Political Texts
The University in the New Reich
Martin Heidegger

followed by
Declaration of Support for Adolf Hitler
German Students
National Socialist Education (Wissensschulung)

Author’s Bio

The University in the New Reich

June 30, 1933 *

We have the new Reich and the university that is to receive its tasks from the Reich’s will to existence. There is revolution in Germany, and we must ask ourselves: Is there revolution at the university as well? No. The battle still consists of skirmishes. So far, a breakthrough has only been achieved on one front: because new life is being educated (durch die Bildung neuen Lebens) in the work camp and educational association (Erziehungsverband) as well as at the university, the latter has been relieved of educational tasks to which it has till now believed it had an exclusive right.

The possibility could exist that the university will suffer death through oblivion and forfeit the last vestige of its educational power. It must, however, be integrated again into the Volksgemeinschaft and be joined together with the State. The university must again become an educational force that draws on knowledge to educate the State’s leaders to knowledge. This goal demands three things: 1. knowledge of today’s university; 2. knowledge of die dangers today holds for the future; 3. new courage.

Up to now, research and teaching have been carried on at the universities as they were for decades. Teaching was supposed to develop out of research, and one sought to find a pleasant balance between the two. It was always only the point of view of the teacher that spoke out of this notion. No one had concerned himself with the university as community. Research got out of hand and concealed its uncertainty behind the idea of international scientific and scholarly progress. Teaching that had become aimless hid behind examination requirements.

A fierce battle must be fought against this situation in the National Socialist spirit, and this spirit cannot be allowed to be suffocated by humanizing, Christian ideas that suppress its unconditionality. Nor is it enough to desire to take the new situation (dem Neuen) into account by painting everything with a touch of political color. Of great danger are the noncommittal plans and slogans that are turning up everywhere; and so, too, is the “new” concept of Wissenschaft, which is nothing more than the old one with a slight anthropological underpinning. All of the talk about “politics” is nonsense as well, for it does nothing to put an end to the old routine way of doing and thinking about things (dem alten Schlendrian). What the real gravity of the new situation (des Neuen) calls for is the experience of affliction, is the active engagement with real conditions (die zugreifende Auseinandersetzung mit den wirklichen Zuständen). Only that activity is justified that is performed with full inner commitment to the future. The warning cry has already been sounded: “Wissenschaft is endangered by the amount of time lost in martial sports and other such activities.” But what does that mean, to lose time, when it is a question of fighting for the State! Danger comes not from work for the State. It comes only from indifference and resistance. For that reason, only true strength should have access to me right path, but not half-heartedness.

New courage allows these dangers to be seen clearly. Only it alone opens our eyes to that which is to come and which is now emerging. It forces each teacher and pupil to make up his mind about the fundamental questions of Wissenschaft, and this decision is of epochal importance, for on it depends whether we Germans shall remain a people that is, in the highest sense of the word, knowing. The new teaching which is at issue here does not mean conveying knowledge, but allowing students to learn and inducing them to learn. This means allowing oneself to be beset by the unknown and then becoming master of it in comprehending knowing; it means becoming secure in one’s sense for what is essential. It is from such teaching that true research emerges, interlocked with the whole through its rootedness in the Volk and its bond to the State. The student is forced out into the uncertainty of all things, in which the necessity of engagement (Einsatz) is grounded. University study must again become a risk (Wagnis), not a refuge for the cowardly. Whoever does not survive the battle, lies where he falls. The new courage must accustom itself to steadfastness, for the battle for the institutions where our leaders are educated will continue for a long time. It will be fought out of the strengths of the new Reich that Chancellor Hitler will bring to reality. A hard race (Geschlecht) with no thought of self must fight this battle, a race that lives from constant testing and that remains directed towards the goal to which it has committed itself. It is a battle to determine who shall be the teachers and leaders at the university (ein Kampf um die Gestalt des Lehrers und des Führers an der Universität).

* This speech was given by Heidegger as part of a series of political lectures organized by the Heidelberg Student Association. It appeared originally in Heidelberger Neuste Nachrichten, ]uly 1, 1933. Compiled by Richard Wolin and translated by William S. Lewis. Published in New German Critique, 45, Fall 1988.

Declaration of Support for Adolf Hitler

November 11, 1933 *

German teachers and comrades!

German Volksgenossen and Volksgenossinnen!

The German people has been summoned by the Führer to vote; the Führer, however, is asking nothing from the people. Rather, he is giving the people the possibility of making, directly, the highest free decision of all: whether the entire people wants its own existence (Dasein) or whether it does not want it.

