Heidegger and Nazism
The relation between philosopher Martin Heidegger and Nazism is a controversial subject.
Martin Heidegger joined the Nazi Party (NSDAP) on May 1, 1933, nearly three weeks after
being appointed Rector of the University of Freiburg. Heidegger resigned the Rectorship about
one year later, in April 1934, but remained a member of the NSDAP until the end of World War
II. His first act as Rector was to eliminate all democratic structures, including those that had
elected him Rector. There were book burnings on his campus, some of which he successfully
stopped, as well as some student violence.
Since the book Heidegger and Nazism (1987) by Victor Farias, who had access to many
documents, in particular some preserved in the STASI archives, no one denies Heidegger's
historical involvement with Nazism and support of Hitler's policies and person. However,
philosophers disagree on the consequences of this historical responsibility on his philosophy. His
critics, such as Jürgen Habermas, Theodor Adorno, and Hans Jonas, claim that his historical
engagement for the Nazi party derived from his philosophical conceptions.Contents [hide]
Was Heidegger anti-Semitic?
Emmanuel Faye claims Heidegger criticized the "Judaization" ("Verjudung") of German
universities in 1916, and favored instead the promotion of the "German race" ("die deutsche
Rasse"). However, this claim is based on indirect evidence: a non-extant letter of Heidegger's
quoted by Edmund Husserl twenty years later. Faye also claims that Heidegger said of
Spinoza that he was "ein Fremdkörper in der Philosophie", a "foreign body in philosophy" —
Faye notes that Fremdkörper was a term which belonged to Nazi vocabulary, and not to classical
The widow of Ernst Cassirer claimed she had heard of Heidegger's "inclination to anti-Semitism"
by 1929. In June 1933, Karl Jaspers criticized The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a
propaganda book supporting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Jaspers recalled much later that
Heidegger had responded: "But there is a dangerous international alliance of Jews."
There were "rumors" that Heidegger was anti-semitic already in 1932, and he was aware of them,
and vehemently denied them, calling them "slander".
Heidegger's rectorate at the University of Freiburg
The University of Freiburg, where Heidegger was Rector from April 21, 1933, to April 23, 1934
Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. Heidegger was
elected rector of the University of Freiburg on April 21, 1933, and assumed the position the
following day. On May 1 he joined the Nazi Party. He sent a public telegram to Hitler on May
While he was rector, Heidegger implemented the Gleichschaltung totalitarian policy, suppressing
all opposition to the government. According to Emmanuel Faye, Heidegger, along with Ernst
Krieck and Alfred Baeumler, spearheaded the "conservative revolution" promoted by the
However, Heidegger's tenure as rector was fraught with difficulties. Some National Socialist
education officials viewed him as a rival, while others saw his efforts as comical. Some of
Heidegger's fellow National Socialists also ridiculed his philosophical writings as gibberish. He
finally offered his resignation on April 23, 1934, and it was accepted on April 27. Heidegger
remained a member of both the academic faculty and of the Nazi Party until the end of the war.
Philosophical historian Hans Sluga wrote:
Though as rector he prevented students from displaying an anti-Semitic poster at the entrance to
the university and from holding a book burning, he kept in close contact with the Nazi student
leaders and clearly signaled to them his sympathy with their activism.
In 1945 Heidegger wrote of his term as rector, giving the writing to his son Hermann; it was
published in 1983:
The rectorate was an attempt to see something in the movement that had come to power, beyond
all its failings and crudeness, that was much more far-reaching and that could perhaps one day
bring a concentration on the Germans' Western historical essence. It will in no way be denied that
at the time I believed in such possibilities and for that reason renounced the actual vocation of
thinking in favor of being effective in an official capacity. In no way will what was caused by my
own inadequacy in office be played down. But these points of view do not capture what is
essential and what moved me to accept the rectorate.
Heidegger's inaugural address as rector of Freiburg, the "Rektoratsrede", was entitled "The Self-
Assertion of the German University". This speech has become notorious as a visible
endorsement of Nazism by Heidegger, giving the blessing of his philosophy to the new political
In this speech, Heidegger declared that "science must become the power that shapes the body of
the German university." But by "science" he meant "the primordial and full essence of science",
which he defined as "engaged knowledge about the people and about the destiny of the state that
keeps itself in readiness [...] at one with the spiritual mission."
He went on to link this concept of "science" with a historical struggle of the German people:
The will to the essence of the German university is the will to science as will to the historical
spiritual mission of the German people as a people [Volk] that knows itself in its state [Staat].
