“Volksgemeinschaft”—another Nazi idiom that Heidegger employed profusely—was also inseparable from the Rassengedanke. By the mid- 1920s, it, too, had been fully racialized. Volksgemeinschaft excluded from the national community “racially alien” groups whose ethnic difference was adjudged potentially injurious to the Volk’s well-being. As Hitler ominously avowed in 1934, “Only by realizing an authentic Volksgemeinschaft, one that annuls antagonistic interest groups and classes, might one permanently eliminate deformations of the human spirit.”200

Heidegger’s use of Volksgemeinschaft was wholly consistent with the term’s ideological employment under Nazism. For example, in the Rektoratsrede, Heidegger lauded Arbeitsdienst (labor service) as “the bond that unites the Volksgemeinschaft. It entails the obligation to share fully . . . in the toil, the striving, and the abilities of all estates and members of the Volk.” In “Arbeitslager und die Universität” (Labor Camps and the University), Heidegger exalted Arbeitslager as a “new institution for the direct revelation of the Volksgemeinschaft.” And in a June 1933 address on “the university in the New Reich,” Heidegger urged that “the university be integrated again within the Volksgemeinschaft and be joined together with the State.”201

As the Second World War neared its apocalyptic crescendo, Heidegger persisted in his belief that the West’s “redemption” was, necessarily, an exclusively German affair. Heidegger’s conviction, far from being a contingent or occasional insight, was an ontological judgment: it was predicated on his view that the Germans alone were privy to the hidden “truth of Being” (Wahrheit des Seyns). As Heidegger observed, “Whatever may lie in store ‘externally’ with respect to the destiny of the West, the authentic test for the Germans still lies ahead: . . . whether they, as Germans, in accordance with the truth of Being [Wahrheit des Seyns] and in readiness for death, can remain strong enough in the face of the small-mindedness [Kleingeisterei] of the modern world to redeem the [Greek] ‘Origin’ [das Anfängliche].” “Only the Germans,” added Heidegger, “are capable of redeeming the West in its history.”202

Hence, as late as 1943, Heidegger remained oblivious to the catastrophic consequences that the ideology of “German exceptionalism” had wrought. Instead, he continued to insist that only the Germans—in

Heidegger in Ruins by Richard Wolin page 157