[Marxism] Heinrich Blucher and Hans Jonas

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu May 16 12:09:46 MDT 2013

Just came back from a press screening of "Hannah Arendt", a film 
directed by Margerethe von Trotta that opens at the Film Forum on 5/29. 
I will have much more to say about this film that focuses on Arendt's 
New Yorker articles on the Eichmann trial but want to mention at this 
point that two of the lead characters were professors of mine. One was 
Heinrich Blucher, who was Arendt's husband and my professor at Bard; the 
other was Hans Jonas, who was my philosophy professor at the New School 
Graduate Faculty and a long-time friend of Arendt who broke with her for 
a couple of years over her articles that was judged at the time as an 
apology for Eichmann (the banality of evil argument was hard for many to 
swallow, especially hard-core Zionists like Hans Jonas.) These profiles 
on Blucher and Jonas come from the press notes at Film Forum:

HEINRICH BLÜCHER was born in 1899 in Berlin. The son of a factory worker 
who died before he was born, was raised by his laundress mother. He was 
drafted into World War I before finishing school, and returned to join 
the rebellious soldier’s council — one of the many Worker’s Councils who 
rioted in the streets when the war finally came to an end. Blücher 
joined Rosa Luxemburg’s Spartacus League and soon afterwards, he became 
a member of the German Communist Party. He had a hunger for learning — 
but not for schooling. He also avoided gainful employment in order to 
read as much as possible — consuming Shakespeare, Marx, Engels and Trotsky.

Although he was a Gentile, in his adventurous quest to educate himself, 
he joined the “Blue White,” a Zionist youth group. He also worked on 
various cabaret and film projects before fleeing the Nazi regime in 1933 
to Prague, and later to France. It was in Paris that he met and fell 
quickly in love with Hannah Arendt. After one youthful marriage, and a 
second to secure citizenship for a girlfriend, Arendt became his third 
wife. Together they escaped via Spain and Portugal to the U.S., and 
settled in New York. Blücher lectured at the New School for Social 
Research, and starting in 1952 — despite his lack of even a high school 
diploma — he taught at Bard College as a Professor of philosophy. 
Heinrich Blücher died in 1970. In one of his last lectures he 
anonymously invokes his relationship with Arendt: “What counts now is 
the mutual insight of two personalities who recognize and respect each 
other as such; who in effect can say to each other, ‘I guarantee you the 
development of your personality and you guarantee me the development of 
mine.’ This is the basis of all real community thinking.” After thirty - 
four years together, Arendt found it nearly impossible to imagine life 
without her husband.

HANS JONAS was born on May 10, 1903, in Mönchengladbach. His father was 
a textile manufacturer; his mother was the daughter of the Chief Rabbi 
of Krefeld. Against the wishes of his father, Jonas became involved in 
Zionist circles. He also began studying philosophy and art history in 
Freiburg and Marburg, under Martin Heidegger and Edmund Husserl. Jonas 
met Hannah Arendt when both were young students, and except for one 
bitter but temporary interruption, they remained friends their entire 
lives. In August 1933 he immigrated to London; then went to Jerusalem 
1935, where in 1944 he joined the Jewish Brigade of the British Army and 
fought against the Germans. I n 1949 he moved to Canada, and then in 
1955 finally settled in Ne w Rochelle, New York, where he had a joyous 
reunion with Arendt and joined her circle of friends. He took guest 
professorships at various prestigious universities in the U.S., mainly 
lecturing on the history of philosophy and the humanities. Their 
friendship was heavily strained by a conflict arising from the release 
of Arendt’s articles and book on Adolf Eichmann. They didn’t speak for 
two years, but Jonas’ wife Lore finally helped the two old friends mend 
their rift.

My past articles on Blucher and Jonas:



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