At Hannah Arendt’s funeral, December 8, 1975, her close friend for decades, philosopher Hans Jonas, spoke about the immense biographical significance of her coming to the US. True, her politicization had started in Parisian exile, but ti was here, in the US, that she developed her vision on what “beginning anew” means: “Still, what would have become of that, had she not come to these shores–who knows? It was the experience of the Republic here which d…ecisively shaped her political thinking, tempered as it was in the fires of European tyranny and catastrophe, and forever supported in her grounding in classical thought. America taught her a way beyond the hardened alternatives of left and right from which she had escaped; and the idea of the Republic, as the realistic chance for freedom, remained dear to her even in its darkening days.” (Quoted by Richard H. King, “Arendt and America,” University of Chicago Press, 2015)
On his FB page, political scientist Marius Stan publishes a picture with two major students of totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt and Sigmund Neumann, accompanied by an excellent commentary: “Neumann’s groundbreaking book “Permanent Revolution: The Total State in a World War” (1942) deals with the structural framework which distinguishes modern dictatorship from the 19th century state. He was among the first scholars to discuss the role and the figure of the political lieutenant (or, in his own words, “the forgotten man”). SN was fully committed to the comparative study of politics (His credo: “To know thyself, compare thyself to others.”) Nowadays, the city of Dresden, this powerful symbol of destruction and war, has the privilege to host two important institutions: Hannah Arendt Institute for the Research on Totalitarianism & Sigmund Neumann Institute for the Research on Freedom and Democracy. Neumann tackled the concept of “totalitarianism” quite early (“always on a march that never ends, incessantly at war with a world that it can not possess,” therefore its character of “permanent revolution”), Arendt added a much needed philosophical touch and turned it into a key-concept for the modern political science…”
Hannah Arendt and Sigmund Neumann, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT.
In memory of all those who opposed Benito Mussolini’s totalitarian dictatorship: Liberation Day is a national holiday in Italy that is annually celebrated on April 25. It marks the fall of Mussolini’s Italian Social Republic and the end of the Nazi occupation in Italy in 1945, towards the end of the second World War.
Worth reading these days. Personally, I’m getting back to “The Magic Mountain” and “Doktor Faustus”. He saw it, he experienced its horrrendous rise, he left his beloved Germany because of it, he warned about it. I mean Fascism.
Once upon a time, there was a Jewish life in Central Europe. With music, art, schools, theaters, cafes, religion, politics. It was all annihilated. Wholeness was followed by nothingness. The dead cannot be brought back to life. The story is, for intents and purposes, over. There were persecutions in the 1930s and before, but there was survival, as well. And not any survival, but a creative one. Hitler’s monstruous deed was to obliterate all this. As if …it had never existed. Rescuing memory remains a moral urgency. I still remember what Karen Dawisha said, in 1989, during a dinner in Bryn Mawr, at our dear friend, the late University of Pennsylvania professor Alvin Z. Rubinstein and his wife Frankie’s ‘s place: “The Holocaust is the key to understanding Central Europe.” Thanks, Maria Bucur, for posting this. I wish I were in San Francisco to visit this exhibition!