Tomorrow the people will choose nothing less than its future.

This election remains absolutely incomparable with all previous elections. What is unique about this election is the simple greatness of the decision that is to be executed. The inexorability of what is simple and ultimate (des Einfachen und Letzten) tolerates no vacillation and no hesitation. This ultimate decision reaches to the outermost limit of our people’s existence. And what is this limit? It consists in the most basic demand of all Being (Sein), that it keep and save its own essence. A barrier is thereby erected between what can be reasonably expected of people and what cannot. It is by virtue of this basic law of honor that the German people retain the dignity and resoluteness of its life. However, the will to self-responsibility is not only the basic law of our people’s existence; it is also the fundamental event in the bringing about of the people’s National Socialist State. From this will to self-responsibility, every effort, be it humble or grand, of each social and occupational group (Stand) assumes its necessary and predestined place in the social order (in den Standort und Rang ihrer gleich notwendigen Bestimmung). The labor of the various groups (Stände) supports and strengthens the living framework of the State; labor recovers for the people its rootedness; labor places the State, as the reality of the people, into the field of action of all essential forces of human Being.

It is not ambition, not desire for glory, not blind obstinacy, and not hunger for power that demands from the Fuhrer that Germany withdraw from the League of Nations. It is only the clear will to unconditional self-responsibility in suffering and mastering the fate of our people. That is not a turning away from the community of peoples. On the contrary: with this step, our people is submitting to that essential law of human Being to which every people must first give allegiance if it is still to be a people.

It is only out of the parallel observance by all peoples of this unconditional demand of self-responsibility that there emerges the possibility of taking each other seriously so that a community can also be affirmed. The will to a true national community (Volksgemeinschaft) is equally far removed both from an unrestrained, vague desire for world brotherhood and from blind tyranny. Existing beyond this opposition, this will allows peoples and states to stand by one another in an open and manly fashion as self-reliant entities (das offene und mannhafte Aufsich und Zueinanderstehen der Volker und Staaten). What is it that such a will brings about? Is it reversion into barbarism? No! It is the averting of all empty negotiation and hidden deal-making through the simple, great demand of self-responsible action. Is it the eruption of lawlessness? No! It is the clear acknowledgement of each people’s inviolable independence. Is it the denial of the creative genius of a spiritual (geistig) people and the smashing of its historical traditions? No! It is the awakening of the young who have been purified and are growing back to their roots. Their will to the State will make this people hard towards itself and reverent towards each genuine deed.

What sort of event is this then? The nation is winning back the truth of its will to existence, for truth is the revelation of that which makes a people confident, lucid, and strong in its actions and knowledge. The genuine will to know arises from such truth. And this will to know circumscribes the right to know. And from there, finally, the limits are measured out within which genuine questioning and research must legitimize and prove themselves. Such is the origin of Wissenschaft, which is constrained by the necessity of self-responsible volkisch existence. Wissenschaft is thus the passion to educate that has been restrained by this necessity, the passion to want to know in order to make knowing. To be knowing, however, means: to be master of things in clarity and to be resolved to action.

We have declared our independence from the idol of thought that is without foundation and power. We see the end of the philosophy that serves such thought. We are certain that the clear hardness and the sure, steady competence (werkgerechte Sicherheit) of unyielding, simple questioning about the essence of Being are returning. For a volkische Wissenschaft, the courage either to grow or to be destroyed in confrontation with what is (dem Seienden), which is the first form of courage, is the innermost motive for questioning. For courage lures one forward; courage frees itself from what has been up to now; courage risks the unaccustomed and the incalculable. For us, questioning is not the unconstrained play of curiosity. Nor is questioning the stubborn insistence on doubt at any price. For us, questioning means: exposing oneself to the sublimity of things and their laws, it means: not dosing oneself off to the terror of the untamed and to the confusion of darkness. To be sure, it is for the sake of this questioning that we question, and not to serve those who have grown tired and their complacent yearning for comfortable answers. We know: the courage to question, to experience the abysses of existence and to endure the abysses of existence, is in itself already a higher answer than any of the all-too-cheap answers afforded by artificial systems of thought.

And so we, to whom the preservation of our people’s will to know shall in the future be entrusted, declare: The National Socialist revolution is not merely the assumption of power as it exists presently in the State by another party, a party grown sufficiently large in numbers to be able to do so. Rather, this revolution is bringing about the total transformation of our German existence (Dasein). From now, on each and every thing demands decision, and every deed demands responsibility. Of this we are certain; If the will to self-responsibility becomes the law that governs the coexistence of nations, then each people can and must be the master who instructs every other people in the richness and strength of all the great deeds and works of human Being (Sein).

