power of a state can only be maintained by the forces ;rncl returned home, unable to forget what really was'
which established it; they did not believe that terrorism I)cnazification throws countless numbers out of their past
would, in the nature of things, be unbreakable precisely after course. The sufiering difiers in kind, and most people have

i a victory-that after a victory, with the army discharged, scnse only for their kind. Everyone tends to interPret great
losses and trials as a sacrifice. But the possible interpretations
l,Germany would have become a slave nation held in check
j by the SS for the exercise of a desolate, destructive, free- of this sacrifice are so abysmally difierent that, at first, they
rli
'+ ldomless
world rule in which all things German would have tlivide people.
difierence' All
Ir lsuffocated., The lpqq of ,a faiqh m4k9s.1
-tremgnd.ou-s
Another diflerence lies in the way of the ordeal which, of us have somehow lost the ground under our feet; only a
I
although common to all of us, is extraordinarily varied in the transcendently founded religious or philosophical faith can
kind and degree of its particular appearance. Close relatives rnaintain itself through all these disasters' What used to
t,, and friends are dead or missing. Flomes lie in ruins. property count in the world has become brittle' The believing
has been destroyed. With eye-lyfqdy expe-rigqcing touble, National-socialist, his thoughts eYen more absurd now than
gyprp-
"p"ny+.tipn$ .3,r,9 p-_lyical .9u,fi,qri1g, it j,q.. stilt sornething they were during the days of his rule, can only snatch at
eltogether d!ff 9 4gnt yhef her,pne
" gta-| fr...-a .hpna g ad. h slrpe- feeble dreams, while the nationalist helplessly stands be-
"bo.ld,,
goo-ds pr. As, .hget] fyq.d
bly b.ombS i. .lv^herher." he sus- tween the immorality of National-Socialism, through which
tnined his.su.ffering and.losses in eamb.al..at.,thg font, .at he sees, and the reality of the German situation'
hOROer. pr .iL. a sqlce-rl-trAtjon canp; .whether he .Ws a. h-Unted
Equally vast is the difierence in kind and degree of o"t i
( zo ) (zt)
ll
ril
r ll
guilr. No one is guiltless. We shall take up this question ttor apprehend. Thus they cannot be convinced, either' I
I ,r',rlrc
I lrt"r.
I

I I low shall we talk with people who will not go where others i
) But no one is beyond the pale of human existence, pro-
,r,,lrc :rnd think, where men seek
independence in insight I

ded he pays for his guilt. ,rrr,l unvictionl l-'i. JF


True, it is sensible for the individual, depending on his Oltcn the outstanding difierence is simply one of char-
past, to curb and resign himself-it applies to individuals, rttcr. Some people always tend to be in opposition, others
not to the man that they should perhaps be silent now, to lrn with the Pack.
for the time being. (icr-many canngt come,to,unfe- we Gqtman fi:rd thq.w,ry
In Germany we have not only the difierences between the to commuqig4te with each other. The general situation
seems
peculiar attitudes based on the German fate. We also have to link us only negatively. If we really learn to talk with
here the party divisions which are common to all the West: crrch other it can be only in the consciousness of our great
the socialist and bourgeois-capitalist tendencies, the politi- tlivcrsity.
Ir
cized creeds, the democratic will to freedom and the dic- Unity by force does not avail; in adversity it fades as an
tatorial inclination. And not only that; it may yet happen illusion. Unanimity by talking with and understanding each
that these contrasts will be affected by the Allied powers, othcr, by mutual toleration and concession leads to a com-
It and work on us as on a now politically impotent, pliant, test- rrrur.rity that lasts,
it ing material. What we have mentioned and shall develop in subsequent
I /. {Il {!ffcrences lead to constan;disruption among us
thesp. tliscussions are typical traits. No one needs to classify him-
tt,
l
'ermans, t9 thg diqpeqsal and div.igiga of indlvidqals and sclf. Anyone who feels himself referred to does so on his
Bfgl4ps-the {nore so as oqr, existence lacks ,.the qemmon ,,wn responsibilitY.
fi
ill ethical-p..qlitical bp,p. We only have shadows of a truly com-
,1
II mon political ground on which we might stand and retain
*.j Oulr-lxr or SussBQunrgr Drscussrows
I

I
our solidarity through the most violent controversies. We are
i, {
t
sorely decient in talking with each other and listening to We want to know where we stand' We seek to answer the
each other. We lack mobility, , criticism and self-criticism. tucstion, what has led to our situation, then to see what
we
'- I ! tj
t We incline to
doctrinism . ,,r" *nd should be-what is really German-and finally
What it worse is that so many people do not really
makes
t<- ask what we can still want.
want to think. They want only slogans and obedience. They It is only now that history has finally become world
ask no questions and they give no answers, except by repeat- history-the global history of mankind' So our own situa-
ing drilled-in phrases, They can only assert and obey, neither tion can be gsped only together with the world-historical
(zz) (zs)
t,

ii )
one. What has happened today has its causes in general
human events and conditions, and only secondarily in special
intra-national relations and the decisions of single groups
wlrlt is Germanl We want to
( jcr.rlun
rt iousutcss,
see German history, the
spirit, the changes in our German national con-
and great German personalities.
of men. Such a historical self-analysis of our German being is at
I What is taking place is a crisis of mankind. The contribu_ llrr: sitrne time an ethical self-examination. In the mirror of
tions, fatal or salutar of single peoples and states can only r,rrr' lristory we see our aims and our tasks. We hear them in
be seen in the framework of the whole, as can the connections thc crrll of our grel! apprehend them at the
Pj9-:!g.-and
which brought on this war, and its phenomena which mani- nrnrc time by illuminating the historic idols which led us

fested in new, horrible fashion what man can be. It is only ullriry.
within such a total framework that the guilt question, too, Wht we think of as German is never mere cognition but
can be discussed justly and unmercifully at the same time. rrrr cthical resolve, a factor in German growth. The character
,,1' onc's own people is not finally determined until it is
I
At the beginning, therefore, we place a theme which does
not even mention Germany as yet: the generality of the lristorically finished, all past and no future any more (Iike
It
age-how it reveals itself as technical age and in world rtrcicnt Hellenism).
politics and in the loss or transformation of all faith. 'llhe fact that we are still alive, still part of history and
Only by visualizing this generality ca we distinguish rrot yet at the absolute end, leads, fourth, to the question
it
1,what is all men's due and what is private to a special group ,,f our remaining possibilities. Is there any strength left to
t 4t furthermore, what lies in the nature of things, in the the German in political collapse, in both political and eco-
l[-,
Ir
' course of events, and what is to be ascribed to free human
decision.
rrrrrnic impotencel Or has the end come in factl
'I'he answer lies in the draft of the ethos which is left n

t
Against the background of this generality we seek, sec- tr us-and if it were the ethos of a people deemed a pariah I
;
lr ond, the way to the German question. We visualize our rcople in the world todaY.
i
eal situation as the source of our spiritual situation, charac-
r,
terize National-Socialism, inquire how it could and did
happen, and finally discuss the guilt question.*
After the visualization of the disaster we inquire, third:
* Onlf this last section on the guilt question is published in tie follow-
ing pages, with the contents elaborated on and freed from the form of
cademic lecture.

( z+ ) (zs)
f

iil
)
I
,i

Introduction

/t
;{
Alrrost the entire wodd indicts Germany and the Germans.
()ur guilt is discussed in terms of outrage, horror, hatred
rrul scrn. Punishment and retribution are desired, not by
llrc victors alone but also by some of the German emigrs
*rrtl cvcn by citizens of neutral countries' In Germany there
lt'c some who admit guilt, including their own, and many
wh, hold themselves guiltless but pronounce others guilty'
't'he temptation to evade this question is obvious; we live
rrr tlistress-large Parts of our population are in so great,
arrch acute distress that they seem to have become insensitive
' to such discussions. Their interest is in anything that would
-{r.
rclicve distress, that would give them work and bread,
rlrclter and warmth. The horizon has shrunk. People do not I
lrclter
likc to hear of guilt, of the past; world history is not theirf
ri ( n cern. Ttre, y. simpJr..do-$oJ. Irya&t*t0*u$er. any more i they
() .
d(
fr wnt to gef nut"o-f,,j. migly,Jo.li,v.e'b.ut"a"r9,,t te think There s
lr
is ;r feeling as though after such fearful sufiering one had to
lrc rewarded, as it were, or at least comforted, but not
hurdened with guilt on toP of it all.
And yet, though aware of our helplessness in the face of
cxtremity, we feel at moments an urgent longing for the calm
truth. The aggravation of distress by the indictment (of
(zt)
' /'
l,i
iil
,)
the German people) is not irrelevant, or a mere cause of
anger. We want to see dearly whether this indictment i
Irr tlrt- clul, what we call guilt has one all-embracing source.
llrrt tlris cn be clarified only by what is gained by means of
just or unjust, and in what sense. For it is exactly in di
llre rlistinctiors.
that the most vital need is most strongly felt: to cleanse ( )rrr tlitrkest feelings do not mind being trusted out of
I one's own soul and to think and do right, so that in the face
Irrrrrl. 'l'hough immediacy is the true reality, the presence
I of nothingness we may grasp life from a new authentic rl ,,rrr soul and our feelings are not simply there like given
i origin.
frrtrr rf life. Rather, they are communicated by our inner
We Germans are indeed obliged without exception to nrlivilics, our thoughts, our knowledge. They are deepened
understand clearly the question of our guilt, and to draw
arr,l clurilied in the measure that we think. Feeling as such
the conclusions. What obliges us is our human dignity. First,
I l rrru'cliable. 'fo plead feelings means to evade naively the
we cannot be indifferent to what the world thinks of us, llr.irctivity of what we can know and think. It is only after
i for we know we are part of mankind-are human before wr lrtvc thought a thing through and visualized it from all
we are German. More important, however: our own life, airlcs, constantly surrounded, led and disturbed by feelings,
Jy I
in distress and dependence, can have no dignity except by llrrt we arrive at a true feeling that in its time can be trusted
i
$' j truthfulness toward ourselves. The guilt question is more Ir) $upport our life.
, than
Luarr a guesLlon to us by
put ro
question pur Dy otners, it 1s
others, 1t is one we put to
,lu.ourselves. The way we answer it will be decisive for our
, j pre.ent approach to the world and ourselves. It is a vital
' i question for the German soul. No other way can lead to
a regeneration that would renew us from the source of our
being. That the victors condemn us is a political fact which
the greatest consequences for our life, but it does not help
has
\
\ us in the decisive point, in our inner regeneration. Here we
deal with ourselves alone. Philosophy and theology are
\
lcalled on to illumine the depths of the question of guilt.
Discussions of the guilt question often sufier from a con-
fusion of concepts and points of view. To arrive at truth,
we must differentiate. I shall begin by drafting a scheme of
distinctions that will serve to claty our present German
situation. The distinctions are, of course, not absolutely valid.
(zB) lzs)
tl
ifl
)

I
I

Scheme of Distinctions

I Foux CoNcnPTs oF GuI"r

Wr rnust distinguish between:


ll) kirntnpJ g1i!: Crimes are acts capable of objective
rr,r,,f' tnd violate unequivocal iaws. Jurisdiction
rests with
lhe court, which in formal proceedings can be relied uPon to
i-
firul thc facts and apply the law. /" o
( 2) pg\;i.cgotilt: This, involving the- de9{9 of statesmen

,rrr,l ,,f the citizenry of a state, results in my having to bear


tlrc t:onsequences of the deeds of the state whose power.gov-
"+ n nn me and under whose order I live. Everybody is co-
rrsronsible for the way he is governed. Jurisdiction restsf
with the power and the will of the victor, in both domestic andi
l',rrcign politics. Success decidey'Potitical prudence, which'
i(
tukcs the more distant consequences into account, nd the
;r rrtknowledgment of norms, which are applied as natural and
irrtcrnational law, serves to mitigate arbitrary Power.
( 3) M o"**\t*fit : \ who q1n9!. 19t" 9$951"v-9.".1h4-" 3-s",-an

irrclividual,am-p9p!ly*Lqqp-o19.i!-!-e-.-f -o-.al-t"r".y"d-e-p-d.,incl*d-
irrg the executign gf .P.91!tic?1. ad qil!1ary otdgf. It is never
sirnply true that t(orders are orders." Rather-as crimes even
though ordered (although, depending on the degree of dan-
( sr )
t:' ,l
Un,ft'ltrll i l't*,r'rri
ll lf,(t(rt{a
^8fr
on r,h ,1, r*,1
rtl
rlt ' "t

il
)
ger, blackmail and terrorism, there may be mitigating cir
cumstances)-so every deed remains subject to
i hr'r i ,t a n i' " 'r '' i b'*t.'r"o l'11!e :'
ncrurtheli+!i.li.f m,'p-f.allxttiasns".fpr,thp.s9.$sgll.,enq9i*of d"gdt."
rl unc by th..eir't*g,"b:ll 4pt..the erimina], a+d the.moral Spil"t Llt,'.

judgment. JUtip_drsti"op rgq_tp- with. my conscience, and i ul cvery stogle citizen..for crimes.semmittqd in the..na.mg.sf
communication with my friends and intimates who are lov .thc state. The judge may decide about crimes and the victor, *
ingly concerned about my sou1. i',,ii:, ,rlxrut political liability, but moral guil 31 truthfully bei ^
rli:;cussed only_ in a Jovlng strygglg.-be!ryein men who main-l
ru ir s o I idari ty amo ng t,
r

"-r.tr"f "*.
ls f ,pi".fn9trnhy-Slgl.gt1,1t,'
(his may pgrhaps bp a sbject .f-fgggl"*Ji.,o.Ain q9$ret.li,tllp-
ticns or in qhe work of poets and*phllssaphesr,but hardly
I

I
unc for personal communicatioru Most deeply aware of it I , ,

l ";! If I rurc those who have once achieved the unconditioned, and ;l'i
was present at the murder of others without risking my
life to prevent it, I feel guilty in a way not adequately con- by that very fact have experienced their failure to manifest i ,,
t h is uncon4itiglgd !g*"ef-d -3l-|!*Fen' There remains shame
ceivable either legally, politically or morally. That I live .

after such a thing has happened weighs upon me as indelible


lirr something that is always Present, that may be discussed in I
revealed'
guilt. As human beings, unless good fortune spares us such licneral terms, if at all, but can never be concretely
situations, we come to a point where we must choose: either i This difierentiation of concepts of guilt is to preserve us
ll I to risk our lives qn-q$d,itigllllly, I lr',rm the superficiality of talk about guilt that
flattens every-
without chance of success
ithing out on a single plane, there to assess it with all the.
),i, ],','udeness and lack of discrimination of a bad
judge' But in
cause success is impossible. That somewhere among men the:
unconditioned prevaiJ.s-the capacity to live only together;, ithc end these distinct concePts are to lead us back to the one
,i q" (r.,u..., which cannot be fatiy referred to as our guilt'
or not at all, if crimes are committed against the one oi the !

.tu
othei,.i iT physical living requirements have to be shared- AII these distinctions become erroneous, however, if we
fuil to keep in mind the close connection between the things
i therein consists the substance of their being. But that this
$'t
rtistinguished. Every concept of guilt demonstrates (or
"''*)i do.. not extend to the solidarity of all men, nor to tht of
Lr' lf^il^--, ^--rr^- groups, L.-a
^r smaller
^t2-^-^ or even of -^-
-^-^:-^ con- nranifests) realities, the consequences of which appear in
i fellow-citizens but remains
I fined to the closest human ties-therein lies this guilt of us
the spheres of the other concepts of guilt'
!ail. Jurisdiaion rests with God alone. If human beings were able to free themselves from
This differentiation of four concepts of guilt clarifies the metaphysical guilt, they would be angels, and all the other
three concepts of guilt would become immaterial'
meaningof thecharges.B-"Jitiq3"["g.ut|,Jr.f.pSfmlS*.do*S
(sz) (s)
: .1,, i: i r.i,.,,."
rl

possibilities
I
I nnorut fiings ceuse. le .F.eraCirip*p.-,,e",rt,-o.f.."y..hi.ch bot, rrrtion. There are two schematically opposed possibilities
rtrrrtion.
I I
I Brime and political g.uilt ?.-rje. The commission of countles llc't.c:
llc't.c: ;\g6;r,rltig''-;
\fit;+{iidg
ln
I

I little acts of negligence, of convenient adaptation of chea. it'tf,"


l,lither the ethos of politics is the ptiii.iple
priiiciple of a. in i i
state
I

vindication, and the imperceptible promotio; of wrong; th wlrich aII participate with their consciousness, their knowl- i i
J I

{ participation in the creation of a public atmosphere tha c, their opinions, and their wills.
i'rlqc, This is the life of
of
and improve-
I

spreads confusion and thus makes evil possible-all that h ,,rlitical liberty as a continuous flow of decay |

consequences that partly condition the political guilt involved mt'rt. It is made possible by the task and the oPPortunit{ u,,..:',1, I

in the situation and the events. ,r,,vided by a responsibility shared by


all. F,)t'"'"
(:--
The moral issue also involves a confusion about the im- or else there prevails a situation in which the majority "!
portance of power in human communities. The obfuscation rrc rrlienated from politics. State power is not felt to be the:
of this fundamental fact is guilt, no less than is the false rrtlividual's business. Ie does not feel that he shares a
deification of power as the sole deciding factor in events. rrsronsibility; he looks on, is politically inactive, works and',
Every human being is fated to be enmeshed in the power arrs in blind obedience. F{e has an easy conscience in obeying j
,rrrtl an easy conscience about his nonparticipation in the deci- !
-,fl.
relations he lives by. This is the inevitable guilt of all, the
guilt of human existence. It is counteracted by supporti eirns and acts of those in Power. FIe tolerates the political ]
+ ;the power that achieves what is right, the rights of man. rnrlity as an alien fact; he seeks to tufn it cunningly to his i
' il,
Failure to collaborate in organizing power relations, in the ,rrsonal advantage or lives with it in the blind ardor of \
struggle for power for the sake of serving the right, creates utl f-sacrifice.
i,
'*t basic political guilt and moral guilt at the same time. Bolilir,al 'l'his is the difierence between political liberty* and
F{erodotus on as the
guilt.turns ints mo"ral guilt rvhere power serves,..to,,.destr:oy
.
,olitical dictatorship, conceived from
(he,r.ne.+ning 'West and East (Greek liberty and
9f po_w.er.:the achieverrenf.l{ "wha[,is..fight, rlillcrence between
the .e-1ho9 ,p.$d.p$f of, one'-s ,o.yl1. .rr4tign. For wherever t'rrsin despotism). In most cases, it has not been up to
power does not limit itself, there exists violence and terror, tlrc individual to say which will prevail. For good or ill,
and in the end the destruction of iife and soul. tlrc individual is born into a situation; he has to take what
Out of the moral everyday life of most individuals, of the ir tradition and reality. No individual and no grouP can at
broad masses of people, develops the characteristic political orrc stroke, or even in a single generation, change the condi-
behavior of each age, and with it the political situation. But all of us live.
r
',tr
tions by which
the individuai's life in turn presupposes a political situation
, already arisen out of history, made real by the ethos and + "Theses on Politicl Liberty" were published by me in Wandlung'
; politics of his ancestors, and made possible by the world Nu. , p. 460ff.

