1 Comment

  1. Gabrielle Jonas-Bloom says

    As the youngest daughter of Hans Jonas, I very much appreciated your piece on my father’s time in Ottawa. It does bear a couple of corrections, though. First, when my father died (in 1993, not 1994), he did die at home, but he was not alone. Both my mother and I were there. My mother checked on him constantly throughout the night, and I actually had checked on him a couple of minutes before he died.

    As for my grandmother being killed at Auschwitz, there is no way you could know this, but long after my father died, my brother visited Auschwitz, and hired a historian to research our grandmother’s death. It turned out that my father had received incorrect information about the death of his mother, Rosa Horowitz Jonas. She had been deported to Lodz, which we all knew. But what we didn’t know was that my grandmother had died there, in Lodz. It kills us that my father died not knowing of that less horrible fate (horrible nonetheless, but less so than being murdered at Auschwitz). Knowing this would have significantly alleviated his life-long torment over her death.

    As for my father being an observant Jew, my Dad did attend synagogue on the High Holy Days. Moreover, Judaism was a deep, deep part of his soul and identity, not just culturally, but religiously. He was well-versed in Jewish (and Christian) scripture. But I wouldn’t say my Dad was very observant: He did not keep Kosher, nor did he keep the Sabbath.

    As for none of my Dad’s work being published before he came to Montreal, that may not completely be the case. His German publisher Günther Ruprecht of the German publishing company Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht in Göttingen kept the plates of my father’s work on Gnosticism hidden in a basement during World War II at great personal risk to himself. I believe some copies got out during the war years. Certainly they did right after the war.

    As formy Dad condemning Heidegger at great personal cost to himself, as powerful as his public condemnation was (it made The New York Times), he made it well after he moved to the United States.

    Both my parents loved Candada, and Ottawa in particular. Life there, both on and off-campus, offered them a peacefulness and innocence they had not known in decades.

    I have his hand-typed lecture notes for his introduction to philosophy class in Ottawa: It’s quite a tome.

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