Together, science and German destiny must come to power in the will to essence. And they will
do so and only will do so, if we – teachers and students – on the one hand, expose science to its
innermost necessity and, on the other hand, are able to stand our ground while German destiny is
in its most extreme distress.
Heidegger also linked the concept of a people with "blood and soil" in a way that would now be
regarded as characteristic of Nazism:
The spiritual world of a people is not the superstructure of a culture any more than it is an armory
filled with useful information and values; it is the power that most deeply preserves the people’s
earth- and blood-bound strengths as the power that most deeply arouses and most profoundly
shakes the people’s existence.
The speech ended with a call for the German people to "will itself" and "fulfill its historical
But no one will even ask us whether we do or do not will, when the spiritual strength of the West
fails and its joints crack, when this moribund semblance of a culture caves in and drags all forces
into confusion and lets them suffocate in madness.
Whether this will or will not happen depends solely on whether we, as a historical-spiritual
people, still and once again will ourselves – or whether we no longer will ourselves. Each
individual participates in this decision even when, and especially when, he evades it.
But we do will that our people fulfill its historical mission.
Speech to Heidelberg Student Association
In June 1933, Heidegger gave a speech to the Student Association at the university of
Heidelberg, in which he gave clear form to his views on the need for state control of the
university, "in the National Socialist spirit" and free from "humanizing, Christian ideas":
We have the new Reich and the university that is to receive its tasks from the Reich’s will to
existence. There is revolution in Germany, and we must ask ourselves: Is there revolution at the
university as well? No. The battle still consists of skirmishes. So far, a breakthrough has only
been achieved on one front: because new life is being educated (durch die Bildung neuen
Lebens) in the work camp and educational association (Erziehungsverband) as well as at the
university, the latter has been relieved of educational tasks to which it has till now believed it had
an exclusive right.
The possibility could exist that the university will suffer death through oblivion and forfeit the
last vestige of its educational power. It must, however, be integrated again into the
Volksgemeinschaft and be joined together with the State. The university must again become an
educational force that draws on knowledge to educate the State’s leaders to knowledge. This goal
demands three things: 1. knowledge of today’s university; 2. knowledge of the dangers today
holds for the future; 3. new courage.
Up to now, research and teaching have been carried on at the universities as they were for
decades. Teaching was supposed to develop out of research, and one sought to find a pleasant
balance between the two. It was always only the point of view of the teacher that spoke out of
this notion. No one had concerned himself with the university as community. Research got out of
hand and concealed its uncertainty behind the idea of international scientific and scholarly
progress. Teaching that had become aimless hid behind examination requirements.
A fierce battle must be fought against this situation in the National Socialist spirit, and this spirit
cannot be allowed to be suffocated by humanizing, Christian ideas that suppress its
Danger comes not from work for the State. It comes only from indifference and resistance. For
that reason, only true strength should have access to the right path, but not halfheartedness. [...]
The new teaching which is at issue here does not mean conveying knowledge, but allowing
students to learn and inducing them to learn. This means allowing oneself to be beset by the
unknown and then becoming master of it in comprehending knowing; it means becoming secure
in one's sense of what is essential. It is from such teaching that true research emerges, interlocked
with the whole through its rootedness in the people and its bond to the state. The student is forced
out into the uncertainty of all things, in which the necessity of engagement is grounded.
University study must again become a risk, not a refuge for the cowardly. Whoever does not
survive the battle, lies where he falls. The new courage must accustom itself to steadfastness, for
the battle for the institutions where our leaders are educated will continue for a long time. It will
be fought out of the strengths of the new Reich that Chancellor Hitler will bring to reality. A hard
race with no thought of self must fight this battle, a race that lives from constant testing and that
remains directed toward the goal to which it has committed itself. It is a battle to determine who
shall be the teachers and leaders at the university.
Denounced or demoted non-Nazis
Heidegger also denounced or demoted several colleagues for being insufficiently committed to
the Nazi cause.
On September 29, 1933, Heidegger leaked information to the local minister of education that the
chemist Hermann Staudinger had been a pacifist during World War I. Heidegger knew this
would cost Staudinger his job. The Gestapo investigated the matter and confirmed Heidegger's
tip. Asked for his recommendation as rector of the university, Heidegger secretly urged the
ministry to fire Staudinger without a pension.