( s+ )
( s )
.---

,l
f,
or Gur.r
li CoxseupNcas
FoncB-Rrcr.r-Mrn.cy
) The consequences of guilt afiect real life, whether or
I the person affected realizes it, and they afiect my l,,,rtc is what decides between m-en, unless they reach agree-
I
esteem if I perceive my guilt. rr,rrl. Any state order serves to control this force so as to
(a) Cime meets. piqh punishrnenl.It requires that ,,( r'vc it-as law enforcement within, as war without. In
judge acknowledge the guilty man,s free determination rrrlt times this had been almost forgotten.
his will-not that the punished ackngwledge the justice Whcre war establishes the situation of force, the right
, r, l,;, We Europeans have tried even then to maintain some
his punishment.
(b) fhgre \ abili1 foq political, rr nruult of it in the rules of international law, which apply
consequer
^guilt rr wiu's in peace and were last expressed in the FIague and
reparatioh is necessary and further loss or restriction
political power and political rights (on the parr of
( it'ncv Conventions. The attempt seems to have been vain.

g"ilty). If the guilt is part of events decided by war, Where force is used, force is aroused' It is up to the victor
consequences for the vanquished may indude
t,, tlccide what shall be done with the vanquished, in line
deportation, extermination. Or the victor can, if he wil rvrtlr the rule of vae tictis.
The vanquished can either die
,, tlr and sufier what the victor wants. As a rule he has
bring the consequences into a form of right, and thus
,rlw;rys preferred to live (here are the roots of the funda-
I
moderation.

ii
(c) The outgrowth of the moral guilt is insight, whi rr r. ntl master-servant relationship as profoundly illustrated
involves penance.ond. r?l?:lpql. It is an inner developmen l,y I lcgel).
r then also taking effect in the world of reality. l{ight is the sublime idea of men who derive their exist-
origin which is secured by force alone, but not
(d) The metaphysical guilt results in a 1ra.nsfor 'rrt: from an
p,l".laqru.cf, self.consciqwsness befors Gpl. Pride is ,l, t.rmined by force. Wherever men become aware of their
i, This self-transformation by inner activity may Iead to lrrrrrranity and recognize man as man, they grasp human
{. new source of active life, but one linked with an indel riilrts and base themselves on a natural law to which both
sense of guilt in that humility which grows modest befo vrr'tor and vanquished may appeal.
God and submerges all its doings in an atmosphere wh As soon as the idea of right arises, men may negotiate to
arrogance becomes impossible. lirrtl the true right in discussion and methodical procedure'
'['rue, what in case of a complete victory becomes right
l,r the vanquished and between victor and vanquished, has
tlrtrs far played only a very limited role in events which are
,lccided by acts of political will. These events become the
ll."*,, (t6) (st)
ttl
r/

fundament of a Iaw which ,rrul object and does not cross these bounds; and it is clear

ln through right.
Right can only apply to guilt in the sense of rime and
,,rrly if it is known who accuses and who is accused.
(l) Let us first be guided by an enumeration of four
the sense of political liability, not to moral and metaphysi tyrcrs of ,guilt. The accused either hears himself ph-q1Sed
guilt. ltortt.wiihoutrby the worldror lrgrnwith,inrby his own soul.
But even the punished or liable pafiy ca recognize [,'rom withou-tr, the c.]rages are meanilgful pnly,in .r,eg1r.:d
right, The criminal can feel his punishment as his honor Itr crimes and pqlitical guilt. They are raised with the inten-
rehabilitation. The one who is politically liable can Irtn of effecting punishment and holding liable. Their
I that the living conditions he must accept now are v,rlidity is legal and political, neither moral nor meta-
determined by fate.
'l
rysical.
irom withiq he. ggifty. hgars himself g.!arggd with qsral
l(grcy. is.yh+J.!,9*pe., the eff qpt of ,.uqdilllted ight
I
I

pf -dpstfuctiye fo.rre. The humanity of man senses in lrilure and metaphysical weakngs-and, if these led to
higher truth, than may be found in the unswerving ,olitical and criminal acts or omissions, with those as well.
sistency of either right or force. Morally man can condemn only himself, not another-
(a) Notwithstanding the existence of right, mercy or, another, then only in the solidarity of charitable
if
to open a realm of justice freed from flaws. For all
,,truggle. No one can morally judge another. It is only
whcre the other seems to me like myself that the closeness
norms are full of flaws and inlustice in their
rrigns which in free communication can make a common
'*l (b) Notwithstanding the possibility of force, the vi
, rrrsc of what finally each does in solitude.
shows mercy. Ie may be motivated by expedience, beca
'fhe assertion of another's guilt cannot refer to his con-
the vanquished can serve him, or by magnanimity,
viction, only to certain acts and modes cf behavior. While
his sense of power and stature is raised by letting the
ir individual judgment we try to take motives and convic-
quished live; or he may in conscience submit to the dem
tions into consideration, we can truthfully do so only insofar
$r
of a universally human natural law, by which the rus they can be established by objective indications, i.e', acts
quished is no more stripped of all rights than is the cri

(b) The- qp,gstion is.ir.r w-hich 9-9nse can a.grQul b9 judgsd,


Wno Juocrs, ar.ro Wno on'Wr Is Juocrol in w-lrich 99nse onfy can ?n i.nd,ividuq.l. I clearly,ryates
,rncl
rcnse to h9!d {! ci1i39p-s 9f . p. -cpuntry- -li+bl.".- f.sr. the re}rlts
The hail of charges moves us to ask: ((Who-whoml"
of by their. state. Here a grouP is affected,
actions .!Aken.
accusation is m,eaningful only if it is defined by point of
lrut the liability is definite and limited, involving neither
(8) (sg)
/
I
ll , moral nor metaphysical charges against the inciividuals. wrgirrns, the lews, and so forth ad lib,: the Frisians, the
llirvrrians, men, women, the young, the qld. That something
affects also those who opposed the rgime ard !s, 1-c!
) htr in with the typological conception must not mislead us
Analogously there are liabilities for members in organi
t,r lrclieve that we have covered every individual through
tions, parties, groups.
For crimes one can punish only an individual, whether
arr,lr general characterization. For centuries this mentality
h,r fostered hatred among nations and communities. Unfor-
was acting alone or in concert with accomplices, each
Irrrr:rtcly natural to a majority of people, it'has been most
whom is called to account according to the extent of co
&, vrt iously applied and drilled into the heads with propaganda
plicity which as a minimum need not exceed the mere joi
lry the National-Socialists. It was as though there no longer
ing of such company. There are assemblages of ga;
and conspirators which may be branded criminal in t wcrr: human beings, just those collective grouPs.
I
'l'here is no such thing as a people as a whole. AII lines
entirety, and in this case mere membership is punishable.
It is nonsensical, however, to charge a whole people wi llrirt we may draw to define it are crossed by facts. Language,
a crime. The ciminal is always only an individual. rr;rlionality, culture, common fate-all this does not coincide
It is nonsensical, too, to lay moral guilt to a people as lrut is overlapping. People and state do not coincide, nor do
whole. The-r.p ic no gqgh thing ag a natioral charac(er lurrguage, common fate and culture.
jg tg gv.e1y single member of a nation. There are, of co One cannot make an individual out of a people..$ pegPlg
fi

Iti,,, communities of language, customs, habits and descent;


the differences which may exist at the same time are
tirrrnot perish, hg,,oically, cannot be- a criminalr, caBqf. cf
rrrrrally or immorally; only its individuais can do ,,o. A I

ilr
,r:ople as a whole can be neither guilty nor innocent,
great that people talking the same language may remain neither
strange to each other as if they did not belong to the rrr the criminal nor in the political (in which only the i
nation. ritizenry of a state is liable) nor in the moral sense.
Morally one can judge the individual only, never a grou 'fhe categorical judgment of a people is always unjust"
The mentality which considers, characterizes and j It presupposes a false substantialization and results in the
; people collectively is very widespread. Such characterizati rlcbasement of thehuman being as an individual.
of the Germans, the Russians, the British-never A world opinion which condemns 4 people collectively
-as
generic conceptions under which the individual h is of a kind with the fact that for thousands of years men
beings might be classified, but are type conceptions to whi lr:rve thought and said, "The Jews are guilty of the Cruci-
they may more or less correspond. This confusion, of fixion." Who are ttthe Jews"l A certain group of religious
generic with the typological conception, marks the thinki
rrnd political zealots whose relative Power among the Jews
in collective grovps-t/re Germans, tlte British, the N
( +o )
(+)
,"1i r,""',,
i;l
' 'orr ','
t/
iil of that time, in cooperation with the Roman
authorities, led to the execution of Jesus.
'r'ry
right to judge in public, having stayed out of
atruggle and failed to stake his existence and his conscience
the.

) That such an opinion will become a matter of course rrr the main causel"
I overpower even thinking people is so amazing because t When the individual's moral and metaphysical guilt is
I error is so simple and evident. One seems to face a blan rliscussed among people sharing a common fate-today
wall. It is as though no reason, no fact were any lo
I

illnorlg Germans---one feels the right to judge in the atti-


heard-or, if heard, as though it were instantly and inefiec Irrrlc and behavior of him who judges. One feels whether

)i .
tively forgotten.
Thus there can be no collective guilt of a people or
i group within a people-except for political liability. f
ul not he speaks of a guilt weighing also upon himself-
whcther he speaks from within or from without, self-
rrrlighteningly or accusingly, as an intimate seeking a way
,I lr

I PI9l9!"."
j giltl
I
a glguP criminally, mgrally or metpphysically
is an error akin !o the lalipgsg and arroganqe "qf 4ve;
., i
trr the possible self-enlightenment of others or as a stranger
allrl mere assailant, as friend or as foe. It is always only
I -r-,..,,,",

?S% qrq.itical thinking. rr the first instance that his right is unquestionable; in the
(c) There must be a right to accuse and indict. Who has sr.rnd it is doubtful and in any case limited to the extent
'. the right to iudge? Whoever does so, exposes himself to oI his charity.
, questions about the source of his authority, the end and When it comesto political liability and criminal guilt,
,, i motive of his judgment, and the situation in which he and howcver, everyone has the right among fellow-citizens to
man judged confront each other. rliscuss facts and their judgment, and to measure them by ..i,
,the "{

'*i d. i No one needs to acknowledge a worldly tribunal in points tlrr: yardstick of clear, conceptional definitions. Political lia-
,yl lof moral and metaphysical guilt. What is possible in close, lrility is graduated according to the degree of participation
't lhuman relationships which are based on love is not permitted irr the rgim*now rejected on principle-and determined
jto distantly cold. analysis. What is true before God i. .rot, hy decisions of the victor, to which the very fact of being
therefore, true before men. For God is represented by no rulive logically forces all to submit who wish to survive the
I authority 61 sh-neither in ecclesiastic nor in foreign
1.hl .t. oro,ft ri'' .,1 " o,+l^l
offices, norin a world opinion announced by the press. {-'
If judgrnents are passed in the situation of a decided war, DrrBxse
that on political liability is the absolute prerogative of the
victor who staked his life on a decision in his favor. But Wherever chargp 4e raised, the accused wilf be.a.lgrygd-a
one may ask (to quote from a letter): ((Does a neutral have lrcaring. Wherever right is appealed to, there is a defense'
(+z) (+:)

I
Wherever force is used, the victim will defend himself i
figlrt for it. In total impotence, the sole remaining possibility
he can.
rc rr spiritual appeal to the ideal right.
If the utterly vanquished cannot defend himself (c) I'he recognition of natural law and human rights is

Ir
t
wants to stay alive, there is nothing left to him but to

",nd
bear the consequences.
E*,E,ry.h,",.-,,q thg.,vigqor 9!tes easonq a{. passes j
3$ b..e. .mpdp .g-ysq in slpotqnpe* rlgt b-y. a.r.ry- fog;
rltrc only to the free will of the powerful, the victors. It is
urr rrct of insight and idealism-mercy shown to the van-
rrri:ihccl in granting them right.
a.""r-p'--.ly,
t a)The" defense c?.n point -alrf w-heg.t[e i+di*.menJ i.s.,rp
hxt"b-'y^tbss.pi.t"rt, ifl"r.-ep$,.is.givgn to.it, A defense is possi
lurrgcr true bill bltt q-.weg297,ytf.l.A: $5..v-,,i,pfg[-fp. qth.pr
a
wherever man may speak. As soon as the victor puts hi
/ I
r r' ) oses, politica[
I
I 91 qsongmip*b.y qorrfuslng" tb'e ggil-q .c.-o-
.

actions on the level of right, he limits his power. The follow-


terts, by planting false opinion.,it", .sr"dcr 1o win,Aelt 4.,fld
,l ing possibilities are open to this defense:
e[sc one's'conscience, Thus measures are justified as right,
( 1) It can arge differentiotioa. Differentiation leads to
which otherwise would remain obvious actions of the victor
definition and partial exculpation. Differentiation cancels irr the situation of vae 'tictis. But evil is evil even when
totality and limits the charges. rrrflicted as retribution.
Confusion leads to haziness, and haziness in turn has Moral and metaphysical charges as means to political
real consequences which may be useful or noxious but in any rrrls are to be rejected absolutely.
!, event are unjust. Defense by differentiation promotes (5) The defense can reiect the iadge----<ither because
justice. tlcre is reason to believe him prejudiced, or because the
'{i (2) The defense can adduce, stress and compare facts. nriltter as such is beyond the jurisdiction of a human tribunal-
(3) The defense can appeal to nural hw, to human I)unishment and liability-reparation claims-are to b" \+
,rthtt, to international laa. Such a defense is subject to utknowledged, but not demands for repentance and rebirth i+"
which can only come from within. Such demand, ."r, only
{
restrictions:
(a) A state which has violated natural law and human lrc met by silent rejection. The point is not to forget the
rights on principle-at home from the start, and later, in rctual need for such an inner regeneration when its per-
war, destroying human rights and international law abroad f,rrmance is wrongly demanded from without.
no claim to recognition, in its favor, of what it refused There is a difference between guilt consciousness and
-has lecognition of a worldly judge. The victor is as such not yet
to recognize itself.
l judge. lJnless he himself discards the attitude of combat
I (b) Right, in fact, is with him who has the Power to
rnd by confinement to criminal guilt and political liability
(
++ ) (+s)
actually gains right instead of mere power, he daims a
legality for actions which tiemselves involve new guilt.
(6) The defense can resort to counterchorges. lt
point to acts of others which helped to cause the calamity
it can point to acts of others similar to those which the van
quished are deemed, and indeed are, crimes; it can point
n
general world trends that bespeak a common guilt. The German Questions
I
'l'hc guilt question received its universal impact from the
rlrru'ges brought against us Germans by the victors and the
t wrrrlcl. In the summer of l94irwhen in all towns and villages
I
thc posters hung with the pictures and stories from Belsen
,
, I'"'i "You are the guilty!" consciences
arul the crucial statement,
,t grew uneasy, horror gripped many who had indeed not
krrown this, and something rebelled: who indicts me therel
t
Nrr signature, no authority-the poster came as though from
h
enrl)ty space. It is only human that the accused, whether
) iustly or unjustly charged, tries to defend himself.
'l'he guilt question in political conflicts is very old. It
rlrrycd a great part, for instance, in the arguments between
,, Nuroleon and England, between Prussia and Austria. The
lrtnans may have been the first to introduce into politics
llc claim to their own moral right, and the moral condemna-
lion of their opponents. Against this stands on the one hand
tlrc niVet of the objective Greeks, and on the other the
ancicnf Jewish self-indictment before God.
'fhat condemnation by the victorious powers became a
rrrcrns of politics and impure in its motivev*this fact itself
ir t guilt pervading history.
After World War I, the Treaty of Versailles decided the
(+6) (+t)
;i ,

