Heidegger and Nazism

Victor Farías, edited by Joseph Margolis and Tom Rockmore
Book Cover

PB: $31.95
EAN: 978-0-87722-830-1
Publication: Feb 91

HC: $37.95
EAN: 978-0-87722-640-6
Publication: Oct 89

368 pages
6 x 9

The first book to document Heidegger's close connections to Nazism—now available to a new generation of students

Read the Introduction (pdf).


Originally published in a French translation in 1987, this controversial work has received a tumultuous reception throughout Europe and continues to be the object of intense debate. In this first English edition, Victor Farias tracks the career of Martin Heidegger—one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century philosophy—and documents his intimate involvement with Nazism for much of his professional life.

Although scholars have long known about Heidegger’s early commitment to National Socialism, it was generally thought that he became disenchanted with Hitler well before the outbreak of World War II. After more than a decade of solitary study in a variety of archives, Farias presents a carefully constructed case in which he reveals Heidegger’s initial adherence to Hitler’s Nazism and his subsequent development of a more personal version of National Socialism. Heidegger’s devotion to those themes was always at the center of his mature thought, appears to have preceded his election as rector of the University of Freiburg, and was sustained to the end of his life. Farias examines with great care and persistence the charge that Heidegger, who died in 1976, was a life-long anti-Semite. He notes that the philosopher praised Hitler to his colleagues and refused, even after the war, to criticize Nazi atrocities and genocide, or to recant his earlier Nazism.

While Heidegger previously had appeared at worst naive by his acceptance of the Third Reich, Farias’ evidence shows him to be the only major philosopher who freely embraced Nazism—the undisputed example of absolute evil in modern times. This damage to the official myth about Heidegger’s involvement raises questions about the relationship between politics and philosophy, about the presumed link between philosophy and virtue, and about what we may understand by the betrayal of reason in our time.

Heidegger and Nazism transforms the setting in which Heidegger’s standing will henceforth be assessed. From his earliest intellectual and emotional influences to the last posthumously published interview with Der Spiegel, Heidegger’s connection to National Socialism is shown to be a matter of conviction rather than necessary compromise as apologists still contend. Farias shows the reasonableness of linking the ideology and the philosophy and suggests where to probe to draw out detailed connections The book forces us to ponder the question of whether certain philosophical strategies and doctrines—particularly associated with Heidegger’s existential hermeneutics and the effect of his themes on the development of deconstruction—are not merely indefensible but peculiarly hospitable to the kind of "principled" falsification that fascists require. Providing the context for a close re-reading of Heidegger, this significant and historic work challenges the philosophical community to assess the full import of Heidegger’s life on his influential conception of philosophy and his resolution of particular philosophical problems.


"(Farías') book includes more concrete information relevant to Heidegger's relations with the Nazis than anything else available, and it is an excellent antidote to the evasive apologetics that are still being published." Richard Rorty, The New Republic

"Fascinating material for a study of a philosopher who would seem to have cooperated eagerly with the false promises of tyranny." Allen Lacy, The New York Times Book Review

"A major work in the controversy over Heidegger's connection with Nazism... it also offers a fascinating look into the academic world of Hitler's Germany." Choice

"The most serious and pointed inquiry ever made of the political activities of Heidegger.... One thing is certain...one can never again, after Farías' book, approach Heidegger as we did before.... How (has) all modern thought...been able to make the most important philosophy of the century from a philosophy which did not utter a word about genocide? Heidegger, a Nazi? Without doubt." Robert Maggiori, Libération

"Farías has demonstrated that (Heidegger's) political engagement was even deeper and more enduring than had previously been suspected." The Times Literary Supplement

"The significant achievement of Farías' Heidegger and Nazism is that it established beyond doubt Heidegger's commitment to Nazism and his involvement in the activities of the Nazi regime; it establishes also that the connection between Heidegger's philosophy and Nazism is essential and that it constitutes an inescapable project for further philosophic research." The Washington Post

Table of Contents

Foreword – Tom Rockmore and Joseph Margolis

Part I: From Youth to the Rectorship (1889-1933)
1. Messkirch, Origins, and the Religious Problem
2. The Jesuit Novitiate and the Seminary at Freiburg
3. Abraham a Sancta Clara and Martin Heidegger's First Written Work
4. Heidegger's Contribution to the Akademiker
5. From Freiburg to Marburg
Studies at the University of Freiburg • World War I • Martin Heidegger, Teacher of Catholic Philosophy: The Crisis of Modernism and the Break with the Church • Husserl at Freiburg
6. Marburg, Being and Time, and the Various Appointments
7. The Return to Freiburg and the Berlin Temptation

Part II: The Rectorate (1933-1934)
8. Heidegger, Rector at Freiburg
The German Student Movement and its Avant-Garde Role • The Seizure of Power in the Region of Baden: Freiburg • The Homage to Albert Leo Schlageter
9. The Rector's Address: Its Assumptions and Its Effects
10. Martin Heidegger's Activities as Rector
A Case of Political Denunciation • Students and Workers • Lessons on "The Fundamental Question of Philosophy" during the Summer Semester, 1933
11. Heidegger and University Politics in the Third Reich
Speeches at Heidelberg and Kiel: Heidegger and the Corporate Associations of University Professors • Heidegger's Speech on the University and the National Socialist State • Heidegger and the Association of German Universities • Heidegger, Krieck, and the Creation of the KADH
12. Support for Hitler and Conflicts with Krieck
The Demonstration of German Science of Adolf Hitler • Heidegger is Called to the Universities of Berlin and Munich • Attacks from Ernst Krieck and His Faction
13. The City and the Country: The Return to the Fatherland as a Political Theme
14. The End of the Rectorate

Part III: After the Rectorate: From 1934 to the Posthumously Published Interview
15. The Academy and the Professors of the Reich
The Declaration of August 1934 • Heidegger and the Academy of Professors of the Reich • Heidegger and the Academy of German Law • Heidegger and the Advanced School for German Politics • Heidegger as Informer
16. Heidegger and the State Ideological Apparatus
The Chair at Göttingen • The "Introduction to Metaphysics" Lectures (1935) • An Article by Elfride Heidegger-Petri • The Attitude of the Regime toward Heidegger around 1936 • Writings: "Origin of the Work of Art" and "Ways to Language" • The Philosophical Congresses at Prague (1934) and at Paris • The Lectures on Nietzsche's Philosophy
17. Heidegger and the State Ideological Apparatus (Continued): Rome and Berlin
Heidegger at Prague (1940) and at Munich (1941) • Heidegger and Il Duce • Hölderlin • Parmenides and Heraclitus (1943-1944) • The End of the War and the Beginning of Polemos • Echoes
18. Return to Abram a Sancta Clara
The Spiegel Interview


About the Author(s)

Chilean scholar Victor Farías teaches in the Latin American Institute at the Free University of Berlin. A one-time student of Heidegger's, he holds a Doctorate in Philosophy.

Joseph Margolis is Laura Carnell Professor of Philosophy at Temple University.

Tom Rockmore is Professor of Philosophy at Duquesne University.