Dietrich von Hildebrand. Memoiren und Aufsätze gegen den Nationalsozialismus, 1933-1938ed. by Ernst Wenisch (review)
- The Catholic Historical Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 82, Number 4, October 1996
- pp. 737-738
- View Citation
- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWS737 Dietrich von Hildebrand. Memoiren undAufsätze gegen den Nationalsozialismus , 1933-1938. Edited by Ernst Wenisch. [VeröffentUchungen der Kommission für Zeitgeschichte,Reihe A: QueUen,Band 43.] (Mainz:MatthiasGr ünewald-Verlag. 1994. Pp. 34*, 391. 88.00 DM.) Ernst Wenisch has creatively edited the memoirs and essays of the CathoUc phUosopher, Dietrich von HUdebrand, who in 1933 emigrated from Munich to Austria Ui order to oppose through"Der ChristUche Ständestaat" the Nazi ideology of coUectivism and racism. HUdebrand's memoirs are particularly valuable to scholars interested Ui explicating the role of the academic bystander,who UiteUectuaUy opposed the Nazi Revolution. In his pubUshed essays, HUdebrand posited an anthropology rooted m the person as an image of God. He recognized the complexity of modern civUization and asserted diat a merely reductionistic , i.e., totaUtarian, poUtical theory could not deal with the layered dimensions of any historical reality, to develop its full potentials. Not siuprisingly, HUdebrand reacted to racial anti-Semitism, but he stUl carried the baggage of centuries of reUgious bias. His comments help to Ulustrate how the consciences of so many normal Germans could be reUgiously softened so that they did not feel LmpeUed to condemn vigorously the vituperative Nazi racial anti-Semitism. What he faUed to reaUze was that reUgious anti-Semitism had prepared the way for the racial hatred directed toward the Jews. In 1937, for example, he deUvered a lecture,"Die Juden und das ChristUche Abendland" UiVienna, which dealt with the anti-Semitism that was powering Nazi ideology. In the lecture he divided Jews from the Christian West immediately in the title and so gave support to the traditional accusation that Christian morality was distinct fromJewish. AdditionaUy, HUdebrand accepted the notion that the Old Testament was an essential part ofthe Christian reUgion. In the context ofhindsight , such a position has historicaUy meant thatJudaism has been perceived as not having its own integrity. Referring to Israel as the "prodigal son" and to the complex of ideas that God and humanity were no longer connected in Jerusalem , but now Ui Rome, can be seen as supersessionism at its worst. Racial anti-Semitism, however, was simultaneously also countered Ui this essay by an insistence that using blood as the basis for identity undermined the spiritual essence of men and women as persons. He was a typical Christian anti-Semite. By stressing an adherence to the normative Christian state as described by CathoUc poUtical theorists, HUdebrand automaticaUy introduced a principle of exclusion. He was not principaUy focusing on margmaUzing theJewish people, however, but rather on overcoming the bourgeois LiberaUsm, which the Catholic Church had assaulted since the French Revolution Ui favor of a more salubrious ??f?p??e and organic model, which would not be identical to the Nordic racism that he described as aUen to German history. This coUection of memoirs and essays is an exceUent resource for scholars trying to understand the subtle dynamics of Nazism. Hitler succeeded in part, these memoirs teU us, because the bystanders, who could have stopped him, 738BOOK REVIEWS did not comprehend the power of a modern state powered by an aggressive ideology and controUed by a man obsessed with furthering his racist and nationaUst agenda, which was shared, at least partiaUy, by the majority of the citizenry . HUdebrand's life and reflective essays can mustíate for us what happens when phUosophers and theologians do not adopt a critical stance to thetf own churches and states. Donald J. Dietrich Boston College American St.Mary's ofNatchez: The History ofa Southern Catholic Congregation, 17161988 . Volume 1 : The History;Yolume 2: Signs ofParish Life. By Charles E. Nolan. (Natchez, Mississippi: St. Mary's CathoUc Church. 1992. Pp. xxxvi, 402; x, 403-732. $39-95 the set.) In the faU of 1986, the parish councU of St. Mary's of Natchez asked Dr. Charles E. Nolan, archivist of the Archdiocese of New Orleans and author of the South Central section of the 1987 Notre Dame Study of CathoUc Parish Life, to write a history of St. Mary's from 1888 to 1988. Early Ui 1992, St. Mary's CathoUc Church pubUshed his work in two volumes. With Ulustrations, bibUography, a fifty-one-page...