Madhuri's Reviews > Eichmann in Jerusalem : A Report on the Banality of Evil

Eichmann in Jerusalem  by Hannah Arendt
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Mar 21, 08

bookshelves: holocaust, non-fiction, history
Read in March, 2008

During my reading of the book, I was almost convinced that the account of Eichmann's trial was unbiased, frank, and rational. However, I cannot fathom how lack of bias can truly exist. Perhaps, behind that non-bias was Hannah Arendt's attempt to give the other side of the story which no one was looking at, even though she may not be fully convinced of this aspect herself. Or perhaps she really saw Eichmann and other cogs in the holocaust wheel as banal bureaucrats rather than anti-semitic psychopaths, to the exclusion of any other theory. In either case, she does give us an alternative possibility, a plausible possibility at that and I could love the book just for this.
Her treatment of the issue is dryly sarcastic, and often devoid of the passion which is generally complementary with any discussion of the holocaust, something which seems both queer and intriguing at the same time. Like her, even I have often wondered whether someone has the right to punish a person who was simply following his state's law. After all, will any court acquit a person who took the law in his own hands because the administration was doing nothing? If a person is expected to follow the rule regardless of his beliefs, can one blame the holocaust perpetrators? (I know we can, and should, I merely ponder on the logic).
I think, as a reporter,a journalist, Hannah Arendt played a good role. She posed some questions, which should be posed regardless of the decision. She forced the reader to try and understand what may have happened, at least question the psychopath theory, and she also tried to point out a few roles in the holocaust which had been pushed under the carpet - those of the Jewish organizations themselves, regardless of their reasons.
At the end, she does not extol or pardon apathy and submissive playacting, considering them an equal crime, but only interjects on the nature of the criminal.
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