Some say that Leo Strauss was just a scholar, lost in ancient texts. This certainly reflects the surface of much of his published writing. As rightfully admirers of his teaching, they might especially take note of his letter to Jacob Klein, written from Union College in Schenectady, on November 28, 1939:
“Teaching is really great! And I believe I’m doing it to the delight of my auditors. It’s especially charming when one introduces, without a wink, the obvious teaching of Socrates [in English] and then, in Blitzkrieg [im Blitzkrieg] against these primitive field-works, over-runs them.” [GS 3: 587, trans. Will Altman].
Kristallnacht* had already passed. What did it take for a German Jew, an exile in New York, to revel in the glory of his teaching as if he had overrun in a mere 31 days Poland (September, 1939), or could foresee the Panzer divisions breaching a fortifcation in Belgium and motoring through the Maginot Line into Paris?
*On the night of the broken glass, the Hitler Youth and the SS murdered 90 jews and sent some 25,000 to concentration camps, destroyed 1000 synagogues, and thousands of homes and little shops.