Essay: Eichmann in Jerusalem

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Eichmann is one of the few Nazi personalities still known to a relatively large number of people. One of the causes for that enduring fame is a book written at the time of his trial by Hannah Arendt, one of the renowned thinkers of our century Eichmann in Jerusalem. A Report on the Banality of Evil.  This essay examines the nature of Eichmann’s crime; in what way was he different from the rest of the criminals that exist in our society what made his crime more evil.

In Arendt’s view, Eichmann and his companions were swept up by the whirlwinds of the era in which they lived; prior to that cataclysm, they had not been evil men. That wisdom is Arendt’s claim, the simple truth based on the dry facts. And for whatever reason, such a conception speaks to the hearts of numerous good people untouched in any way by Nazism’s ravages. To a major extent, this explanation became the key paradigm for understanding the imputed character of the killers. Eichmann was visualizing as the paramount example of the Nazi murderer in particular, and possibly an archetype for political criminals in modern times more commonly.

Humans are all member of a single group, the human community, and that our errands are above everything else to that community of individuals. Secondly, the collapse to base our judicial treatment of genocide on this awareness leaves us precariously incapable of recognizing and therefore of dealing with the most evil new crime to appear before the courts in this century. These are immediately practical questions, which alarm all of us in our daily lives. Thus, Arendt’s main apprehension is not to educate us about the Holocaust or about Eichmann but about ourselves.

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