I posted my review of last week’s posting about the film on Hannah Arendt on Amazon and received the following response from JSA which I think is very revealing.
In her book on the Eichmann trial, Deborah Lipstadt writes that Eichmann’s own memoir “reveals the degree to which Arendt was wrong about Eichmann. It is permeated with expressions of support for and full comprehension of Nazi ideology. He was no clerk. This was a well-read man who accepted and espoused the idea of racial purity.” But that’s just a preamble. Not only did Arendt get many of her facts wrong, Lipstadt writes, “[she] may also have been subliminally writing for her teacher and former lover, the revered philosopher Martin Heidegger, who joined the Nazi Party in 1933, ejected Jewish professors from the university where he served as rector, affirmed Nazi ideals, and never recanted his wartime actions…. In 1960, a few months before the trial, Arendt considered dedicating one of her books to Heidegger but decided not to, because it might upset others. In an unused dedication, she described him as ‘my trusted friend to whom I have remained faithful and unfaithful.’ She helped resurrect his postwar career by minimizing his Nazi affiliations and fighting to get him readmitted to the scholarly world. When ‘Der Spiegel’ exposed his wartime record she protested that people should ‘leave him in peace.'” Lipstadt goes on to lambast Arendt, saying “She was guilty of precisely the same wrong that she derisively ascribed to Adolf Eichmann. She – the great political philosopher who claimed that careful thought and precise expression were of supreme value – did not ‘think.'”
While all of this may appear to be a sidebar, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Lipstatdt isn’t overstating it when she claims that Hannah Arendt’s work, which mistakenly ignores the central role that historical anti-Semitism played in the scheme of the Holocaust, “has shaped contemporary perceptions of the Final Solution.”