Exhibition Hannah Arendt and the 20th Century

Hannah Arendt Foto: Fred Stein/Corbis © www.philosophersmag.com

Fri, 03.04.2020 -
Fri, 10.04.2020

A virtual tour of the exhibition by Radio Berlin Brandenburg (rbb)

The Jewish German-American publicist Hannah Arendt is one of the most important political thinkers of the 20th century. In 1933 she emigrated from Germany and finally found a new home in New York. After WWII, her articles on the Eichmann Trial, entitled "Eichmann in Jerusalem. A Report on the Banality of Evil," sparked controversy. She also wrote about current events such the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, the student movement in 1968 and topics such as migration or racism.

Even today, 44 years after her death she is still widely read considered an important thinker of our time. Günter Gaus' legendary conversation with Hannah Arendt (from 1964) on youtube has been viewed around a million times.

In cooperation with the German Historical Museum (DHM), rbb radio gives you an insight into the exhibition "Hannah Arendt and the 20th Century". You can take a virtual tour of the exhibition. The rbb Kultur also offers audio pieces on different focus areas.
These are the chapters in the exhibition
Hannah Arendt's studies on Rahel Varnhagen Growing anti-Semitism in Germany lin the late 1920’s led Hannah Arendt to turn her attention from philosophy to politics. She started to write a biography about Rahel Varnhagen, the Jewish salon lady at the time of Johann Wolfgang Goethe.
Rahel Varnhagen’s life was widely considered an example of successful emancipation. However, Arendt disagreed. Listen to the audio collage: "Hannah Arendt in conversation with Walter Benjamin and Käte Hamburger about the Varnhagen book".
In 1941 Hannah Arendt escaped to New York via Lisbon. Here she wrote about Zionism. In the German-Jewish emigrant magazine „Aufbau“, she called for the establishment of a Jewish army that would fight with the Allies against Hitler.
Zionism After the war, Arendt's relationship with Zionism became more distant. Listen to the audio collage: "Hannah Arendt in conversation with Clement Greenberg and Gershom Scholem about her article 'Zionism Reconsidered'.
Total Rule - model of crematorium II Auschwitz-Birkenau Between 1940 and 1945, European Jews, Poles, Sinti and Roma were murdered in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, a large part of them by the poison Zyklon B. The Polish sculptor Mieczysław Stobierski produced this model for the German Historical Museum in 1994/95. 
Hannah Arendt's study "Elements and Origins of Total Rule" was published in 1951. She describes the Nazi concentration and extermination camps as the most consistent establishment of total rule. As in a laboratory, people were tested whether it was possible to exert total rule.
"Eichmann in Jerusalem. A report on the banality of evil" In 1961 Hannah Arendt participated as a reporter in the trial against Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Eichmann was responsible for the deportation of millions of Jews. Arendt's report appeared in 1963. Her description of Eichmann as banal and her comments on the Jewish Councils set up by the National Socialists sparked a great deal of debate. Listen to the audio collage: "Eichmann controversy".
Jewish Cultural Reconstruction (JCR) In 1949 Hannah Arendt became managing director of the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction in New York.
This organization was set up to find cultural assets stolen by the National Socialists and to transfer them to the USA and Israel.
Hannah Arendt's request for reparation Hannah Arendt brought an appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court in 1966. It was about the right to a lost civil servant's pension. Due to her flight from Germany in 1933, Arendt could not complete her study of Rahel Varnhagen with a habilitation procedure. The court decided to recognize the study as a habilitation. 
American citizen Arendt received American citizenship in 1951. For her, the United States was the most politically free country in the world. She taught at various universities, e.g. the University of Chicago and Wesleyan University.
Reflections on Little Rock In the mid-1950s, the US Supreme Court overturned segregation in public schools. When black students were prevented from attending school by whites, the government sent federal troops to protect them.
Most intellectuals welcomed the effort. Not Hannah Arendt. In her article, "Reflections on Little Rock," she criticized the state's actions. Listen to the audio collage: "Debate on Arendt's article 'Reflections on Little Rock'".
The Hungarian Revolution 1956 „If there was ever such a thing as Rosa Luxemburg’s ‚spontaneous revolution‘“, wrote Hannah Arendt, „this sudden uprising of an oppressed people for the sake of freedom and hardly anything else…then we had the privilege to witness it."
International Student Movement, 1960s  Hannah Arendt greeted the students‘ protests in the USA as a newly discovered pleasure in politics. She also expressed sympathy for the May protests in Paris, and for one of their activist: Daniel Cohn-Bendit, whose parents she had been friends with in her Paris exile.
Arendt was more critical about the German student movement. It appeared to her to be dogmatic and theoretical. Listen to the audio collage: "Interview by Adelbert Reif with Hannah Arendt about the student protests".
Friends Her close and friends helped Hannah Arendt to span a network over the abyss of escaped and displacement. Among her friends: Karl Jaspers, Mary McCarthy, Martin Heidegger, Heinrich Blucher, Walter Benjamin, Anne Weil, Hans Jonas, Günther Anders, Edna Brocke, Lotte Köhler and Wystan H. Auden.