The choice that the German people must now make is, simply as an event in itself, quite independent of the outcome, the strongest expression of the new German reality embodied in he National Socialist State. Our will to national (volfdsch) self-responsibility desires that each people find and preserve the greatness and truth of its destiny (Bestimmung). This will is the highest guarantee of peace among nations, for it binds itself to the basic law of manly respect and unconditional honor. The Fuhrer has awakened this will in the entire people and has welded it into one single resolve. No one can remain away from the polls on the day when this will is manifested.
Heil Hitler!

* Address presented by Heidegger at an election rally held by German universiy professors in Leipzig in support of the plebiscite of November 12, 1933 called by Hitler to sanction (ex post facto) Germany’s withdrawal from The League of Nations. Compiled by Richard Wolin and translated by William S. Lewis. Published in New German Critique, 45, Fall 1988.


May 26, 1933 *

In the midst of our work, during a short break in our lectures, let us remember the Freiburg student, Albert Leo Schlageter, a young Ger- man hero who a decade ago died the most difficult and the greatest death of all.

Let us honor him by reflecting, for a moment, upon his death in order that this death may help us to understand our lives.

Schlageter died the most difficult of all deaths. Not in the front line as the leader of his field artillery battery, not in the tumult of an attack, and not in a grim defensive action – no, he stood defenseless before the French rifles.

But he stood and bore the most difficult thing a man can bear.

Yet even this could have been borne with a final rush of jubilation, had a victory been won and the greatness of the awakening nation shone forth.

Instead — darkness, humiliation, and betrayal.

And so, in his most difficult hour, he had also to achieve the greatest thing of which man is capable. Alone, drawing on his own inner strength, he had to place before his soul an image of the future awakening of the Volk to honor and greatness so that he could die believing in this future.

Whence this hardness of will, which allowed him to endure the most difficult thing of all?

Whence this clarity of heart, which allowed him to envision what was greatest and most remote?

Student of Freiburg! German student! When on your hikes and outings you set foot in the mountains, forests, and valleys of the Black Forest, the home of this hero, experience this and know: The mountains among which the young farmer’s son grew up are of primitive stone, of granite. They have long been at work hardening the will.

The autumn sun of the Black Forest bathes the mountain ranges and forests in the most glorious clear light. It has long nourished clarity of the heart.

As he stood defenseless facing the rifles, the hero’s inner gaze soared above the muzzles to the daylight and mountains of his home that he might die for the German people and its Reich with the Alemannic countryside before his eyes.

With a hard will and a clear heart, Albert Leo Schlageter died his death, the most difficult and the greatest of all.

Student of Freiburg, let the strength of this hero’s native mountains flow into your will!

Student of Freiburg, let the strength of the autumn sun of this hero’s native valley shine into your heart! Preserve both within you and carry them, hardness of will and clarity of heart, to your comrades at the German universities.

Schlageter walked these grounds as a student. But Freiburg could not hold him for long. He was compelled to go to the Baltic; he was compelled to go to Upper Silesia; he was compelled to go to the Ruhr.

He was not permitted to escape his destiny so that he could die the most difficult and greatest of all deaths with a hard will and a clear heart. We honor the hero and raise our arms in silent greeting.

* Albert Leo Schlageter, a former student at Freiburg University, was shot for acts of sabotage against the French occupation army in the Ruhr on May 26, 1925. Subsequently, he was elevated to the status of a great Nazi martyr and hero. The German original of these texts can be found in Guido Schneeberger, Nachlese zu Heidegger (Bern: 1962). Compiled by Richard Wolin and translated by William S. Lewis. Published in New German Critique, 45, Fall 1988.

German Students

November 3, 1933 *

The National Socialist revolution is bringing about the total transformation of our German existence (Dasein).

In these events, it is up to you to remain the ones who always urge on and who are always ready, the ones who never yield and who always grow.

Your will to know seeks to experience what is essential, simple, and great.

You crave to be exposed to that which besets you most directly and to that which imposes upon you the most wide-ranging obligations.

Be hard and genuine in your demands.

Remain dear and sure in your rejection.

Do not pervert the knowledge you have struggled for into a vain, selfish possession. Preserve it as the necessary primal possession of the leader (führerischen Menschen) in the völkisch professions of the State. You can no longer be those who merely attend lectures (die nur “Hörenden”). You are obligated to know and act together in the creation of the future university (hohe Schule) of the German spirit. Every one of you must first prove and justify each talent and privilege. That will occur through the force of your aggressive involvement (Einsatz) in the struggle of the entire Volk for itself.

