In the second half of the 1930s, sometime around 1937, in Überlegungen VIII, the Jews or Judaism expressly surface for the first time as actors in the being-historical narrative.4 One “of the most hidden forms of the gigantic and perhaps the oldest” would be “the tenacious skillfulness at calculating and trafficking and intermixing, whereby the worldlessness of Judaism is grounded.”5 For Heidegger at this time, the “gigantic” is one of the forms of “machination,” i.e., of the self-totalizing rationalizing and technologizing of the world. This development calls for a definite form of thinking, which he recognizes in the “skillfulness at calculating,” i.e., in the “calculative ability,” of the Jews.

This peculiar notion requires a more precise interpretation. For Heidegger does not proclaim that this “worldlessness” would be, so to speak, a natural characteristic of Judaism.6 Rather, he thinks that it is first “grounded” through the “tenacious skillfulness at calculating.” This “skillfulness,” however, would be “one of the most hidden forms of the gigantic,” i.e., of “machination.” The origin of the worldlessness of Judaism is thus machination, which brings calculation to power as a world-defining activity. That machination requires and grounds the worldlessness of humans is a well-known thought from the repertoire of Heidegger’s critique of technology; that this grounds the “worldlessness of Judaism” is a problematic narrowing of the point.

Accordingly Heidegger appears to take a quite banal anti-Semitic ascription (a “marked gift for calculation”) and give it a being-historical transformation—and in this figure of thought his anti-Semitism is anchored. It is the figure of the “haggling Jew” (Schacherjude), who represents one of the most common figures of Judaism in all of anti-Semitism.7 Since the twelfth century in the Christian West, the collecting of interest was forbidden,