She was born in Hanover in western Germany but grew up largely in Königsberg in East Prussia. She studied at the University of Marburg under philosopher Martin Heidegger and at the University of Heidelberg under philosopher Karl Jaspers. Because of her Jewish background she fled from Nazi Germany in the 1930s, and settled in the United States in 1941 (she became an American citizen in 1950).
Arendt was also active as a journalist and a university professor. She didn't like to be called philosopher, and also didn't like the term political philosophy. In 1959, she was the first woman to teach at Princeton University.
Arendt is best known for two major works that had a large impact: The first one is the book The Origins of Totalitarianism (published in 1951), which was a study of the Nazi and Stalin regimes. The second major work, The Human Condition (published in 1958), was a philosophical book on the human nature and human activities throughout Western history. Over the years, she published several influential essays on topics such as revolution, freedom, authority, tradition and the modern age.
In 1961, she attended the trial of Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann in Israel and wrote thereafter Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1963. In this book she launches the idea which she calls "the banality of evil": a person accused of terrible crimes did not perform these atrocities because of an immoral conviction but as an everyday person who 'did just his job'.
Hannah Arendt died at the age of 69 in her hometown New York City.
- d'Entreves, Maurizio Passerin (July 27, 2006). "Hannah Arendt". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved February 15, 2021.