Heidegger also denounced his former friend Eduard Baumgarten in a letter to the head of the
organization of Nazi professors at the university of Göttingen, where Baumgarten had been
teaching. In the letter, Heidegger called Baumgarten "anything but a National-Socialist" and
underlined his links to "the Heidelberg circle of liberal-democratic intellectuals around Max
The Catholic intellectual Max Müller was a member of the inner circle of Heidegger's most
gifted students from 1928 to 1933. But Müller stopped attending Heidegger's lectures when
Heidegger joined the Nazi party in May 1933. Seven months later, Heidegger fired Müller from
his position as a student leader because Müller was "not politically appropriate." Then in 1938
Müller discovered that Heidegger had blocked him from getting a teaching position at Freiburg
by informing the university administration that Müller was "unfavorably disposed" toward the
Attitude towards Jews
On November 3, 1933, Heidegger issued a decree applying the Nazi racial policies to the
students of Freiburg university. These laws meant that Jews were now indirectly and directly
dissuaded or banned from privileged and superior positions reserved for “Aryan Germans”.
Heidegger announced that economic aid would henceforth be awarded to students who belonged
to the SS, the SA, or other military groups but would be denied to "Jewish or Marxist students"
or anyone who fit the description of a "non-Aryan" in Nazi law.
After 1933, Heidegger declined to direct the doctoral dissertations of Jewish students: he sent all
those students to his Catholic colleague Professor Martin Honecker. And in his letter denouncing
Baumgarten, cited above, Heidegger wrote that "after failing with me" [not as a student but as a
friend!], Baumgarten "frequented, very actively, the Jew Fränkel" -- i.e. Eduard Fränkel, a noted
professor of classics at Freiburg.
Nonetheless, Heidegger also intervened as rector to help several Jewish colleagues. He wrote
appeals in defense of three Jewish professors, including Fränkel, all of whom were about to be
fired for racial reasons. Heidegger also helped certain Jewish students and colleagues to
emigrate, including his assistant Werner Brock, who found a position in England with
Attitude towards his mentor Husserl
Beginning in 1917, the philosopher Edmund Husserl championed Heidegger's work, and helped
him secure the retiring Husserl's chair in Philosophy at the University of Freiburg.
On April 6, 1933, the Reichskommissar of Baden Province, Robert Wagner, suspended all
Jewish government employees, including present and retired faculty at the University of
Freiburg. Husserl, who was born Jewish and was an adult convert to Lutheran Christianity, was
affected by this law. But Heidegger did not become Rector until April 22, so it was Heidegger's
predecessor as Rector who formally notified Husserl of his "enforced leave of absence" on April
14, 1933. Then, the week after Heidegger's election, the national Reich law of April 28, 1933
came into effect, overriding Wagner's decree, and requiring that all Jewish professors from
German universities, including those who had converted to Christianity, be fired. The termination
of Husserl's academic privileges thus did not involve any specific action on Heidegger's part.
Heidegger had by then broken off contact with Husserl, other than through intermediaries.
Heidegger later claimed that his relationship with Husserl had already become strained after
Husserl publicly "settled accounts" with Heidegger and Max Scheler in the early 1930s.
There is no truth to the oft-repeated story that during Heidegger's time as Rector, the University
denied Husserl access to the university library. However, in 1941, under pressure from publisher
Max Niemeyer, Heidegger did agree to remove the dedication to Husserl from Being and Time.
The dedication was restored in post-war editions.
Heidegger did not attend his former mentor's cremation in 1938. 
Support for the "Fuhrer principle"
According to Emmanuel Faye, Heidegger supported the "necessity of a Führer" for Germany as
early as 1918. In a number of speeches in November 1933, Heidegger endorsed the
Fuhrerprinzip ("leader principle"), i.e., the principle that the Führer is the embodiment of the
people - a kind of absolute monarch. For example in one speech Heidegger stated:
Let not propositions and 'ideas' be the rules of your being (Sein). The Fuhrer alone is the present
and future German reality and its law. Learn to know ever more deeply: that from now on every
single thing demands decision, and every action responsibility. Heil Hitler!
In another speech a few days later Heidegger said:
The German people has been summoned by the Fuhrer to vote; the Fuhrer, however, is asking
nothing from the people; rather, he is giving the people the possibility of making, directly, the
highest free decision of all: whether it - the entire people - wants its own existence (Dasein), or
whether it does not want it. [...] On November 12, the German people as a whole will choose its
future, and this future is bound to the Fuhrer. [...] There are not separate foreign and domestic
policies. There is only one will to the full existence (Dasein) of the State. The Fuhrer has
awakened this will in the entire people and has welded it into a single resolve.