,,,:, rrlr ,rll ,,1 ltct-s, to dishonor it further, once it had dis-
war-guilt question, against Germany. Historians of all
i, ;r.,r,'l rt' ll. llcre we are not discussing this question,'
tries have since discarded the theory that only one side
.. , rlr, ,,,1111;l tlucstion whether, and in what sense, it is
guilty. At that time, as Lioyd George put it, all sides
skidded" into the war. ..,.: ,1 ,,rr,1 rr:;cful to make admissions of guilt' lt may
!, rlrrr rlr (.n(lclnnation of the German people will stand'
Today things are altogether different. The question
guilt has acquired a more comprehensive meaning. It
l, ",,rrl,l lr,rvt: trcmendous consequences for us' We still
t. ,, rlrrl ',.nrc tlrry the statesmen will revise their decision,
i

quite unlike before. to accuse but


=,,,t ,t,, n,rlr()ns their opinion. Yet ours is not
This time the war-guilt question, in the foreground National-Socialism
+', .,,r l,l l'lrt' tttter impotence to which '

1918, is very clear. The war was unleashed by Hitler


t i,,rr,lrr ,,., ,,,rl.[ from which there is no escaPe in the present'
many. Germany is guilty of the war through its rgi
! , . l, ,r, ,1, ,, r, ,r I ly conditioned world situation, leaves us no
which started the war a! its own chosen moment, while
=l' rl.llrt r'.
of the rest wanted it. judge
(tYou are the guilty" means much flrrl , r'r'rr rnrre important to us is how weanalyze, -
Today, however,
:r, | , lr .rrir' ,,ttrselves' Those ,cl,rarges- fo--ry] withou-t.n"o'lo'nger
than war guilt.
,. ,,ru (,[r((:l-n. on the other hand, there are the charges
That poster has by now been almost forgotten. But souls for
fr,,irr rvrllttt which have been voiced in German
we learned from it has remained: first, the reality of a clearly but
1 :.
, r , 1't ;rt':r, for moments at least,
1
more or less
opinion which condemns us as a nation--and second, ou they efiect in
rrri,,,,',rl,l, lr overhear. They, by the changes
own concern.
,,q,,l1'r''r, ,,ltl or young, are the source of whatever
self-
World opinion matters to us. It is mankind which so con
+, l",r r'; srill possible fo, ot''We must darify the question ,

siders us--a fact to which we cannot be indifferent. Besi It is independent


guilt is coming to be a political weapon. Being held guilty ", ,., ,,,',,,' {ruiit. This is our own business'
,,i ,,rrt ,irlt' charges, however much we may hear and use
we have in this view deserved whatever grief we have
l!r, rr ,r',,ttt:stions and mirrors'
to, and are yet to come to. Flerein lies the justification of ((You are the guiltyr" can have several
I l,.rt ';t:rtcment,
politicians who partition Germany, who restrict its
l, rrrtltl' 1. lt can mean:
struction possibilities, who would leave it peaceless, ...lrlllll)l.lstanswerfortheactsofthergimeyoutoler-
pended between life and death. The political questi
.rr,,l" tlris involves our political guilt'
which we do not have to decide and whose dectston we ca
or "\'trr are guilty, moreover, of giving your suPPort
scarcely influence even by our most blameless conduct-i lies our moral
,rrr,l r,rpcl"ttio., io tt,is rgime"-therein
whether it is politically sensible, purposeful, safe and just
li
turn a whole nation into a pariah nation, to degrade i .,,,1r ':3t

(+8) ( +s )
lt
I

Or: ((You are guilty of standing by inactively


I
when
crimes were commitlsdrr-hgs, a metaphysical guilt su
gests itself.
I hold these three statements to be true-although
the first, concerning political liability, is quite correct and
be made without reservations, while the second and thi

I
on moral and metaphysical guilt, become untrue in 1)ifferentiation of German Guilt
form, as uncharitable testimony.
h A further meaning of ((You are the guilty could be: Trr Cnr"rcs
rl ('You
took part in these crimes, and are therefore crimi
i
f
yourselves." This statement, applied to the overwhelm I lrrlikc the case in World War I when we Germans did not
N
' majority of Germans, is patently false. rrertl to admit specific crimes committed by one side only
I
I *r*?.1.trt,."!-.Ay-..",K*tL*-r}.
l,*-stJy." "the-.,,Rhres".e. t.L.\41.. me?p:.:, ilY.-g,*rg
may .l::y*.lL:-,.. ..+-,u.$ ,*..! ,.ijl{-eJl-o-.I.f
.i#-"i-o-
( r l'rct cventually recognized by scientific historic research

; Ir4tion, ignoble, criminalr, the qcum o-f the earth, .diffe: Fvnr (,il the part of Germany's enemies), today the crimes
I
i"-frem. all.ethcr n4tie." This is the collectivist type rrrruritted by the Nazi governs-l Gerrnany before
I i thought and appraisal, classifying every individual llrc wrrr, everywhere during the war-are evident.
' these generalizations. It is radically false and itself inh I lrrlike the case in World War I when the war-guilt ques-
whether done for good or evil ends. liun wls not decided against one side by the historians of
' 'tl After these brief anticipatory remarks we shall now rrll rurtions, this war was begun by Hitler Germany. I
up the question at close range. llrrlike World War I, finally, this war really became af
',t w,r'lt[ war. It struck the world in a different situation andf
irr rr clifierent knowledge. Its import, compared with earlieri
wur.s, cntered another dimension. 'f

Ancl today we have something entirely new in world his-


Iury. The victors are establishing a court. The Nuremberg
tri;rl deals with crimes.
'f'he primary result is a clear delimitation in two direc-
I iorts:
Itirst,.ust*!h.e---""egp.1-*p.e9plp-are,.bq,ilg.ff i,edrt*.rOt

,( io
rrrrlividual, .crimiryIly-.
"::.-"::4*e#L4lh=1l,-.
p-l.t-"ipJ-".^
*ll
) ( sr )

cr,,r*lnll t.lif ri':i'tr1,r)r:i 1 j rtl ' 'r


!'r'q"r' 'rs'l l5 i I '-

leaders of the Nazi rgime. This line was drawn at


outset by the American member of the prosecution. ((W
,,r, r l,(,1ticirl impotence and our elimination as'a political .i
lr,trrr ,.,r'li-".''' -'i r
want to make it clearr', Jackson said in his fundam
((that i, t .vr:r'ything depends o" iio{o'*. to.r..i"., interpret,
address, we do not intend to accuse the whole
.rl,l'r,'l'r r;rle rurd translate our instinctive concern.
people."
orr, lnssibility is outright rejection of indignity. We look
Second, the suspects are not accused indiscriminatel
They are charged with specific crimes expressly defined i
l,,r r( ,r.,{)n) then, to deny the right, the truthfulness, the
the statute of the International Military T'ribunal. l,u l',,r,( oI the whole trial,
( | ) Wc engage in general reflections: There have been

At this trial we Germans are spectators. We did not ru,rr:, tlrroughout history and there will be more. No one
it about and we are not running it, although the 1,,,,,lt is guilty of war.'Wars are due to human nature, to
1lr, rrrrivcrsal culpability of man. A conscience which pro-
are men who brought disaster over us. (,Indeed the Germa.
,l,rrrr,, i(sclf not guilty is superficial. By its very conduct
--as much as the outside world-have an account to sett ,,1, lr :,t'lf-righteousness breeds future wars.
with the defendantsr', Jackson said.
lirlrtttal: This time there can be no doubt that Germany
Many a German smarts under this trial. The sentiment i
,l,rrrrrctl and prepared this war and started it without provo-
understandable. Its cause is the same which moved the
,;rrr,rr ffom any other side. It is altogether different from
side to blame the whole German people for the Hi
l'rl.l. Ocrmany is not called guilty of war but of this war.
rgime and its acts. Every citizen is jointly liable for A rr,l this war itself is something new and different, occurring

doings and jointly affected by the sufierings of his ,, .r :rituation unparalleled in the past history of the world'
state. A criminal state is charged against its whole po 'l'his objection to the Nuremberg trial may be phrased in
tion. Thus the citizen feels the treatment of his leaders ,,rlr( r' wys, perhaps as follows: It is an insoluble problem
his own, even if they are criminals. In their persons t ol lrrman existence that what must be settled by invoking
people are also condemned. Thus the indignity and mortifi tlr, .irrtlgment of God, keeps pressing time and again for a
cation experienced by the leaders of the state are felt ,l, ti:rion by force. The soldier's feelings are chivalrous, and
the people as their own indignity and mortification. , r', n in defeat he has a right to be offended if treated in an
their instinctive, initially unthinking rejection of the tri rrr lrivalrous manner.
The political liability we have to meet here is painful in Itcbuttal: Germany, throwing all chivalry overboard and
deed. We must experience rnortification if required by viol:rting international law, has committed numerous acts
political liability. Thereby, symbolically, we experience ',',,rrlting
in the extermination of populations and in other
( s, ) r,htrmanities. Flitler's actions from the start were directed
(s:)
f,/ 1, , ,r,i,r:.i,,.:'l 'f':.',' f'l,t,rrnltcJ n,,U,r,
',,'' i .),,:: I,I' !'''r,*
'd5'1"' 't! it"i '{ {iirr"'"r'r"
iil against every chance of a reconciliation. It was to be
or ruin. Now we feel the consequences of the ruin.
rrr ( hrnl{c at all. The Germans would not sit on the court by
urtuc of :r German self-liberation but by the grace of the
claims to chivalry-even though a great many indivi t,l{lr)r.!r.'I'he national disgrace would be the same. The trial J,

I soldiers and entire units are guiltless and themselves


always acted chivalrously-is voided by the Wehrmach
ie rlrrt: tr the fact that we did not free ourselves from the*1ff
, urrrirutl rgime but were liberated by the Allies.
i

readiness to execute criminal orders as Flitlerrs organizati 1I )


One counterarg.umgnt.ru"n: p-f_ql-igwg, "Hoy. c31"we
Once betared,
9livalry and magrynimity cannot be clai crlirh crimes in the realm of political sqyefelgfrtyl T-o
o[
i
in one's favor, afq tfue fact. This war did not break grrrrrt this would mean that any victor can make a criminal
/ between opponents alike in kind, come to a dead end a ,rl tlrt: vanquished--and the meaning and the mygtery. of
chivalrously entering the lists. It was conceived and (,,,,1 tlcrived authority would cease. Men once obeyed by a
by criminal cunning and the reclless totality of a destructi rrrli,n.--in particular former Emperor William II and now
wrll. "I Irr Iiuchrer"-are considered inviolable.
In the midst of war there is the possibility of inhibitior l{clruttal: This is a halit.ot lhgugh {e{vgd from. the
Kant's injunction, that nothing ..,rrrt hrpp* in war whi Irrrtlititn of political life in Eulope, preserved the lo.ng-e-st in
would make reconcilement flatly impossible, was first (,r'nnrny. Today, however, the halq. rqund the heads .of
jected on principle by Hitler Germany. As a result, qtrrlcs has vanished. They ar_e m9r-r and a.ngwer for their {.
essentially unchanged from time immemorial and with t r['ctls. Iiver sirrie Europer" ,r"tit. have tried and beheaded '*
measure of its destructive possibilities determined now tlrrir monarchs, the task of the people has been to keep theirf
technology, is boundlessly with us. To have begirn the l,'rrlt:rs in check. The acts of states are also the acts of per-i
in the present world situation-this is the enormity. h,rr:;. Men are individually responsible and liable for them.;
(2) The trial is said to be a national djsgrace for 4ll (a) Legally we hear the following argumenti Therg cn
Gerrnans; if there were Germaq-s oq lhg pribrrrlal a l,r trimes only insofar as there ar9 ]aws. A crime is a breach
_!le Gemans would be judged by Ger:444s. ,rl thcse laws. It must be clearly defined and factually de-
Rejoinder: The national disgrace lies not in the tribunal rt'rrrrinable without ambiguity. ln particular---ttulla ?oena
but in what brought it on-in the fact of this rgime and tittr lcga-sentence can only be passed under a law in force
its acts. The consciousness of national disgrace is inescapable lrr.l'rrre the act was committed. J4. Nuremberg, hpwevgq, m,gn
I
for every German. It aims in the wrong direction if turning ruc judged rgtr,galively.gndgr laws now mad9.,by th9 yic;
against the triaL rather than its cause. I( )fs.
Moreover: Had the victors named a German tribunal, Itcbuttal : In the sgnse Cf birg3llity,.,qf '!-1m4n-.rights--and
or appointed Germans as a*sociate judges, this would make rrirtural law, and in the sense 9f the flqq-tgrn ldgaq of lfb-gly
( s+ ) (ss)
i",,.,- 1,.;" !,r,i ,,1.,,,.,.,,,.,
'r t1i:-!I r,i ,!)flrl i t0taI .i{l
,l
i -u .ri f .r r! i. t.r
f:

(
rnittcd. by a vanquished nation. In sovereign or victorious
a1d democracy, laws already exist by which crimes may .be i *n
determined. rrrtions the same acts are ignored, not erren discussed, muchf
l,',,s punished.
There are a.lso agreements which-if voluntarily signed
by both sides--create such a superior law that can serve as
ltcbuttal: Power and f-orc_9_a19 i"dggd.{ec!g!ve realities in {
a yardstick in case a contract is broken. lhc human world, but they arq ngt lhe g+h, ones. To m4ke t ,r
lhcm absolute is to remove all reliable links between merl.

i,
And the jurisdiction, which in the peaceful order of a .

state rests in the courts, can after a war rest only in the While they are absolute, no agreement is possible. As Hitler
victor's tribunal. irttually said, agreements are valid oniy while they represent
,

(5) Hence the further objection: vjctorious might doss rclf:-interest. (And he acted accordingly.) But this is opposed ]
np.-L..make right. Success cannot claim jurisdiction over right
l,y r will which, admitting the reality of power and the ,

, and truth. A tribunal which could investigate and judge lll'cctiveness of the nihilistic view, holds them undesirable !
war guilt and war crimes objectively is an impossibility. rrrrcl to be changed at any cost.
[,'or in human afiairs reality is not yet truth. That reality,
:

Such a court is always partisan. Even a court of neutrals


would be partisan, since the neutrals are powerless and r';rther, is to be confronted with another. And the existence i

actually part of the victors, following. To. judge. freely, a .l this other reality depends upon the human will. Every i

cgyr1 w-gul{ h4v.e tg be backed by 4 power capable of rrurn, in his freedom, must know where he stands and what i

e$,f9lg!r-rg ltp hc wants.


.d. gpisjoqg 4gainst both disputa4rs.

This argument, of the illusive nature of such justice, goes lirom this point of view it may be said that the trial, as

or to say that every war is blamed on the loser. FIe is forced r ncw attempt in behalf of order in the world, does not grow
to admit his guilt. His subsequent economic exploitation is rncaningless if it cannot yet be based on a legal world order
disguised as restitution. Pillage is forged into a rightful act. lut must still halt within a political framework. Unlike a
If the right is not free, let us have naked force-it would it does not yet take place in the closed order of
tuurt trial,
be honest, and it would be easier to bear. In fact, there is r state.
I{ence Jackson's frank satement that ((if the defense
I
nothing beside the victor's power. Recrimination as such can i

I always be made mutual; but only the victor can make his wcre permitted to deviate from the strictly limited charges of I
i
thc indictment, the trial would be prolonged and the court
charges stick, and he does so ruthlessly and solely in his - I
|
own interest, Everything else merely serves to disguise the cnmeshed in insoluble political disputes."
actual arbitrary force of the powerful. This also melns that the defense does not have to. $931
And: The tribunal,s illusive nature finally shows in the with the question of wa guilt and its historical pr-emi:::,
fact that the so-called crimes are prosecuted only if com- cither, but 9o!9!y wilh the question who began thig w.g.gr
( s6 ) ( st )
:

r. i .,,l
I reff*-.
I
,,

dp.sS"lt h+"v_e $e right t9 adduce or judgg other cases of


{ olrurr trial or whether we passionately wish that it might
Jag.giges. Political necessity limits discussion. But this Ellr ( ('cd.
not make everything untruthful. On the contrary, the diff
It :rlldepends on how the trial is run, on its contents, its i
culties, the objections, are candidly, if briefly, expressed. nul(1)me, on the reasons adduced to the verdict----on the over-
There is no denying the basic situation: that rll irrrpression of the proceedings, in retrospect. It.dcpends i
Il success in,
combat, not the law alone, is the governing starting point. lrr whether the world can admit the truth and the right of j +
It is true in big as well as little things that-as ironically said wlrul was done there, on whether even the vanquished cannot *,

i,, of military offenses-Iou are not punished because of the


law but because you got caught. But this basic situation does
lrllr concurring, historv later will see its
concurrinEr on whether history its justice
I
iustice I

,l
I
J
not
and
make man unable to transform his power, after success
on the strength of his freedom, into a realization of the
i right. And even if this is not entirely accomplished, even if
'ilrrl truth.
)'ct this will not be decided in Nuremberg alone. The
point is whether the Nuremberg trial comes to be
,,rnrtial
,r lirrk in a chain of meaningful, constructive political acts
i right ensues only to some extent, a gteat stride has been ( lr,rwcver often these may be frustrated by error, unreason,

I made on the way to world order. Moderation as such creates h'rrrtlessness and hate) or whether, by the yardstick there
I a zone of refection and examination, a zone of clarity, and ,rrrlicd to mankind, the very powers now erecting it will in
tle-reby makes men more fully aware of the lasting import the r:nd be found wanting. The powers initiating Nuremberg
I
'' I of force as such. tlrrny attest their common aim of world government, by
.Fqr, us Germans, thp adv.antages of this trial are its dis- arrlrrnitting to wor.Ld order. They attest their willingness
' "it'
linction between the definite crimes of the leajers and its r,',rlly to accept responsibility for mankind as the result of
very failure to condemn the people as a whole. tLeir victory-not just for their own countries. Such testi-
But the trial means a great deal more. For the first time, rrrorry must not be false testimony.
and for all times to come, it is to make wai a crime and to r lt will either create confidence in the world that right was
draw the condusions. What the Kellogg-Briand pact began ,J,,rrc and anfoundatio4,laid in Nuremberg-in which casg !f.e
shall be realized. fo. th" first time. There is no more doubt r,,litical trial will havp become a legal qne, with l4w crp-
of the greatness of this undertaking than of the good_will of nlivcly founded and realized for a new world now waitingfo
many who have a hand in it. The undertaking may appear l,u built. Or disappointment b) untruthfulness will qrgate an
fantastic. But when the stakes become clear to us, the event n,(:r worse world Stmosphere breeding new wars; instead of
makes us tremble with hope. The only difierence is whether n lrlcssing, Nuremberg would become a factot of doom, and
we gloat nihilisticall assuming that it could not but be a rn the world's eventual judgment the trial would have beefi

(ss) :ihtm and a mock trQl,. This must not happen.


