German philosopher blamed Jews for 'self-destructing' in Holocaust

Expert on leading 20th century German philosopher reveals views written in 1942.

February 17, 2015 15:28
2 minute read.
Martin Heidegger

Martin Heidegger. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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BERLIN – In a startling revelation in his so-called “Black Notebooks,” one of Germany’s leading philosophers of the 20th century, Martin Heidegger, blames the Jews for the Holocaust.

According to article in last week’s Italian daily Corriere della Sera by Heidegger expert Donatella Di Cesare, “The Shoah was an act of self-destruction by the Jews. This is the view that emerges from the new volume of Heidegger’s Black Notebooks.”

Heidegger wrote during the Holocaust in 1942 that the “community of Jews” is “in the age of the Christian West – the age of metaphysics – the principle of destruction.” He wrote further: “Only when what is essentially ‘Jewish,’ in the metaphysical sense, combats what is Jewish, is the peak of self-destruction in history reached.”

Heidegger, a towering figure in the school of continental European philosophy who died in 1976,was the rector at the University of Freiburg and summarily dismissed Jewish professors at the outset of the Nazi movement in the 1930s.

He was a member of the Nazi Party.

The German-American Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt, a former student and lover of Heidegger, had defended him as a leading light in modern philosophy.

Speaking with The Jerusalem Post on Monday, Efraim Zuroff, the chief Nazi-hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said, “The latest findings regarding Heidegger’s views of the mass murders of European Jews clearly reveal a total lack of understanding of the criminality of the annihilation of the Jews by the Third Reich.”

Zuroff,who heads the Jerusalem office of the Wiesenthal Center, added, “It also makes one wonder to what degree Hannah Arendt was influenced by him in the Eichmann trial. It makes research by Bettina Stangneth in her book Eichmann before Jerusalem: The unexamined life of a mass murderer” all the more important.

She conclusively proves that Arendt misread Eichmann.”

Arendt (1906-1975) wrote in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem that the Nazi official was merely a faceless bureaucrat.

According to her critics, she failed to grasp the lethal anti-Semitism that animated his behavior and world outlook.

The Auschwitz survivor and Austrian-Jewish journalist Jean Amery slammed Arendt for her work.

Di Cesare wrote that the Shoah for Heidegger is “presented as playing a decisive role” in a main tenant of Heidegger’s philosophy of the history of being.

After analyzing Heidegger’s newly discovered writings, she found that, “In this sense, the extermination of the Jews represents the apocalyptic moment when that which destroys ends up destroying itself. As the peak of ‘self-destruction in history,’ the Shoah makes possible the purification of being.”

Heidegger, as an anti-technology proponent, saw the Jews as the embodiment of a technological world that he loathed. He plays down the Holocaust and at times denies the existence of extermination camps in his notebooks.

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