"1492. As children we were taught to memorize this year with pride and joy as the year people began living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America...Actually, people had been living full and imaginative lives on the continent of North America for hundreds of years before that. 1492 was simply the year sea pirates began to rob, cheat, and kill them."
"This is a very human trait. Once you dehumanize people and put them on the level of vermin, killing them, harming them, and mistreating them becomes so much easier and you see it over and over and over again. It's one of the common themes of the horrific nature of human history."
"As I've said many times, these people saw sights, and lived lives, and experienced things that the vast majority of people in the modern world, not only will never experience, but can't even envision."
"What has history to do with me? Mine is the first and only world! I want to report how I find the world. What others have told me about the world is a very small and incidental part of my experience. I have to judge the world, to measure things."
"It would strike me as ridiculous to want to doubt the existence of Napoleon; but if someone doubted the existence of the earth 150 years ago, perhaps I should be more willing to listen, for now he is doubting our whole system of evidence."
"Each of us, even the lowliest and most insignificant among us, was uprooted from his innermost existence by the almost constant volcanic upheavals visited upon our European soil and, as one of countless human beings, I can't claim any special place for myself except that, as an Austrian, a Jew, writer, humanist and pacifist, I have always been precisely in those places where the effects of the thrusts were most violent."
"Against my will, I became a witness to the most terrible defeat of reason and to the most savage triumph of brutality ever chronicled ... never before did a generation suffer such a moral setback after it had attained such intellectual heights."
"But in the intellectual world, there is room for all opposing forces: even that which never appears victorious in the real world continues to be effective as a dynamic force (in the intellectual world) and precisely the unfulfilled ideals prove to be the most invincible."
"Erasmus was the light of his century; others were its strength: he lighted the way; others knew how to walk on it while he himself remained in the shadow as the source of light always does. But he who points the way into a new era is no less worthy of veneration than he who is the first to enter it; those who work invisibly have also accomplished a feat."
"Every epoch which seeks renewal first projects its ideal into a human form. In order to comprehend its own essence tangibly, the spirit of the time chooses a human being as its prototype and raising this single individual, often one upon whom it has chanced to come, far beyond his measure, the spirit enthuses itself for its own enthusiasm."