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Dietrich von Hildebrand, who died in 1977, was an outspoken critic of National Socialists long before Hitler and his henchmen seized control of Germany. As a Roman Catholic philosopher, he skewered the fundamental principles underlying both National Socialism and Bolshevism, clearly articulating how they are at odds with Christianity.

As part of his campaign, he deplored Hitler’s racism but also exposed many milder forms of anti-Semitism common in European society. He minced no words. It’s understandable, then, that the Nazis put him on their list of enemies and that he had to flee first Germany, then Austria. Finally he ended up in New York, where he became a professor at Fordham University.

This book was assembled by John Henry Crosby, founder of the Hildebrand Project. Crosby is a translator, writer, musician, and cultural entrepreneur; he is much like his hero, von Hildebrand. Crosby uses von Hildebrand’s writings to trace the course of his battles with Hitler; the book finishes with a collection of his writings in the journal Der Christliche Ständestaat, which he pioneered, edited, and wrote for in Vienna.

Dietrich von Hildebrand was a great admirer of Austrian chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, mainly because Dollfuss took a bold and firm stand against the Nazis. Dollfuss was murdered; his successor, Kurt von Schuschnigg, pursued a path of appeasement. Von Hildebrand was dismayed, warning repeatedly that there could be no compromising with Hitler and his Social Nationalist government.

Much of what von Hildebrand wrote before and during the war is informative in today’s political circumstances of aggressive Russian nationalism and radical zealots in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Somalia, and many other troubled parts of the world. In particular, his perspective on the Roman Catholic church and Christianity is a welcome call to sound thinking and gracious living. (Image)

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