Lessons From Dietrich von Hildebrand

Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889–1977) was a German Catholic philosopher, part of a circle of thinkers that first formed around Edmund Husserl, founder of the philosophical method known as “phenomenology.” Others in that circle included Max Scheler, on whom Karol Wojtyla (St. John Paul II) wrote his second doctoral thesis, and Edith Stein, now St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. The phenomenologists thought philosophy had gotten detached from reality, drifting into the quicksand of thinking-about-thinking-about-thinking. Their motto was “to the things themselves,” and their project was to reconnect thought to reality by a precise observation and analysis of Things As They Are. Continue Reading »

From Cain to Isis

The radical Islamic movement ISIS is more radical than Islamic. It is true, of course, that this group’s vision of a restored caliphate in the Middle East, like its other ambitions, only makes sense in an Islamic context. But its methods—ruthless violence and criminality, grandiose goals framed in world-historical terms, leadership cadres regularly purged to ensure purity, and bloody public spectacles—are familiar elements of the modern European experience of radical politics. Continue Reading »

Wilm Hosenfeld: Warsaw’s Quiet Resister

Seventy years ago, the inhabitants of Warsaw boldly rose against their Nazi oppressors. The Warsaw Uprising lasted sixty-three days, defying all expectations. Yet at the war’s end, the Polish capital suffered more damage than any other city during World War II, including Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 85 percent its buildings were destroyed, while only 400,000 residents out of a prewar population of 1.3 million (including only 11,500 of 360,000 Jews) survived. In the orgy of cruelty that was the occupation of Warsaw, one German officer—Captain Wilm Hosenfeld—acted heroically. Continue Reading »

Hitler’s Mufti

In his 2004 book The Return of Anti-Semitism, Gabriel Schoenfeld declared that “the ancient and modern strands of anti-Semitism” have been “successfully fused today” in the Muslim world, “and from there the hatred of Jews receives its main propulsion outward.” In the 2003 Never Again? . . . . Continue Reading »

The Holocaust: What Was Not Said

For decades controversy has raged over the absence of any specific reference to Jews, or to their persecution by the Nazis, in Catholic Church statements between 1933 and 1945. In addition to historically justified questions, we have seen endlessly repeated charges against the Church and Pope Pius . . . . Continue Reading »

Pride and Patriotism

A great many Americans, especially those of a certain age, cannot hear the German language being spoken—by anyone under any conditions—without instantly bringing to mind Hitler, the Nazis, the Holocaust. It’s not willed; it’s simply instinct. . . . . Continue Reading »