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Eric Voegelins Haltung zum Nationalsozialismus. Überlegungen zum Briefwechsel Krieck-Voegelin (1933-1934)

Abstract : In Eric Voegelins Haltung zum Nationalsozialismus: Überlegungen zum Briefwechsel Krieck-Voegelin (1933 - 1934) (“Eric Voegelin’s Stance on National Socialism: Reflections on the Krieck-Voegelin Correspondence, 1933 - 1934”), Emmanuel Faye (Rouen) addresses two aspects of Voegelin’s research. For one thing, he discusses Voegelin’s writings on the race issue (1933 - 1935), which were partly inspired by the poet Stefan George and his circle. Here, Faye asks whether Voegelin’s conception of race should really be understood as a critique of National Socialism, as was often postulated by apologetic readers of Voegelin in the past. For another, he examines the correspondence between Voegelin and Alfred Baeumler and Ernst Krieck (these letters are being printed in part for the first time in the conference proceedings), which documents Voegelin’s desire for an academic appointment in Nazi Germany. The appointment that Voegelin initially expected to receive with Baeumler in Berlin fell through, with Baeumler citing Voegelin’s scholarly relationship with Hans Kelsen as the decisive obstacle. Voegelin learned from this experience for the subsequent correspondence with the rector of the University of Frankfurt, Ernst Krieck. The latter showed understanding for Voegelin’s remarks concerning his conception of race. In his writings, Voegelin advocated the idea of race both as an instrument for “interpreting the meaning of one’s own life and the wider life of the community” as well as for “shaping the community”. In so arguing, however, he violated the requirement of academic neutrality, in Faye’s judgment. Krieck nevertheless requested a more detailed account of Voegelin’s personal situation. In response, the latter not only provided proof of his Aryan origins but also explained, and even justified, his relationship with Kelsen. Although Voegelin had been the assistant of the ethnic Jew Kelsen, towards Krieck he denied his scholarly relationship to Kelsen. Voegelin wrote that he had never had “a close political and scholarly relationship with Kelsen” and expressly rejected any scholarly influence by his former teacher. From Baeumler’s negative written reply, Voegelin had learned to perceive the relationship with Kelsen as a deficit. In 1973, however, Voegelin would declare that there had never been any disagreement between him and Kelsen concerning the fundamental validity of the Pure Theory of Law; rather, the differences had stemmed, among other things, from the influence of George, which Kelsen rejected. Faye argues that Voegelin was not only sympathetic with the content of Nazi ideology (through his academic works) but also that, driven by his desire for a university career, he actively courted the academic Nazi ideologues and in the process satisfied their racial expectations (even concerning himself). Faye points out that Aurel Kolnei had already recognized Voegelin’s contribution to the racialization of the concept of science in 1938. Hence, Faye’s essay not only reveals Voegelin’s maneuvering, his attempts to accommodate himself to the circumstances, but also how far concessions to political reality could go for the sake of an appointment.
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Submitted on : Friday, June 29, 2018 - 10:52:37 PM
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Emmanuel Faye. Eric Voegelins Haltung zum Nationalsozialismus. Überlegungen zum Briefwechsel Krieck-Voegelin (1933-1934). Moriz Epple, Johannes Fried, Raphael Gross und Janus Gudian, Politisierung der Wissenschaft« Jüdische Wissenschaftler und ihre Gegner an der Universität Frankfurt vor und nach 1933, 05, Wallstein Verlag, pp.111-146, 2016, Schriftenreihe des Frankfurter Universitätsarchivs, 978-3-8353-1438-2. ⟨hal-01826631⟩

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