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Hannah Arendt

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Philosopher and sociologist

Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt was born on 14 October 1906 in Hanover-Linden. After her school years in Königsberg, she studied philosophy in Marburg, Freiburg and Heidelberg, especially with Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers, as well as theology and classical philology. In 1928 she completed her doctorate with Jaspers with a thesis on the concept of love in Augustin. In 1929 she married Günther Stern (Günther Anders), from whom she separated again in 1937.

Escape from Germany and Return to Europe

In 1933, Arendt was arrested for illegal activity for the „Zionist Association for Germany“ in Berlin, but was released after a short stay in prison. She then fled via Prague to Paris, the first station of her exile. In Paris she finished her book on Rahel Varnhagen. Among other things, Arendt worked for the "Youth Aliyah" to save Jewish children. In 1941 she managed to escape to the USA with Heinrich Blücher, her second husband.

In 1951, Arendt became an American citizen. She worked as a journalist and took on teaching positions, became known as a columnist for the German-Jewish weekly "Aufbau", worked as an editor for the Schocken publishing house and as the executive director of the "Commission on European Jewish Cultural Reconstruction". In 1949/50, Arendt travelled through Europe. She met Jaspers again, with whom she had always exchanged letters. She also had her first meeting after the war with Heidegger, with whom she had broken off contact after 1933 due to his partisanship of the National Socialists.

Author and Scientist

In 1951, her book „The Origins of Totalitarianism“ (German, 1955: „Elemente und Ursprünge totaler Herrschaft“) was published in the USA and Great Britain and made her world famous. Further publications followed in English and German on topics in the field of tension between political theory and practical philosophy. Her main work on this subject appeared in 1958: „The human condition“ (German, 1960: „Vita activa“). In 1961, she followed the trial of Adolf Eichmann on behalf of the magazine „The New Yorker“ The resulting book „Eichmann in Jerusalem“ (1963) triggered a controversial debate. After years of teaching as a visiting professor at various American universities, she became professor of political science at the University of Chicago in 1963 and then (1967) at the New School for Social Research in New York. Hannah Arendt died in New York on 4 December 1975 at the age of 69.


Among numerous other awards, she received the „Lessing Prize“ from the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg in 1959, the „Sigmund Freud Prize“ for scientific prose from the German Academy for Language and Poetry in 1967, and the „Sonning Prize“ for contributions to European culture awarded by the Danish government in 1975.

Many Places of Remembrance

Hannah-Arendt-Bild am Hannah-Arendt-Geburtshaus

The city's great daughter is commemorated in a variety of ways in the state capital of Hanover: a commemorative plaque is attached to the house where she was born in Hanover-Linden, and there is a Hannah Arendt room in the town library with exhibits from her personal possessions. A school and a path near the town hall and state parliament are named after her - and since 2015 the representative square in front of the state parliament has been a reminder of the political theorist and philosopher. The Hannah Arendt scholarship is awarded annually and in cooperation with the Leibniz University of Hanover and the Volkswagen Foundation, the state capital invites you to the Hannah Arendt Days every year.

On the homepage www.hannah-arendt-hannover.de you can find all important information about Hannah Arendt and the events in German. And with the establishment of a Hannah Arendt student chair at the Helene Lange School under the patronage of Mayor Stefan Schostok, the following generation is committed to Hannah Arendt's legacy in this city.