About the institute
Following the reunification of Germany and the founding of the Free State of Saxony, the Saxon parliament moved to establish the Hannah Arendt Institute for Totalitarianism Studies e. V. (HAIT) at the TU Dresden. The Institute was able to begin work in 1993. The Institute's name refers to the German-American philosopher and political scientist Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), whose work dealt extensively with the totalitarian claim to power of dictatorships.
The HAIT pursues the systematic study of National Socialism and Communism, as well as the preconditions and consequences of both systems of domination. As ideological dictatorships they shaped the 20th century in a crucial way. Their consequences will continue to pose a burden in the present and future. The research focusses on the political, social and cultural developments in totalitarian regimes. Studied are their preconditions in terms of ideology and intellectual history, their organisational structures and their concrete impact on people’s lives. Particular attention is devoted to the analysis of opposition and resistance against the two German dictatorships. Interdisciplinary approaches to history, the political, cultural and social sciences and comparative perspectives govern the Institute's research endeavours, which also include the critical analysis of political extremism in history and the present.
The Institute's research activities are not limited by historical watersheds. Rather, the aftermath of the dictatorships necessitates a differentiated view in the context of an international transformation study, one of the areas of emphasis at the Institute. This also applies to current challenges and threats to democracy from autocratic and fundamentalist regimes, as well as from extremist, racist and anti-Semitic attitudes.
Besides research, collaboration with institutions of political education, memorials and non-governmental associations in the Free State of Saxony and in other parts of Germany forms an aspect of the Institute's activities.