Friday, June 8, 2007


. . . disjointedness was not alone a private matter, hidden in the individual, but . . . also a whole objective world of disjointedness was extant outside the individual. . . . The Germans failed to see the danger of this phenomenon; they did not separate themselves from it; they did not destroy it; on the contrary, they identified themselves with it, and they lived with it as if they belonged together, as if disjointedness were natural to man.

. . . [But] neither man nor the world can have lasting existence on the basis of disjointedness.

. . . the Germans ought to have been horrified when they become aware of the towering evil — for it transgressed far beyond human proportions; they should have taken warning; they should have bethought themselves of what those forces were which contributed to the superhuman measure of the evil; they should have halted. But they did not halt; instead they accepted the superhuman measure of the evil as their own measure; they grew into it; they identified themselves with it. The fact, alone, that the tower of evil was built without halting and without resistence arising against it should have warned and should have frightened the Germans. But to the contrary, it was as if that tower were building itself, as if everything moved toward its construction automatically, in an uncanny manner completely different from human work, with its rhythmic changes of growth and decline, of success and failure. As it was, the Germans took warning only as their evils miscarried, and they became frightened only as their tower collapsed.

. . . In the historical periods of decline, there had always been at least some empty space alongside the fields of corruption; there had been room. Near the end of the antique, for example, the gods had waned, had vanished. But there still was an emptiness where once the gods had been, a distinct emptiness clearly circumscribed, so that the new star which just then was about to rise found room to shine into this emptiness. The new God in His will to reach mankind was almost drawn to the place where the old gods had been, so great was that emptiness.

In the decline of today, however, the people were not even aware that God had been driven out or had left; there was not feeling of emptiness, because the emptiness had been stuffed with the rubbish produced by the discontinuity machine, overstuffed with disjointed fragments of all kinds, so that man failed to sense the emptiness and saw no need to have it filled.

. . . the German people cannot be reformed through instruction, because it is incapable of insight into its guilt. The German of today (and there is no difference in this respect between Nazi and non-Nazi) has no inner continuity. There are, of course, individual Germans who have inner continuity, but they are isolated individuals, and no influence emanates from them on the whole; the nation, as a whole, lives in total inner discontinuity.

Since the German has no inner continuity, he has lost memory of his evil deeds. Everything immediately goes into oblivion; that is why he cannot bethink himself of his guilt; he lacks the material about which to think. Whatever he has committed of evil deeds is wiped off his memory; therefore he cannot search his soul, cannot hold judgment over himself, and cannot reform. It characterizes the German of today that he has no memory of his past deeds, that he is forever engrossed in his doings of the moment and what meets his eyes at the moment. That is what makes it so hard to change the Germans. They forget instruction as rapidly as they forgot the crimes.

. . . Christianity, which is the world of permanence and continuity, cannot be understood by the world of disjointedness. This being so, one cannot speak of the hostility of this world toward Christianity; the tension is not there for any sincerely hostile attitude to arise against Christianity. Christianity simply is being swept out of this world like something which does not belong, like something which irritates because it does not fit into the world of disjointedness.

This world of disjointedness is not necessarily consciously antagonistic to Christ’s doctrine; it needs not even know that doctrine in order to be hostile to it; its hostility is structural; a priori it stands in opposition to Christ’s doctrine. With Christianity there is the structure of continuity and permanence; with the world of discontinuity the structure is disjointedness and the momentary.

Hence, in this world man suffers not from the split personality based upon original sin, because no continuity exists which could reach back to original sin; modern man is split and is broken up by the structure of disjointedness, and with every moment the breach widens, because every motion in this world, be it mental or physical, already partakes of the mechanics of disintegration and not of God. Likewise, this man is incapable of sacrificing himself, because in the world of the momentary there is no object for which to sacrifice one’s self. Instead of sacrificing it, one throws life away in a moment. Finally, far from dying by the schism in himself, modern man, on the contrary, uses it as a stimulant to a hectic life; he manipulates with his own fragments. Disintegration thus becomes a way of life; one lives by one’s fragmentation rather than dying from it. For in this world death is not real, as one perpetually jumps from the nothingness of one moment to the nothingness of the next.

One greatly fears in this world of disjointedness that God will appear in its midst and end it all. That is why this world of disjointedness is forever on the move, stays forever in the race from moment to moment with the idea that if only this perpetual motion were kept going at full speed, even God could not stop the automatic juggernaut of disjointedness.

Nothing but the instant is left, the last remnant of the vanished permanence of time, the moment as a fragmentary shred of time, not the moment of eternity. Only as at the end, at the very last moment, Christ returns, only that moment will again be of eternity. Faith in Christ’s second coming thus means that the last moment to come will be the catastrophe which ends this world.

. . . Hitler’s destruction came to pass against all human expectation. . . . Let nobody say that Hitler was defeated because the war potential of America, of Russia, and of Britain was greater than that of the Axis. While it is true that in June, 1940, the potential of those three powers was greater than Germany’s and its allies, it still was only a potential. It was not translated into reality, and it seemed as if it would never become reality. At that time, the very real superiority of Hitler confronted the very real inferiority of Hitler’s opponents.

Hitler for years stood on the brink of victory — yet he never quite reached it. . . .

. . . the state of the German people and the state of multitudes in other nations were such that Hitler as a ruler would have befitted that state. As a person, Hitler was so null and void that he did only what others wanted him to do; his structure, as was shown, was the same as that of most of the others; it corresponded to the structure of the age, its disjointedness, its dissolution. The world would have deserved the fate of a Hitler victory; this would have been befitting to the state of Germany, and not of Germany alone. But the world was spared that fate. There was a divine love toward this universe and toward mankind which would not suffer the world and its peoples to be swallowed into the whirl of chaos. An intercession did come to pass, although mankind was not deserving of it.

— Max Picard, Hitler in Our Selves, pp. 247–248, 251–254, 259, 267–268, 269–270, 272.