Dreams Under Dictatorship
July 13, 2019 5:59 PM   Subscribe

After Hitler came to power in 1933, Charlotte Beradt, a Berlin-based journalist, began to awaken night after night bathed in perspiration, teeth clenched in terror. On one of these nights, after dreaming of being hunted “from pillar to post” by storm troopers, a new thought arrived: what if she wasn’t the only one? What if the things that appeared in her nightmares were also being visited upon other people? This startling thought set in motion the seeds of a research project. Beradt quietly began to query people about their dream-life, documenting the nocturnal visions the regime had induced as "new and explicit proof of the dictatorship."

The full book-length study, The Third Reich of Dreams, may be checked out from The Internet Archive.
posted by ragtag (10 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
This is fantastic. Some of the dreams remind me of Borges:
A beautiful young woman dreamed that black signs had been erected at every street corner. They contained twenty words written in white letters, which the people were forbidden to pronounce. The words included Biblical terms, such as "Lord". The last of the twenty words was "I".

posted by Joe in Australia at 6:15 PM on July 13, 2019 [12 favorites]

Wow, my god:
A small shopkeeper in Vienna dreamed that the lamp in the corner of his room suddenly began to talk, repeating to the police every sentence he had ever uttered against the Government, every political joke he had told. . . .

The rarity of dreams of revenge is notable—additional proof of how deeply fear reaches down into the subconscious.
Someone should reissue her book.
posted by sallybrown at 7:14 PM on July 13, 2019 [17 favorites]

Yeah revenge is, I think, something you get to fantasize about once you’re safe.

Someone should reissue her book.

No kidding. I want this, like, immediately.
posted by schadenfrau at 7:20 PM on July 13, 2019 [5 favorites]

The White Hotel by D M Thomas was one of the most chilling books I ever read. It was a best seller in the 80’s but since then disappeared from literary discourse. I have no idea why. Similar topic.
posted by growabrain at 2:07 AM on July 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

I wonder what if undocumented people in the US have begun having dreams like this under Trump? A similar study among them would yield rich results, I fear.
posted by Paul Slade at 4:27 AM on July 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

from pillar to post
posted by Bee'sWing at 5:09 AM on July 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

This was part of my dream a week ago (almost to the day):
"...in the church dream, there was a point where the pastor was also talking about Trump's property, and there was some vague allusion to Twin Towers/9-11."

There was an ominous foreboding. It had the same sense I got from (thought perhaps not as dark/spooky as ) the dream I had post 9/11 where I was in Afghanistan with dark cloaked figures and horses. It was Al-Qaeda member and Osama was there, and the sky was dark and wind whipping, there was a hill. These cloaked figures had the feeling of end times angels of death.

Before that point I was arguing with a woman in another row of pews about Climate Change (she, a denialist), the pastor was actually in agreement with me that it was real and that we must take action (which, AFAICT, is not the sort of thing he would have preached)
posted by symbioid at 10:58 AM on July 14, 2019

To clarify: In my dreams I have what I call "the dreamscape" which is an emotional vibe/landscape that taints dreams so I know they're related somehow due to this feel even if not in the same spatio-temporal location, they're in the same dream realm. Different dreams have different 'scapes.

In this case, the Trump Tower Sermon (which had a strong implication of an attack on Trump tower (a sort of prophecy of the future /but simultaneously done deal in the dream)) had the same vibe (but much weaker) than the Afghanistan/Al Qaeda dream.
posted by symbioid at 11:01 AM on July 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

I glanced at a book in Half-price Books once which argued that the Christian Hell was essentially a revenge fantasy in response to the truly awful (don't look them up!) persecutions Christians suffered under the Roman emperors, Nero in particular.
posted by jamjam at 11:22 AM on July 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

argued that the Christian Hell was essentially a revenge fantasy in response to the truly awful (don't look them up!) persecutions Christians suffered under the Roman emperors, Nero in particular.

The incredible irony being that most of those "persecutions" were imaginary or inflated after the fact. Modern scholarship casts heavy doubts on most of them these days. Not that Christian's weren't persecuted, but there's very little evidence for most of the terrible torture type stuff with a few exceptions. And most of the actual factual stuff wasn't just applied to the early Christians, but anyone opposed to Roman hegemony. Nero in particular was an unpopular Emperor, and a lot of stuff was said about him after his death that was calculated to make him look awful and his successor good. So like most revenge fantasies, it tells more about it's creators than it's enemies.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:04 PM on July 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

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