( sg )
,"(, i.: * j"
a,
",i, , L i'" ,' .1'f',1

&
:1"
X" "i'',*a t.{if
l.:$lt
r lr.:, l', :

fo{ l't,rfr,rii i.^.r,


1

The answer to all arguments against the trial is


Nuremberg is something really new. That the argume Po,rcer, Gur,r
point to possible dangers cannot be denied. But it is wro
first, to think in sweeping alternatives, with flaws, mista lior crimes the criminal is punished. The restriction of the
and failings in detail leading at once to whol.esale reiecti Nrrlcrnberg trial to criminals serves to exonerate the German
whereas the main point is the powers, trend of action, 'r',rrlc. Not, however, so as to free them of all guilt-on the
thei
unwavering patience in active responsibility. Contradiction uurtnrry. The nature of our real guilt only appears the more
in detail are to be overcome by acts designed to bring worl r lurlly.
l

order out of confu.sion. It is wrong, secondl to strike a Wc were German nationals at the time when the crimes
wcrc committed by the rgime which called itself German,
attitude of outraged aggressiveness and to say no from t
wlrich claimed to be Germany and seemed to have the right,
start.
to tlu so, since the power of the state was in its hands and
What happens in Nuremberg, no matter how many obje
rrrtil 1943 it found no dangerous opposition.
tions it may invite, is a feeble, ambiguous harbinger of
'l'he destruction of any decent, truthful German polity
world order, the need of which mankind is beginning to fe
rrrust have its roots also in
TogigldUgqgllh"-eigliU
I
This is the entirely new situation. The wodd order is not
hand by an)r means-rather, there are still huge conflict
,l rhe German population. h pjople
1yg{or its polity.
'u'.l
t' l,)very German is made to shalE-e blame for the crimes
and incalculable perils of war ahead of its realization_but i
r ornmitted in the name of the Reich. We are collectively
I has come to seem possible to thinking humanity; it has
*|r lurhlc. The question is in what sense each of us must feel
peared on the horizon as a barely perceptible dawn,
while i ,,, rcsponsible. Certainly in the political sense of the joint
case of failure the self-destruction of mankind looms as li;rbility of all citizens for acts committed by their state-*but
fearful menace before our eyes. fir'that relson qot necessarily algq !n !!e r-noral .ssqgg of
Utter lack of power can only cling to the world as a whole. rr'lul or intellectual participation in crime..Are we Germans
On the brink of nothingness it turns to the origin]to the all tr Irc held liable for outrages which Germans inficted on us,
encompassing. So it is precisely the German who might or from which we were saved as by a miraclel Yes- -inas-
be_
come aware of the extraordinary import of this harbinger. rrruch as we let such a rgime rise among.-us. Nol-insofp n
Our own salvation in the world depends on the wor rrrrury of i ;" ori d".p"rt hearts opposed all this..evil and
order which-although not yet established in Nuremberg. lurve no morally guilty acts or inner motivations to admit.
is suggested by Nuremberg. 'lir hold liable does not mean to hold morally guilgy.
(6o) Guilt, therefore, is necessarily collective as the political
(6r)
"'ii'i '-,,r'j'lttir',, fr,,;l
' t' t , - , .,
,

1,1 ,'t,i,, , r, i i., ,, .i:,,. ,i ilr,,1:, ir..{ ,'r,r.r r,, rl ,


liability of nationals, but not in the sarne sense as moral a drawal from any kind of political activity--and still does
metaphysical, and never as criminal guilt. True,
the acct not exempt from joint political liability in every sense. I
ance of political tiability with its fearful consequences is
h
on every individual. What it means to us is political Mon,r- Gurr-r
im-
po::".: and a poverty which will compel us for long times
to live in_or on the fringes of hunger and cold
and to stuggle Every German asks himself : how am I guittyl
vainly. Yet this liability as such leaves the soul untouched. The question of the guilt of the individual analyzing
i' *isi Prclitically everyone acts in the modern state, at least
by, himself is what we call the moral one. FIere we Germans
lr l/oti, or failing to vote, in elections. The sense of politi
liability lets no man dodge.
are divided by the greatest differences.
While the decision in self-judgment is up to the indi-
i
If.things go wrong the politically active tend to justify vidual alone, we are free to talk with one another, insofar
themlelves; but such defenses orry io weight in politil. for as we are in communication, and morally to help each other
instance, they meant well and had the best intentions_ achieve clarity. Thg moral sentence.99 tt q.-qthSf "! t"9p9ndpd,
Hindenburg, for one, did surely not rnean to ruin Germany however-neither the criminal nor the political 9n-e. l\lo
or hand it over to Hitler. That does not help him he didi There is lirr" at which evn the possibility of moral{Uo'i
and that is what counts. Or they foresaw the disaster, said "
judgment ceases. It can be drawn where we feel the other I
so,
ahd warned; but that does not count politically, either, if not even trying for a moral self-analysis-where we per-
no
ction followed or if it had no efiect. ceive mere sophistry in his argument, where he seems not 'i*'airF[1
One might think of cases of wholly non_political persons
to hear at all. S!!g.aS!!gMtY I

,I
wh: live aloof of all politics, like monks, herrnits, ,.hol"rr,
-qt&s^sf f bolsq"ds-! -a*%bevgn*mgat sqil*fo**P-Ieog-+p
is
artists-if really quite non-political, those might possibly they-rlo
.#' oeq {eel -it. They seem incapable of repentance and I

exculd from all guilt. Yet the too, are included rr.rong I
!e change. They are what they are' Force alone can deal with J
the politically liable, because they, too, live by the order oi
such men who live by force alone. rn
the state. There is no such aloofness in modrn states.
But the moral guilt exists for all those who give room
One may wish to make such aloofness possible, yet one
to conscience and repentance. The morally guilty are those
cannot help admit to this liitation. We should like to
'who are capable of penance, the ones who knew, or could
respect and love a non-political life, but the end of political
participation would also end the right of the non_political know, and yet walked in ways which self-analysis reveals to
ones to judge concete political acts of the day and thus to them as culpable error-whether conveniently dosing their
play riskless politics. A non-politi e.l zone demands with- eyes to events, or permitting themselves to be intoxicated,

(62) (6s)
f Itr /r,r:, d {r,.,i t } ro* ;prr!*'! ti{rfl I
ll''t 11' rnr u'
tf r{: rl'1rdflli rx!r:'1
I !r,, r is, rol'4,'ln. rliOt ,*"*n'*'o
(-el} !rr'
i* r'rr,ri rl lr.r'L,t,f :,i 6{ fi(l rn*'tir
1\4
I or bought with personal advantages, or
1edu1d obeying from
of patently evil codiiiffd3, it is a foundation of the sense
,),
i fear. Let us look ar some of these porriblfi.r.
(u) lh.,ing ,ir1. li.sguis.q-unavoidable for anyone
.By who
wanted o suyiys-moral guilt was incured.
Mendacious
avlwals l"Irrt.,.?
:l the Hitlerthreatening bodies like the Gestapo,
] gestures like
salute, attendance at meetings, a4d
',, mlny other things causing a semblance
of participation_
who among us in Germany was not guilty
of that, at one through fJs cossi-e-nep. A frrst-class soldier may have suc-
i,,lr time or anotherl Only the forgetful .In d"..irr.
about it, since they want to deceive themselves.
themselves
.u^bJd to the falsification of his conscience which enabled
{

had become a basic trait of our existence.


Canp,,_U"fl+Sj
him to do and permit obviously evil things because of I
;l moral conscience.
It weighs on oil patriotism. Hence the good conscience in evil deeds' . . . i
l. Y", oo. duty to the fatherland goes far beneath btind j"'{
(b) More deeply stirring at the instant of cognition is
obedience to its rulers of the day. The fatherland ceases
to i
guilt incurredby a la/se concienpe. Many u yourrl
man or
be a fatherland when its soul is destroyed' The power of i
\voman nowadays awakens with a horrible f."lirrg,"rrry
the state is not an end in itself; rather, it is pernicious if this i
.orr-
r) science has betrayed me. I thought I
was living in idealism
state destroys the German character' Therefore, duty to
the
and self-sacrifice for the noblest goar, with
the blst intentions mens lead consistently to obedi-
fatherland did not by any
*' will ask himself how he became guilty, by hiness, ence to Hitler and to the assumption that even as a Hitler
state Germany must, of course, win the war at all costs'
by
unwillingness to see, by conscious ,rrsion, isolation
of his Flerein lies the false conscrence. It is no simple guilt' ]t is at
t; ow life in a ((decent,, sphere.;{ i'lc,r r.qnr,,,-,1 !,.,1,:r,
the sarne time a tragic confusion, notably of a large part of our '
FIere we first have to distinguish between rnilitary
honor to the fatherland means
and political sense. For whatever is said about unwitqing youtlr. To do one's duty
guili cannot
affect the consciousness of military honor. If a ,o .orn*iq'grrgls whgle Person to the higheqt demands T1d" ; '
soldier kept
on us by tfr" b"rt of our ancestors, not by the idols of 4
false I
faith with his comrades, did not flinch in danger
pror"d
himself calm and. he may preserve"nd
tradition. ;,,f1rr
-courageous,
inviolate in his self-respect.
something
It ,rr r-rit g io ,"" the complete self-identification with
These p*"iy soldierly, *.ra ,i
the same time human, values are common to all peoples. army and state, ir spite of all evil' For this unconditionality
No guilt is incurred by having stood this test; in fact, ol , Ulirr nationalism-only conceivable as the last crum-
if bling ground in a world about to lose all faith-was
moral
probation here was real, unstained by evil acts
or u lii drr,i i! . .:,r i, ,rr ii j . ,t
guilt.
( 6+ ) "*"..rtion
( 6 )

l.,o r'.

'. r I *',',
*."-,n.,"",,.r'
lr;* la &1 .i.r,f 6

@..%
It was made possible, furthermore, by a misinterpretation reliable, politically lucid German men acquiescing in their
of the Biblical warning: ((Let every soul be subject unto the lot as now cast.
higher powers"-a warning completely perverted by the (.) By.parlt"I approvpl of National-Sqcialism, by strad- ',

i curious sanctity appertaining to orders in military tradition. ar,d accorqrmodatton


d,)i.ce, arLd,occsiqnal irm'er asimilation |
I ((This is of
an order"-in the ears of many these words had moral guilt ws incur(ed without any of the tragrc aspects i

and still have a ring of pathos as if voicing the highest dury.


the previous tyPes.
But simultaneousl by shrugging ofi stupidity and evil as fi" ,tg"t"""t that there was some good to it, after all-
inevitable, they furnished an excuse. What finally turned this readiness to a supposedly unbiased appraisal-was wide-
4 this conduct into full-fledged moral guilt was the eagerness to spread among us. Yet the truth could be olly a radical .
4 obey-thht compulsive conduct, feeling itself conscientious ('either-or": if I recognize the principle as evil, everything i

and, in fact, forsaking all conscience. is evil and any seemingly good consequences are not what i
Many q youth nauseated by Nazi rule in the years after they seem to te. It ** if,i. erring objectiveness, ready to I
1933 chsse the military career because it seemed to ofier grant something good in National-Socialism, which estranged
the only decent atmosphere uninfluenced by the party. The ose friends so they could no longer talk frankly' The same
army, mentally against the Part seemed to exist outside man who had just lamented the failure of a martyr to
andlwithout the Party as though it were a power of its own. appear and sacrihce himself for the old freedom and against
It.ryas another error of conscience; eventually, with all the injustice was aPt to praise the abolition of unemployment
f inependent genefals in the old tradition eliminated, the (by ,.r"rrs of armament and fraudulent financiat policll)' r
consequences appeared as moral decay of the German officer apt to t"il the absorption of Austia in 1938 as the
fulfrIl- ' u'
, in all positions of leadership-notwithstanding the many ment of the old ideal of a united Reich, aPt to cast doubts *,.
likable and even noble soldierly personalities who had sought onDutchneutralityinlg40andtojustifyIitler'sattack'''-
salvation in vain, misled by a betraying conscience. and apt, above all, to rejoice in the victories' ,,' l
The very fact that honest consciousness and good-will (j Muqry. e4gaged in gonvenient setf-d'eceition' \n d'yp'

were our initial guides is bound to deepen our later disillu- tim-e iir"y *!t" goittg to change this evil governmqgt' Jl-r'g '
sionment and disappointment in ourselves. It leads us to Pprty woutd disappear again-with the- Fuehrer's death at I

tt i11qgt. For thl Present one had to belong, to right


things

, J guestion even our best faith; for we are responsible for our "
' I delusions-for every delusion to which we succumb. froro *ittirr. The iollowing conversations were typical:
((After the war we'II finish National-
'' Awakening and self-analysis of this delusion are indis-
An oficer speaks:
Socialism on the very basis of our victory; but now we must
pensable. They turn idealistic youths into upright, morally
stick together and lead Germany to that victory-when the
(66) (6t)

"-"*1
!

guised as metamorPhosis and opposition, still clings in fact


house burns down you pour water and don't stop to ask
what caused the fire."-Answer: t(A{ter victory you'Il be
io the mental attiiude o{ National-Socialism and fails to
clear itself. Through this mentality they may
be actually
discharged and glad to go home. The SS alone will stay unexisten-
akin to National-Socialism's inhuman, dictatorial'
armed, and the reign of terror will grow into a slave state.
tially nihilistic essence. If a mature Person in 1933
had the
No individual human life wiII be possible; pyramids will
certaintyof inner conviction-due not merely to political
rise; highways and towns will be built and changed at the
error but to a sense of existence heightened by
National-
Fuehrer's whim. A giant arms machine will be developed which
Socialism-he will be purifled only by a transmutation
for the final conquest of the world." Whoever
may have to be more thorough than any other'
A professor speaks: ((We are the Fronde within the Party. ."*ain inwardly brittle
b"hrv"d like that in 1g33 w.rld
We dare frank discussion. We achieve spiritual realizations. Whoever
otherwise, and inclined to further fanaticism' i

We shall slowly turn all of it back into the old German delusiont *
took part in e race mania, whoever had ",{
spirituality."-Answer: t(You are deceiving yourselves. Al- then
i

,"riurl based on fraud, whoever winked at t-he crimes i

lowed a fool's freedom, on condition of instant obedience, must renew n]T-


already committed i. ,rt *e.ely liable but !; ,,
you shut up and give in. Your fight is a mirage, desired by
self morally. [he$re 4+d- hpv--h-e--ggs"t,,4e.l!-
p -yr to lttg
the leaders. You only help to entomb the German spirit." oPe+ to 11)'.-ou!si{q
alone, and .orcely 9gryJi'y' t'.}c'
Ma'$ intellectuals went along in 1933, sought leading beiw"en actioity and passittity'
positions and publicly upheld the ideology of the new Power,
1"j frr"t" i. , diffl'"t"e
. The political performers and executors, the
leaders and the
1' only to become resentful later when they personally were
pr"p"g""a*t are guilty' If they did not become criminals'
shunted aside. fhese-although mostly continuing positive positively deter-
Jiff have, by their activity, incurred a
irr"y
hlrl about 1942, when the course of the war made an un- minable guilt. A. q'r' u'n 'i * ll' r :'"','.'"'i.r::l-
favorable outcome certain and sgnt them into the opposition- put each one of u1 is guiltyinsofar as he remarned tnactlve'
js! r4n[s-now feel that they suffee{ under the Nazis and ImPetence
The gil3 o,t p"t{y!!y !s- diffe"-g'nt'
e"xc-u9'i-'-no
.eJp therefore called for what followp. They. regard them- t'i;t"U; t1h' already deemed
moral law demands ' t" g" ittt hiding l1':"
aptlNa7iq, In all these years, according to their in desperate times-of 'i
".-e.lves.4 it a matter of course
self-proclaimed ideology, these intellectual Nazis were knows itself morally i
calamity, and to .ott'i""lB't passivity
frankly speaking truth in spiritual matters, guarding the every failure, every neglect to act whenev::-T: i
tradition of the German spirit, preventing destructions, doing ;tlt;i wron$r to
Imt", ,o shiel the imperiled, to relieve
;

good in individual cases.


vail. Impoteng s!b$lqsion alwars.left a *::g]o
d-counter- I
Many of these may be guilty of persisting in a mentality i:t'tll
could still be cautlously
which, while not identical with Party tenets and even dis- .which, t4-"-y-gj-l:l "Yitb-9,11!^'..T:sk,
(6g)
(68)

