My Battle Against Hitler
Dietrich von Hildebrand; Translated and Edited by John Henry Crosby with John F. Crosby
Image, October 2014

How does a person become Hitler’s enemy number one? Not through espionage or violence, it turns out, but by striking fearlessly at the intellectual and spiritual roots of National Socialism.

Dietrich von Hildebrand was a German Catholic thinker and teacher who devoted the full force of his intellect to breaking the deadly spell of Nazism that ensnared so many of his beloved countrymen.

His story might well have been lost to us were it not for this memoir he penned in the last decades of his life at the request of his wife, Alice von Hildebrand. In My Battle Against Hitler, covering the years from 1921 to 1938, von Hildebrand tells of the scorn and ridicule he endured for sounding the alarm when many still viewed Hitler as a positive and inevitable force. He expresses the sorrow of having to leave behind his home, friends and family in Germany to conduct his fight against the Nazis from Austria. He recounts how he defiantly challenged Nazism in the public square, prompting the German ambassador in Vienna to describe him to Hitler as “the architect of the intellectual resistance in Austria.” And in the midst of all the danger he faced, he conveys his unwavering trust in God, even during his harrowing escape from Vienna and his desperate flight across Europe, with the Nazis always just one step behind.

Dietrich von Hildebrand belongs to the very earliest anti-Nazi resistance. His public statements led the Nazis to blacklist him already in 1921, long before the horrors of the Third Reich and more than twenty-three years before the famous assassination attempt on Hitler in July 1944. His battle would culminate in the countless articles he published in Vienna, a selection of which are featured in this volume.

“It is an immense privilege,” writes editor John Henry Crosby, founder of the Hildebrand Project, “to present to the world the shining witness of one man who risked everything to follow his conscience and stand in defiance of tyranny.”

About the Author

Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977), born in Florence, was the son of renowned German sculptor Adolf von Hildebrand. A leading student of the philosophers Edmund Husserl and Max Scheler, he took up the “great questions” – about truth, freedom, conscience, community, love, beauty – with a freshness that allowed him to break new ground, especially in ethics, but also in epistemology, social philosophy and aesthetics. His conversion to Catholicism in 1914 was the decisive turning point of his life and the impetus for important religious works. His opposition to Hitler and Nazism was so outspoken that he was forced to flee Germany in 1933, and later across Europe, finally settling in New York City in 1940, where he taught at Fordham University until 1960. He was the author of dozens of books, both in German and English. He was a major forerunner of Vatican II through his seminal writings on marriage, on Christian philosophy, and on the evil of anti-Semitism.

John Henry Crosby is a translator, writer, musician and cultural entrepreneur. He is founder and director of the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project, which fosters deep cultural renewal through publications, events, fellowships and online resources that draw on the continuing vitality of Dietrich von Hildebrand’s thought and witness.