A couple of years ago, the New York Times poetry critic Adam Kirsch tried to put to rest the idea of Heidegger as a "Nazi Philosopher". Other than his famous Rektoratsrede at the University of Freiburg in 1933, there is simply no evidence that Heidegger shared the crude ideology of the Nazis:
"To show that he remained a Nazi until 1945, or even for the rest of his life, would require finding similar kinds of propaganda in Heidegger’s work throughout those years. But [...]overt Nazi rhetoric simply isn’t there."
But now we are about to learn if Kirsch is correct, for a new volume of Heidegger's complete works (Gesamtausgabe) will be published in March. Some of the new material is certain to trouble Heidegger fans:
"Eric Aeschimann, writing in Le Nouvel Observateur, reports that Heidegger’s Schwarzen Hefte (“Black Notebooks”) will trouble even the most faithful of his acolytes in France. It appears that the German editor of the notebooks, Peter Trawny, has written an essay entitled “Heidegger: ‘The Black Notebooks’ and Historial Antisemitism” (“historial” being one of those neologisms of which Heidegger, and Heideggerians, were and are fond) in which he argues that these manuscripts, written between 1931 and 1946, contain ideas that are “clearly antisemitic, even if it is not a question of antisemitism of the kind promoted by Nazi ideology.” One of Heidegger’s French translators, Hadrien France-Lanord, has read Trawny’s essay and has pronounced himself dismayed by many of the extracts from the notebooks that it contains. We are, Aeschimann writes, on the verge of another “Heidegger affair”.+
Evidently, some French translations of the Schwarze Hefte are already circulating - Samizdat-style - among French intellectuals, but I have not been able to find anything on the Web.
Writing in the FAZ, Juerg Altwegg sees the Black Notebooks as a "debacle" for postwar philosophy in France, where Heidegger has a cult-like following:
Das ist nicht nur ein schwerer Schlag für die unverbesserlichen Verehrer, sondern ein Debakel für die französische Nachkriegsphilosophie schlechthin. Eine ihrer Schlüsselfiguren bleibt Jacques Derrida, dessen Gesamtwerk George Steiner als „Fußnoten zu Heidegger“ bezeichnet hat.
(This is not just a blow to Heidegger's incorrigible admirers, but a debacle for postwar French philosophy altogether. Jacques Derrida remains one of its key figure, and George Steiner has described his Complete Works as "footnotes to Heidegger".)
But until we are able to read the Notebooks, there is no way of knowing whether these passages are just the unfortunate prejudices of a genius philosopher, or, as Heidegger's greatest critic in France, Emmanuel Faye, titled his book on Heidegger - L’introduction du nazisme dans la philosophie - in other words, central to understanding his thought.