“How did the German citizens allow Hitler to come to power? How did an entire nation drink the Kool-Aid[i] of anti-Semitism and national socialism?”
These questions have run through the minds of most Americans upon learning of the atrocities of World War II and the Holocaust. As a child, I remember thinking to myself, “We would never allow this to happen in America,” as if being an American somehow implied I am of a morally superior race, a breed of humans whose innate, well-formed consciences would prevent us from allowing such egregious crimes to be committed on our land. Despite my naive musings, no such metaphysical difference exists between humans today and those of a hundred years ago. Therefore, it follows that not every 20th century German was a heartless Nazi or silent bystander. There were a few men and women during the reign of the Third Reich who remained disenchanted by Hitler’s allure and the weltanschauung of national socialism.
One such man was the German philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand. Hildebrand was the formidable intellectual warrior whom Adolf Hitler himself once referred to as his public enemy number one.