Hannah Arendt: biography of this German thinker fleeing Nazism

Arendt is a key figure in philosophy at a time when the whole world was in seizures from World War II.

We will review the life of this author, also reviewing the historical context in which most of the milestones of his biography occurred.We will understand the importance of her work as this thinker through this biography of Hannah Arendt..

    Brief biography of Hannah Arendt

    Hannah Arendt was born in the city of Hanover, then part of the German Empire, in 1906. Her family was of Jewish origin, which would have special significance for the events that ravaged Europe decades later. As Hannah was very young, the family moved to Königsberg, Prussia, where she grew up.

    The father died in 1913, when Hannah Arendt was only 7 years old. So, it was his mother who took care of giving him a liberal and social democratic education.. The position of the family allowed him to get closer to the intellectuals of the city. He quickly developed an attraction to philosophy and by the age of 14 he had already read the works of Kant and Jaspers.

    He was expelled from the school by disciplinary conflicts and one formed by his account in Berlin to be able to accede to the university, since thus it would do it in 1924, in the University of Marburg, in Hesse. She was the pupil of such important personalities as Rudolf Bultmann, Nicolai Hartmann and above all, Martin Heidegger, With whom he also kept a secret romance, since he was a married man and also much older than her.

    The situation forced Hannah Arendt to move to other universities, such as Albert Ludwig in Freiburg, where she had the opportunity to learn from Edmund Husserl and then to Heidelberg in Baden-Württemberg, where he obtained his doctorate. Her thesis supervisor was Karl Jaspers, another important author who also maintained a great friendship with her throughout her life. The thesis focused on the concept of love in Saint Augustine of Hippo.

    His relations with various academic intellectuals allowed him to come into contact with Kurt Blumenfeld, promoter of the Zionist movement in Germany., Which Hannah Arendt entered, beginning her activism for the Jews.

    Marriage and politics

    Hannah Arendt met in Marburg what would become her husband, Günther Stern, who later changed his last name to Günther Anders. He was also a philosopher, of Polish origin. They moved in together before the wedding, which was an outrage for a society with deep-rooted traditions. This was in 1930. They moved to Berlin, where Arendt gradually approached the political movements.

    He read the works of Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky. He was interested in the reasons that led society to marginalize Jews. also, writes feminist articles in which she highlights the differences that exist in a woman’s life compared to that of a man.

    Her friend Jaspers insisted to Hannah Arendt that she had publicly stated that she was German, but she refused and always used her Jewish identity. This was in 1932, just before Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany. Hannah decided to leave the country, sensing the persecution to which she would be exposed by her race. Her husband went into exile in France, but initially she stayed in her home country.

    He joined Zionist organizations and this led to his arrest by the secret police of the Nazi regime, the Gestapo.. He was one of the first intellectuals to defend the active struggle against National Socialism. In fact, she harshly criticized the rest for not joining this movement and just trying to live with the regime. The question was so difficult that it caused him to end some of his friendships.

    She ended up finding no other alternative than exile and managed to get to Paris in 1933, where she found her husband. However, the interests of the two were already very different and in 1937 they divorced. In the same year, Germany withdrew her nationality, so Hannah Arendt became stateless.

    A few years later, in 1940, she remarried, this time to Heinrich Blücher. This year, France summoned all German immigrants to be deported. Hannah was taken to an internment camp in Gurs, where she stayed for five weeks before escaping.. They first moved to Montauban and then to Lisbon, the Portuguese capital, with the help of Varian Fry, an American journalist. He will eventually emigrate to the United States of America.

    Exile in the United States and travel to Germany

    Hannah Arendt arrived with her husband and mother in New York in 1941 as refugees.. He quickly learned the language, which helped him work as a columnist for Aufbau magazine. He took advantage of this speaker to try to promote Jewish identity and try to create a world Jewish army, but this claim never materialized.

    Over the next few years to continue, with increasing intensity, publish articles to raise awareness of the plight of Jews around the world. She also spoke about the situation of stateless people like her.

    After the end of World War II, Hannah Arendt undertook a series of trips to Germany to verify in situ what had been the consequences for the Jewish people after the Holocaust. The first of these trips took place in 1949 and allowed him to meet Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers.

    He wrote an essay in which he captured the destruction of the moral fabric that Nazi Germany had carried out during those years, by committing crimes that at least escaped the imagination. What struck her the most was the attitude of the German people themselves who, according to her, walked between indifference and silence in the face of these atrocities.

    After this difficult stage, Hannah Arendt start to realize works on existential philosophy, studying deeply in Albert Camus. He raised the possibility of a European federation, in which nationalist conflicts would end. He also published another important work in which he dealt with the regimes of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. These are the three volumes, anti-Semitism, imperialism and totalitarianism.

      American citizenship and further career development

      In 1951, Hannah Arendt finally regained her citizenship after a long season without belonging to any country. In this case, the United States provided him with a new passport. It ended an injustice that had haunted him for a long time. A little after, At 53, he began teaching at Brooklyn College because his work on totalitarianism had made him very popular..

      Arendt sued the German government, seeking a claim for damages for having had to go into exile and give up his career, but it would take decades for him to thrive, as he was granted in 1972. Their activism against all forms of discrimination, such as that perpetrated against former communists and blacks. He also opposed the Vietnam War.

      In 1961, she moved to Jerusalem, as a reporter for The New Yorker, to cover the trial of Adolf Eichmann, who is believed to be behind several of his works, including Eichmann in Jerusalem, a report on the banality of evil, one of the most important. In this volume addresses several controversial points, including the accountability of Jewish councils in Germany, which somehow facilitated the work of the Nazis.

      Teaching at university and in recent years

      In 1959, Hannah Arendt began working at various universities, first at Princeton, one of the most prestigious in America, then in Chicago and finally at the New School for Social Research in New York, an entity in which he would work. until the end of his days. He has received various awards from American and German institutions, including honorary doctorates.

      One of the ethical issues he has addressed in his works is the nature of good and evil in Human being. Hannah Arendt argued that man is neither good nor bad by nature, and that responsibility for any evil act rests solely with the person who performed it. He also states that the morality of a society should not fall on the concept of moral conscience, because there is a risk that it will be manipulated and finally totalitarianism is established.

      Hannah Arendt died of a heart attack in 1975, in her own college office and in the presence of her classmates. It is said that she always maintained that she wanted to end her working days, so in that sense her wish was granted.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Arendt, H., Kroh, J. (1964). Eichmann in Jerusalem. Penguin classics.
      • Benhabib, S. (1995). The outcast and his shadow: the biography of Rahel Varnhagen by Hannah Arendt. Hardvard University.
      • Owens, P. (2005). Hannah Arendt: Biographical and political introduction. Springer.
      • Vila, HV (2004). Hannah Arendt: A Life of the 20th Century. Bogota: Pan American.

      Leave a Comment