Good Nazis, “Killable Bodies”, and Guilt By Association

Comrade Morlock
10 min readJan 9, 2024
Postcard: “Good friends from three countries”

When a Zionist dismissed Hannah Arendt by citing her relationship with Martin Heidegger, the German philosopher who joined the Nazi Party, I replied,

You are indulging in guilt by association, a common trick of people who don’t want to engage with the actual argument.

…As for whether Heidegger was antisemitic, even Nazis thought he was not.

We know this because Karl Löwith, a friend of Heidegger’s who fled Germany when the Nazis came to power, wrote:

The petty-bourgeois orthodoxy of the [Nazi] party was suspicious of Heidegger’s National Socialism insofar as Jewish and racial considerations played no role. [His book] Sein und Zeit [Being and Time] was dedicated to the Jew Husserl, his Kant book to the half-Jew Scheler, and in his courses at Freiburg, Bergson and Simmel were taught.

Arendt and others who knew Heidegger said his membership in the Nazi Party was an astonishing personal failing, but that did not mean he was antisemitic. Heidegger failed to understand the essence of what he had joined. If you think that’s impossible to do, read on.

Researching the reason good people stood by Heidegger got me thinking about the apparent oxymoron, “good Nazi”, which made me remember two people I think of as casual friends.

The first was a Jewish writer who blamed Germans so much for the Holocaust that he did not want his work sold in Germany. He defended his prejudice by citing Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners, a book that was extraordinarily popular when it appeared in the 1990s. Respected historians despised it —one expert on the Holocaust, Raul Hilberg, summed it up as being “totally wrong about everything”.

But the book spoke to my friend. It let him hate millions of people for the horrors of the Holocaust. It assured him that he was a good person and Germans were evil. I wish I had known then to ask how he explained the great secrecy around the Wannsee Conference when the Nazi elite officially changed their plan for Jews from expulsion to extermination. (If you know little about the Wannsee Conference, I recommend Conspiracy, a movie based on a transcript of the meeting.)

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Comrade Morlock

If you’re losing an argument with me and are too proud to admit defeat, please feel free to insult me instead.