Hannah Arendt Biography

Hannah arendt was a German philosopher and political essayist, who was born on October 14, 1906, in Linden-Limmer, Hannover, Germany, into a Jewish family.

Their parents were Paul Arendt and Martha Cohn. After her father died in 1913, she spent her childhood in Königsberg, where she was raised by her mother. Hannah was a girl with a precocious intelligence, who began to read at Immanuel Kant already Karl Jaspers at fourteen. At seventeen she was already passionate about Søren Kierkegaard and by the study of Greek.

At the age of eighteen he attended the philosophy classes of Martin Heidegger in University of Marburg. Due to a secret affair with his teacher, Martin Heidegger, at the age of nineteen he went to Freiburg University, where he met who would be his tutor and friend, Karl Jaspers.

At the age of twenty-two, Hannan Arendt obtained his Doctorate in Philosophy, being his tutor Karl Jaspers, and his thesis: “The concept of love in Saint Augustine”(1928).

Hannah was married to Günther Anders from 1929 to 1937 and after their divorce, she married Heinrich Blücher from 1940 to 1970.

Do not miss also the biography of Judith Butler

Before Nazism came to power in 1933, her friend Karl Jaspers tried to convince her to consider herself German, which she rejected by saying that she was Jewish. Hannah Arendt wrote from her native country: “For me, Germany is the mother tongue, philosophy and poetry ”.

In an environment marked by Nazism, I help refugees; in July 1933 she was arrested by the Gestapo, for which she emigrated to Paris, that same year. From there, working as a journalist for a German-language newspaper, he asked for the formation of a Jewish army to fight Nazism.

Emphasizing his political participation, he gave lectures, approached the ZionismTherefore, the national socialist regime withdrew his German nationality in 1937. As a result, he was stateless for fourteen years, until in 1951, he was granted American nationality.

Hannah Arendt had become someone uprooted, for she was a Jew who had lost her tradition and she was a German who had been expelled from her country.

In 1941 she emigrated to the United States and in New York began to work as an editor in a German Jewish magazine, taking more critical positions on the Zionist conception of the world. Comparing it with ideologies like socialism and the liberalismDespite this, however, from 1944 to 1946 she was director of research for the Conference on Jewish Relations. And from 1949 to 1952 she was executive secretary of the Corporation for the Reconstruction of Jewish Culture.

Beginning in the spring of 1959, she was a visiting professor at the Princeton University, being the first woman to teach in that institution. Then, from 1963 to 1967, Arendt was a professor at the Chicago University and from 1967 until his death he was in the New School of Social Research In New York.

Most of his posthumous legacy rests with that institution, where his last work was posthumously edited by his literary executor and great friend, Mary McCarthy.

Hannah Arendt died in New York on December 4, 1975, after a second myocardial infarction.


Hannah’s first great work in was “The origins of totalitarianism”(1951), which is still a reference book when you want to properly investigate the totalitarianism.

The objective of this work was to study the underground currents that generated the appearance of an unprecedented phenomenon: the total domination or totalitarianism. The book has three parts: Anti-Semitism, Imperialism and Totalitarianism.

In the first two parts, Arendt based her research on existing historical and literary material, while for the third part, she worked the documentation on her own.

For Hannah Arendt, within the roots of totalitarianism are anti-Semitism and imperialism.

One of the most controversial arguments was that totalitarian movements take over all ideologies to convert them through terror into new forms of state. How did the Nazism and the stalinism, because according to Arendt totalitarianism spreads to all areas of human life and not only at the political level.

Totalitarianism is an ideology that, through terror, eliminates plurality, thus promoting isolation and loneliness. Well, a specific feature that Arendt attributes to totalitarianism is the leading role of the masses, totally undifferentiated.

Death of Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt at the end of her life, had returned to one of her initial concerns when reflecting: her own philosophy. With his death, he leaves his latest book unfinished: The life of the spirit.

In the letters she wrote to her friends, she spoke of her desire to stay productive until death. Therefore, after his first myocardial infarction in 1974, he resumed writing and his classes. Only so that in 1975, in the presence of some of his friends, he had a second fatal heart attack in his office.

This is how death surprises her in New York, on December 4, 1975 and on the sheet of paper of her typewriter there would be a title: “The force of judgment”. Title that would be accompanied by two epigraphs, a maxim by Cicero and a passage from Goethe’s Faust.

Also, thanks to the material he used in his classes and the notes he made from his readings, it was published posthumously: “Lectures on Kant’s political philosophy”.

Hannah Arendt’s Outstanding Works

Among the most outstanding works of Hannah Arendt we have:

  • The concept of love in Saint Augustine (1929)
  • The origins of totalitarianism (1951)
  • The Human Condition (1958)
  • Rahel Varnhagen: Life of a Jewish Woman (1958)
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem. A Study in the Banality of Evil (1963)
  • On the revolution (1963)
  • Men in times of darkness (1968)
  • On Violence (1970)

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