Book review: The sound of silence

The Middle Ages,” wrote Carl Jung in a 1958 book about ufos, “have not died out… Mythology and magic flourish as ever in our midst.” I doubt if Monica Black, a professor of history at the University of Tennessee and the author of A Demon-Haunted Land,a n intriguing, subtle, and occasionally startling examination of a wave of superstitious belief that swept across Germany in the immediate post-war years, would disagree. Certainly, Black recognizes the fascination that supernatural ideas and practices, from astrology to the occult, held for millions of Germans “across the modern period” as well as the persistence of a long-standing tradition of folk and magical healing.

A review of A Demon-Haunted Land by Monica Black

Reviewed by Andrew Stuttaford

But that is not inconsistent with her finding that there was “something quite particular about the kinds of mass [allegedly] supernatural events that took place in Germany after World War II, so many of which focused . . . on sin and guilt, healing and redemption.” To Black this was a way of dealing with what could not be said. “While Germans,” she relates, “did talk, obsessively, about their own losses in the war, there were many other things they simply did not discuss, at least not publicly: allegiances to the former regime, participation in antisemitic persecution and looting, genocide, war crimes.”

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