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Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on The Banality of Evil - Review

Eichmann in Jerusalem chronicles the trial of Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann digging deep into his personality, the Holocaust history and the legal intricacies of the trial itself.

Summary

  • Eichmann didn't even seem aware of having done any evil
    • Yet that claim seems to contradict the fact that Eichmann said he should be hung in public display as a warning for the future anti-semitic generations.
  • There is barely any true evidence that Eichmann ever directly ordered anyone to shoot
    • Sadly and regrettably, Hannah Arendt comments that probably Eichmann "didn't even the guts to kill himself"
  • Eichmann had never thought about the final solution and wasn't happy about it. In his words he "lost all joy and interest in his work"
  • The reason why Eichmann joined the SS was ambition. He sought career and doing a good and meticulous job was his way of climbing up
  • Arendt says that the "objective attitude" of talking of concentration camps as administration was typical of the SS mentality
    • The author here misses that it's probably because the crime was so enormous that the SS spoke about it through numbers and statistics
  • The Holocaust would have been impossible without the cooperation of the victims
  • Eichmann wanted success and respect success. He respected Hitler for how he managed to become Fuhrer. He said that "Hitler's success alone proves that I should subordinate to this man"
    • And this is why you should never subordinate to anyone based on success alone!
  • Italy was a strong bastion to help saving Jews
  • Hanna Arendt ends "Eichmann in Jerusalem" saying that the population explosion only makes it more likely that Holocaust-like events will repeat in the future

Review

Hanna Arendt is a philosopher and political theory.
She does not have a great grasp of psychology, in my opinion.

If you want to learn about Eichmann's process, "Eichmann in Jerusalem" is a great book.
It also goes into the law intricacies and the personality of Eichmann.
It's also not too bad to understand how, under certain circumstances, normal people can commit terrible evil acts (also see: Zimbardo, 2007).

Personally, as a guy who is very interested in history, I also loved the depth of the historical analysis (especially the relationship Hitler/Mussolini and the unwillingness of the Italian to support the Germans with their Jewish annihilation).

Yet, it's also somewhat superficial if you're looking for true psychological and social-psychological analysis.
For that, I can recommend "Evil" by Roy Baumeister.

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