How Fantasy Generates History
by Richard Koenigsberg
Based on 40 years of research, this paper (one of the most frequently read on Academia.Edu) crystallizes Koenigsberg’s findings on the fantasy that led to genocide.
Read the complete paper on our website.
Many of you have asked us to put together a special package containing Koenigsberg’s groundbreaking books—the foundation of his online publications.

Paperbound versions of the four titles below—valued at $114.94—are available for a limited time at the very special price of $24.95.

The Psychoanalysis of Racism, Revolution and Nationalism

A truly bold and provocative treatise. —Political Psychology (Journal)

Hitler's Ideology: A Study in Psychoanalytic Sociology

The best critical analysis in English of Hitler's thought. —Colin Day

Symbiosis and Separation: Towards a Psychology of Culture

A thoughtful and perceptive analysis of the interplay of unconscious phantasy and cultural phenomena. —Thomas Ogden, M.D., author of The Matrix of the Mind

Nations Have the Right to Kill: Hitler, the Holocaust and War

A psychological inquiry of great depth and tragic urgency. —Walter A. Davis, Professor Emeritus, Ohio State University


At the heart of Hitler's vision lay his conception of the German nation as a living organism. "My Movement," Hitler declared, "Encompasses every aspect of the entire Volk. It conceives of Germany as a corporate body, as a single organism." According to Hitler there could be no such thing as "non-responsibility in this organic being, not a single cell which is not responsible, by its very existence, for the welfare and well-being of the whole." In Hitler's view, there could not be "the least amount of room for apolitical people."

The image of the nation or people as an organism occurs frequently in writings of Nazi political theorists. Gottfried Neese states, typically, that in contrast to the state, the people form "a true organism—a being which leads its own life and follows its own laws." The "living unity of the people has cells in its individual members," and just as in every body there are cells to perform certain tasks, this is “likewise the case in the body of the people."

This conception of the nation as a gigantic organism—with each individual constituting a cell—lay at the heart of Nazi totalitarianism. For if the nation is a single organism and each individual a cell, then no individual can escape this organism; each individual is responsible for the health of the organism; and the health of each individual (or cell) impacts upon the health of the entire organism.


If the first part or foundation of Hitler's ideology was his conception of Germany as a living organism, the second part—source of all that followed—was his belief that the nation was suffering from a disease that might prove fatal. From the earliest days of the National Socialist movement, Hitler and other Nazis were haunted by the specter of a disease within the body politic that could lead to the death and disappearance of the German nation. Hitler believed that his role as political leader was first to diagnosis or disclose the cause of Germany's illness; and secondly to act to cure the disease.

Hitler in Mein Kampf wrote about the typical or ordinary German politician. It would be a mistake to believe, he said, that adherents of various politic tendencies that were "tinkering around on the national body" were bad or malevolent men. Their activity, however, was condemned to sterility because the best of them "saw at most the forms of our general disease and tried to combat them, but blindly ignored the virus."

Ordinary politicians were aware that Germany was ill, but did not dig deeply enough. They were unable or unwilling to comprehend the cause of Germany's disease.
Hitler, by contrast, would stake his claim to leadership on his capacity to diagnosis and cure Germany's illness. He believed that people would follow a political leader who "profoundly recognizes the distress of his people," who works to attain the "ultimate clarity with regard to the nature of the disease," and then "seriously tries to cure it." Hitler aspired to become "Doctor of the German people."


Insofar as Jews were imagined to be the source of Germany's disease, therefore the issue of national survival could not be resolved until the source of disease—the Jew—was removed from within the body politic. The Nazis did not wish to have the specter of the Jewish disease hanging over their heads. Better to devise a solution that would eliminate this threat—once and for all. The development of the killing centers represented a manic, hysterical struggle to kill the source of death.

The Final Solution grew out of a fantasy that identified Jews as bacteria that would continue to multiply and divide lest actions were taken to halt its spread. The image of Jew as virus or bacteria was present in the minds of leading Nazis as the killing process unfolded in 1942 and 1943. In February 1942, Hitler proclaimed that the "discovery of the Jewish virus" is one of the "greatest revolutions the world has seen." The struggle in which the Nazis were engaged, Hitler said, was similar to the one "waged by Pasteur and Koch in the last century. How many diseases must owe their origins to the Jewish virus? Only when we have eliminated the Jews will we regain our health."

In a famous speech delivered to SS leaders and army generals in 1943, Himmler claimed that Germany had "the moral right, the duty towards our people to destroy this people that wanted to destroy us" We do not want, he said, because we have destroyed a bacillus to be "infected by this bacillus and to die."

We noted that Hitler insisted early in his career that it was insufficient for politicians to "doctor around on the circumference of the distress" without acting to "lance the cancerous ulcer." By February 4, 1945 when the war clearly was lost, Hitler continued to speak in these terms. In a note dictated to Martin Bormann, Hitler declared that National Socialism had tackled the Jewish problem “by action and not by words." This action had been an essential "process of disinfection."

To the very end, Hitler did not alter his thinking. Apparently he felt that he had remained "true to himself." Though the war had lost, he had achieved his primary objective: "We have lanced the Jewish abscess, and the world of the future will be eternally grateful to us."

Nazism was generated by a fantasy that was projected into the political arena. This fantasy revolved around the idea of Germany as an enormous body (politic) suffering from a disease that could prove fatal. Jews were identified as pathogenic cells—source of the nation's disease. Genocide was undertaken to destroy these pathogenic cells.

Nazi political theorist Ernst Rudolf Huber in Constitutional Law of the Third Reich stated that the Führer was the "bearer of the collective will of the people." In the will of the leader, Huber said, the "will of the people is realized." Hitler's will was not the "subjective will of a single man." Rather, the "collective national will" was embodied within the leader.

A people's collective will, Huber explained, is rooted in the "political idea which is given to a people." The political idea is present in the people, but the Führer "raises it to consciousness and discloses it." The role of the leader, in other words, is to "disclose" a people's political idea, bring into consciousness that which had been unconscious.

The leader brings forth or makes manifest ideas and desires that had been latent within a culture. His ideology reveals and crystallizes a nation's shared fantasies. The leader invents images, metaphors and phrases to convey these fantasies He processes his own fantasies and those of his people—and "returns" information to his audience—in the form of a societal discourse.

By virtue of being transformed into a societal discourse or ideology, energies and passions bound to shared fantasies are released for action. The ideology transforms latent desires and fantasies into a collective will to act. The will to act is generated by the wish to actualize or bring into reality the fantasy contained within the ideology. The role of the leader is not only to bring into consciousness fantasies shared by members of society, but also to devise a plan or program allowing these fantasies to be enacted.


The Final Solution grew out of a fantasy present in the mind of Hitler, Nazi leaders and many other Germans—revolving around the nation confronted with a threat to its existence in the form of a deadly disease, the Jew. The disease within Germany was described concretely—as the invasion of the body politic by bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

The idea that it was necessary to eliminate Jewish bacteria generated a "social construction of reality." The death camps, gas chambers and crematoria were constructed based on the fantasy that if Germany was to survive, Jewish bacteria had to be destroyed.

The Final Solution followed as a consequence of this perception of reality contained within Nazi ideology. Jews were depicted as bacteria or virus, source of a "disease within the body politic" that needed to be cured if the nation was to survive. Hitler, "Doctor of the people," diagnosed Germany's disease, and prescribed the cure. The cure that Hitler prescribed and carried out was destruction of the Jewish bacteria, i. e. genocide.