Heidegger’s Notebooks Renew Focus on Anti-Semitism


Martin Heidegger was a brilliant German philosopher and the founder of existentialism. He was also a member of the Nazi Party; and thought by many to have been a convinced anti-Semite.

Apparently, this last has long been a matter of academic and historical controversy. Reading the following I learned a new term which almost made me laugh, “Nazi of convenience.” Kind of like saying Gunter Grass was an “SS soldier of convenience.”


I don’t much about Heidegger, just that he was a brilliant philosopher and a Nazi which seems an oxymoron. So I found this thoughtful essay which includes a review of the philosopher’s personal notebooks just published in Germany to be of interest.


From the New York Times Book Review
30 March 2014
by Jennifer Schuessler


“It has long been one of the most contentious questions in 20th-century intellectual history: Just how much, and what kind, of a Nazi was the German philosopher Martin Heidegger?

To his strongest detractors, Heidegger was a committed National Socialist whose hugely influential ideas about the nature of being and the dehumanizing effects of modern technology and much of the modern philosophical tradition itself were fatally compromised by his membership in Hitler’s party from 1933 to 1945. To his staunchest defenders, however, he was a Nazi of convenience — a sometime personal anti-Semite, perhaps, but a philosopher whose towering intellectual achievements are undiminished by temporary political dalliances or everyday bias.

Now, the recent publication in Germany of the first three volumes of Heidegger’s private philosophical notebooks has brought the controversy roaring back, revealing what some say is an unmistakable smoking gun: overtly anti-Semitic statements, written in Heidegger’s own hand, in the context of his philosophical thinking.”

The remainder of the article is here:


More information and articles about Heidegger can be found here:




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Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/