Heidegger and Nazism
by Farías, Víctor (1989)
In part, the importance o f the book depends on the importance attributed to Heidegger, who, as this century draws to a close, looms ever larger as one o f the principal philosophers o f our age— perhaps, as some argue, the author o f the most important philosophical work since Hegel’s Phenomenology. There is no question that Heidegger is a most significant thinker, although the nature o f his contribution has been called into serious question since the end o f World War II because o f his link to Nazism. Heidegger stands before us as a singular case, philosophically sui generis, the source o f one o f the most influential currents o f philosophical thought in our century, the only major thinker to opt for Nazism, the main example o f absolute evil in our time— possibly o f any time. The combination is without any known historical precedent.
The administrative changes adopted by Heidegger were completed by a series o f measures intended to make adjustments in the lives o f the students, whose habits up to 19 33 were to live an easy life with no thought other than professional and material success, concerns now judged decadent and individualistic. The eagerness with which Heidegger took on this task in a university where the students were almost entirely from the middle and working classes is certainly a sign o f his decision to impose the nationalist program in its most radical populist variant. Wolfgang Kreutzberger has brought out clearly how the social origins o f the Freiburg students worked against the rector’s decision. The actual participation o f the students in voluntary work was in fact o f little account. The majority o f those attached to this service belonged to the least favored classes and frequently demanded as a condition o f their participation that the work details have some connection with their professional training. At the same time, they refused to do any “ nasty work.” Most often those who “volunteered” were moved more by anti-internationalist ideas and National Socialist convictions than by any-identification with the working classes. Heidegger saw in this transformation o f student life— which would be attained thanks to its concrete links with the world o f work—the accomplishment o f one o f the points o f the SA program. This is clearly stated in his speech o f November 26, 1933, “T h e German Student as Worker,“ delivered during registration. The ceremony and the speech were broadcast and elicited much commentary on the radio at Frankfurt, Freiburg, Trier, Cologne. Stuttgart, and Mühlacker.36 T h e new student does not become a student (of the state), Heidegger says, simply by the fact o f his entry into the university, nor by other connections thereby made with the state, but by his integration through “work service, with the SA .” “The new German student proceeds through work service; he is in the SA .” 37 The true sense o f the service to knowledge is to integrate the student into the “ workers’ front.” It is only by becoming a “ worker” that the student can authentically become tied to the state, “ because the National Socialist state is a workers’ state” (Arbeiterstaat).38 This speech, in fact a statement o f principles, finds its complement in the article “The Appeal to Work Service,” published by the student paper on Jan u ary 23, 1934.39 This article was printed alongside another one that defended the book- burning organized by the immediate political superiors o f those editing the Deutsche Studentenzeitung. The fires lit to burn books “ written by Jew s are fires against intellectual delinquents; they will not burn out until the last o f their writings will become ashes, until the last o f the parasites who wrote them will be interned in a work camp, and when these beasts will be clean and shaven.” 1*0Heidegger’s article is meaningful in political-historical and philosophical terms. According to the spirit o f the variant National Socialism he is defending, Heidegger develops and transforms a series o f themes that he had treated in a general and abstract manner in Being and Time:-The new educational mode o f our German youth proceeds through work service.Such service affords a basic experience o f toughness, o f closeness to earth and tools, o f the rigor and severity o f the most simple physical work, and thereby o f what is most essential within the group.41-In this way Heidegger reconsiders the relationship between existence (Dasein) and world (Welt) by linking them in terms o f one’s proximity to the earth at the same time he finds a new way o f explaining the meaning o f “ tool” (Zeug, Zuhandenes) and the data o f immediate experience (Vorhandenes). When Heidegger affirmed in Being and Time that the tool as such would disappear precisely in order to become efficient, he had to specify its nature within a form o f inauthentic existence. The possibility o f an authentic “ use” o f tools, not developed in Being and Time, now appears to be grounded in that cognitive and transcendental act that is public service. (p.121)
KeywordsHeidegger, Student, Academic Work, Nazi, National Socialism
Links to Reference
- https://books.google.com.au › bookshttps://books.google.com.au › books
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