Arendt, Power and Education



In an interview with the novelist, Gunter Grass, in 1964, Hannah Arendt responded to a question prompting her recollections of being a child in a Jewish family in Germany at the beginning of the twentieth century with the following words:

You see, all Jewish children encountered anti-Semitism. And the souls of many children were poisoned by it. The difference with me lay in the fact that my mother always insisted that I not humble myself. One must defend oneself! When my teachers made anti-Semitic remarks — usually they were not directed at me but at my other classmates, particularly at the Eastern Jewessess — I was instructed to stand up immediately, to leave the class, go home, and leave the rest to school protocol. My mother would have written one of her many letters, and, with that, my involvement in the matter ended completely. I had a day off from school, and that was, of course, very nice. But if the remarks came at me from other children, I was not allowed to go home and tell. That did not count. One had to defend oneself against remarks from other children. (Original emphasis, Arendt cited in Young-Bruehl, 2004, pp. 11–12)


Young People Young Person Original Emphasis Passive Dimension Public Realm 
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© Wayne Veck 2015

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