Sunday, October 16, 2011
[Start][Previously on]

The Shadow of Heidegger

And Heidegger? Did Heidegger hate the Jews? Could he who had loved the young Hannah Arendt hate them? At a certain meeting, between beer and venison, somewhat dizzy, all of us, Rainer defended the Master after saying he had removed the dedication to the Jew Husserl from Being and Time. He spoke then of other attitudes, presumably anti-Semitic of Herr Rektor, and some SA slapped his back enthusiastically. I, maybe somewhat drunk, maybe something more than that, said the question was resolved, without possibility of refutation. What doubt could there be? Heidegger hated the Jew adequately as a good German and as a good National Socialist, both things, I added, the same thing. I slapped my hand on Rainer shoulder; I placed my red and shiny face next to his and asked: "Rainer, would you marry a Jew?" Rainer and all his companions yelled "No!" and laughed. With a start I go up. I felt inspired. There were, that night, in that place I barely remember, many of Röhm's fighters. I made a wide gesture, one that embraced them all and asked: "Would any of you marry a Jew?" Rainer lost his sense of humor, which, that day, in a rare case, was good. Enough silliness, Dieter, he said. And asked (me) where I was going with all this. I well knew that they were all enemies of the Jews and none of them, consequently, would marry one of their infernal, impure women. "Enough!" I exclaimed. "I don't need more." I looked at each, one after the other; their red faces; blond, healthy; strong; warriors; designed for hatred and racial scorn. I said:

Listen to me. I didn't ask my question ignoring how you would answer. Of course, you are SA fighters. You hate Jews, so how could you marry one of their women? Pay attention, comrades. Professor Heidegger has a woman named Elfriede. You all know her. She adhered to National Socialism almost from its origins. And she is fervently anti-Semitic, Actively anti-Semitic, exaltedly anti-Semitic. You ask yourselves if Heidegger is anti-Semitic. How misplaced that question is! And there are philosophers amongst you! What happened? Have you forgotten to think rigorously? Have you forgotten how to tackle and resolve a problem? I don't ask myself if Heidegger is or isn't anti-Semitic. I ask myself: if there were in him some love (tiny as it might be) for the Jews. Would Elfriede Heidegger be his wife? Would he share his life with a woman who had made sense of hers by hating Jews?

And what do you say of the Hannah Arendt fling? Or wasn't that young prostitute a Jew?

Of course! And the Master treated her as such. He gave the Jewess the clandestine, sin. And he gave his German wife his name, his dwelling, he gave her children and he raises them with her for the greatness of Germany.

These exercises, Martin, amused me. It was so simple. Rainer and his ilk didn't know how to think. But they had the hatred I lacked. I don't know if I need to tell you that between Elfriede and Hannah Arendt, I would have chosen Hannah, without asking myself if she was or was not Jewish, without asking myself silly things. How could one waste time on that? Why profit in admiring her intelligence, in enjoying her talent?

All this, painfully, sketched out my loneliness.

Knowledge of the unnamed horror arrived for to me in Argentina. Your father, Martin, through a deed shared with the majority of the German people, had closed his being from that event. I will refrain, where possible, from qualifying it. I think every adjective used is narrow, unjust. Or its insufficiency offends. The situation in which it reached me was so dramatic, so brutal, that it was impossible to harm me further. Because it arrived in fullness, first hand. The listing of the crimes made them for me its assassins. But I get ahead of myself, once again.

The theme, in any case, is death.


How seldom anyone points out that, if the dedication to Husserl had not been removed at that time, the Nazis would not have allowed the publication of the subsequent editions.

However, the author's intention is to tell a story rather than write history. Fiction is as fiction does.
There's an anachronism in this passage. Dieter is discussing the removal of the dedication to Husserl with the SA guys, but it hadn't happened yet. The SA were wiped out in 1934, and the 1935 (4th) edition of S&Z contained the dedication.

MH says he discussed the dedication's removal with the publisher for the 5th edition in 1941.

Further, I don't think this edition ever went to press. I recall reading somewhere that S&Z was not published during the war, because the government body in charge of requisioning and distributing paper didn't authorize it. I haven't been able to track down that tidbit since, so maybe I dreamt it. In any case, it would be interesting of anyone could produce a 5th edition of S&Z, without the Husserl dedication. I've never found one on sale and Google books doesn't have one (today's ontological certitude of the existence of a book).
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