Journal in the Night

Theodor Haecker wrote his Tag-und-Nachtbücher, a diary of anti-Nazi diatribe, in secret from 1939-1945. He read passages to the White Rose resistance group in Münich. Like Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen, Haecker was a conservative critic of the Nazi regime and a Catholic convert. Haecker’s invective may lack the sheer sneering force of his fellow diarist, but it contains thoughtful reflections upon the world of ideas:

275. German idealism, in Kant and Fichte, is a Prussian affair. Schelling belongs elsewhere; he was a spontaneously speculative mind and a gnostic. Hegel too was originally a great speculative mind, but as happened again and again with so many south German minds, he became infected with Prussianism and was corrupted. Prussian idealism took the heart of flesh and blood from the German and in its place gave him one of iron and paper. The German heart is now a material all of its own, of paper and iron, claptrap and act. That is really the ‘inhuman’ quality of the German as a Prussian product.

Haecker concerns himself with the way philosophical ideas are refracted by culture. He complains that his German contemporaries “make lunatics into founders of religion” (655). For example, “Hitler is an utterly plebeanized version of Nietzsche-Wagner” (325). Nietzsche was a madman full of absurdity. But Haecker insists that Nietzsche’s heirs have an empty and absurd ideology. They conjure a nationalistic Herrgott-religion” that could only convince ‘paper-and-iron’ Prussians primed for dutifulness:

283. Apart from ‘the faith’, the only choice is between the ‘inadequate’ and the ‘absurd’. Bourgeois Europe chose the ‘inadequate’, and was followed in this choice by the Fascists. Individual geniuses prefer some ‘absurd’ or other, usually gnostic in origin of nature, like Schelling and Scheler, or of a private nature, like Nietzsche (Eternal Recurrence) or Rilke (Weltinnenraum). The faces of those who chose the inadequate as religion as, so to say, one-dimensional. They themselves talk of health and harmony. One cannot deny that at the moment a tremendous effort is being made with the help of the religion of the inadequate, the religion of ‘this world’, to master the life of man and to lead it. Ultimately the attempt is a battle against God, and the most terrible decision He could make would be for the attempt to be allowed to succeed — that would be the end of Europe.

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