In this excerpt from an article in The Atlantic Monthly (July 1919), the British Zionist Harry Sacher (1882–1971) explains to an American audience why the issue of a Jewish homeland is such a necessary part of the then-ongoing Paris Peace Talks, at the end of World War I.
Translation by Clifford R. Backman
From The Atlantic Monthly, July 1919
Paul Tillich (1886–1965) was a German-American theologian and a Christian existentialist philosopher. Born and raised in Germany, Tillich attended several universities there before becoming a Lutheran minister in the province of Brandenburg. It was while he was teaching in Frankfurt between 1929 and 1933 that he came into conflict with the Nazi party because of his lectures and speeches throughout Germany, and he was fired after Hitler came to power in 1933. Soon thereafter Tillich moved to the United States, where he became a citizen in 1940. Tillich’s work as a philosopher was tied to questions of ontology (the study of being). While his philosophy concentrated on generating questions about what it means to be human, his interest in theology sought to generate answers. Tillich saw the idea of “correlation” as the concept that linked his interest in philosophical questions and theological answers. In Collective Guilt, he takes a somewhat mystical approach to the idea that the Germans as a whole were guilty in the “destiny” of Germany, that the crimes perpetuated by individuals were representative of the destiny of the wider German community.
From Ronald H. Stone and Matthew Lon Weaver, eds., Paul Tillich’s Wartime Addresses to Nazi Germany. Trans. Matthew Lon Weaver. Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999, pp. 178–82.
Benito Mussolini and Giovanni Gentile
Through a series of small demonstrations and gatherings in 1919, Benito Mussolini (1883–1945) created, at least in his own estimation, a completely new political ideology. He named this philosophy for a symbol used in the ancient Roman empire: the fasces, which was a bundle of rods together with an ax and carried by lictors as a representation of power. Mussolini was installed as Italy’s leader, or “Duce,” in October 1922. He published an explanation of what he had achieved as well as a statement of his political beliefs in the Enciclopedia Italiana in June 1932. Reflecting on a decade of a ruthless grab for and maintenance of “totalitarian” power (the word itself was coined by this regime, and specifically with the collaboration of Mussolini’s court philosopher, Giovanni Gentile), Mussolini justified the violence inflicted by his regime and emphasized its fundamentally “moral” basis.
Jeffrey T. Schnapp, ed., A Primer of Italian Fascism, trans. Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Olivia E. Sears, and Maria G. Stampino (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000), 48–50.
As a result of the failure of his Beer Hall Putsch in Munich in November 1923, Adolf Hitler (1889–1945) was sent to a minimum security prison at Landsberg. However, he was paroled, four years before the completion of his sentence, in December 1924. Having met with the respect of his judges during his trial in February 1924 and with the approval of the Bavarian Supreme Court, although against the advice of state prosecutors, he had his sentence—after his conviction for a treasonable attempt to take over the state—commuted. Nevertheless, there were some restrictions, both in Bavaria and elsewhere in Germany, on Hitler’s speaking and freedom of movement. In spite of these restrictions, he emerged from prison with the manuscript of a new political statement of his life and philosophy, a document he entitled Mein Kampf (“My struggle”). As recently discovered documents reveal, Hitler hoped to use the proceeds from the sale of this book for a new car as well as to fund his political movement. The party growing out of this movement would be labeled the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, and he would be installed as its unquestioned Führer (leader) by 1925. The following excerpt from Mein Kampf reveals what he had learned about rhetoric and political action in his nascent career.
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, trans. Ralph Mannheim (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998), 469–471.
Halidé Edib Adivar
Halidé Edib Adivar (1884–1964) was a Turkish feminist and writer, best known for novels focusing on the status of Turkish women. Born in Constantinople (Istanbul), she was connected by family to the court of the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II and educated in a multilingual environment where she learned Arabic, English, and French. One of a new generation of women, her experiences spanned the old world of harems as well as the new world of professional women. Her early career involved writing articles on education for newspapers and work for the ministry of education. Her memoir is not particularly personal, focusing as it largely does on Turkey’s struggle for nationhood, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War, and the Nationalist politics of its first “modern” leader, Kemal Ataturk.
From H. Edib, The Memoirs of Halidé Edib. London: John Murray, 1926, pp. 11–4, 85–8, 142–8. Halidé Edib, The Turkish Ordeal: Further Memoirs. London: John Murray, 1928, pp. 25–34 (excerpts).
Albert Camus (1913 – 1960) was a French author, journalist, and philosopher. He is one of the founders of absurdism, a philosophy that developed in Europe immediately after World War II and that views the tendency of humans to seek inherent value and meaning in life as impossible goal.
Published in Paris, 1942 by Gallimard: Le mythe de Sisyphe. Translation by Clifford Backman from Parts 1 and 4 of the original
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) was a staunch resistor of the Nazi party and a Lutheran pastor, theologian, and writer. His political resistance largely took the form of trying to prevent the Nazis from controlling German Protestant churches; to this effect he was a founding member of the Confessing Church, a branch of the German Protestant Church created especially to resist the Nazi efforts at religious control. He was arrested in 1943, on Hitler’s express orders, and sent to a concentration camp, where he was executed in 1945. His legacy, however, as a theologian is somewhat contested. While opposing the Nazi party, he raised questions that he was unable to resolve before his early death; he took traditionally Christian views toward the Jews, which meant viewing them as a people who would eventually accept Jesus as a Messiah.
From “Sermon on Jeremiah 20:7.” London, Third Sunday after Epiphany, January 21, 1934.
Fatima Mernissi is a Moroccan feminist and sociologist. After studying at the Sorbonne in Paris, she received her Ph.D. from Brandeis University before returning to Morocco. Mernissi’s work has largely focused on the role of women within Islam, and she has examined the ways in which traditional Islamic cultures have treated women versus how the Qur’an (the source of much of Islamic “orthodoxy”) treats them. Her first book Beyond the Veil (1975) became a classic in the fields of anthropology and sociology. Doing Daily Battle: Interviews with Moroccan Women (1989) was prompted in part by the suggestion that feminism was a Western concern. For the book, Mernissi interviewed a hundred women, mostly from the lower classes, and collected a great deal of material on a diversity of subjects such as culinary culture, spirituality, sex, and family.
From Fatima Mernissi, Doing Daily Battle: Interviews with Moroccan Women. Trans. Mary Jo Lakeland. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1989, pp. 126–44, 213–7 (excerpts).
Franklin D. Roosevelt
During his first inaugural address as the president of the United States in March 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt had warned his fellow Americans, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Through a series of radio broadcasts called “fireside chats,” the president continued to reassure the American public during the darkest days of the Depression. He would go on, in January 1941, to enumerate the “four freedoms” to which every American, and perhaps every person around the globe, was entitled. Among these were freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and, perhaps most importantly, freedom from fear.
Suffering from debilitating illness in the final years of the war, Roosevelt persisted in envisioning a world in which those four freedoms could be guaranteed—and in which the unprecedented and horrific suffering of World War II could be transformed into a new period of human development. As Thomas Paine had argued about the American Revolution, there was now a chance “to begin the world over again.” Roosevelt prepared an oration on the subject to be delivered on the occasion of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. The war was drawing to its close in Europe, and would end several months later in Asia—but Roosevelt did not live to see the achievement of peace. Although he died on April 12, 1945, the day before he was to deliver this address, the prepared speech demonstrates the tenor of Roosevelt’s thought at this point in his life.
Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, the American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=16602.