Heidegger notebooks reveal antisemitism at core of his thinking

By Toby Axelrod, March 20, 2014
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His membership of the Nazi party was no secret. But now, the renowned German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) has been unveiled as indisputably antisemitic with the publication of his “black notebooks”.

Released last week by philosopher Peter Trawny, director of the Martin Heidegger Institute at the University of Wuppertal, the notebooks — philosophical musings written up in a journal kept from 1939-1941 — contain observations that leave experts with no doubts about his views.

Some passages resemble the spewings of Nazi propaganda chief Josef Goebbels and the rabidly antisemitic publisher Julius Streicher.

In excerpts published last week in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Heidegger wrote in 1941: “World Jewry, spurred on by emigrants who were allowed to leave Germany, is ungraspable wherever it may be, and, with all its unfolding power, does not need to participate in war.”

In 1939, he wrote: “With their special computational talents, Jews have lived longest according to the racial principle which is also why they are most vehemently opposed to the full application [of this principle].”

After he became rector of the University of Freiburg in 1933, Heidegger destroyed the careers of colleagues who were anti-Nazi or Jewish, including that of his former professor, Edmund Husserl, who was Jewish. Mr Trawny said: “Every student who really wants to deal with Heidegger will have to deal with the problem of the relation between philosophy and antisemitism.”

Last updated: 11:57am, March 20 2014