_ _,*f
*"1 effective. Itsanxious omission weighs upon the individual Mrreprvsc.er. Gu "1
4l as moral guilt. Blindness for the misfortune of others, lack
el
of imagination of the heart, inner indifierence toward the Morality is always influenced by mundane purposes' I may
evil-that is moral guilt. be morally bound to risk my life, if a tealization is at stake;
I
witnessed
(f) The moral guilt of outward compliance, of rruaning but there is no moral obligation to sacrifice o"9l:-1'--:-'-l-q'"
Nl.l.rlaa.,p.q&, is,shared tq some extenl by a g.re1t many o{ r"r" t"o*i"ag" irtri ;lli r"; i;"* i*d' MoraIIy
"oiriilg
!s. .To,&lair'rtain. his eistence, to keep ils job, to protect his *""t t" ,*d"ly i" a;;;; noi--dty lo"Cho certain doom'
ehansqs a 4lan would join the Pa4y and carry out other Morally, in either case, we rather have the contrary duty,
mil{, of ggnfomlsrn. not to do what cannot serve the mundane PurPose but to save
li B-o. 4.9-ts
Nobody wili find an absolute excuse for doing so-notably ourselves f.or realizations in the world.
rl in view of the many Germans who, in fact, did not conform, But there is within us a guilt consciousness which springs
,k
and bore the disadvantages. from another source. Metlphysical guilt is.the lack of abso-
suqh-an indelible s"
Yet we must remember what the situation looked iike in, ]ute gofid4rity with the human being as
say, 1936 or '37 . The Party was the state. Conditions seemed Jaim beyond mor-ally meaningful duty' T!is--91"t4Arrty -j'
incalculably permanent. Nothing short of a war could upset violated-by 1l"y.pt991199,4. P. rytg.lg 9..1 rime' It is,not
the rgime. AII the powers were appeasing Hitler. All enough lfrrt i lu"tiously risk my life to Prevent it; if it
wanted peace. A German who did not want to be out of haiipns, and if I was there, and if I
survive where the other
I
t
everfthing, lose his profession, injure his business, was ir liit", I know from a voice within myself : I am guilty of
,f obliged to go along-the younger ones in particular. Now, being still alive. ((We
in the Party or its iluote fro* ,. address* I gave in August 1945:
professional organizations
,membership
was no longer a political acti rather, it was a favor granted orr.."lr". have changed since 1933' It was possible for us
by the state which allowed the individual to join. A r(badge,, to seek death in humiliation-in 1933 when the Constitution
was torn up, the dictatorship established in sham
legality
was needed, an external token without inner assent. A man
and all resistance swePt away in the intoxication of a large
asked to join in those days could hardly refuse. It is decisive *

for the meaning of compliance in what connection and from part of our people. We could seek death when the t:ll:t
l

what motives he acquired his membership in the party; each of the rgime became publicly aPparent on June 30, 1934'l
year and every situation has its own mitigating and aggra_ or with th-e lootings, deportations and murders of our Jewish I

vating circumstances, to be distinguished only in each indi_ friends and fellow-citizensin 1938, when to our ineradicable \
vidual case.
*Reprinted inWandlung, Vol' l, No' 1, 1945'
( to ) (lr)
/

shame and disgrace the synagogues, houses of God, went up


in flames throughout Germany. We could seek death when itig, uSisturbed in their socia-l life and amusementsr as ff
r,rothing had happened. That is, moral grrilt.
from the start of the war the rgime acted against the words
But the ones who in utter impotence, outraged and des-
-:r, I of Kant, our greatest philosopher, who called it a premise
pairing, wei-9..P1+l9.lo Prevent the crimes to-ok-.a-n9!h9 teP
+ i of international law that nothing must occur in war which in their metarphosis by a growing consciousnes-s
9f.
mSta-
I would make a later reconcilement of the belligerents impos-
sible. I'housands in Germany sought, or at least found death
physical gpil!../
in battling the rgime, most of them anonymously. We sur-
vivors did not seek it. We did not go into the streets when RECAPITULATION

,o. Jpwish fiends were led awayi we $id not scream until
too were destroyed. We prefered to stay alive, on the Consequences of Guilt
il .. I We
f"[ feeble, if logical, ground that our death cou]d. not have
If everything said before was not wholly unfounded, there
I helped anyone. We are guilty of being alive. We know of us, are guiltv
can be no doubt qhat 1ve, Germansr every one
before God which deeply humiliates us. What happened to of guilt'
us in these twelve years is like a transmutation of our being.r, i4 sone WFlr. FIence there occur the consequences
(f j Aff Germans without exception share in the political
I In November 1938, when the synagogues burned and liability. AII must cooPerate in making amends to be brought
j Jews *ere deported for the first time, the guilt incurred was
into legal form. All must jointly sufier the effects of the
J chiefl4, moral and political. In either sense, the guilty were of their disunity' We
acts oflhe victors, of their decisions,
]J those still in power. The generals stood by. In every town
are unable here to exert any influence as a factor of power'
Il the commander could act against crime, for the soldier is Only by striving constantly for a sensible presentation of
I there to protect all, if crime occurs on such a scale that the the facts, opportunities and dangers can we-unless everyone
' police cannot or fail to stop it. They did nothing. At that of
alteady knlws what we say---<ollaborate on the premises
moment they forsook the once glorious ethical tradition of,. with reason, we may
the decisions. In the ProPer form, and
the German Army. It was not their business. They had dis-l
appeal to the victors.
sociated themselves from the soul of the German people, ' a very small mi-
i
I
in favor of an absolute military machine that was a law unto 1Z No, every German-indeed only
no.ity of Germans-will be punished for crimes' Another
itself and took orders.
minority has to atone for National-Socialist activities' All
True, among our people many were outraged and many
1
may defend themselves. They will be judged by the courts
I deeply moved by a horror containing a presentiment of com-
i of the victors, or by German courts established by the victors'
ing calamity. But gven more went right qn with their activ-
Probably every German-though in greatly diverse
1

(3)
(tz) .
(tt)
I

forms-will have reasons morally to analyze himself. Flere, Collectie G&ilt


however, he need not recognize any authority other than his
own conscience. Having separated. the elements of guilt, we return in the
(a) And probably every German capable of understand- end to the question of collective guilt'
ing will transform his approach to the world and himself Though correct and meaningful everywhere, the sePara-
by
in the metaphysical experiences of such a disaster. How that tion carries with it the indicated temptation-as though
the charges and eased our
happens none can prescribe, and none anticipate. It is a matter such distinctions we had clodged
of individual solitude. What cornes out of it has to create burden. Something has been lost in the process-something
the essential basis of what will in future be the German soul. which in collective guilt is always audible in spite
of every-
col-
Such distinctions can be speciously used to get rid of thing. For all the J.od"rr",, of collective thinking and q"
the whole guilt question, for instance like this: lective condemnation we f qet lhl -y,9 -rb.gl-glg' l.p-gc^tkl'
Pplitigal liability----all right, but it curtails only my mate- In the end, of course, the true collective is the solidarity
him-
rial possibilities; I myselt my inner self is not afiected by of all men before God. Somewhere, everyone may free
and break
that at all. self from the bonds of state or people or grouP
it.oogn to the invisible solidarity of men--as men of good-
Ciminal. guilt-tlat affects just a few, not it does
guilt of being human'
not cncern me. wlfl a]n as men sharing the common
narrower
But historically we remain bound to the closer'
\$qr"l guilt-I hear that my conscience alone has juris-
under our feet
communities, and we should lose the ground
1' diction, others have no right to accuse me. Well, my con-
science is not going to be too hard on me. It wasn,t really so without them.
i bad; let's forget about it, and make a fresh start.
Por-rrIcr, LresILIrv lo Co'r'rcuvn Gulr-r
Metaphysical guilt-of that, finally, I was expressly told
that none can charge it to another. I am supposed to perceive
First tg reqtSlp the fact that all Qver the world
collecivq
that in a transmutation. That,s a $azy idea of some philos- judgment and feelings
pongepls i*rg"ry guide the 9f .m9n-'
opher. There is no such thing. And if there were, I wouldn,t
it-,i, i. ,rrrd*i"bl". In the world today the German-what-
notice it. That I neednrt bother with. something one
ever the German may be-is regarded as
Our dissection of the guilt concepts can be turned into a
wouldrathernothavetodowith.GermanJewsabroadareun-
trick, for getting rid of guilt. The distinctions are in the deemed Germans'
desirable as Germans; they are essentially
foreground. They can hide the source and the unity. Dis_
In this collective way of thought political liability
"oi J"*t.
i, ,i-*rrltrrr"ously justifred as punishment of moral
tinctions enable us to spirit away what does not suit us. guilt'
( t+ ) ( 7s )
and the resulting
Historically such collective thought is not infrequent the Thp yay 9f fife efiecg poliflcal, verfE
wa1
poiitl."l .r,ditior,, in turn plrye tfrgir i1rl.nt on
th.e
barbarism of war has seized whole populations and delivered oi
them to pillage, rape and sale into slavery. And on top of it of tifa, T!- !" whr.Jhere can- he--no- radical*separatian-
comes moral annihilation of the unfortunates in the judg- qL$.] i{d;qtical guilt. This is why every enlightenment
our
.orr..io"sness ProPortionately burdens
ment of the victor. They shall not only submit but confess
p"ii,i.ri
"l-". Political liberty has its moral aspects'
.on..i"rrc".
and do penance. Whoever is German, whether Christian or
Thus, actual political liability is augmented
by knowledge
Jew, is evii in spirit., all the
This fact of a widespread, though not universal, world ,nd thet by a difierent self-esteem' That in fact
.. opinion keeps challenging us, not only to defend ourselves f.opt" pay for all the acts of their governmenl*qwid'quid'
'rirnni empirical fact;
r:eges plectwntu'r Achitti-s a mere
with our simple distinction of political liability and moral indication of
' guilt but to examine what truth may possibly lie in collective that they know themselves liable is the flrqt
." lthinking. We do not drqp the distinction, but we have to
ir"ii a;"i"[ p"iitilrf fib.f!y' It is to-the extent of theis
tlit knowledge that freedom
) narrow it by saying that the conduct which made us liable "Jr,"n."
real,
"rrd-r.ogrritlor-oi
not a mere outward claim put forth by unfree
men'
6;/ gests on a sum of political conditions ryhoqe nature is moral, feeling'
h" ir,rr", political unfreedom has the opposite
I ar- it.*er", because they help to determine indlvidu{ moral-
i!y',Th" individual cannot wholly detach himself from these
It obeys on th; one hand, and feels not guilty. on the other'
co2ditions, for--consciously or unconsciously-he lives as a ir," -!rs ,of. gyill, yhigh makr9. ui 1S99Pl lilbility, i1 !h9
polit-
*r link in their chain and cannot escape from their infuence b"i;-^*s; th;il;' r'"""J *1tt' se-gqs !9 rq?lize
even if he was in opposition. Th9ry i9 l_ sort of c_ql-l9glive ical l|eqy.
attitude
,ugltl gyil1 i1 a p-9ople' yly 9! l!fe" yhictr I share as an f[" .orro"., of the free and the unfree mental
,l of a statesman'
individual, and from which grow political realities. appears, for instance, in the two concepts
nationg 4re t9 bl4me
For political conditions are inseparable from a people's f," q*t,i* has been raised' whether
for '
wilh-for example' France I

whole way of life. There is no absolute division of politics for the leaders lhey Put up
along
and human existence as long as man is still realizing an rpot*rr. The idea i" tf,'t the vast majority -dtd,go '

pro-
power and the glory which Napoleon
I

i existence rather than perishing in eremitical seclusion. and desired the


only because the
cured, In this view Napoleon was possible
;

I By political conditions the Swiss, the Dutch have been French would have t'im; tr;s greatness
was the precision with I

iformed, and all of us in Germany have been brought up for of the people expected' i
which he understood wiat the mass
f ug"r-*" to obey, to feel dynastically, to be indifierent and whatr'
i irresponsible toward political reality-and these conditions *t rt tfr"y wanted to hear, what illusions they wanted' right
are part of us even if we oppose them. ;;;;;i;"riities they *u"t"d' Could Lenz have been
(t6) lt
i.ti
( tt ) ir.:,r
:lttr r ,i , 1

{!.t-
in saying, ('The state was born which suited the genius sclf, there still is a sort of collective morality contained
ini
thc ways of life and feeling, from which no individual
France"l A part, a situation, yes-but not the g"rrius of can{
nation as such! Who can define a national geniusl The oltog"", escape and which have political significance as[*
rts use ls up
genius has spawned very difierent realities. wcll. Here is the key to self-improvementi I
lo us.

GuIr'l **it'1--'"''
lovpuel Awen.Npss or Cor-r'nctrvn
$s1sc,n ehhn t
acts of
We feel something like a co-responsibility for -the
,";;;:;";t*,tit*. This co=respdn6'Ii1, ;"r be
objectivize'd: \Mc-Iib'il4;ject any manner
of.tribal liability'
and proper in a marriage is pernicious on principle in a state. A,rd y"t, because of our consanguinity
ttre are inclined to feel
The loyalty of followers is a non-political relationship in the family
runcerned whenever wrong is done by someone
ited to narrow circles and primitive circumstances. In a ,--and also inclined, therefore, depending on the type and
state all men are subject to control
circumstances of the wrong and its victims,
to make it up to
4gd change.
thcm even if we are not morally and legally
there is twofold guilt-{firs3,} in the unconditional accountable'
],{ence
oilti. surrender to a leader
political ;"j,#e ;;-;*
rJX, andt6ecorrt) in the
leer as-lich, Thus the German-that is, the German-speaking
indi-
lifd of from Ger-
leader submitted to.ifhe atmosphe.J'f bmission,
,*=iriion vic{ual-feels concerned by everything growing \
i9 s"'t,9 cgJlective gri. Oiii '
tnitn roots. I!-ji.+st the 1!a!11i.qy :-f i."'-ti:fi-bl!.t"h",9e:rttt" I
All the restrictions concerning our liberation from ,,[ one who shares the life of the German-spirit.aiO l!'ul, i
guilt-in favor of mere political liability--do not affect who is of one tongue, one stock, one fate
wi*,all 1|e I
what we established at the beginning and shall now restater, to cause, not aS tanglble gulrt, I
tlthers-which here comes
We are politically responsible for our rgime, for the actsi lrr.rt somehow analogous to co-resPonsibility'
is done
of the rgime, for the start of the war in this world-historical We further feel that we not only share in what
of our
irt present-thus being co-responsible for
situation, and for the kind of leaders we allowed to rise, the deeds
among us. For that we answer to the victors, with our labort
,',,r,t.-porr.ies-but in the links of tradition' Wg*Lq"qlo
and with our working faculties, and must make such amends
i rr. tt'e gsi-lt- pf p.-tu- .f arhers' That the, lptt-4yal -cqn-di!"lc*s
,,i c..-"1 Ii" pto"id"d an opportunity f91 9u-c!
as are exacted from the vanquished. a-'r-'gime
In addition there is our moral guilt. Although this always ,ll of o, "" to.t"sPosille'.of course this
burdens only the individual who must ger along with him-
lo,
"lr.ti;;;i;i.r,
tloes not mean that we must acknowledge
(tthe world of

(t8) (tg)
l-o g:npo o
ol,lrr:rX 5 ,, i)-*:e"
- German ideas or,,German thought of the past in gerieral
means, above all, a common inspiring task--of not being
, fas the sources of the National-Socialist misdeeds. But it does {
German as'we happen to bei but becoming German as we
J-"T thlg our nationa-l tradition contains.sorn"tgr r"ighty are not zet but ought to be, and a we hear it in the call of
&
I and threatenjng, which
-il-.1*t.-*p*i_j_+lin. $ $ our ancestors rather than in the history of national idols.
1 We feel ourselves not only as individuals but as Germans.
By our feeling of collective guilt we feel the entire task
Every one, in his real being, is the German people. Who
of renewing human existence from its origin-the task which
iloes not remember moments in his life when he said to him- is given to all men on earth but which appears more urgently,
felt in opposition and in despair of his nation, (.I am Ger-
*o." p".."p,ibly, as decisively as all existence, when its own
!nany"-or, in jubilant harmony with it, fI, too, am Ger- guilt brings a people face to face with nothingness.
imany!" The German character has no other form than these
As a philosopher I nolry seem to have strayed completely
-/individuals. Flence the demands of transmutation, of rebirth,
into the realm of feeling and to have abandoned conception'
lof rejection of evil ae made of the nation in the form of
Indeed language fails at this point, and only negatively we
'demands from each individual.
may recall that all our distinctions-e\ryihstanding the
Because in my innermost soul I cannot help feeling col-
fact that we hold them to be true and are by no means
lectively, being German is e s-i5 to everyone-not a
rescinding them-must not become resting places. We must
condition but a task. This is altogether difierent from mak-
not use them to let matters drop and free ourselves from the
ing the nation absolute. I.afi a.hu.man-being..fust_cfull; in
pressure under which we continue on our path, and which is
_ paricular I am a Frisian, a professor, a German, linked io ,ipen what we hold most precious, the eternal essence of
1' closely enough for a fusion of souls with other collective our soul.
groups, and more or less closely with all groups I have come
/ i., touch with. For moments this proximity enables me to feel
almost like a Jew or Dutchman or Englishman. Through- errr q,linai- . ti.,i i'iie' c,-irr :1|. f rdrm *,11.
out it, however, the fact of my being German-that is,
{'' ri r' ( tr'; } 11 -t n ; & i ht1
essentiall of life in the mother tongue-is so emphatic i-',1 !

that in a way which is rationally not conceivable, which is i"l,d $ti:,., 1 tn,:i,, .,,r i, ,r,
rationally refutable, I feel co-responsible for what f h r, i
ieven i'r rt,r, ir
'Germans do and have done.
I feel closer to those Germans who feel likewise-with-
out becoming melodramatic about it-and farther from the
ones whose soul seems to deny this link. And this proximity
(8o) ( 8, )
P { { lr,{t'iry, }r.,rl iit, !'i,,rir,"'! r\ i'rr']i'r

'l'F h ,)ifi,1
We may say in rebuttal that the 1510001000 foreign work-
ers worked just as well for the war as did the German
workers. There is no evidence that more sabotage acts were
committed by them. OnIy in the final weeks, with the col-
lapse already under way, the foreign workers seem to have
become active on a larger sca1e.
Possible Excuses Large-scale actions are impossible without organizalion
and leadership. To ask a people to rise even against a ter-
I

