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Hannah Arendt

October 14, 1906 - December 04, 1975
Hannah Arendt Hannah Arendt 

Born in Linden near Hanover in 1906, Hannah Arendt grew up in Königsberg. She started studying philosophy and theology in 1924, writing her PhD under Karl Jaspers in Heidelberg in 1928. Her academic work, which she continued in Berlin, was abruptly interrupted when the National Socialists took power. Although Hannah Arendt was particularly at risk herself as a Jew, she helped refugees and victims of persecution to escape the terror that immediately set in, and supported the German Zionist Organization. Briefly imprisoned by the Gestapo in July 1933, Arendt fled Germany for Paris soon afterwards, via Prague, Genoa and Geneva. In Paris, she joined the World Zionist Organization and found possibilities for Jewish children to emigrate to Palestine as the secretary-general of Youth Aliyah in France. In 1940, she married the journalist Heinrich Blücher, a member of the banned KPD-Opposition who had left Germany in 1934. After the outbreak of war, Arendt was interned for several weeks at Camp Gurs. Shaken by the death of her close friend Walter Benjamin, she managed to leave France for the USA in May 1941, along with her husband and her mother. In New York, she wrote regular columns for the German-Jewish emigrant newspaper Aufbau, also working for the Conference on Jewish Relations from 1944 on. Shortly before the end of the war, Hannah Arendt began working on her book Origins of Totalitarianism, which was extremely influential after its publication in 1951. She remained in the USA after 1945, teaching political philosophy as a professor at various universities. Up to her death in December 1975, her work returned many times to the fundamental issues of personal responsibility for political activities in totalitarian states, before the backdrop of her experience of the Nazi dictatorship and exile.