In late November Heidegger gave a conference at the University of Tübingen, organized by the
students of the university and the Kampfbund, the local Nazi party section. In this address he
argued for a revolution in knowledge, a revolution which would displace the traditional idea that
the university should be independent of the state:
We have witnessed a revolution. The state has transformed itself. This revolution was not the
advent of a power pre-existing in the bosom of the state or of a political party. The national-
socialist revolution means rather the radical transformation of German existence. [...] However,
in the university, not only has the revolution not yet achieved its aims, it has not even
Heidegger addressed some of these remarks in the 1966 "Der Spiegel" interview, "Only a God
Can Save Us" (see section below). In that interview, he stated: "I would no longer write
[such things] today. Such things as that I stopped saying by 1934."
However Hans Jonas, a former student of Heidegger's, argues in a recent book that Heidegger's
endorsement of the "Fuhrer principle" stemmed from his philosophy and was consistent with it:
But as to Heidegger's being, it is an occurrence of unveiling, a fate-laden happening upon
thought: so was the Führer and the call of German destiny under him: an unveiling of something
indeed, a call of being all right, fate-laden in every sense: neither then nor now did Heidegger's
thought provide a norm by which to decide how to answer such calls—liguistically or otherwise:
no norm except depth, resolution, and the sheer force of being that issues the call.
Resignation from rectorship
According to the historian Richard J. Evans,
By the beginning of 1934, there were reports in Berlin that Heidegger had established himself as
'the philosopher of National Socialism'. But to other Nazi thinkers, Heidegger's philosophy
appeared too abstract, too difficult, to be of much use. [...] Though his intervention was
welcomed by many Nazis, on closer inspection such ideas did not really seem to be in tune with
the Party's. It is not surprising that his enemies were able to enlist the support of Alfred
Rosenberg, whose own ambition it was to be the philosopher of Nazism himself. Denied a role at
the national level, and increasingly frustrated with the minutiae of academic politics - which
seemed to him to betray a sad absence of the new spirit he had hoped would permeate the
universities - Heidegger resigned his post in April 1934.
After he resigned from the rectorship, Heidegger withdrew from political activity, but without
canceling his membership in the Nazi party. References to National Socialism continued to
appear in his work, usually in ambiguous ways.
In a 1935 lecture, Heidegger referred to the "inner truth and greatness of this movement" - that is,
of National Socialism. This lecture was published in 1953 under the title An Introduction to
Metaphysics. In the published version, Heidegger added a parenthetical qualification: "(namely,
the confrontation of planetary technology and modern humanity)". However, Heidegger did not
mention that this qualification was added at the time of publication, and was not part of the
original lecture. This raised concerns in post-Nazi Germany that Heidegger was
distinguishing a "good Nazism" from a "bad Nazism", a contention supported by his
philosophical opponents, including Bauemler. The controversial page of the
1935 manuscript is missing from the Heidegger Archives in Marbach. In this same course,
Heidegger criticized both Russia and the United States for "the same dreary technological
frenzy," calling Germany "the most metaphysical of nations."
Heidegger defended himself during the denazification period by claiming he had opposed the
philosophical bases of Nazism, especially biologism and the Nazi interpretation of Nietzsche's
The Will to Power. However, in a 1936 lecture, Heidegger still sounded rather ambiguous as to
whether Nietzsche's thought was compatible with Nazism, or at least with that hypothetical
"good Nazism": "The two men who, each in his own way, have introduced a counter movement
to nihilism — Mussolini and Hitler — have learned from Nietzsche, each in an essentially
different way. But even with that, Nietzsche's authentic metaphysical domain has not yet come
unto its own."
In private notes from 1939, published recently, Heidegger took stronger exception to Hitler:
under the heading "Truth and Usefulness", he critiqued Hitler's statement, "There is no attitude,
which could not be ultimately justified by the ensuing usefulness for the totality." Heidegger's
notes record the following critical comments:
Who makes up this totality? (Eighty million-strong extant human mass? Does its extantness
assign to this human mass the right to the claim on a continued existence?)
How is this totality determined? What is its goal? Is it itself the goal of all goals? Why? Wherein
lies the justification for this goal-setting? [...]
Why is usefulness the criterion for the legitmacy of a human attitude? On what is this principle
From where does the appeal to usefulness as the measure of truth acquire its comprehensibility?
Does comprehensibility justify legitimacy?
However, in a 1942 lecture (published posthumously), Heidegger was once again ambiguous on
the subject of Nazism. During a discussion of recent German classics scholarship he said: "In the
majority of 'research results', the Greeks appear as pure National Socialists. This overenthusiasm
on the part of academics seems not even to notice that with such "results" it does National
Socialism and its historical uniqueness no service at all, not that it needs this anyhow.