Both we ourselves and those who wish us well arc ready rorist state is to ask the impossible. Such rebellion can only
with ideas to alleviate our guilt. There can be no question be a scattered, disconnected occurrence, generally anony-
of nullifying
such guilt as we, distinguishing and ,"r.r.r.r_ mous, subsequently unknown-a quiet submersion in death'
' bling, have developed here; but theie are points of view Only a few exceptions were publicized by special circum-
which, by suggesting a more lenient judgment, simultane_ stances, and these only orally and in narrow limits
(as the
ously sharpen and characterize the type of guilt referred to heroism of the two students, Scholls, and of Professor Huber
at each time. in Munich).
).t11.
This being so, we marvel at some accusations' Franz
TsnnonsM Werfel, in an unmerciful indiament of the whole German
./.
lr people written shortly after the collapse of Hitler Germany,
. Germany under the Nazi rgime was a prison. The guilt of
s.y, thrt
((only the one Niemoeller resisted'" In the same
-
* Betting into it is political guilt. Once the gates weie shut, article he mentions the hundreds of thousands who were
however, a prison break from within was no longer possible.
kitled in the concentration camps-why? Surely because they
Any discussion of what responsibility and guilt of it. irn_ resisted, although for the most Part only by word' The
prisoned remained ,rrd ,ror" thereaiter must consider the
inefiective disappearance of these aronymous martyrs under-
question what they could do at all.
lines the impossibility. After all, concentration camps were
To hold the inmates of a prison collectively responsible until 1939, and even after that they
a purely domestic afiair

r
for outrages committed by the prison staff is clearlyunjust. *"r" nil.d largely with Germans. In every month of 1944
It has been said that the millions-the millions of work_ the number of political arrests exceeded 41000' The fact that
ers and the millions of soldiers----should have resisted. Since
there were concentrtion camps until the very end proves
they did not, since they worked and fought for the war, that there was opposition in the country'
they are considered guilty. At times we seem to hear a pharisaical note in the charges'
( ez ) ( 8: )
an ex-
from those who perilously made their escape but finally- could not but so happen, is automatically considered
measured by suffering and death in concentration camps, and cuse. A cause is blind and involuntary' Guiit is seeing and
by the fear in Germany-lived abroad without terrorist com- free.
pulsion, though with the sorrows of exile, and now claim We usually deal in like fashion with political events' The
causal connection of history seems to relieve a
people of
credit for their emigration as such. This note we deem our-
responsibility. Hence their satisfaction if, in adversity'
effec-
selves entitled to reject, without anger.
Some righteous voices have indeed been raised precisely tive to make inevitability plausible'
causes seem
in discernment of the terror apparatus and its consequences. Many tend to accePt and stress their responsibility when
they
Thus Dwight Macdonald. wrote in the magazine politics in they taik of their Present actions whose arbitrariness
and
March 1945: ((The peak of terror and of guilt enforced by *orrld lit" to see released from restraints, conditions
tend
terror was achieved with the alternative, Kill or be killed,,, obligrtiorrr. In case of failure, on the other hand, they
allegedly inescapable ne-
and he added that many commanders assigned to executions to iecli.re responsibility and plead
cessities. Responsibitity had been a talking Point,
not an
and murders refused to take part in the cruelties and were
shot. exPerience.
Thus Hannah Arendt wrote about the participation and AII through these years, accordingly, one could hear that
would
the pomplicity of the German people in the crimes of the if Germany won the war the victory and the credit
the Party's-while if Germany lost, the and
losers the
Fgehrer as the result of organized terror. Family men, sim- be
Jl ple jobholders, whom nobody would ever have suspected of guilty would be the German PeoPle'
But actually, in the causal connections of history'
cause
being capable of murder and who always had done their activity is
,I duty, now obeyed the orders to kill people and to commit and responsibility ,." indivisible wherever human
part in events'
at work. As soon as decisions and actions play
a
other atrocities in the concentration camps with the same or guilt'
sense of duty.*
every cause is at the same time either credit
happenings
E ren those which are independent of will and
decision still are human tasks' The efiects of natural causes
Gurr.r wrrHrN Flsror.y he handles them'
depend also on how man takes them, how
therefore'
We distinguish between cause and guilt. An exposition show- what he makes out of them' Cognition of history'
is never such as to apprehend its course as
fatly necessary'
ing why things happened as they did, and why indeed they (as possi-
This cognitior, .r, ,".,.t make certain predictions
ble, for'instance, in astronomy), nor can it
retrospectively
'i Hannah Aendt's moving, soberly factual article, .,Organized Guilt,,,
la*ih Froruticr, Jauary, 1945.
n!;.1"* ,r, irr*itrbility of general events and individual
(8+) ( 8s )
actions. In either case it sees the scope of possibilities, was alien to the rest, or would in the impotence of a scattered
more richly and con*etely in the case of the past.
whole be left at the mercy of foreign nations'
In turn, this cognition, historic-sociological insight and the Thus Germany had no lasting center, only transient cen-
resulting picture of history, affects events and is to this extent
tcrs of gravity, with the result that none could be felt and
a matter of responsibility.
recognized as its own by ruore than a part of Germany'
Chiefy named as premises independent of freedom__and
Nor, indeed, was there a spiritual center, a common meet-
thus of guilt and responsibility--are the conditions of ge- ing ground for all Germans. Even our classic literature and
ography and the world-historical situation.
ph-ilisophy had not yet become the property of our whole
p.opt". tt belonged to a small, educated stratum, though
"y
Grocnep rr rco" ao*rrrrori, orr" as far as German was sPoken, beyond the
"*,"ndirrg
borders of the German state. And of unanimity in acknowl-
Germany has open borders all around. To maintain itself edging greatness there is no trace here, either'
as a nation, it must be militarily strong at all
times. periods iV" igh, say that the geographical situation not only
of weakness have made it a prey to aggression from the compeleJ German militarism with its consequences-the
West, East and North, finally even from the South (Turks). p."rr"l"rr." of authority-worship and servility, the lack of
Because of its geographical situation Germany iibe.tariunism and a democratic spirit-but also made a nec-
never knew
the'peace of an unmenaced existence, as England knew
it essarily transient Phenomenon of every organized state' To
ald, even more so, America. England could afiord to pay last awhile, any state required favorable circumstances and
{)
for its magnificent domestic evolution in decades of im_ superior, unusually prudent statesmen, while a single irre-
,} potence in foreign politics and military peakness. It
was by splnsible political leader could permanently ruin Germany
no means conquered for that reasoni its last invasion took and the state.
place in 1066. A, country such as German uncemented
by Yet however true this basic trait of our reflections may be'
natural frontiers, was forced to develop military states to it is important for us not to interPret it as absolute necessity'
keep its nationhood alive at all. This function was long per_ In wha-t direction the military develop, whether or not wise
on
formed by Austria, later by prussia. leaders appear-these things are in no way to be blamed
The peculiarity and military style of each state would the geograPhical situation.
mark the rest of Germany and yet would always be felt also Ii a simita. situation, for example, the political energy'
as alien. It took an effort to gloss over the fact that solidarity and prudence of the Romans produced quite dif-
Germany
either had to be ruled by something which, though German, ferent results---a united Italy and later a world empire'
although one which in the end crushed liberty, too' The
(86) (82)

,.)
study of republican Rome is of great interest as showing
a military development and imperialism led a important for Germany since its defenseless central geo-
people to the loss of liberty and to dictatorship. graphical location exPoses it more than other countries to
If geographical conditions leave a margin of Inflr"rr.., from outside. This is why Ranke's assertion of the
the decisive factor beyond guilt and responsibility is primacy of foreign over domestic politics is true of Germany
erally said to be the ((natural national character. This, but not of historY in general.
ever, is a refuge of ignorance and an instrument of fa The political connections of the last half-century-espe-
cialty oi the events and modes of conduct since 1918, since
svluisns-x/hether appreciative or depreciative.
There probably is something in the natural f the llies' first victory over Germany-will not be presented
of our vital existence which has efiects extending to the pr here, although they were certainly not immaterial to the
of or5 spirituality-but we may say that our knowledge d.rr.Iop*"rrt, which became possible in Germany' I shall
itis 'virtually nil. The intuition of direct impressi glance only at an inner, spiritual world phenomenon' Per-
evident as it is deceptive, as compelling for the moment haps-but who could dare assert real cognition herel-we
it is unreliable at length-has not been raised to the may say this:
of real knowledge by any racial theory. irynrt .oL" out in Germany was under way in the entire
In fact, we always describe national character in terms of Western world as a crisis of faith, of the spirit'
arhitrarily selected historical phenomena. yet these in turn This does not diminish our guilt-for it was here in Ger-
hSve always been caused by events, and by conditions marked many that the outbreak occurred, not somewhere else-but
it does free us from absolute isolation' It makes us instruc-
1' by events. At every time they are one group of phenomena,
tive for the others. It concerns all'
appearing only as one of many types. O-ther situations mighi
, r bring entirely different, otherwise hidden character traits to This world-historical crisis is not simply defined' The
the fore. A distinct natural character complete with talents declining efiectiveness of the Christian and Biblical faith;
due
may very well exist, but we simply do not know it. the lack;f faith seeking a substitute; the social upheaval'
We must not shift our responsibility to anything like that. to technology and production methods, which in the nature

As men we must know ourselves free for of things leads irresistibly to socialist orders in which the
porrililiti"r. "of
"li masses the population, that is everyone, comes to his
human right-these upheavals are under way' Everywhere
THr Wonlo-Hrsron.rce Sruerror.
the situation is more or less so as to make men call for
a

change. In such a case the ones who are hardest


hit' most
The position of Germany in the world, world events at large,
d""ply aware of their lack of contentment, incline to hasty'
the others' conduct toward Germany---all this is the more
( 8s ) untimely, deceptive, fraudulent solutions'
(8g)
In a development which has seized the world, moment forget that this guilt is on another level than the
danced such a fraudulent solo to its doom. crimes of Hitler.
,
Two points seem essential: the political acts of the vic-
Trrr Orurr.s'Gur,r torious po*"r, since 1918, and their inactivity while Hitler
Germany was organizing itself.
Whoever has not yet found himself guilty in spontaneous; (1) Engtand, France and America were the victorious
will tend to accuse his accusers. For instance,
self-analysis powers of 1918. The course of world history was in their
he may ask whether they are better than the ones they hu^d., not in those of the vanquished. The victor's responsi-
cen_
sure, or whether they do not share the guilt of eventslr bility is his alone, to accePt or to evade. If he evades it, his
because of which could not but promote such possibilities.
acts historical guilt is plain.
Among us Germans the tendency to hit back at present The victor cannot be entitled simply to withdraw to his
indicates that we have not yet understood ourselves. F.or
the own narrower sphere, there to be left alone and merely
first thing each of us needs in disaster is clarity about him_ watch what happens elsewhere in the world' If an event
self. The foundation of our new life must come from the threatens dire consequences, he has the Power to prevent it'
origin of our being and can only be achieved in unreserved To have this power and fail to use it is political guilt' To be
self-analysis. content with paper protests is evasion of responsibility' This
thir do"s not mean, however, that we must close our eyes inaction is one charge that may be brought against the vic-
,
td"the facts and to truth in regarding the other nations, to torious powers-although, of course, it does not free us
which Germany owes its final liberation from the Hitler from any guilt.
,}
yoke and to whose decision our future is entrusted. In discussing this further, one may point to the peace
We must and we may elucidate to ourselves how the treaty of Versailles and its consequences, and then to the
others' conduct has made our situation more difficu_lt, on the poliry of letting Germany slide into the conditions which
domestic and on the foreign scene. For their past and future produced National-Socialism. Next, one may bring up the
actions come from the world in which we, entirely dependent
toleration of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria-the first
on it, are to find our way. We must shun illusions and come act of violence which, if successful, was bound to be copied
to a correct overall evaluation. We must yield neither to ihe toleration of Mussolini's act of violence, the
blind hostility nor to blind hope. -and
Ethiopian campaign of 1935. One may deplore the policy
If we use the words, ((guilt
of the othersr it may mislead of England which in Geneva defeated Mussolini through
us. If
they, by their conduct, made events possible, this is the League of Nations and then let its resolutions stay on
political guilt. But in discussing it we must never for a paper, li-cking the will and the strength required to destroy
(so) ( g, )
Mussolini in fact, butalso lacking the clear radicality about concentration camPs, though ignorant still of the
steer an opposite course, to join him and, while slowly cruelties going on there.
changing his regime, stand with him against Hitler to insure Certainly all of us in Germany were jointly guilty of
peace.For Mussolini then was ready to side with the getting into this political situation, of losing our freedom and
Western powers against Germany; as late as 1934 he having to live under the despotism of uncivilized brutes'
mobilized his forces and delivered a threatening, since for- But at the same time we could say in extenuation that we
gotten speech as Flitler wanted to march into Austria. The had been victimized by a combination of veiled illegalities
result of these half-measures was the alliance of Mussolini and open violence. As in a state the victim of crime is
and Hitler- accorded his rights by virtue of the state order, lve were
Flowever, it must be pointed out here that no one knows hopeful that a European order would not permit such
what further consequences difierent decisions might have crimes on the Part of a state.
had. And above all: British policy also has moral aspects- I shall never forget a talk in May 1933, in my home, with
a fact which National-Socialism actually included in its calcu- a friend who later emigrated and now lives in America'
lations, as British weakness. The British cannot unrestrain- Longingly we weighed the chances of quick action by the
W"rt"t" powers:
((If they wait another year, Hitler will
edly make any decision that is politically effective. They
wantfeace. They want to utilize every chance of preserving have won; Germany, perhaps all Europe, will be lost' ' ' '"
tt before they take extreme measures. They are not ready It was in this state of mind, touched in the marrow of our
bones and therefore clairvoyant some resPects and blind
in
to/,go towar until war is obviously inescapabie.
J
in others, that we felt increasing dismay at events like the
(2) There is a solidarity not only among fellow-citizens
but also among Europeans and among mankind. The respon_ following:
,t In the early summer of 1933 the Vatican signed a con- {
sibility of the inactive bystander ranges from the mutual
cordat with Hitler. Papen handled the negotiations' It was I
one of fellow-citizens to one that is universally human.
the first great indorsement of the Nazi rgime, a tremendous I
Rightty or wrongly, once the gates had shut on our "grin
prestige fot Hitler. It seemed impossible, at frrst, but I
German prison we were hoping for European solidarity.
it was a fact.It made us shudder.
As yet we had no idea of the last horrible consequences
AII nations recognized the Hitler rgime' Admiring voices
and crimes. But we saw the utter loss of liberty. We knew
were heard.
that now the arbitrary tyranrry of those in power was given
.We h 1936 the world flocked to Berlin for the Olympic
free rein.
Games. Grimly we watched the appearance of every
saw injustice, saw outcasts, though all of it for-
was still harmless in comparison with later years. We knew eigner, unable to suPpress a painful feeling that he was
(gz) ( ss )
ileserting us. But they did not know any better than many gigntic price the
"The present world catastrophe is the
Germans.
world must pay or playing deaf to all the warning signals
l 1936 Hitler occupied the Rhine.Land. France let it which ever more shrl[y, from 1930 until 1939, portended
the hell to be loosed by the satanic forces of National-
happen.
In 1938 the London Times published an open letter from
Socialism-first uPon Germany, and then on the rest of
churchiil to Hitler, induding sentences rike the folowing
rll
the world. The terrors of this war corresPond exactly to
(I remember it myself but quote from Roepke): .,WerI those which the world permitted to happen in Germany
il
England to sufrer a national disaster comparable to that
while maintaining normal relations with the National-
l
of Germany in 1918, I should pray God to send us a man
Socialists and joining them at international festivals
and
of your strength of mind and will. . . .r,
conventions.
. In 1935, through Ribbentrop, England signed a naval ('Everyone should tealize by now that the Germans were
pact with Hitler. This was *haiit ,,,,o us:
The British the first victims of the barbaric invasion which swamped
abandon the German people for the sake of peace
with them from below, that they were the first to succumb to
Hitler. They care nothing about us. They haie not yet
terror and mass hypnosis, and that whatever had to be
accepted European responsibilities. They noi only
suffered later in occupied countries was first inflicted
stand Ly, on
as evil grows here-they meet it halfway. They the worst of fates: to
allow-a the Germans themselves-including
tetorist military state to engulf the Germans. For all of further conquest
the be forced or tricked into serving as tools
. strjctures of their press they do not act. We in Germany are and oppression."
*;' poiverless, but they migtrt siill-today, perhaps, still without
The charge that we, under terrorism, stood by inactively
excessive sacrifices-restore freedom among con-
, I not doing it. The consequences
us. They are while the crimes were committed and the rgime was
will ,fi"ct them, too, and solidated is true. We have the right to recall that the others'
' exact vastly greater sacrifices. they let
not under terrorism, also remained inactive-that
In 1939 Russia made its pact with Hitler and thus, at the which' as
pass, if they did not unwittingly foster, events
last moment, put Hitler in position to make war. as their
And when o..rr.rirrg in another country, they did not regard
war came, all neutral countries stood aside. The world
failed concefn.
uttedy to join hands for one common efiort, for the quick
Shall we admit that we alone are guiltyl
extinction of the devilry.
Yes-if the question is who started the war; who initiated
In Roepke,s book on Germany, published in Switzerland,
the terrorist orfanization of all forces for the sole
purpose
the overall situation of the years between 1933 and.1939 and sacrificed its own
is of war; who, ,s a nation, betrayed
characterized as follows:
an furthermore, who committed peculiar' un-
( g+ ) ".."rra"; (gs)
paralleled atrocities. Dwight Macdonald says that all sides
what Germany sufiered and keeps on sufiering after the
committed many atrocities of war but that some things were
surrender. I
peculiarly German: a paranoiac hatred without political (2) The purPose of our discussion, even when we talk |p
sensei a fiendishness of agonies inflicted rationally with all
of a guilt of the others, is to penetrate the meaning of
means of modern science and technology, beyond all I
our own.
medieval torture tools. Yet there the guilty were a few (the others are not
(3) In general, it may be correct that (
Germans, a small group (plus an indefinite number of others
better than we." But at this moment it is misapplied' For I
of cooperating under orders). German anti-Semitism in these past twelve years the others, taken for all in all, i
capable
was riot at any time a popular movement. The population were indeed better than we. A general truth must not serve I
to level out the particular, Present truth of our own guilt'
failed to cooperate in the German pogromsi there were no !

