’s: Eichmann In Jerusalem: A Report On Essay, Research Paper
In Hannah Ardent’s book, Eichmann In Jerusalem, an in depth account of the Adolf Eichmann trial of 1961, Ardent makes a claim on the “banality of evil” and uses the Eichmann Trial as a platform on which to deliver this claim. Ardent also insists that the court in Jerusalem missed “the greatest moral and even legal challenge” of the case of not proving Eichmann to be a liar and assuming that he “must have been aware of the criminal nature of his acts,” but instead accepting the fact under the conditions of the Third Reich, Eichmann was acting “normal.” The question was trying to understand why how this happened? Ardent uses the term “banality of evil” in her book to describe the way in which the horrid acts of the Nazi regime came to be tolerated and supported throughout Germany by ordinary Germans. By using Adolf Eichmann as an example, Ardent is basically saying that it was not the extreme exuberance for the party policy of Anti-Semitism and violence but the ease with which people cooperated that perpetuated the crimes; the lack of any significant protest or resistance of conscience allowed further and even more extreme acts to be tolerated and thereby encouraged in their successes. Banality being a case in which a person or persons is dulled to a certain aspect or feature, in this case it was Anti-Semitism and violence and murder. Once the people gave way to minor pressure and allowed first the vandalism and violence, it eventually gave way to whole sale execution and murder of millions all justified by nationalism and future welfare of the German state and people and most importantly, the “master race.” Eichmann was readily one of these people, a fine example of dutiful German yet a man with loose convictions and morals just doing his best in the name of the Reich; a man whose conscience was put to rest by the confirming fact that everyone else was doing the exact same thing and this in turn was accepted and warped into a self pity ploy by the majority of the population. “The greatest moral and even legal challenge of the case” dealt directly with this issue. If compliance was the norm and Eichmann was a classic example of the normal German citizenry and was a “very good” Nazi than did not his guilt intern mean the guilt of the entire German people, and if so does this thereby exclude him? The ultimate answer was to be no, for various reasons but for the most part because individual conscience expressed itself occasionally in Eichmann’s testimony and this there fore demonstrated that he did not act on his conscience, but instead obeyed like a loyal dog obeying the master. In many ways the court tried to make an example out of Eichmann, to try him for the crimes of Hitler and his dupes, to prosecute him for his inaction as well as his actions above and beyond the call of duty, and these reasons among others were why he was sentenced to death, but that had always been a foregone conclusion. A single low ranking deputy was being tried for the crimes of millions against millions, in a way he was a scape goat for the Jewish people just as the Jewish people had been for Nazi Germany. The answer to Ardent’s challenge was in her definition of the banality of evil. It was this process of inoculation against violence and murder that allowed for Eichmann and so many others to keep on performing without the scrutiny of their conscience because their conscience now only existed in regards to the Reich.The significance of Ardent’s own “judgement speech” is that she puts to rest many of the questions left unanswered by the trial and dispels the notion that Eichmann was killed in direct retribution and not in the name of the law. Whether or not he had intent to do wrong was irrelevant in this case because the consequences were so great and so extreme that they by far surpassed the jurisdiction of intent. Eichmann’s greatest crime was not his lack of conscience but his consolidation of it within popular opinion. Also in the same light of the issue, Eichmann tried to disguise his guilt with the notion that all Germans felt as he felt and that anyone could have performed his tasks (despite his vice for boasting at his minor accomplishments) and so all Germans were equally guilty, within Germany this would mean that none are guilty but this being a crime that spanned nations and peoples, national jurisdiction does not apply. The fact that anyone could have taken Eichmann’s place in his duties does not refute his crimes or bring back the lives of the millions he sent to die in either Russia or Auschwitz. Despite the “socializing” of the German people by Nazi propaganda and the expulsion and annihilation of any and practically all resistance, Eichmann and his superiors were still individuals, and as individuals they could make decisions, even inaction is a decision. The decisions Eichmann made may reflect the absence of conscience, the pressures of Nazi politics, and the social pressures to which he found himself bound, but the consequences must be paid for in full, and if not by Eichmann than who? Ardent then concludes that having stated his crimes and his guilt, how could the court force any living being to coincide with Eichmann’s existence and so he should therefore be hanged (so as to remove his existence, ease the burden, and bring some closure to a painful issue).
In regards to Ardent’s banality of evil, I agree in entirely. When people are subjected to violence it creates enormous stress, stress that must be dealt with in some way. As a defensive measure against insanity, a person’s mind will shut of its vulnerability and sensitivity towards violence and suffering. This happened throughout the Second World War, with soldiers on all sides, with Nazi’s, German citizens, Axis collaborators, Jewish cooperators, and especially Holocaust victims.Another argument that is possible out of Ardent’s banality of evil is that if moral degradation is tolerated in any form, a decline in the morality of that society is soon to follow. If something is tolerated it is likewise encouraged; the lack of resistance will only speed its course. People soon become desensitized and anesthetized to the extent that it soon becomes the norm. This is the pattern in ours and other countries concerning ethics and morality today. Most issues of controversy today overtake the moral aspects with which they might be concerned and are superseded by the legal and political ways in which they are viewed and or practiced.In conclusion, Ardent’s Eichmann In Jerusalem, is a very in depth and very well written analysis of some of the most disturbing aspects of the Holocaust. The ever present questions of why it happened, why it was tolerated and even helped, and why it was not stopped; all of these issues are discussed in measure within her book while at the same time giving a critical account of the Adolf Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, 1961. Artdent’s proposal that if evil or moral corruption is tolerated in anyway, it will create a snow ball effect, gathering greater and greater momentum until it is a force to be reckoned with and a powerful force at that. Ardent also addresses the fact that the Eichmann trial was a show trial of sorts and that it missed the greater challenge of trying to understand how and why Eichmann acted as he did, and not presuming that he was a liar and murderer. This book served as a satisfactory supplement to an in depth study of the issues pertaining to the Holocaust, and gave a frightening glimpse into the world of violence and corruption that is so easily perpetrated today.