We Refugees (collected in Hannah Arendt: The Jew as Pariah)


by Hannah Arendt (1906 - 1975)

A diatribe carved out of such dry irony that the reader feels its case almost viscerally.

After discussing the stigmatisation of the term ‘refugee’, Arendt then examines why her fellow German Jewish ‘emigrants’, apparently resettled, and ‘having made a lot of optimistic speeches, go home and turn on the gas…’. On the impossible balancing act between forgetting and remembering, on differing responses to political and personal problems, on the paradox of humiliating salvations, on a world where legal statuses and statistics replace human beings, and on manias of Jewish identity, this piece is both of its moment and magnificently relevant.

Related recommendation: Arendt’s book-length essay ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil’ (1963)

Origin: Germany / United States

Themes: Suicide, Exile and/or Identity, Emancipation and Justice

Genres: Autobiographical, Satirical, Polemical or Political

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