the essential nature of Being was existentially tied to “the deepest necessity of German Dasein.”191

Heidegger’s belief in an ontologically conditioned racial hierarchy derived from his embrace of the Volksbegriff. This demarche led him to the “racialist” conclusion that the capacity for truth was not equally distributed among the world’s Völker, or peoples. Deutschtum’s exceptional and unique capacity for truth was counterbalanced by the defective understanding of truth displayed by inferior, “unhistorical” races or peoples: Jews, Slavs, and “Negroes.” In Heidegger’s view, their ontological deficiencies reduced them to avatars of Seinsvergessenheit.

Heidegger perceived the history of Being as, inherently and unavoidably, a racial struggle, or Kampf. At its center lay an ontological confrontation in which the “destiny of the West” hung in the balance. In order for Germany’s salvific role to be fulfilled, it was necessary to do battle with the ideological and geopolitical adversaries that threatened to impede or obstruct the path to “another Beginning.”

The “ontological differences” among peoples that Heidegger discerned —their hierarchical standing in the “epochal” trajectory of Seinsgeschichte —were predicated on racial distinctions: on the confluence of Volk, Boden, and Geschichte that Heidegger regarded as the keys to deciphering the fluctuations and rhythms of Geschichtlichkeit.

Heidegger’s understanding of truth’s “ontological rootedness” conditioned his view of Deutschtum’s historically privileged relationship to truth, hence his asseveration in the Black Notebooks that “the German alone . . . will conquer the essence of theoria.192 Heidegger was convinced that the “question of truth” and the question of German “destiny” (Schicksal) were inherently intertwined. On these grounds, he accorded Deutschtum an exceptional status in the metanarrative of Seinsgeschichte. Consequently, in Heidegger’s view, resolving the Wahrheitsfrage depended on reinstating what Heidegger described as the “primordial laws of our Germanic tribal heritage [Urgesetze unseres germanischen Menschenstammes].”193

Heidegger’s endorsement of “German exceptionalism”—the view that the German Volk harbored an ontological capacity for truth that other Völker lacked—provided an epistemological warrant for his commitment to German racial superiority. As such, race thinking infected the core of


Heidegger in Ruins by Richard Wolin page 155