In the same lectures he commented on America's entry into World War II, in a way that seems to
identify his philosophy with the Nazi cause:
"The entry of America into this planetary war is not an entry into history. No, it is already the last
American act of America's history-lessness and self-destruction. This act is the renunciation of
the Origin. It is a decision for lack-of-Origin."
Karl Löwith was a student of Heidegger's, and in 1933 Heidegger helped him to obtain a
fellowship to study in Rome, where he lived between 1934 and 1936. Heidegger visited
Rome in 1936 to lecture on Hölderlin, and had a meeting with Löwith. In an account set down in
1940 and not intended for publication, Löwith noted that Heidegger was wearing a swastika pin,
even though he knew that Löwith was Jewish. Löwith recounted their discussion about editorials
published in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:
He left no doubt about his faith in Hitler; only two things that he had underestimated: the vitality
of the Christian churches and the obstacles to the Anschluss in Austria. Now, as before, he was
convinced that National Socialism was the prescribed path for Germany.
[I] told him that [...] my opinion was that his taking the side of National Socialism was in
agreement with the essence of his philosophy. Heidegger told me unreservedly that I was right
and developed his idea by saying that his idea of historicity [Geschichtlichkeit] was the
foundation for his political involvement.
Löwith went on to say:
In response to my remark that I could understand many things about his attitude, with one
exception, which was that he would permit himself to be seated at the same table with a figure
such as Julius Streicher (at the German Academy of Law), he was silent at first. At last he uttered
this well-known rationalisation (which Karl Barth saw so clearly), which amounted to saying that
"it all would have been much worse if some men of knowledge had not been involved." And with
a bitter resentment towards people of culture, he concluded his statement: "If these gentlemen
had not considered themselves too refined to become involved, things would have been different,
but I had to stay in there alone." To my reply that one did not have to be very refined to refuse to
work with a Streicher, he answered that it was useless to discuss Streicher; Der Stürmer was
nothing more than "pornography." Why didn't Hitler get rid of this sinister individual? He didn't
For commentators such as Habermas who credit Löwith's account, there are a number of
generally shared implications: one is that Heidegger did not turn away from National Socialism
per se but became deeply disaffected with the official philosophy and ideology of the party, as
embodied by Alfred Bäumler or Alfred Rosenberg, whose biologistic racist doctrines he never
During the hearings of the Denazification Committee, Hannah Arendt, Heidegger's former
student and lover, who was Jewish, spoke on his behalf. (Arendt very cautiously resumed her
friendship with Heidegger after the war, despite or even because of the widespread contempt for
Heidegger and his political sympathies, and despite his being forbidden to teach for many years.)
Heidegger's former friend Karl Jaspers spoke against him, suggesting he would have a
detrimental influence on German students because of his powerful teaching presence.
In September 1945, the Denazification Committee published its report on Heidegger. He was
charged on four counts: his important, official position, in the Nazi regime; his introduction of
the Führerprinzip into the University; his engaging in Nazi propaganda and his incitement of
students against "reactionary" professors. He was subsequently dismissed from university the
same year. In March 1949, he was declared a "fellow traveller" ("Mitläufer") of Nazism by the
State Commission for Political Purification. But he was reintegrated in 1951, given emeritus
status, and continued teaching until 1976. In 1974, he wrote to his friend Heinrich Petzet: "Our
Europe is being ruined from below with 'democracy.'".
Thomas Sheehan has noted "Heidegger's stunning silence concerning the Holocaust," in contrast
to his criticism of the alienation wrought by modern technologies: "We have his statements about
the six millions unemployed at the beginning of the Nazi regime, but not a word about the six
million who were dead at the end of it." Heidegger did not publish anything concerning the
Holocaust or the extermination camps, but did mention them. In a 1949 lecture entitled "Das
Gestell" ("Enframing"), he stated:
Agriculture is now a motorized food-industry — in essence, the same as the manufacturing of
corpses in gas chambers and extermination camps, the same as the blockading and starving of
nations [the Berlin blockade was then active], the same as the manufacture of hydrogen
Commentators differ on whether these statements are evidence of a profound disregard for the
fate of the Jews or rather, a recontextualization of their suffering in terms of the mechanization of
life and death. Heidegger's defenders have pointed to the deep ecology dimension of Heidegger's
critique of technological "enframing" - i.e., that the way human beings relate to nature has a
determining influence on the way we relate to one another. However, this is clearly not a
conventional reaction to genocide. Moreover, many of those who align themselves with
Heidegger philosophically have pointed out that in his own work on "being-towards-death", we
can recognize a much more salient criticism of what was wrong with the mass-produced murder
of a people. Thinkers as diverse as Giorgio Agamben and Judith Butler have made this point
sympathetically. It might be worth pointing out that the SS physician Josef Mengele, the so
called "Angel of Death", was the son of the founder of a company that produced major farm
machinery under the name Karl Mengele & Sons.
