Gershom Scholem, Hannah Arendt

Correspondence – 1939-1964

Edited by Marie Luise Knott in collaboration with David Heredia; with approximately 20 illustrations
Gershom Scholem
Foto: Gershom Scholem
© Aliza Auerbach

Gershom Scholem, 1897-1982, established a new strand of research through his work: the academic exploration of Jewish mysticism, that opened up a new understanding of Jewish history. His work has been translated into 40 languages. His exchange of letters with Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt are legendary.

Hannah Arendt
Foto: Hannah Arendt
© Fred Stein
Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) is one of the most significant thinkers of the 20th century. Driven into exile in America by the Nazis, she, a German-Jew, posed fundamental questions on philosophy and politics. Her life and thoughts opposed the constraints of the times with an attitude of independence and freedom.

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English world rights (Chicago UP), Spanish world rights (Trotta), France (Seuil), Japan (Iwanami Shoten), Israel (Babel)


This first-time publication of the correspondence between Gershom Scholem and Hannah Arendt is a unique contemporary historical document: a discussion on crucial questions of Jewish history and self-image after the Shoah led by two of the 20th century’s most significant thinkers of Jewish extraction.

»Jews die in Europe and they are buried like dogs.« This is how the letter ends in which Hannah Arendt informs Gershom Scholem in October 1940 that Walter Benjamin has taken his life while escaping from the Nazis. In times of greatest danger, a correspondence begins that is underpinned by a commitment to the work of their mutual friend and in which, from New York and Jerusalem, the world of European Judaism is always kept in sight. On behalf of the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, whose aim it was to save Jewish cultural assets stolen by the Nazis, Hannah Arendt and Gershom Scholem travelled for the first time back to Germany in the early post-war years. This largely unknown chapter in both their histories is documented in the letters and hitherto unpublished reports by Hannah Arendt of her 1949/50 journey through Germany. In 1963, Hannah Arendt’s book Eichmann in Jerusalem was published. In it, her criticism of Jewish representatives during the time of the Shoah was thoroughly rejected by Gershom Scholem in a public controversy. The dialogue that they had maintained for over two decades ended in silence.


»A unique document of contemporary history and of the German-Jewish mind in the twentieth-century.« Süddeutsche Zeitung

»These letters illuminate the historical record by placing into context and documenting not only the profound differences between these powerful personalities but also their commonalities, shared activities, interests, and loyalties. (One hopes that English and Hebrew translations of this correspondence are forthcoming.)« Jewish Review of Books

Other publications

Poetica/Poetica (2018)

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"Der liebe Gott wohnt im Detail" Briefwechsel 1939-1969/»The good Lord lives in the details« (2015)

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English world rights (Polity), Spanish world rights (Eterna Cadencia)