Let your loyalty and your will to follow (Gefolgschaftswille) be strengthened daily and hourly. Let your courage grow without ceasing so that you will be able to make the sacrifices necessary to save the essence of our Volk and to elevate its innermost strength in the State.

Let not propositions and “ideas” be the rules of your Being (Sein).

The Führer alone is the present and future German reality and its law. Learn to know ever more deeply: from now on every single thing demands decision, and every action responsibility.

Heil Hitler!
Martin Heidegger, Rector

* This appeal was launched by Heidegger on the occasion of the plebiscite of November 12, 1933 called by Hitler to sanction (ex post facto) Germany’s withdrawal from The League of Nations, published in the Freiburger Studentemeitung. Compiled by Richard Wolin and translated by William S. Lewis. Published in New German Critique, 45, Fall 1988.

National Socialist Education Wissensschulung

January 22, 1934 *

German Volksgenossen! German Workers!

As Rector of the University, I cordially welcome you to our institution. This welcome will at the same time be the beginning of our work together. Let us start by understanding clearly the significance of the fact that you, for whom the City of Freiburg has created jobs by emergency decree, are coming together with us in the largest lecture hall of the University.

What does this fact mean?

Because of novel and comprehensive employment measures on the part of the City of Freiburg, you have been given work and bread has been put on your tables. You thereby enjoy a privileged position among the rest of the City’s unemployed. But this preferential treatment means at the same time an obligation.

And your duty is to understand the creation of jobs, and to accept the work for which you are paid, in the way that the Führer of our new State demands. For the creation of jobs means not only the alleviation of external need, not only the elimination of inner discouragement or, indeed, despair; the creation of jobs means not only the warding off of that which burdens. The creation of jobs is at the same time, and in its essence, an act of building up and construction (Aufbau und Bau) in the new future of our Volk.

The creation of work must, first of all, make the unemployed and jobless Volksgenosse again capable of existing (daseinsfähig) in the State and for the State and thereby capable of existing for the Volk as a whole. The Volksgenosse who has found work should learn thereby that he has not been cast aside and abandoned, that he has an ordered place in the Volk, and that every service and every accomplishment possesses its own value that is fungible by other services and accomplishments. Having experienced this, he should win back proper dignity and self-confidence in his own eyes and acquire proper self-assurance and resoluteness in the eyes of the other Volksgenossen.

The goal is: to become strong for a fully valid existence as a Volksgenosse in the German Volksgemeinschaft.

For this, however, it is necessary:

to know where one’s place in the Volk is,

to know how the Volk is organized and how it renews itself in this organization,

to know what is happening with the German Volk in the National Socialist State.

to know in what a bitter struggle this new reality was won and created,

to know what the future recovery of the body of the Volk (Volkskörper) means and what it demands of each individual,

to know to what point urbanization has brought the Germans, how they should be returned to the soil and the country through resettlement,

to know what is entailed in the fact that 18 million Germans belong
to the Volk but, because they are living outside the borders of the Reich, do not yet belong to the Reich.

Everyone of our Volk who is employed must know for what reason and to what purpose he is where he is. It is only through this living and ever-present knowledge that his life will be rooted in the Volk as a whole, and in its destiny. Providing this knowledge is thus a necessary part of the creation of work; and it is your right, but therefore also your obligation, to demand this knowledge and to endeavor to acquire it.

And now, your younger comrades from the university stand ready to help you acquire this knowledge. They are resolved to help that knowledge to become alive in you, to help it develop and grow strong and never again to slumber. They stand ready, not as “intellectuals” (Gschtudierten) from the class of your “betters,” but as Volksgenossen who have recognized their duty.

They stand ready, not as the “educated” vis-à-vis a class — indeed, a “lower class” — of uneducated individuals, but as comrades. They are prepared to listen to your questions, your problems, your difficulties, and your doubts, to think through them with you, and, in shared effort, to bring them to a clear and decisive resolution. What, therefore, is the significance of the fact that you are assembled here in the auditorium of the University with us?

This fact is a sign that a new, common will exists, the will to build a living bridge between the worker of the “hand” and the worker of the “head.” Today, the will to bridge this gap is no longer a project that is doomed to failure. And why not? Because the whole of our German reality has been changed by the National Socialist State, with the result that our whole past way of understanding and thinking must also become different.