This side of Heidegger's thinking can be seen in another controversial lecture from the same
period, "Die Gefahr" ("The Danger"):
Hundreds of thousands die en masse. Do they die? They succumb. They are done in. Do they
die? They become mere quanta, items in an inventory in the business of manufacturing corpses.
Do they die? They are liquidated inconspicuously in extermination camps. And even apart from
that, right now millions of impoverished people are perishing from hunger in China.
But to die is to endure death in its essence. To be able to die means to be capable of this
endurance. We are capable of this only if the essence of death makes our own essence
In other words, according to Heidegger, the victims of death camps were deprived not only of
their life, but of the dignity of an authentic death, since they were "liquidated" as if they were
inventory or problematic accounting, rather than killed in combat as one would kill an enemy.
Another citation levied against Heidegger by his critics, is his answer to a question by his former
student Herbert Marcuse, concerning his silence about the Nazi racial policies. In a letter to
Marcuse he wrote:
I can add only that instead of the word "Jews" [in your letter] there should be the word "East
Germans," and then exactly the same [terror] holds true of one of the Allies, with the difference
that everything that has happened since 1945 is public knowledge world-wide, whereas the
bloody terror of the Nazis was in fact kept a secret from the German people.
The reference to East Germans concerns the expulsion of Germans after World War II from
territories across eastern Europe, which displaced about 15 million people and killed between 0.5
and 2 million, involved gang-rapes throughout East Germany, East Prussia, and Austria, and
harshly punitive de-industrialization policies. Heidegger was correct that the mass-murder of
Jews was not known to the German people during the war; however, antisemitic legislation and
deportation of Jews was common knowledge, as was the "bloody terror of the Nazis" in many
Der Spiegel interview
In 1966, Heidegger gave an interview to Der Spiegel magazine, in which he agreed to
discuss his political past provided that the interview be published posthumously. At his own
insistence, Heidegger edited the published version of the interview extensively. In the interview,
Heidegger defends his involvement with the Nazi party on two points: first, that he was trying to
save the university from being completely taken over by the Nazis, and therefore he tried to work
with them. Second, he saw in the historic moment the possibility for an "awakening"
("Aufbruch") which might help to find a "new national and social approach" to the problem of
Germany's future, a kind of middle ground between capitalism and communism. For example,
when Heidegger talked about a "national and social approach" to political problems, he linked
this to Friedrich Naumann. According to Thomas Sheehan, Naumann had the "vision of a strong
nationalism and a militantly anticommunist socialism, combined under a charismatic leader who
would fashion a middle-European empire that preserved the spirit and tradition of pre-industrial
Germany even as it appropriated, in moderation, the gains of modern technology."
After 1934, Heidegger claims in the interview, he was more critical of the Nazi government,
largely prompted by the violence of the Night of the Long Knives. When the interviewers asked
him about the 1935 lecture in which he had referred to the "inner truth and greatness of [the
national socialist] movement" (i.e., the lecture now incorporated into the book Introduction to
Metaphysics, see above), Heidegger said that he used this phrase so that Nazi informants who
observed his lectures would understand him to be praising National Socialism, but his dedicated
students would know this statement was no elegy for the Nazi party. Rather, he meant it as he
expressed it in the parenthetical clarification added in 1953, namely, as "the confrontation of
planetary technology and modern humanity."
However, Karl Löwith's account of his meeting with Heidegger in 1936 (discussed above) has
been cited to refute these contention. According to Lowith, Heidegger did not make any decisive
break with National Socialism in 1934, and Heidegger was willing to entertain more profound
relations between his philosophy and political involvement, than he would subsequently admit.
The Der Spiegel interviewers were not in possession of most of the evidence for Heidegger's
Nazi sympathies now known, and thus their questions did not press too strongly on those points.
In particular, the Der Spiegel interviewers did not bring up Heidegger's 1949 quotation
comparing the industrialization of agriculture to the extermination camps.
