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Critical Book Review Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.
This is a book that reports the evil banality in Jerusalem. The book focuses on the trial of Adolf Eichmann who was a lieutenant colonel in the German army during the Nazi holocaust. Its basis is on the trials in Israel where Eichmann was answering to charges of crimes against humanity. The book describes to the details of how the trials went about and what the conclusions were. It also illustrates how the killing of the Jews by the Nazi soldiers at the time and gives the reasons behind these brutal killings.
The title banality of evil is quite amusing for this book. In the book, Adolf Eichmann is greedy a, ambitious and has the desire to improve his career rather than the logic and reason of whatever he is doing. Apparently Eichmann did not have such hatred toward the Jews as the other people like Adolf Hitler who led the killings of the people. He has a powerful drive to make it in his career. He was okay with killing of the Jews in Germany at the time was going to do it. This is evident from his self invention, repetitive and non-logical clichés.
The book is more about how the normal, ordinary people that we live with in the society are capable of evil. Not just the people that we expect to be evil are evil as there is a sense of being evil in every human being. The book explains through the descriptions of the trial of how Eichmann who was a normal, ordinary soldier was capable of such evils and atrocities towards human life.
Hannah Arendt herself was born in Germany. She was a child of secular German Jews and later in her life fled from Germany during the rise of Adolf Hitler to power. Arendt coins the phrase “banality of evil” to describe Eichmann as a radical and thoughtless individual. She is so critical on her judgment towards the style that the jury conducts trials. Also, In Israel concerning the actions of the Jewish leaders acted during the holocaust.
At the end of the trials, Eichmann is guilty of crimes that he commits against humanity thus the death sentence verdict through hanging. Eichmann himself has no regret about anything as he expresses neither guilt nor hatred. To him, he was just executing his duties. The sentence has support by Arendt who says at the end of her book that Eichmann did not deserve to live. She accuses Eichmann of supporting and implementing selfish policies without considering the plight of the Jewish and the people of other nations. She feels that Eichmann and his superiors have no right in passing a verdict on who lives or faces a death verdict. according to her no one has authority to hang another person unless the person shows serious violations of the law of the land.
This book is subject to some criticism. According to findings by David Cesarani, Arendt only attended part of the trial witnessing the prosecution’s presentation. She did not go head to witness Eichmann’s testimony and his defense for himself. Therefore, the theme banal evil by Eichmann as portrayed by Arendt in her book many not be remarkably accurate. There might be some autonomy in the decision making process by Eichmann and not just blindly following orders from his boss Adolf Hitler and allegiance to the Nazi.
This is a fantastic book to sum up the history of the Shoa. It explains how the holocaust occurred, the reasons and the people behind it and finally the result. Arendt even goes ahead to give possible results in case there was a change in the happenings. This book is a master piece that serves as enlightenment to the society as a whole.