The Quest for the Nazi Personality
A Psychological Investigation of Nazi War Criminals
Routledge – 1995 – 272 pages
Half a century after the collapse of the Nazi regime and the Third Reich, scholars from a range of fields continue to examine the causes of Nazi Germany. An increasing number of young Americans are attempting to understand the circumstances that led to the rise of the Nazi party and the subsequent Holocaust, as well as the implication such events may have for today as the world faces a resurgence of neo-Nazism, ethnic warfare, and genocide.
In the months following World War II, extensive psychiatric and psychological testing was performed on over 200 Nazis in an effort to understand the key personalities of the Third Reich and of those individuals who "just followed orders." In addressing these issues, the current volume examines the strange history of over 200 Rorschach Inkblot protocols that were administered to Nazi war criminals and answers such questions as:
* Why the long delay in publishing protocols?
* What caused such jealousies among the principals?
* How should the protocols be interpreted?
* Were the Nazis monsters or ordinary human beings?
This text delivers a definitive and comprehensive study of the psychological functioning of Nazi war criminals -- both the elite and the rank-and-file. In order to apply a fresh perspective to understanding the causes that created such antisocial behavior, these analyses lead to a discussion within the context of previous work done in social and clinical psychology. Subjects discussed include the authoritarian personality, altruism, obedience to authority, diffusion of responsibility, and moral indifference. The implications for current political events are also examined as Neo-Nazism, anti-Semitism, and ethnic hate are once again on the rise. While the book does contain some technical material relating to the psychological interpretations, it is intended to be a scholarly presentation written in a narrative style. No prior knowledge of psychological testing is necessary, but it should be of great benefit for those interested in the Rorschach Inkblot test, or with a special interest in psychological testing, personality assessment, and the history of psychology. It is also intended for readers with a broad interest in Nazi Germany.
"Zillmer, Harrower, Ritzler, and Archer have added substantially to this literature by basing their conclusions on a database drawn from the Nazi hierarchy, rank-and-file member of the party, and non-Nazi collaborators….After an impressive review of major previous scholarly efforts, richly detailed within a historical perspective, Zillmer et al. present their findings in two extensive case studies of Nuremberg defendants and in detailed summaries, compared to contemporary data, of all the other Rorschach data."
"The authors' treatment of these issues is thorough. They offer an academic discussion of the Rorshach test results for professionals and a psychohistorical overview for the general reader … The book will appeal to any psychologist interested in the Rorschach and in Nazi history. It will also be especially useful in graduate coursework on Rorschach and projective techniques (since) the protocols lend themseles to a variety of useful classroom activities around Rorschach interpretation."
—The Pennsylvania Psychologist Quarterly
"This study offers a valuable introduction to the Rorschach technique and surprisingly tangled history of its use at Nuremberg…It is thus a service of this book that it reproduces the verbatim records of all of the Nazi Rorschachs, including six by Kelly never published before….In sum, this book is a valuable contribution to the history of Nazism and its effect on the world. It also provides a worthwhile discussion of important issues of methodology in the human sciences. The prose is clear and the organization logical."
—American Historical Review
"Rational, data-based explorations of such explosive questions as the origins of types of the Holocaust-producers' personalities, using newly recovered information from the Nazi War Crimes archives, are rare; we are in the debt of these clinical psychologists for their postmortem dissections in the hope that resurgences of genocide may be prevented by their fresh insights."
—Irving I. Gottesman, Ph.D.
Honorary Fellow, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Sherrell J. Aston Professor of
"This work for the first time provides a professionally responsible examination of the Rorschach evidence. Aside from the theoretical merits of this work it adds significantly to our knowledge of what went on in Nuremberg, as well as the changes in the perception of the Nazi personality."
—George M. Kren, Ph.D.
Professor of History, Kansas State University
Contents: Foreword. Preface. The Quest for the Nazi Personality. Historical and Psychological Perspectives of the Nuremberg Trials. Evaluating the Prisoners at Nuremberg. Delays in the Publication of the Nazi Rorschach Records. The Rorschach Inkblot Technique. Interpreting the Nazi Records: The Nazi Elite. Danish Collaborators and German Occupation Personnel: A New Sample. Two Case Studies of Nazi War Criminals. The Myth of the Nazi Personality.