Das Rektorat 1933–34: Tatsachen und Gedanken

The Rectorate 1933/34: Facts and Thoughts

In this short text, written in 1945, Heidegger renders an account for his rectorate in 1933–34 and his relation to National Socialism. He claims that he was elected rector in April 1933 by the unanimous vote of the plenum of the university. He had no contact with relevant government and party agencies, was himself not a member of the party, nor had he been active politically in any way. It was uncertain whether those at the center of political power would listen to him and whether the university would actively join him to discover and shape its structure and direction in a more primordial way.

He saw in National Socialism the possibility of an “inner recollection and renewal of the German people,” and a path that would allow them to discover their historical vocation in the Western world. In Heidegger’s view, it was the task of the university to contribute to this inner self-gathering of the German people. For this reason, he saw in the rectorate an opportunity to lead all capable forces back to this process of renewal. In this manner, he hoped also to counter the advance of unsuitable persons and the threatening hegemony of the party apparatus and party doctrine. Because of differences with the minister of culture concerning the conception of the university and its place in society, Heidegger resigned from office in 1934.