Into the Woods: Eichmann, Heidegger, and Margarethe von Trotta’s Hannah Arendt
Abstract

Margarethe von Trotta’s Hannah Arendt (Germany, 2012) explores events surrounding the war crimes trial of Adolf Eichmann, on which Arendt based her controversial book Eichmann in Jerusalem. Its publication polarized the New York intellectual world and intensified significant fissures among post-Holocaust Jewry. The present article examines Arendt’s place in this controversy in the light of her own past as a German Jewish refugee, in France and the United States, and her youthful amorous liaison with her former teacher Martin Heidegger. When Heidegger briefly became rector at the University of Freiburg in 1933, the year of Hitler’s accession, he openly embraced Nazism and remained a member of the Nazi Party until the end of World War II. Arendt severed contact with Heidegger for seventeen years but reestablished communication when revisiting Germany on a mission to retrieve Jewish antiquities. The film depicts that interaction as a walk in the woods (a central image in Heidegger’s thought), best understood through Arendt’s 1981 essay honoring Heidegger’s eightieth birthday.


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