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Eichmann attempted to follow the spirit of the laws he carried out, as if the legislator himself would approve. Eichmann was a "joiner" his entire life, in that he constantly joined organizations in order to define himself, and had difficulties thinking for himself without doing so. At the end of World War II , Eichmann found himself depressed because "it then dawned on him that thenceforward he would have to live without being a member of something or other" pp.
Arendt pointed out that his actions were not driven by malice, but rather blind dedication to the regime and his need to belong, to be a joiner. In his own words: I sensed I would have to live a leaderless and difficult individual life, I would receive no directives from anybody, no orders and commands would any longer be issued to me, no pertinent ordinances would be there to consult—in brief, a life never known before lay ahead of me.
Arendt noted that, during both his SS career and Jerusalem trial, Eichmann tried to cover up his lack of skills and education, and even "blushed" when these facts came to light. Arendt also suggests that Eichmann may have preferred to be executed as a war criminal than live as a nobody.
This parallels his overestimation of his own intelligence and his past value in the organizations in which he had served, as stated above. Upon seeing members of "respectable society" endorsing mass murder , and enthusiastically participating in the planning of the solution, Eichmann felt that his moral responsibility was relaxed, as if he were " Pontius Pilate ".
During his imprisonment before his trial, the Israeli government sent no fewer than six psychologists to examine Eichmann. These psychologists found no trace of mental illness , including personality disorder. One doctor remarked that his overall attitude towards other people, especially his family and friends, was "highly desirable", while another remarked that the only unusual trait Eichmann displayed was being more "normal" in his habits and speech than the average person pp.
Arendt suggests that this most strikingly discredits the idea that the Nazi criminals were manifestly psychopathic and different from "normal" people. Arendt insists that moral choice remains even under totalitarianism , and that this choice has political consequences even when the chooser is politically powerless: [U]nder conditions of terror most people will comply but some people will not, just as the lesson of the countries to which the Final Solution was proposed is that "it could happen" in most places but it did not happen everywhere.
Humanly speaking, no more is required, and no more can reasonably be asked, for this planet to remain a place fit for human habitation. Arendt mentions, as a case in point, Denmark : One is tempted to recommend the story as required reading in political science for all students who wish to learn something about the enormous power potential inherent in non-violent action and in resistance to an opponent possessing vastly superior means of violence.
It was not just that the people of Denmark refused to assist in implementing the Final Solution, as the peoples of so many other conquered nations had been persuaded to do or had been eager to do — but also, that when the Reich cracked down and decided to do the job itself it found that its own personnel in Denmark had been infected by this and were unable to overcome their human aversion with the appropriate ruthlessness, as their peers in more cooperative areas had.
And since this suspicion would have been fatal to the entire enterprise [his trial], and was also rather hard to sustain in view of the sufferings he and his like had caused to millions of people, his worst clowneries were hardly noticed and almost never reported p. Arendt ended the book by writing: And just as you [Eichmann] supported and carried out a policy of not wanting to share the earth with the Jewish people and the people of a number of other nations—as though you and your superiors had any right to determine who should and who should not inhabit the world—we find that no one, that is, no member of the human race, can be expected to want to share the earth with you.
This is the reason, and the only reason, you must hang. Legality of the trial[ edit ] Beyond her discussion of Eichmann himself, Arendt discusses several additional aspects of the trial, its context, and the Holocaust.
She points out that Eichmann was kidnapped by Israeli agents in Argentina and transported to Israel, an illegal act, and that he was tried in Israel even though he was not accused of committing any crimes there.
The court in Jerusalem did not pursue either option. I had dismissed that question as silly and cruel, since it testified to a fatal ignorance of the conditions at the time. It has now been discussed to exhaustion, and the most amazing conclusions have been drawn.
The well-known historico-sociological construct of "ghetto mentality" This was the unexpected conclusion certain reviewers chose to draw from the "image" of a book, created by certain interest groups, in which I allegedly had claimed that the Jews had murdered themselves.
Cesarani feels that this may have skewed her opinion of him, since it was in the parts of the trial that she missed that the more forceful aspects of his character appeared.
This, according to Cesarani, led her to attack the conduct and efficacy of the chief prosecutor, Gideon Hausner , who was of Galician-Jewish origin. Below them, the prosecuting attorneys, Galicians, but still Europeans. Everything is organized by a police force that gives me the creeps, speaks only Hebrew, and looks Arabic.
Some downright brutal types among them. They would obey any order. And outside the doors, the Oriental mob, as if one were in Istanbul or some other half- Asiatic country.
In addition, and very visible in Jerusalem, the peies sidelocks and caftan Jews, who make life impossible for all reasonable people here. One instance of this came mere weeks after the publication of her articles in the form of an article entitled "Man With an Unspotted Conscience".
He argued that Arendt fell prey to her own preconceived notions that rendered her work ahistorical. He also directly criticized her for ignoring the facts offered at the trial in stating that "the disparity between what Miss Arendt states, and what the ascertained facts are, occurs with such a disturbing frequency in her book that it can hardly be accepted as an authoritative historical work. Musmanno argued that Arendt revealed "so frequently her own prejudices" that it could not stand as an accurate work.
Adler Theresienstadt In more recent years, Arendt has received further criticism from authors Bettina Stangneth and Deborah Lipstadt. Stangneth argues in her work, Eichmann Before Jerusalem , that Eichmann was, in fact, an insidious antisemite.
While she acknowledges that the Sassen Papers were not disclosed in the lifetime of Arendt, she argues that the evidence was there at the trial to prove that Eichmann was an antisemitic murderer and that Arendt simply ignored this.
Eichmann's Trial in Jerusalem
HANNAH ARENDT EICHMANN W JEROZOLIMIE PDF