Sunday, December 18, 2016

Follower of the Being

When I opened the art & culture section of the Badische Zeitung the other morning I saw the following photo:

©Martin Heidegger Archiv
Red Baron was shocked. Martin Heidegger (RHS) and der Führer on one photo? Not at all, the other guy is Martin's younger brother Fritz. The photo illustrated an article titled Mitläufer des Seyns (Follower of the Being) dealing with the correspondence between the Heidegger brothers starting in 1931.

What I read was even more shocking than the black & white photo. As early as December 18, 1931, exactly 85 years ago, Martin sent his brother Hitler's book Mein Kampf (My Struggle) from Freiburg to Meßkirch, hometown of the Heidegger brothers. Martin wrote: I really wish that you analyze Hitler's book. No understanding person may deny that this man has an extraordinary and sure political instinct. He already had it when we all were still befuddled. The national socialist movement will acquire even more power in the near future. This is no longer small party policy but will be the rescue or the fall of Europe and the Occidental culture.

And on March 2, 1932, Martin added: Today there exists only one clear line sharply separating left and right. Half measures are treason. Read Volk ohne Raum (People without space) by Hans Grimm and learn about Heimat and the destiny of our nation.

Fritz who apparently had the more precise political judgement wrote to his brother on April 3, 1933: Hitler's look on present pictures and part of his attitude frequently remind me of you. This comparison sometimes leads me to the conclusion that Hitler is an exceptional guy. Strange. Red Baron thought that in the photo above Fritz looked more like der Führer.

Martin answered in return: From day to day it becomes clearer how much Hitler is growing as a statesman.The world of our nation and of the Reich is in transformation and he that hath eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to act is carried away and set into genuine and deep excitement - around us we meet again a great reality and at the same time a great distress integrating that reality into the spiritual world of the Reich and into the secret contract of the German being. By the way, three Jews disappeared from my faculty because of the law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service.

Were these lines written in view of Heidegger's longing for the position of rector of Freiburg's university? On April 20, 1933, Rector Wilhelm von Möllendorff, a social democrat, being pushed by the Nazis stepped back making room for Martin Heidegger.

During the war on September 3, 1943, with Germany more and more in ruins Martin wrote to Fritz: Although the darkeness draws on the quiet light of the Being the light is neither consumed nor clouded.

Later near the end of the Third Reich: A higher untouchable self prevails above and in us. We must not escape from its grace. Now one "world" will perish that for a long time already did not have the inner greatness and truthfulness but only was façade, noise, pleasure, and indifference.

And when it was all over Heidegger stated: Now all is bad and worse than during the Nazi period but to me the idea becomes more and more clear that our homeland (Heimat), the nucleus of the southwest, will be the historical birthplace of the Occidental Being although we contemporaries come too late for the gods and to early for the Being.

The French occupation forces withdrew his teaching permission but later on classified him only as a Mitläufer (follower of the Nazis). Heidegger laconically commented on September 21, 1949: I always was a follower of the Being and I am likely to remain so.

What a misanthropist.

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