‘Only a God Can Save Us’: Martin Heidegger & Nazism. A Film by Jeffrey Van Davis

NB: This is an interesting historical documentary; and the comments are also thought provoking. (I do not agree with everything said here: for instance the suggestion – at about 1 hr 11 m – that Hannah Arendt’s phrase ‘the banality of evil’ was a way of suppressing the horror of Nazism, or that she blamed the Jews for their own suffering). For all the greatness of his intellect Martin Heidegger, in my view, surrendered his mind to militarist nationalism, to ideological euphoria, something which destroys the simple human emotion of empathy for human suffering. What was happening in Germany during the late 1920’s and 1930’s was visible in broad daylight, the vicious hooliganism and violence directed against a tiny minority, Germany’s assimilated Jews. Books by Jewish authors were being burnt in campuses including his campus (Freiburg); and one of his students took a photograph of a synagogue being burnt outside Heidegger’s seminar room, during the seminar. What was there not to see? But Heidegger made no secret of his antisemitism, as several witnesses testify in this documentary.

As one commentator in this documentary says, one has to ask oneself, ‘what is the difference between blindness and stupidity?’

But stupidity is intellectual – was Heidegger’s antisemitism an intellectual error? I think not. He had destroyed his conscience, as do all ideologues, to one degree or another. The humble carpenter Johann Georg Elser had more decency in his little finger than the great philosopher. ‘Heidegger is important for showing that people will defend you from accusations of being a Nazi even if you were a member of the Nazi Party‘. (thedeadauthor)

वैष्णव जन तो तेने कहिये
जे पीड परायी जाणे रे ।
पर दुःखे उपकार करे तो ये
मन अभिमान न आणे रे ॥

Call those people Vaishnav who
Feel the pain of others,
Help those who are in misery,
But never let self-conceit enter their mind.

These lines by Narsingh Mehta, 15th century Gujarati poet; were among Gandhiji’s favourite hymns

Caritas in veritate: the truth may be vital but without love it is unbearable. DS


Note accompanying the YouTube A V: Martin Heidegger is considered to be the most profound thinker of the Twentieth century. His magnum opus, Being and Time was published in 1927 and had the equivalent impact on philosophy that Einstein’s theory of relativity, published in 1906, had on physics and Freud’s theory of personality, published in 1902, had on the field of psychology.

In May 1933, Heidegger, Germany’s most famous philosopher, joined the Nazi Party and became the first Nazi Rector of a German University. In an interview in Der Spiegel in 1976, Heidegger reiterated his distaste for democratic society and modernity. His final words of despair: Only a God Can Save Us.

Watch the documentary film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TEEJeyZNaM

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Felipe De Brigard: Nostalgia reimagined

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