Saturday, April 14, 2012
Karl Löwith's "My Last Meeting with Heidegger in Rome, 1936".
In 1936, during my stay in Rome, Heidegger gave a lecture on Holderlin at the German-Italian Culture Institute. Afterwords, he accompanied me to our apartment and was visibly taken aback by the poverty of our furnishings. . . . The next day, my wife and I made an excursion to Frascati and Tusculum with Heidegger, his wife, and his two small sons, whom I had often cared for when they were little. It was a radiant afternoon, and I was happy about this fink get together, despite undeniable reservations. Even on this occasion, Heidegger did not remove the Party insignia from his lapel. He wore it during his entire stay in Rome, and it had obviously not occurred to him that the swastika was out of place while spending the day with me. We talked about Italy, Freiburg, and Marburg, and also about philosophical topics. He was friendly and attentive, yet avoided every allusion to the situation in Germany and his views of it, as did his wife. On the way back, I wanted to spur him to an unguarded opinion about the situation in Germany. I turned the conversation to the controversy in the Neue Ziiricher Zeitung and explained that I agreed neither with Barth's political attack [on Heidegger] nor with Staiger's defense, insofax as I was of the opinion that his partisanship for National Socialism lay in the essence of his philosophy. Heidegger agreed with me without reservation, and added that his concept of "historicity" was the basis of his political "engagement." He also left no doubt about his belief in Hitler. He had underestimated only two things: the vitality of the Christian churches and the obstacles to the Anschluss with Austria. He was convinced now as before that National Socialism was the right course for Germany; one only had to "hold out" long enough. The only aspect that troubled him was the ceaseless "organization" at the expense of "vital forces." He failed to notice the destructive radicalism of the whole movement and the petty bourgeois character of all its "Strength-through-joy" [Kraj durch Freude] institutions, because he himself was a radical petty bourgeois.
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