Meeting with Paul Celan
In 1967 Heidegger met with the poet Paul Celan, a Jew who had survived concentration camps
operated by the Nazis' Romanian allies. On July 24 Celan gave a reading at the University of
Freiburg, attended by Heidegger. Heidegger there presented Celan with a copy of What is Called
Thinking?, and invited him to visit him at his hut at Todtnauberg, an invitation which Celan
accepted. On July 25 Celan visited Heidegger at his retreat, signing the guestbook and spending
some time walking and talking with Heidegger. The details of their conversation are not known,
but the meeting was the subject of a subsequent poem by Celan, entitled "Todtnauberg" (dated
August 1, 1967). The enigmatic poem and the encounter have been discussed by numerous
writers on Heidegger and Celan, notably Lacoue-Labarthe. A common interpretation of the poem
is that it concerns, in part, Celan's wish for Heidegger to apologize for Heidegger's behavior
during the Nazi era.
Political Texts - Rectoral Addresses
Der Spiegel Interview
Karl Löwith My Last Meeting with Heidegger
The Will to Power
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Thomas Sheehan, "Heidegger and the Nazis", a review of
Victor Farias' Heidegger et le nazisme, in The New York Review of Books, Vol. XXXV, n°10,
June 16, 1988, pp.38-47
^ a b Emmanuel Faye, Heidegger: The introduction of Nazism into Philosophy (Paris, 2005;
English translation Yale, 2009). See Nazi Foundations in Heidegger's Work, South Central
Review, Volume 23, Number 1, Spring 2006, pp. 55-66
^ Martin Heidegger, Letter to Elfride Heidegger of 18 October 1916, quoted by Husserl in his
Letter to Dietrich Manke of May 1935 (quoted by E. Faye)
^ Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger, Letters, 1925 - 1975 (Harcourt, 2004), letter no. 45.
^ Hans Sluga, Heidegger's Crisis: Philosophy and Politics in Nazi Germany (Cambridge,
Massachusetts, & London: Harvard University Press, 1993), p. 149.
^ Heidegger, "The Rectorate 1933/34: Facts and Thoughts", in Günther Neske & Emil Kettering
(eds.), Martin Heidegger and National Socialism: Questions and Answers (New York: Paragon
House, 1990), p. 29.
^ a b c d e M. Heidegger, "The Self-Assertion of the German University", rectoral address at the
university of Freiburg, 1933. English version translated by Karston Harries, Review of
Metaphysics 38 (March 1985): p.467-502. See also G. Neske and E. Kettering (eds), Martin
Heidegger and National Socialism, New York: Paragon House, 1990, pp. 5-13; see also R.
Wolin, ed., The Heidegger Controversy (MIT Press, 1993).
^ Martin Heidegger, “The University in the New Reich”, speech given on June 30, 1933. English
translation in Richard Wolin, The Heidegger Controversy: A Critical Reader, ed. Richard Wolin,
Cambridge: MIT Press, 1998, pp. 44-45
^ Dermot Moran, Introduction to Phenomenology, p. 499
^ Hugo Ott, Heidegger: A Political Life (London: Harper Collins, 1993), p. 187.
^ Seyla Benhabib, The Reluctant Modernism Of Hannah Arendt (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003,
^ Seyla Benhabib, The Personal is not the Political (October/November 1999 issue of Boston
^ Martin Heidegger, "Der Spiegel Interview", in Günther Neske & Emil Kettering (eds.), Martin
Heidegger and National Socialism: Questions and Answers (New York: Paragon House, 1990),
^ a b Rüdiger Safranski, Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil (Cambridge, Mass., &
London: Harvard University Press, 1998), pp. 253-8.
^ Martin Heidegger, "German Students", a speech delivered on 3 November 1933 at Freiburg
university. English translation in R. Wolin, ed., The Heidegger Controversy (MIT Press, 1993),
^ Martin Heidegger, "German Men and Women!", a speech delivered on 10 November 1933 at
Freiburg university; printed in the Freiburger Studentenzeitung, November 10, 1933. English
translation in R. Wolin, ed., The Heidegger Controversy (MIT Press, 1993), chapter 2.
^ Martin Heidegger, conference of 30 November 1933 at the university of Tubingen. Cited by
Victor Farias, Heidegger and Nazism (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989)
^ a b Martin Heidegger, "Only a God Can Save Us" (1966), in R. Wolin, ed., The Heidegger
Controversy (MIT Press, 1993)
^ Hans Jonas: "Heidegger and Theology" The Phenomenon of Life: Toward a Philosophical
Biology (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 2001), p. 247 ISBN 0-8101-1749-5
^ Richard J. Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich, Penguin Books, 2003, p.421-422
^ Jurgen Habermas, "Work and Weltanschauung: the Heidegger Controversy from a German
Perspective," Critical Inquiry 15:2 (Winter 1989), pp. 452-254. Habermas cites a letter to him
from Rainer Marten dated January 28, 1988.
