Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt

Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt

This is a fascinating study on how a person caught up in an authoritarian regime can defend what they did. It Though Arendt is a Jewish person, she argues for and against Eichmann. She tries to understand why he did it, and how much of it he was actually responsible. It’s a difficult web to untangle. She analyzes the defense and questions things the prosecution brought up, or didn’t bring up.

“The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together.”

Some chapters circle back and look at things from a fresh angle, but I think they only do this because these chapters were actually newspaper articles that were coming out at the same time as the trial was c.

After reading this, I feel like I was in that courtroom and understand the case pretty well. I was too young to live through the cases after World War 2, but it makes you think, how can you judge people for the inhuman things they do? Do we just hang them all? Is that justice? Shouldn’t we, as a species, try to understand what went wrong so that it never happens again?

It looks like the Jewish people, who created the Israeli state, haven’t really learned much from their persecution. They persecute the Palestinians without any sense of irony. It’s like they are enacting their own policy of Lebensraum, to get more living space for Israelis.

Rating: ★★★★★

Book #45 in my #ReadingChallenge2021

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