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The Essence Of Concrete Individuality. Gerardus Van Der Leeuw, Jan De Vries, And National Socialism

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Chapter Summary

Gerardus Van der Leeuw (1890 - 1950) considered German National Socialism and Russian communism as equally great threats to western civilization because of their nihilistic character. A few years before the Nazis came to power in Germany, Van der Leeuw expressed his concern about the loss of values in modern society, and about the cultural crisis in Europe. In 1939 Gustav Mensching had asked Van der Leeuw to consider leaving out the names of Jewish authors, in this case Lévy-Bruhl and Cassirer, in a planned German translation of one of his major works. So, looking at the general picture, Van der Leeuw has not been much of an exception when it comes to his critique of culture. Neither was he an exception when he joined the political movement which proposed a 'critical collaboration' with the German oppressors in 1940, since many intellectuals and politicians did the same.

Keywords: Gerardus Van Der Leeuw; German National Socialism; nihilistic character; Russian communism



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