Lessons from Hannah Arendt on Arresting Our “Flight From Reality”

Source: Quillette
by Roger Berkowitz

“In 1949, when Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) went to Germany as part of the New York-based Jewish Cultural Reconstruction Commission, she was struck by the way the Germans showed an ‘at times vicious refusal to face and come to terms with what really happened.’ This ‘escape from reality,’ as Arendt named it, meant that the reality of the Holocaust and the death factories was spoken of as a hypothetical. And when the truth of the Holocaust was admitted, it was diminished: ‘The Germans did only what others are capable of doing.’ The Germans, at times, simply denied the facts of what had happened. … What Arendt encountered was a ‘kind of gentleman’s agreement by which everyone has a right to his ignorance under the pretext that everyone has a right to his opinion.'” (09/18/22)