What we thought up to now when we used the words “knowledge” and Wissenschaft has taken on another significance.

What we meant up to now with the words “worker” and “work” has acquired another meaning.

Wissenschaft is not the possession of a privileged class of citizens, to be used as a weapon in the exploitation of the working people. Rather, Wissenschaft is merely the more rigorous and hence more responsible form of that knowledge which the entire German Volk must seek and demand for its own historical existence as a state (sein eigenes gesckichtiich-staat-liches Dasein) if it still wants to secure its continued existence and greatness and to preserve them in the future. In its essence, the knowledge of true Wissenschaft does not differ at all from the knowledge of the farmer, the woodcutter, the miner, the artisan. For knowledge means: to know one’s way around in the world into which we are placed, as a community and as individuals.

Knowledge means: in our decisions and actions to be up to the task that is assigned us, whether this task be to till the soil or to fell a tree or to dig a ditch or to inquire into the laws of Nature or to illumine the fate-like force of History.

Knowledge means: to be master of the situation into which we are placed.

What is decisive is not so much how varied our knowledge is and what quantity of things we know, but whether our knowledge has grown naturally out of and is directed towards our circle of existence (ein urspriinglich gewachsenes und aufunseren Daseinskreis ausgerichtetes) and whether, through our deeds and in our behavior, we take responsibility for what we know. We no longer distinguish between the “educated” and the “uneducated.” — And not because these are both the same, but because we no longer tie our esdmation of a person to this distinction. We do, on the other hand, differentiate between genuine knowledge and pseudo-knowledge. Genuine knowledge is something that both the farmer and die manual laborer have, each in his own way and in his own field of work, just as the scholar has it in his field. And, on the other hand, for all his learning, the scholar can in fact simply be wasting his time in die idle pursuit of pseudo-knowledge.

If you are to become ones who know here, then that does not mean that you will be served up scraps of some “general education,” as a charitable afterthought. Rather: that knowledge shall be awakened in you by means of which you — each in his respective class and work group — can be clear and resolute Germans.

Knowledge and die possession of knowledge, as National Socialism understands these words, does not divide into classes, but binds and unites Volksgenossen and social and occupational groups (Stände) in the one great will of the State.

Like these words “knowledge” and Wissenschaft, the words “worker” and “work,” too, have a transformed meaning and a new sound. The “worker” is not, as Marxism claimed, a mere object of exploitation. The workers (Arbeiterstand) are not the class of the disinherited who are rallying for the general class struggle. But labor is also not simply the production of goods for others. Nor is labor simply the occasion and die means to earn a living. Rather:

For us, “work” is the title of every well-ordered action that is borne by the responsibility of the individual, the group, and the State and which is thus of service to the Volk.

Work only exists where man’s determination and perseverance are freely engaged in the assertion of will and die accomplishment of a task; but there it exists everywhere. Therefore, all work is, as work, something spiritual (Geistiges), for it is founded in die free exercise of expert knowledge and in the competent understanding of one’s task; mat is: It is founded in authentic knowledge (eigentliches Wissen). The accomplishment of a miner is basically no less spiritual than the activity of a scholar.

Worker and work, as National Socialism understands these words, does not divide into classes, but binds and unites Volksgenossen and the social and occupational groups into the one great will of the State.

“Workers” and “academics” (die wissenschaftlich Wissenden) are not opposites. Every worker is, in his own way, one who knows; and only as one who knows is he able to work at all. The privilege of work is denied the animal. And conversely: Every person who acts knowingly and who makes decisions in and on the basis of Wissenschaft (wissenschaftlich Entscheidender) is a worker.

For this reason, neither for you nor for us can the will to build a living bridge remain any longer an empty, hopeless wish. This will, to consummate the creation of jobs by providing the right kind of knowledge, this will must be our innermost certainty and never faltering faith. For in what this will wills, we are only following the towering will of our Führer. To be his loyal followers means: to will that the German people shall again find, as a people of labor, its organic unity, its simple dignity, and its true strength; and that, as a state of labor, it shall secure for itself permanence and greatness.

To the man of this unprecedented will, to our Führer Adolf Hitler — a threefold “Sieg Heil!”

* This address was given by Heidegger at Freiburg University to 600 “beneficiaries” of the Nazi “labor service” program. Published in Der Alemanne Kampftlatt der Nationalsotialisten Oberbadens, February 1, 1934. Compiled by Richard Wolin and translated by William S. Lewis. Published in New German Critique, 45, Fall 1988.

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