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From Empire to Republic

Peter Berger
Günter Bischof
Fritz Plasser

Books reviews

Richard Faber and Sigurd Paul Scheichl, eds., Die geistige Welt des Friedrich Heer

Vienna: Böhlau, 2008

William Johnston

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The intellectual powerhouse that was Friedrich Heer continues to confound interpreters. Historian, lay theologian, and intellectual provocateur, Heer defies compartmentalizing. Anti-Nazi (at least after 1945) and anti-Communist, as a publicist he advocated “humanistic” renewal in all spheres of public life, particularly in the Roman Catholic church, European universities, and Christian-Jewish relations. He denounced complacency, stagnation, and narrow-mindedness wherever he found it, except perhaps in himself. By serving as an intellectual gadfly toward every camp, he made it nearly impossible for readers to discern his own camp. In retrospect, he seems to have belonged to a camp of one member, and the self-deceptions unmasked in this book mean that some of its contributors rejoice that this self-fashioner has found no emulators.

From the start, Friedrich Heer cultivated an unclassifiability that has weakened his influence. His range of reference daunted colleagues in history, cultur...

© innsbruck university press, 2010

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