spontaneous acts of cruelty against Jews. The mass of the


people, if it did not feebly express its resentment, was silent Gu,r or A--l
and withdrew.
Shall we admit that we alone are guiltyl Ifwe hear the imperfections in the political conduct of the
No-if we as a whole, as a people, as permanent species, powers explained as universal inevitabilities of politics, we
are turned into the evil people, the guilty people as such. L"y ."y in reply that this is the common guilt of mankind'
egih" this world opinion * on poiit to faas. For us, the recapitulation of the others' actions does not
r,. fet atl such discussiorr, eopaidize our inner attitude have the significance of alleviating our guilt' Rather, it is
unless we constantly remember what shall now be repeated justifred by the anxiety which as humn beings we share
+
once more: *iat ,tt others for mankind-rnankind as a whole, which
' (I )
Any guilt which can be placed on the others, and not only has become conscious of its existence today but,
which they place on themselves, is never that of the crimes due to the results of technology, has developed a trend
of Hitler Germany. They merely let things drift at the toward a common order, which may succeed or fail'
time, took half-measures and erred in their political judg_ The basic fact that all of us are human justifies this
anxiety of ours about humn existence as a whole' There
is
ment.
That in the later course of the war our enemies also had a passionate desire in our souls, to stay related or to re-
prison camps as concentration camps and engaged in types establish relations with humanity as such'
of warfare previously started by Germany is secondary. Iow much easier we should breathe'if, instead of being
as human as we are, the victors were selfless world
gover-
lfere we are not discussing events since the armistice, nor
nors! With wisdom and foresight they would direct a
(g6) (gt)
propitious reconstruction including efiective amends. Their Germans. And yet, we are oppressed by one nightmarish
lives and actions would be an example demonstrating the idea: a dictatorship in Flitler's style should ever rise in
if
ideal of democatic conditions, and daily making us feel Americar. all hope would be lost for ages. We in Germany
it as a convincing reality. United among themselves in could be freed from the outside. Once a dictatorship has
reasonable, frank talk without mental reservations, tJrey been"established, no liberation from within is possible'
would quickly and sensibly decide all arising questions. NL Should the Anglo-Saxon world be dictatorially conquered
deception and no illusion would be possible, no silent con- from within, as we were, there would no longer be an out-
cealment and no discrepancy between public and private side, nor a liberation. The freedom fought for and won
utterances. Our people would receive a splendid education; by Western man over hundreds, thousands of years would
we should achieve the liveliest nationwide development of bL a thing of the past. The primitivity of despotism would
our thinking and appropriate the most substantial tradition. ,eign agrirr, but with all means of technology' True, rnan
We should be dealt with sternly but justly and kindl crot b" foreve, enslaved; but this comfort would then
even charitably, if the unfortunate and misguided showed be a very distant one, on a plane with Plato's dictum that
only tJre slightest good-will. in the cturse of infinite time everything that is possible
But the others are human as we are. And they hold the will here or there occur or recur as a reality' We see the
future of mankind in their hands. Since we are human, all feelings of moral superiority and we are frightened: he who
our'bxistence and the possibilities of our being are bound feels absolutely safe from danger is already on the way to
upzwith their doings and with the results of their actions. fall victim to it. The German fate could provide all others
So, to us, to sense what they want, think and do is like with experience. If only they would understand this experi-
our own affair. ence! We are no inferior race' Everywhere people have
In this anxiety we ask ourselves: could the other nations, similar qualities. Everywhere there are violent, criminal,
better luck be due in part to more favorable political des- vitally capable minorities apt to seize the reins if occasion
tiniesl Could they be making the same mistakes that we offers, and to proceed with brutality'
made, only so far without the fatal consequences which We may *.11 *orry over the victors' self-certainty' For
led to our undoingl all decisive responsibility for the course of events will hence-
They would reject any warnings from us wicked wretches. forth be theirs. It is up to them to Prevent evil or conjure
They would fail to understand, perhaps, and might even up new evil. Whatever guilt they might incur from now
on
nd it presumptuous if Germans should worry over the would be as calamitous for us as for them' Now that the
course of history-which is their business, not that of the whole of mankind is at stake, their responsibility for their
( s8 ) (gg)
Bctions is intensified. Unless a break is made in the evil if only the others might not walk in such ways-if only
chain, the fate which overtook us will overtake the victors_ those among us who are of good-will might be able to rely
and all of mankind with them. The myopia of human think_ on them.
ing--especially in the form of a world opinion pouring Now a new period of history has begun' From now on,
over everything at times like an irresistible tide____constitutes respon.sibility for whatever happens rests with the victorious
o huge danger. The instruments of God are not God on Powers.
earth. To repay evil with evil-notably to the jailed, not
merely the jailers-would make evil and bear ne\
calamities.
In tracing our own guilt back to its source we come upon
the human essence-which in its German form has fallen
into a peculiar, terrible incurring of guilt but exists as a
possibility in man as such.
Thus German guilt is sometimes calied the guilt of all:
the hidden evil everFwhere is jointly guilty of the outbreak
of evil in this German place.
It wtuld, indeed, be an evasion and a false excuse if we
Gerrpns tried to exculpate ourselves by pointing to the
1' g.,ilt of being human. Ii is not relief but greater depth to
which the idea can help us. The question of original sin
'rhust not become a way ta dodge German guilt. Knowledge
of original sin is not yet insight into German guilt. But
neither must the religious confession of original sin serve
as guise for a false German confession of collective guilt,
with the one in dishonest haziness taking the place oi the
other.
. We feel no desire to accuse the otfiers; we do not want
to infect them as it were, to drag them onto our path of
doom. But at the distance and with the anxiey of those who
stumbled onto it and now come to and reflect, we think:
(:oo) (ror)
:-,'fr,

stance of their but also into their right to make'


charges
them here. If, however, continuing the National-Socialist
type of thought, they call us un-German-if instead of
"ait.tit g li.t"t ing to reason they blindly seek to
"rd
destroy oihe.s by means of generalized judgments, they
disrupt our solidarity and are unwilling to test and develop
Our Purification thernselves by talking with each other' For their
way of
human rights'
attack they are to be charged with violating
The self-analysis of a people in historical reflection Among our population a natural insight, thoughtful
and
and the
personal self-analysis of the individual are two of
difierent without lathos, is not rare. The following are samples
ll]rg" But the first can happen only by way of the second. such simple utterances.
('I
What individuals accomplish jointty in communication
ma5 An eighty-year-old scholar: never wavered in these
if true, twelve y""ui.,-and yet I was never satisfied with
myself'
!:.:*. the spreading consciousness of *ury
"n
then is called national consciousness. Time and againl would ruminate whether the purely
pas-
Again we must reject collective thinking, as fictitious sive resistance to the Nazis might not be turned
into action'
-
thinking. Any real metamorphosis occurs through individuals But Hitler's organization was too diabolical'"
('After years of bowing to (govern-
-in the individual, in many individuals independent of or
mu_tyally inspiring one another.
A younger anti-Nazi:
we oPPo-
ment by fearr' even though with gnashing-teeth'
1i We Germans, no matter how difierently or even con_ nents also need purification' Thus we
oi National-socialism
trastingl all ponder our guilt or guiltlessness. All of us dissociate ourselves from the pharisaism ofthose who think
,.do, National-Socialists and opponents of National_Socialism. of a Party badge makes them first-class
. ((we
the mere absence
B.y I mean those with whom language, descent, situa_ people."
tion, fare, give me a feeling of immeiatla;arrif. I ao
((IfI let
Process of' deazifr'cation:
An official in the
not mean to accuse anyone by saying, ((!Ve.r, If other Ger_ myself be pushed into the Party, if I lived in relative com-
mans feel guiltless, that is up to them_-_except in the fort, if I aapted myself to the Nazi state and to this extent
two
benefited from it---even though in inner
points of the punishment of criminals for crimes and of the opposition-I
have no decent right to complain if now I reap
political liability of all for the acts of the Hitler state. Those the dis-
feeling guiltless are not being assailed until they start assail_ advantages."
ing. If in considering themselves guiltless they call others Orrrr." of the word purification in the guilt question has
guilty, we should, of course, always inquire into the sub- 'We nu"",torjltge ourselves of whatever
good sense.
(roz) .a
guilt each one finds in himself, as far as this is possible by individual
blame everybody else. This lasts as long as the
restitution, by atonement, by inner renewal and metamor-
really errvisions only his o'wn situation and that of people
phosis. We shall come to that later. of the others only
simiia. to him, and judges the situation ,
First we shall glance at some of the tendencies which how we get
in relation to himself. It is amazing to observe
are tempting us to evade purication. Lured by false im_
really. excited only when we are personally concerned' 'i1 l*
how we see everything in the perspective of our
pulses and instincts, we not only leave the way that might sP-eoal
I
cleanse us but add to confusion by unclean motivations.
It takes a constant, conscious effort to escaPe
trom t
position'
this PersPective.
DoDGTNG Pun.rrcrox A recital of the recriminations current among the Ger-
Only some
mans of today would lead to endless discussions'
Mutual Accusations incidental examples from the Present and
the recent Past
aretobementionedhere.WemaywellfaLterattimes,when
We Germans difier greatly in the kind and degree of our with each other
our patience threatens to give out in talking
participation in, or resistance to, National-Socialism. Every-
run uP against brusque and callous rejection'
one must reflect on his own internal and external conduct, "rrdi"
In the Past years there were Germans who demanded
and seek his own peculiar rebirth in this German crisis. not silently
martyrdom of us other Germans' We should
Anoher great difference between individuals concerns
sufier what was going on, they told us; even
if our action
the slarting time of this inner metamorphosis-whether it ethical prop
remained.rrrr,r..i.fol, it still would be like an
began in 1933 or in 1934, after the murders of symbol of suppressed
June 30; for the entire popul ation, a visible
whether it happened from 1938 on, after the synagogue
forces.Thuslcouldhearmyselfrebukedfromlg33on,by
, furnings, or not until the war, or not until the threatening
friends, men and women'
defeat, or not until the collapse. there was pro-
Such demands were so harrowing because
In these matters we Germans cannot be reduced to a found truth in them, yet a truth insultingly
perverted by the
common denominator. We must keep an open mind in manner of its presentation' Whatman, by himself' can
approaching each other from essentially difierent starting before the transcendent, was dragged down
t'
points. The only common denominator may be our nation- "*p"ri"r."
, i"t"l of moralizing, if not of sensationalism' Quietude
ality which makes all jointly guilty and liable for having
and reverence were lost'
let 1933 come to pass without dying. This also unites the
At present, a bad example of dodging into mutual
accusa-
outer and the inner emigration. ditt"sions between emigrants and
tion is given in ^u"y
Due to our great diversity, everybody can apparently we have
;;.r. Jho stayed here-between the two grouPs
(ro+) . (ro5)

--***-ta
come to describe as outer and inner emigration. Each elf-A bosetnemt amd' D efiance
has its S
ordeal. The emigrant has the world of a strange language
to contend with, and homesiclness as in the symbolicltory
Our human disposition-in Europe, at least-is such as to
of the German Jew in New york who had Hitler,s pi.t,rr"
make us equally sensitive to blame and quick to blame others'
on the wall of his room. Whyl Because nothing short
of We do not want our toes stePPed on, but in our moral
this daily reminder of the horrors awaiting him here
would judgment of others we get excited easily. This is the conse-
let him master his longing for the homeland. The trials of
the stay-at-home included being utterly forsaken, an outcast
io.n.. of moralistic poisoning. There is generally nothing
to which we are so sensitive as to any hint that we are
in his own country, in constant danger, alone in the hour of
considered guitty. Even if we are guilty we do not want
need, shunned by all save a few friends whorn he endangered
to let ourselves be told. And if we let ourselves be told we
in turn, thus sufiering anew. yet if now one group accuses
still do not want to be told by everyone' The greater this
the other, we need but to ask ourselves how we feel about
sensitivity to blame, the greater, as a rule, is the inconsiderate
the inner condition and tone of voice of these accusers_
readiness to blame others. The world, down to the
petty
whether \rye are happy that such people feel this way, of everyday life, teems with imputations of
circumstances
whether they set an example, whether there is something
the authorshiP of some mischance'
of an uplift in them, of freedom, of love, which might en_
Oddly, sensitivity to blame is very apt to rebound into an
courage'us. If not, then what they say is not true, either. of guilt-false, because
urge to confess. Such confessions
Thre is no growth of life in mutuai accusation. Talking external
J) . stil-I instinctive and lustful-have one unmistakible
I with each other actually ceasesi it is a form of the severance their opposites in
trait: fed by the same will Power
to as
of communication. And this in turn is always a symptom
the same individual, they bettay the confessor's wish
to
t untruth, and so an occasion for honest men to search enhance his worth by his confession, to edipse
others' FIis
unceasingly where untruth might be hiding. It to confess' There
hides confession of guilt wants to force others
wherever Germans presume to judge Germans morally Moralism as
and is a touch of aggressiveness in such confessions'
metaphysically; wherever the veiled will to compulsion both sensitivity
a phenomenor, i tn" will to power fosters
reigns instead of the good-will to communication; wherever and self-
to blame and confessions of guilt, both reproach
there is zeal to have the other admit guilt; wherever
arro_ reproach, and psychologically it causes each
of these to
gance-((I am not incriminatedrr*looks down on the other;
rebound into the other.
whereyer the feeling of guiltlessness holds itself entitled of anyone
to flence, philosophically, the first thing required
hold others guilty.
dealing *i,l' g"i, *""?',,:;tTt n" deal with himself'
(ro6)

{
,-4
thereby extinguishing both sensitivity and the confession necessity whic.h human consciousness would like to
urge. in order to evade it.
The decision to stay alive in impotence and servitude
Today this generally human phenomenon_here de_ is

an act of life-building sincerity' It results in a


scribed psychologicaily-is indissolubly interwoven metamorphosis
with the
gravity of our German question. We are threatened by the that modifies all values. Here-if the decision is made'
if
the consequences are accepted and toil and suffering
twin errors of self-abasing lamentation in confessions of guilt em-
In
and of defiantly self-isolating pride. braced-lies the sublime potential of the human soul'
The material concerns of the moment lead many astray. Hegel's exposition it is the servant rather than the master
honestly
Confessing guilt strikes them as advantageous. Their *ho- b"rrc ih" ,piritual future-but not unless he
ness to confess corresponds to the worldrs indignation "rg"._ follows his har road. Nothing is given' Nothing
comes'
at
German moral turpitude. The powerful are met rith and proud defiance
flat- by itself. The errors of self-abasement
tery; one likes to say what they would like to hear. In addi_ b" arroided only if this prime decision is clear; purifica-
tion, there is the baneful tendency to feel that confessing tion serves to clarify both the decision and its consequences'
The presence oi guilt, together with defeat' adds
guilt makes us better than others. Humility cloaks an evii a

self-conceit. Self-disparagement contains an attack on others prfi,ofogiof compliJtion. Not only impotence but guilt
-accepted,
who refrain from it. The ignominy of such cheap self_ *rt " and the transmutation which man would
the disgrace of *ppo."ly helpful flatiery, is like to avoid must grow from both'
"11tion+
Proud defiance ,,ds a multitude of points of
view' of
obvius. At this point the power instincts of the mighty and
*i to help itself
the impotent tatally interlock. grandiloquences and edifying sentimentalities'
the deiusion by which it can be maintaineii'
For instance:
Defiant io
,rs the very pride is diflerent. The moral attack of the others to accePt Past events ls
The meaning of the necessity((own
reason for its stiffened obstinary. It aims at self_
.harrged. A wi"ld inclination to uP to our history"
respect in a supposed inner independence. But
this is not of evil' the discovery of
to be gained if the decisive point remains obscure. ;;;;. the concealed affirmation in the soul as a proud
The decisive point is an eternal basic phenomenon, re_ good io evil, and its preservation
against the victors' This perversion admits
of
today in new form: he who in total defeat prefers Fortres. held
(('We must know that within
i Pj""d ,.rrt"n.", ,r.h i', the following:
to death can only live in truthfulness-the only ignity
I f-e us we still bear the primordiaistrength
of will which created
left to him-if he decides upon this rife in full realization
f the past, and we must also stand by it and.accePt it i+io-'-o'gr
' of its meaning. What Hegel showed in his ((phenomenol_
. . . We have been both and haII ema.i bo-th- ,, '' '
ogyr" in the grandiose chapter on master and servant, is "xi.Lrr.".ourselves are lever b)'.:3": d:9.qi*9"ry
the *" Tylhing
(ro8) "J (ro9)

rrril--J
,whose
strength w;. bear. yilhin up.,, ((Reverence will force Socialism as a matter of "philosophy of history"-'i1 '
the new German generation to become like the previous one. esthetic view compounding obvious evil and disaster, which
A defiance disguised as reverence is here confusing the should be soberly considered, into an emotional fog of false
historic soil-in which we are lovingly rooted-with the magnificence:
entirety of the realities of our common past. Far from loving In the spring of 1932 a German philosopher prophesied
all of those, we reject a good many as alien to our being. that within i"r, y"r.t the world would be governed politically
In this affirming recognition of the evil as evil, queer from two poles only, Moscow and Washington; that Ger-
i emotional obscurities may admit of sentences such as the many, in between, would become irrelevant as a political-
: following: ((We must become so brave and so great and geographical conception, existing only as a spiritual Power'
, so gentle that we can say, yes, even this horror was and -
'"i-rn history-to which the defeat of 1918 had actu-
i will remain our reality, but we are strong enough to make ally opened vistas of greater consolidation and even Great-
i it over within ourselves, for creative tasks. We know within German achievement-revolted against this prophesied and
i us a fearful potentiality which once appeared in miserably indeed impending tendency to simplify the world around
erring forms. We love and esteem our whole historic past two poles. Against this world tendency, German history
contracted for an isolated, self-willed, titanic effort still
with a reverent affection transcending any single historic to

