The Arrival of Hannah Arendt

This film describes the arrival of Hannah Arendt – a Jewish, German-American political theorist and publicist – in New York and her reflections on flight and helping people start over.

Hannah Arendt was a Jewish German-American political theorist and publicist.

After being detained by the Gestapo for several days in 1933, she fled to France and worked there, among other things, in Zionist organizations that helped Jews to escape. In 1937 she was deprived of German citizenship, which made her a stateless person for almost 14 years. After she was imprisoned for several weeks in the French internment camp Gurs, she managed to escape from there as well. In 1941 Arendt came to the USA, where she spent the rest of her life and was granted US citizenship in 1951. In her first years in New York, she worked as a publicist, editor and contributor to several Jewish magazines (including “Der Aufbau”) and organizations (including the Commission on Jewish Cultural Reconstruction). Under the impression of the experience of flight and arrival that she and other European Jews had had, she also wrote the essay “We Refugees” in the Menorah Journal in 1943.

From 1953 to 1967 Arendt taught as a professor at Brooklyn College in New York, at the University of Chicago and at the New School for Social Research in New York.

Archival Footage:

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum courtesy of National Archives & Records Administration:

Passengers gather in Lisbon harbor to prepare to sail to New York on board the Mouzinho

March of Time — Refugees in Caldas da Rainha 1943

View of Gurs transit camp from the camp water tower

Maintenance Group in Gurs – drawing by Lili Andrieu

Two uniformed Portuguese policemen stand on the pier in the port of Lisbon as a group of Jewish refugee children wait in line to board the SS Mouzinho

Portuguese dockworkers in the port of Lisbon prepare to transfer the luggage of Jewish refugees from a truck to the SS Mouzinho

Refugees arrive at Ellis Island (RG-60.0790, RG-60.0017,RG-60.0024 & RG-60.035)

Public Domain:

Image of “From the Dreyfus Affair to France Today”

Jewish Social Studies 1942, vol.4, no.3

Hannah Arendt letter to Vogelstein 1943

Program New World Club

Image of Hannah Arendt 1958

Image of Adolph S. Oko

Image of Paul Tillich

Michael Blackwood Production Company:

Hannah Arendt: On Walter Benjamin

Library of Congress, Manuscript Division:

Hannah Arendt Papers

writers: Miriam Chorley-Schulz, Miriam Ophra

camera & editor: Miriam Ophra

assistant editor: Karly Stark

animation: Karly Stark

voice: Miriam Chorley-Schulz

translation: Miriam Chorley-Schulz

historical research: Miriam Chorley-Schulz, Olivia Brunnenkant

music: Mozart’s “Quintet In G Minor K. 516” played by Pro Arte Quartet 1958

special thanks: Jerome Kohn

excerps included:

Walter Benjamin “Theses on the Philosophy of History” 1940

Hannah Arendt 1964 interview with Günter Gaus

Hannah Arendt: For love of the world, by Elisabeth Young- Bruehl 1982

Hannah Arent, personal letter to Salomon Alder-Rudel, 17 February 1941 from Lisbon