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Paperback Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil Book

ISBN: 0143039881

ISBN13: 9780143039884

Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

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A True Book--The Thirteen Colonies Are you thrilled by true adventure stories? do you wonder how our founding fathers conquered the wilds of North America to create the United States? You'll... This description may be from another edition of this product.

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Incredible investigation of Adolf Eichmann

Arendt's analysis of the "banality of evil" characterized by Adolf Eichmann is a chilling look into how evil can be systematized, how it can be seemingly bureaucratic, and how normal people can be turned into monsters through law. This is a great book for anyone interested in World War 2, the Holocaust, political philosophy, or getting really really depressed.

Emphasis on Banality

A previous reviewer claims that Arendt's book shows the ambivalence of human nature, proving that in effect anybody could have done what Eichmann did. In fact, this is exactly the cynical point of view that Arendt opposes in this, and her other writings. Her argument here is a revision of her earlier position on 'radical evil' advanced in The Origins of Totalitarianism, a position which Heidegger claimed to find 'incomprehensible.' She argues here that banality and "sheer thoughtlessness" (akin to Heidegger's reflections on boredom) are in fact the root of Evil. To put it better, evil continues precisely because of its inherent rootlessness, its constitutive disregard of the world. Thus, the detachment of claims such as "Anybody could have done what Eichmann did" distort her intention. Evil, she insists, is not an inevitable aspect of human nature, but instead arises from an unwillingness to understand.

Rethinking the Nature of Evil

"It was sheer thoughtlessness that predisposed him to become one of the greatest criminals of the period," political theorist Hannah Arendt observes of Adolf Eichmann, who was in charge of the logistics behind the mass deportations of Jews and other so-called asocials to ghettos and extermination camps during the 2nd World War. The face of evil, she suggests through her portrayal of the high-ranking SS bureaucrat at his trial in Jerusalem, is not necessarily that of a radically perverse pathological mastermind, but instead and more frightening still, can come in the form of a banal and unimpressive caricature of normalcy. In his testimony, Eichmann characterizes himself as a blameless cog who was only following orders, and even goes on to cite instances where he tried to help certain Jews who were friends of his escape their inevitable fate. His tone is that of one regaling a run-of-the-mill human sympathy story of hard luck, and his telling is rife with contradiction, blanks in memory, and ridiculous cliché. According to Arendt, this "created considerable difficulty during the trial - less for Eichmann himself than for those who had come to prosecute him, to defend him, to judge him, and to report on him. For all this, it was essential that one take him seriously, and this was very hard to do, unless one sought the easiest way out of the dilemma between the unspeakable horror of the deeds and the undeniable ludicrousness of the man who perpetrated them, and declared him a clever, calculating liar - which he obviously was not." Also relevant for its criticism of the shaky legal foundation upon which the trial was conducted (Eichmann was illegally abducted in Argentina, then was brought to Israel and prosecuted there using an outdated framework that was unable to properly address the problem of genocide as specifically carried out by the Nazis). This book is very smart, very elegantly written. The questions it raises about ethics and preconceived notions of good and evil are universal and remain relevant to the times. If it were a person, I'd sleep with it on the first date.

Explains the True Horrror of the Third Reich

Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt is one of the most disturbing books that I have read in a long while. Along with Gita Sereny's interviews with Stangle and Speer, they demonstrate the true horror of the Third Reich. This horror is not the inherent evil of Hitler or Himmler or the sadistic camp guards. The holocaust presented these already morally bankrupt men with the opportunity to commit the evil which their consciences allowed. Of greater horror are the individuals, such as Eichmann, who were not evil per se, but who were willing to put conscience aside in order to advance within an evil system. As Arendt moves through the holocaust in the different countries in Western Europe and the Balkans, it becomes evident that the difference in degrees of the destruction of Jewry was not defined by the presence of potentially evil wrongdoers, but by the existence of individuals who would not put their conscience aside in order to further short-term goals. The contrast between the destruction of German Jews and the survival of the Jews of Bulgaria and Denmark can be directly traced to a commitment by the Bulgarians and Danes to save their fellow countrymen. The German Jews did not survive as the Danish and Bulgarian Jews did because Germany lacked such men of conscience.It is easier to think of the chief architects and perpetrators of the attempted destruction of a whole people as madmen, the madder the better. Their acts can be rightfully condemned, but also understood, as evil things done by evil people. Furthermore, if the holocaust can be blamed on the acts of evil madmen, then it is also easier to believe that it could not have been prevented. Arendt destroys each of these rationalizations and raises questions that frankly kept me up at night. If, as she demonstrates, the success of the holocaust was determined by those who put their consciences aside, then it also seems agonizingly true that the deaths of six million were not predetermined. Had more people acted on their consciences, perhaps those deaths need not have been integral to the Nazi conquest of Europe. The fact that she does not treat Eichmann as a mad sadist, and instead explains why the prosecutions portrayal of him was incorrect, does not mean that Arendt is an apologist for Eichmann - far from it. Unlike Hitler, Eichmann was under no illusion that the Jews were responsible for all of the world's problems. His prior relations with Jews had been friendly. However, he was willing able to put this aside and play a vital role in the Final Solution. His excuse was that he was ordered to do so. But the reality was that he was more worried about his failure to get the promotions that he believed he deserved. This made Eichmann, like most of the perpetrators of the holocaust, the paradigm of the "banality of evil." However, such a rational led Arendt not to condemn the Jerusalem Court's death verdict but to condone it.Arendt does an

A long respect

I first read this book 20+ years ago in my senior year of college, in a political theory seminar on Arendt, and have re-read it from time to time ever since. The seminar professor offered a keg of beer to anyone who could find the phrase "banality of evil" in the text of the book (NOT the cover, in Arendt's text). No one won the keg because Arendt NEVER USES the phrase banality of evil anywhere in the book, and she was NOT saying evil is banal. What she was trying to drive at is that you don't need a raver like Hitler, or an obvious monster with long fangs, to do evil -- that ordinary people, the kind you live next door to or pass on the street every day without a second thought -- can do tremendous evil. it's a conclusion that I agree with in my brain but still grapple with emotionally.I'm also grateful to her because this book is the first place where she recounted the story of the Danish Jews, who were protected by just about the entire population of Denmark when the Nazis tried to round them up.
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