Excerpts from “The Last Interview with Hannah Arendt”

“The problem, the personal problem, was not what our enemies did but what our friends did. In the wave of Gleichschaltung*, which was relatively voluntary – in any case, not yet under the pressure of terror-it was as if an empty space formed around one. I lived in an intellectual milieu, but I also knew other people. And among intellectuals, Gleichshaltung was the rule, so to speak. But not amonth the others. And I never forgot that. I left Germany dominated by the idea-of course somewhat exaggerated: Never again!”

“Then came Herodotus, who spoke of ‘the great deeds of the Greeks and the barbarians.’ All of science comes from this spirit, even modern science, and the science of history too. If someone is not capable of this impartiality because he pretends to love his people so much that he pays flattering homage to them all the time-well, then there’s nothing to be done. I do not believe that people like that are patriots.”

“Well, demonization itself can help, as you’ve rightly said, to provide an alibi. You succumb to the Devil incarnate, and as a result you’re not guilty yourself. But above all…Look here, our whole mythology or our whole tradition sees the Devil as a fallen angel. And the fallen angel is of course much more interesting than the angel who always remained an angel, since the latter doesn’t even provide you with a good story. In other words, evil, especially in the twenties and thirties, played the role of ensuring that it alone had authentic depth, don’t you think? And then you get the same situation in philosopy-the negative as the only thing that gives any impetus to history, and so on. You can pursue this idea a very long way. And as a result, if you demonize someone, not only do you make yourself look interesting, you also secretly ascribe to yourself a depth that other people don’t have. The others are too superficial to have killed anyone in the gas chambers. Now i’ve put it like that deliberately, of course, but that’s what it comes down to.”

*Gleichschaltung – political co-ordination, refers to the widespread giving in, at the otuset of the Nazi era, to the changed political climate in order either to secure one’s position or to get employment. In addition, it describes the Nazi policy of converting traditional organizations-youth groups and all sorts of clubs and associations-into specifically Nazi organizations.

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Excerpts from “The Last Interview with Hannah Arendt”

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