“She wasn’t very nice,” my father said. “We were fundraising for the Haganah in New York, not long after the war, and met with her, along with Herbert Marcuse and Max Horkheimer. ” Stunned, I asked, “Did you have any idea who you were talking to at the time?” Elie shrugged his shoulders, as though it wasn’t really important back then. “Marcuse, he was more of a gentleman. Arendt was a typical Berlinischer Jugend.”
I’ve been meaning to revisit this conversation with my dad for a while. I’ve been thinking a lot about this specific generation of German Jewish intellectuals since we arrived. Having written three theses on them (well, two, plus one incomplete dissertation), I’m having a lot of flashbacks, and have been repeatedly asking myself why their work meant to much to me when I was younger. I can’t say I feel any less fond of it now.