, guilt. We bear this volcano within us, daring to know that reach its own national goal.
1 it maytlblow us up, but convinced that only our ability to
It that philosopher's prophecy was right in placing a
' tame t
will open the last expanse of our freedom and we time limit of orrty ten years on the beginning of Russo-
' *i! realiz, in the dangerous strength of such possibility, what American world rule, the precipitate pace, the haste and
lin common with all others will be the human achievement of violence of the German countereffort was understandable'
, ,lour spirit." It was the pace of an inwardly meaningful and fascinating
Thir is a tempting appeal-born of a bad, irrationalist but historically belated revolt' In the past months we have
seen this pace eventually outrun itself in pure, isolated
rav-
., lvoid a decision and intggt- glfselv.es."ro a
p..h,il9sophy- 1o
i process of existential levelling. '(Taming', is not half enough. ing. A philosophe,lightly pronounces sentence: German
The ('choice" is what matters. Failure to make the choice f,iiory i, pr.r;- the Moscow-Washington era is beginning'
immediately revives the possibility of an evil defiance, bound So grlatly, longingly devised a history as the German one
to end up by saying, "Go and sin." The misapprehension in doef not ti*pfy ."y, ,*"", to such academic resolutions'
It
this appeal to reverence toward evil, even though it is flaresup; in deeply excited resistance and attack, in a savage
negated, is that it could only lead to an illusive community. t,r*olt of faith and hatred it plunges to its doom'"
A third manner of proud defiance may affirm all National- Thus, in the summ* ,:lrr, man who has mv
( rro ) t iro"n*
highest personal esteem wrote in a confusion of dismal In appropriate circumstances, a patient striving for com-
feelings. ,.* iermit, the submission of facts and connections
Allthis is indeed not purification but further entangle- ^o.,
to the victor. Now that we Germans are no longer active in
ment. Thoughts like these-whether self-abasing or defiant not done
the whole of history, we look uPon what is and is
for an instant evoke feelings as of delivery. you think Yet correct this line
-may as deciding our {ate as well. however
you are back on your way, and actually you have only come replace or extinguish
of thoughf may be, it must not serve to
closer to a dead end. It is the impurity of feelings which is here
the guilt question.
increased and sirnultaneously consolidated against the chance
Ti" form of evasion most easily understood is the glance
of a genuine metamorphosis. at our own woes. FIelp us, many think, but don't talk of
All types of defiance feature an aggressive silence. I with_ atonement. Tremendous sufiering excuses'
We hear' for
draw when reasons become irrefutable. I found my self-
example:
respect on silence as the last power left the powerless. I show ttls the bomb terror forgotten, which cost millions of in-
my silence so as to hurt the powerful. I hide my silence so
nocent people their lives or health and all their
cherished
as to plan for a restoration, politically by seizing implements for sinned
porr"rrio.rl Should that not make up what was
of power-laughable though these would be in the hands of which
in G".*"r, landsl Should the misery of the refugees
men without access to the worldrs giant industries that pro_
cries to Fleaven not act disarminglyl"
duce th tools of destruction-and psychologically by a self- ((I came to Germany from the South Tyrol as a bride'
vindicaion admitting of no guilt. Fate decided against me; from the
. thirty years ago. I have shared the German ordeal
iithere was a senseless material superiority; my efeat was blow''making
' tfr" h..t day-to the last, taking blow after
honorable; within myself I tend
-y toyrtiy "rrd my heroism. sacrifice after sarifice, drained the bitter cuP
to the end-
,But the way of such conduct merely augments
the inner and now Ifeel accused, too, of things I never did'"
pison, in illusive thought and anticipating self-intoxication. overtaken the whole nation
'(The misery which has now
size' that one
is so gigantic, growing to such unimaginable
in its
Dodging into Specia.Ities Intrinsically Cotect shoul iot rub salt into the wounds. The population,
bat Unessential to the Guil euesrion surely innocent Parts, has already sufiered more than just
atonement maY PerhaPs require'"
We are evading the guilt question if we deviate from essen- complains'
Indeed the disaster is apocalyptical' Everyone
tials into intrinsically correct details-as if these were the
and rightly so: those who were rescued from
concentration
whole----or if we persistently seek, and indeed find, fault still remember the frightful suf-
."rnpr"o, persecution and
with others. ones in the most cruel
fe.rg, those who lost their dear
(rrz) ( ,r3 )

I
=a,r F",,'

manneri the millions of evacuees and refugees roaming the things, nor in the others; we should not dodge into distress'
road without hope; the many hangers-on of the party now This follows from the decision to turn about, to improve
being weeded out and suddenly in want; the Americns and daily. In doing so we face God as individuals, no longer as
other Allies who gave up years of their lives and had mil- Germans and not collectivelY'u"
lions killed; the European nations tormented under the
terrorist rule of the National-Socialist Germans; the German Dod,ging into a GeneralitY

lr- I. m'self become individually unim


emigrants forced to live in a foreign-language environment, I,f p-el- -
.rp.[ipv-ed - iv-11-e-

under the most difficult conditions. Everyone, eyeryone. portant bequ9 the whole is something that happens to me
Everywhere the complaints turn into accusations. Against witt out my- gogPerltion and thus without personal guilt'
whoml In the end: all against all. I live in the view of the whole, then, a mere impotent suf-
In this horrible wodd situation, in which at present our ferer or impotent participant. I no longer live out of myself'
distress in Germany is comparatively the greatest, we must A few examples:
not forget the interrelation of the whole. The guilt question (l) The moral interpretation of history as a whole lets
keeps leading back to it.
us expect a justice on the whole-for "all guilt is on earth
In my enumeration of complainants I put the manifold requitedr" as the poet saYs'
groups side by side with the intention of making the incon-
i t no* myself a prey to a total guilt' My own doing
gruity felt at once. The distress may as such, as destruction
scarcely matters any longer. If*I--Uq-*o:t -i[9 Lq-S,Ig,lid,-"*-!h"
af lif, be all of one kind; but it difiers essentially in its
*' generl connection as well as in its particular place therein. overall metaphysical inescapability is shattering' If I am
on the winning side, my success is flavored with the goo$
It is unjust to call all equally innocent. our-
conscience of superior virtue. This tendency not to take
' , On the whole, the fact remains that we Germans-ho\r-
selves seriously as individuals paralyzes our moral impulses'
ever much we may now have come into the greatest distress
among the nations----also bear the greatest responsibility for Both the pride of a self-abasing [uilt confession in the one
the course of events until 1945. instance and the pride of moral victory in the other become
evasions of the really human task which always lies in
t!e
Therefoie we, as individuals, should not be so quick to
feel innocent, should not pity ourselves as victims of an evil individual.
fate, should not expect to be praised for suffering. We should Yet experience contradicts this total view' The course

question ourselves, should pitilessly analyze ourselves : where of events is not unequivocal at all. The sun shines alike upon
the just and the unjust. The distribution of fortune and
the
did I feel wrongl think wrongly, act wrongly-we should,
as far as possible, look for guilt within ourselves, not in morality of actions r" *j*:lto-be interconnected'

( ,r+ )
!ffiI
t,t

Flowever, it would be an equally false total judgment to the catastrophe of the age. I sufiers for all' It erupts in the
universal guilt, and atones for all.
:,
say, on the contrary, that there is no justice.
True, in some situations the conditions and acts of a state There is a false pathos in this application o{ ideas from
fill us with the ineradicable feeling that ((that can,t end well,, Isaiah and Christianity, serving in turn to divert men from
and
((there
is bound to be a reckoning." But this feeling no the sober task of doing what is really in their power-from
sooner puts its trust in justice, beyond comprehensible human improvement within the sphere of the comprehensible and
reactions to evil, than errors appear. There is no certainty. from the inner transformation. It is the digression into
('estheticism" which by its irresponsibility diverts from real-
Truth and probity fail to come by themselves. In most cases
amends are dispensed with. Ruin and vengeance strike the ization out of the core of individual self-existence' It is a
innocent along with the guilty. The purest will, complete ne\ry way of acquiring a false collective feeling
of our own
v. eracity, the greatest courage may rcmain unsuccessful if value.
the situation is inopportune. And many passive ones come by (a) We seem as though delivered from guilt if in view
((It has
the favorable situation undeservedly, due to the acts of of the vast sufiering among us Germans we cry out,
others. been atoned for."
In the end, such things as atonement and guilt lie only in Flere we have to difierentiate again' A crime is atoned
the personality of the individals. Despite metaphysical truth for; a political liability is limited by a peace treaty and thus
which'{t may contain, the idea of total guilt and being en- b.ouglri to an end. As {ar as these two points are concerned'
the i-dea is correct and meaningful' But moral and
, meta-
. , snared in an overall guilt-atonement relationship comes to
physical guilt, which are understood only by the indiviilual +
i tempt the individual to evade what is wholly and solely his for'
in hi, co-rnity, are by their very nature not atoned
business.
They do not cease. Whoever bears them enters uPon Proces
a
'l (Z) Another total view holds that finally everything in
lasting all his life.
the world comes to an end, that nothing is ever started with-
H".e we Germans face an alternative' Either acceptance
out failing in the end, that everythilg contains the ruinous constantly
of the guilt not rneant by the rest of the world but
germ. This view puts non-success th every other non- trait
r"p"rtJd by our conscience comes to-be a-fundamental
on the one common level of failure, and thus, in an'
of ou G.'.*rn self-consciousness-in which case our soul
success
abstraction, robs it of its weight. subside into the
goes the way of transformation----or we
(3) Interpreting our own disaster as due to the guilt of Io"og" triviality of indifierent, me.re living' Then no true
all, we give it a metaphysical weight by the construction ,"rr. for God awakens any more in our amidst; then
the
of a new singularity. Germany is the sacificial substitute in true nature of existence is no longer revealed to us; then
( 116 ) ( ,r7 )

J,
we no longer hear the transcendent meaning of our sublime right to those deported, robbed, pillaged, tortured and exiled
po.try and art and music and philosophy; then all of this by the Hitler rgime.
.$l
\
,d may, as past, perhaps become a memory of other 1ies- Both demands are fully justified, but there is a difierence
," I nations capable still of hearing the voice of what Germans, in mctivation. Where guilt is not felt, all distress iq !mme-
once upon a time, brought forth and what Germans were diately leveled on the same Plane. If I want to make up for '.'
II but are rio more. what I, too, was guilty of, I must difi.erentiate between the
There is no other way to rcalize truth for the German victims of distress.
' than purification out of the depth of consciousness of guilt. This way of purification by reparation is one we cannot {
dodge. Yet there is much more to purication' Even rep- I
Trr Wev or Purrrcaro ,rrrtn is not earnestly willed and does not fulfill its mord j
purpose except as it ensues from our cleansing-tranyufationt {
Purification in action means, first of all, making Clarification of guilt is at the same timg clarificatiqn
qf
amends. i
Politically this means delivery, from inner affirmation, of our new life and its possibilities. From it spring seriousness'
the legally defined reparations. It means tightening our and resolution.
belts, so part of their destruction can be made up to the Once that happens, life is no longer simply there to be
nations attacked by Hitler Germany. naively, gaily enjoyed. We may seize the happiness of life
Besi&es the legal form assuring a just distribution of the if it is granted to us for intermediate moments, for breath-
loadrlsuch deliveries presuppose life, working ability, and ing spells-but it does not frll our existence; it appears as
working possibility. The political will to make amends musr magic before a melancholy background' Essentially,
",ii"1" remains permitted only to be consumed by a task'
inevitably fag if political acts of the victors destroy these our life
' The result is modest resignation. In inner action before
ffremises. For then we should not have a peace aimed at
reparation but continued war aiming at further destruction. the transcendent we become aware of being humanly finite ,.
and incapable of perfection. Humility coltqs !o bq or 1at31'
11

There is more to reparation, however. Everyone really


Then we are able, without will to power, to struggl ith
affected by the guilt he shares will wish to help anyone
love in discussing truth, and in truth to join with each other'
wronged by the arbitnry despotism of the larvless rgime.
Then we are capable of unaggressive silence-it is from
There are two difierent motivations which must not be
the simplicity of silence that the clarity of the communicable
confused. The first calls on us to help wherever there is
will emerge.
distress, no matter what the cause--simply because it is near
Then nothing counts any longer but truth and activity'
and calls for help. The second requires us to grant a special
Without guile we ,t. *ld1:;bear what fate has in store
( rr8 )

__. ^ 4ll
Iq'il

for us. Whatever happens will, while we live, remain the solidarity and co-resPonsibility without which there can be
human task that cannot be completed in the world.
no liberty.
Purification is the way of man as such. There, purification Political Iiberty begins with the majority of individuals in
by way of unfolding the guilt idea is just one moment. a people feeling jointly liable for the politics of their com-
Purification is not primarily achieved by outward actions- munity. It begins when the individual not merely covets and
not by an outward, finishing, not by magic. Rather, purifica- chides, when he demands of himself, rather, to see reality and
tion is an inner process which is never ended but in which not to act upon the faith-misplaced in politics-in an earthly
we continually become ourselves. Purification is a matter of paradise failing of realization only because of the others' stu-
our freedom. Everyone comes again and pgain to the fork pidity and ill-will. It begins when he knows, rather, that
in the road, to the choice between the clean and the mur. politics looks in the concrete world for the negotiable Path of
Purication is not the same for all. Each goes his personal each day, guided by the ideal of hurnan existence as liberty'
way. It is not to be anticipated by anyone else, nor can it be In short: without purification of the soul there is no, polit-
shown. General ideas can do no more than alert, perhaps ical liberty.
awaken, Our progress with inner purifrcation on the basis of guilt
, If at this close of our discussions of guilt we ask what consciousness can be checked by our reaction to attacks'

I purification consists in, no concrete reply is possible beyond Without guilt consciousness we keep reacting to every
what has been said. If something cannot be realized as an attack with a counterattack. Once we have been shaken by
J
.J end nf rational will but occurs as a metamorphosis by inner the inner tremors, however, the external attack will merely
action, one c:n only repeat the indefinite, comprehensive brush the surface. It may still be offensive and painful, but
1 it does not penetrate to the interior of the soul'
N figures of speech: uplift by illumination and growing 144
t fpr.ency-love of man. Where consciousness of guilt has been appropriated, we

As for guilt, one way is to think through the thoughts bear false and unjust accusations with tranquillity. For pride
here expounded. They must not only be abstractly, mentally and defiance are molten.
thought, but actually carried out; they must be recalled, If we truly feel guilt, so that our consoousness of being
is in transformation, reproach from others seems to us like
): appropriated or rejected with one's own being. Purification is
harmless child's play, unable to hurt where the real guilt
' this execution and what comes out of it. It is no!.ppp9!li.3g-
consciousness is an indelible prick and has forced a new form
new, tacked on at the end.
on self-consciousness. Reproached like this, we rather feel
Purifiction is the premise of our political liberty, too; for
sorrow at the other's unconcern and unawareness. If an at-
only consciousness of guilt leads to the consciousress of remind him of the guilt
mosphere of trust prevails,
(rzo) Tr-T

*4
potentialities in every human being. But we can no longer enough. When all things fade away, God is-that is the only
get angry. fixed point.
W_lthout!anillgmilati-o..44nd-.tq119f
91_qpgrorr,of 9ul:.9I1, But what is true in the face of death, in extremity, turns
pgnsili,.ipy 1v.,guld . only_ lncrqase in" h_e_lpJ. 9s .i+qot91c,9. The into a dangerous temPtation if fatigue, impatience, despair
poison of psychological transpositions would ruin us. We drive man to plunge into it prematurely. For this stand on
must be ready to put up with reproaches, must listen to a-nd' the verge is true only if borne by the unswerving deliberation
then examine them. We must sek out .rtfr"r tran .i"ru. always to seize what remains possible while life endures'
attacks on us, because they enable us to check up on our o\rn Our share is humility and moderation.
thought. Our,inner aitudg .ryill.stand the test.
Such purification makes us free. The course of events lies
not in man's hand, though man may go incalculably far in
guiding his existence. There remains uncertainty and the
possibility of new and greater disasters, while no new hap-
piness is guaranteed by the awareness of guilt and the result-
ing transformation of our being. These are the reasons why
purification alone can free us so as to be ready for whatever
comesll'For only the pure soul can truthfully live in this
tensida: to know about the possible ruin and still remain
'" i;
tirelessly active for all that is possible in the world.
In regarding wodd events we do well to think of Jere-
krfr. When Jerusalem had been destroyed, state and coun-
try lost the prophet forcibly taken along by the last few Jews
who were fleeing to Egypt-when he had to see those sacri-
ficing to Isis in the hope that she would do more for them
than Jehovah, his disciple Baruch despaired. And Jeremiah
((The
answered, Lord saith thus: Behold; that which I have
built will I break down, and that which I have planted I
will pluck up, and seekest thou great things for thyselfl
Seek them not." What does that mean? That God is, is
(ru2) (,z3)