Arguing for a distinction between the ascribed and actual consciousness of the proletariat - the higher ascribed consciousness was embodied in the revolutionary party, while actual consciousness of the proletariat may not be able to grasp its historic role. Inspirational text for the Frankfurt School.
Leader of the Russian Revolution and, subsequently, of the Soviet Union, dies in January. On June 22, the Institute for Social Research opens at Victoria Allée 17 in Frankfurt am Main, bankrolled by Hermann Weil following the apparent success of the Erste Marxistische Arbeitswoche under the directorship of Marxist philosopher Carl Grünberg. In the same year, Frankfurt elects its first Jewish mayor. At the time, the city was more renowned as the headquarters of the world’s largest chemicals conglomerate IG Farben, which would later develop Zyklon B, the cyanide-based killing agent used in Nazi concentration camp gas chambers to murder Jews.
Dismally arguing for the lack of likelihood of his country’s proletariat to deliver socialist revolution.
Arguing that because capitalism increases the productivity of human labour and accelerates the production of use values, there is a tendency for the rate of profit to fall and, ultimately, for capitalism to create the conditions of its own demise. In spring, the American-led Young Plan to allow Germany to pay its debt of 112 billion gold marks over 59 years seems to offer a lifeline to the Weimar Republic struggling under punitive world war one reparations and hyperinflation. But the plan is scrapped following the the Wall Street Crash the following autumn. Only the Nazi party seems capable of capitalizing on the capitalist crisis.
Branded by Nazis the embodiment of the “Jewish-Bolshevik threat”, but hailed in a review by Adorno: “The present system, with its mores, rights and order, is exposed as anarchy; we ourselves live in Mahoganny, where everything is permitted save one thing: having no money.” Following Grünberg’s retirement in the previous year, Horkheimer becomes director of the Frankfurt School, radically changing its intellectual trajectory - encouraging its thinkers to reflect on issues it would not have done under Grünberg. Under Horkheimer, the Frankfurt School will study horoscopes, movies, jazz, sexual repression, the sado-masochistic impulses at the heart of fascism, and reconfigure Marxist theory in the light of the publication in the early 1930s of Marx’s early Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts.
Benjamin flees Berlin into exile, never to return to his homeland. Horkheimer closes the Institute and moves first to Geneva and then to New York. Erich Fromm, during a trip to the United States, persuades Columbia University to give the Institute refuge, and a large contingent of its membership—including Horkheimer, Adorno, and Marcuse— will move to Morningside Heights in New York, where they will establish the Frankfurt School in exile.
Typifying the interest of Frankfurt School-associated thinkers with the revolutionary potential - and counter-revolutionary possibilities – of new mass forms of culture.
Jewish homes, hospitals, synagogues and schools were destroyed, hundreds of Jews killed and tens of thousands arrested to be imprisoned in concentration camps. In the same year, Adorno leaves Oxford, where he has been studying, for 11 years of exile in the United States.
Germany invades Poland. Britain declares war on Germany.
Benjamin dies on the run from the Nazis in the Catalan seaside town of Port Bou, most likely by committing suicide with a massive overdose of morphine. He was attempting to leave Europe for New York, where exiled members of the Frankfurt School had prepared an apartment for him.
Six million Jews are murdered by the Nazis. Among them is Walter Benjamin’s brother Georg, killed at the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp in 1942. During this time, exiled Frankfurt School thinkers Marcuse, Neumann and Otto Kirchheimer work as intelligence analysts for the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA, while Pollock and Löwenthal also support the war against Nazism by working in other US government departments.
Following Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbour.
Seminal text of the Frankfurt School’s critical theory in which they pessimistically consider the possibility of human emancipation and freedom.
Allied forces invade Normandy in largest amphibious assault in history.
Resulting in Japanese surrender and the end of World War Two
The previous year Henryk Grossman, becomes professor of economics at the University of Leipzig in Germany’s Soviet-occupied zone which. In October 1949, that zone becomes a separate state called East Germany, and Berlin, too, is divided between communist east and capitalist west: Germany is, as a result, divided for the first time since 1861.