^ Martin Heidegger, notes on a course on Schelling, text omitted from the published version of
the course, but cited by Carl Ulmer in Der Spiegel (May 2, 1977), p. 10. (Cited by Sheehan, op.
^ Martin Heidegger, Mindfulness (Continuum, 2006), section 47.
^ Heidegger, Hölderlin's Hymn "The Ister" (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University
Press, 1996), pp. 79–80. Also cited in part by Sheehan, op. cit.
^ Martin Heidegger, Hölderlin's Hymn "The Ister" (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana
University Press, 1996), pp. 79-80. Also cited in part by Sheehan, op. cit.
^ Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger, Letters, 1925 - 1975 (Harcourt, 2004), letter no. 45, note
^ a b Karl Löwith, "My last meeting with Heidegger in Rome", in R. Wolin, ed., The Heidegger
Controversy (MIT Press, 1993).
^ e.g. see Michael Zimmerman, "Heidegger, Buddhism, and deep ecology" in C. Guignon, ed.,
The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger (Cambridge University Press, 1993).
^ Alfred de Zayas, A Terrible Revenge: The Ethnic Cleansing of the East European Germans,
1944-1950, (New York: Palgrave/Macmillan, 1994, 2006).
^ For critical readings of the interview, see the "Special Feature on Heidegger and Nazism" in
Critical Inquiry 15:2 (Winter 1989), particularly the contributions by Jürgen Habermas ("Work
and Weltanschauung: The Heidegger Controversy from a German Perspective", translated by
John McCumber) and Blanchot. The issue includes partial translations of Derrida's Of Spirit and
Lacoue-Labarthe's Heidegger, Art, and Politics: the Fiction of the Political.
^ John Felstiner, Paul Celan: Poet, Survivor, Jew, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995, p.
Jacques Derrida, "Heidegger, l'enfer des philosophes", Le Nouvel Observateur, Paris, 6-12
Victor Farias, Heidegger and Nazism, Temple University Press (1989) ISBN 0-87722-640-7
Emmanuel Faye, Heidegger, l'introduction du nazisme dans la philosophie, Albin Michel, 2005
François Fédier, Heidegger. Anatomie d'un scandale, Robert Laffont, Paris, 1988. ISBN 2-221-
François Fédier (ed.), Martin Heidegger, Écrits politiques 1933-1966, Gallimard, Paris, 1995.
François Fédier (ed.), Heidegger, à plus forte raison, Paris : Fayard, 2007
Luc Ferry & Alain Renaut (1988). Heidegger et les Modernes, Gallimard, 1988
Luc Ferry & Alain Renaut, Système et critique, Ousia, Bruxelles, 1992
Dominique Janicaud, L'ombre de cette pensée, Jerôme Millon, 1990
Hans Jonas: "Heidegger and Theology", The Phenomenon of Life: Toward a Philosophical
Biology (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 2001) ISBN 0-8101-1749-5
Hans Köchler, Politik und Theologie bei Heidegger. Politischer Aktionismus und theologische
Mystik nach "Sein und Zeit". Innsbruck: AWP, 1991. ISBN 3-900719-02-0
Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, La fiction du politique, Bourgois, 1987 (translated as Heidegger, Art
Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe discusses Heidegger's Nazism at length in the film, The Ister, 2004
George Leaman, Heidegger im Kontext: Gesamtüberblick zum NS-Engagement der
Universitätsphilosophen, Argument Verlag, Hamburg, 1993. ISBN 3-88619-205-9
Jean-François Lyotard, Heidegger and the Jews, 1990
Günther Neske & Emil Kettering (eds.), Martin Heidegger and National Socialism: Questions
and Answers, 1990.
Ernst Nolte Martin Heidegger: Politik und Geschichte im Leben und Denken, Propyläen, 1992
Hugo Ott, Martin Heidegger : A Political Life, transl. by A. Blunden, New York : Basic, 1993.
Jean-Michel Palmier, Les Écrits politiques de Heidegger, Éditions de l'Herne, Paris, 1968
Tom Rockmore, On Heidegger's Nazism and Philosophy, University of California Press, 1992.
Rüdiger Safranski, Martin Heidegger : Between Good and Evil, transl. by E. Osers, Harvard
University Press : 1999.
Guido Schneeberger: Nachlese zu Heidegger: Dokumente zu seinem Leben und Denken (Bern,
1962) OCLC 2086368
Hans Sluga, Heidegger's Crisis: Philosophy and Politics in Nazi Germany
Richard Wolin, The Heidegger Controversy: A Critical Reader, 1990 ISBN 0-262-73101-0.