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Hannah sometimes in Jerusalem a Report on the Banality of a Book A new group of deportees has arrived at Auschwitz There they are, men, women and children, all fearful, all apprehensive A truck drives by, piled high with corpses The arms of the dead are hanging loose over the sides, waving as if in grim farewell The people scream But no sooner has the vehicle turned a corner than the horror has been edited out of their minds Even on the brink of death there are some things too fantastic for the human imagination to absorb.This is a true account, though unfortunately I can t remember exactly where I read it I think it was Anus Mundi, Wiesaw Kielar s memoir of the five years he spent in the death camp, but I can t be certain It came to mind on reading Hannah Arendt s Eichmann in Jerusalem A Report on the Banality of Evil Why, you may wonder Simply because Hannah Arendt had a prefect, retrospective knowledge she is wise after the event She knows what the outcome is going to be for those people on that platform They did not, even so far as that final stage But Arendt assumes that they and their leaders did that they collaborated with the machinery of death That is the worst failure of the greater failure in her account of the Eichmann trial This is not a review it s a literary post mortem Arendt s book is too well known, a controversial classic over which a prefect avalanche of words has descended These are my own, an exposure of what I consider to be possibly the worst example of bad faith, dissimulation and prejudgement ever penned It s a dishonest book that attempts to hide its dishonesty in the way that Eichmann attempted to hide his guilt It is a book, if I can put it like, this that was only obeying orders What do I mean exactly Precisely this before a word of evidence had been heard in that court in Jerusalem Arendt had set an agenda She came armed with preconceptions, all drawn from The Origins of Totalitarianism, her magnum opus In a sense Eichmann s guilt or innocence were irrelevant to the main point, which was to repackage him as a perfect example of totalitarian man , a cog in a machine, programmed simply to obey orders One thing worked in her favour people came to Jerusalem expecting to see a monster What they saw was a rather tawdry, balding, bespectacled middle aged German of wholly forgettable appearance This was the sort of individual one would pass in the street without a second glance He was disappointingly banal, which gave Arendt her leitmotiv, the theme she played throughout Eichmann in Jerusalem What she gave us in the end was an account that did much to obscure the real Eichmann, even so far as setting aside altogether the anti Semitism which formed such a part of his character and political outlook Eichmann may have been a colourless mediocrity, but his actions, the evil behind his actions, was most assuredly anything but banal There is opportunism here that also has to be understood, the opportunism not just of Arendt, who also had an anti Zionist agenda, but the opportunism of those who latched their wagons to her star The person who comes first to mind here is Stanley Milgram, author of a famous experiment on obedience and authority, so flawed in methodology and scientific rigour that it verges on the fraudulent People like Eichmann, he concluded, were not sadistic monsters They were simply individuals who had abdicated all moral choice to a greater authority Had Arendt not proved this to be so What we were given was a form of psychological profiling devoid of history, of context, of politics, of ideology and of all cultural preconceptions But the Arendt Milgram Axis, if I can express it so, worked It was a great influence on those who needed excuses, those who sought to dissolve a particular set of historical factors into a universal explanation, one which served to relativise the Holocaust, robbing it of all uniqueness The Holocaust, as David Cesarani says in Eichmann and his Crimes, was simply depicted as a function of modernity Arendt did not spend long in Jerusalem she did not need to she had already made up her mind, exposed initially in reports which were not reports in the New Yorker She vacuum packed the Holocaust for a modern audience, for people who were trying to make sense of the complexity of it all people who were trying to make sense of the colourless executioner in Jerusalem She gave people an Eichmann who was like us , who demonstrated a latent potential present in everyman The best critique of the disingenuousness of Eichmann in Jerusalem comes, in my view, from Yaacov Lozowick, a one time admirer of the book There was very little that was banal about Eichmann or any of his accomplices, and the little that could be found was not relevant to what they had done Arendt s point of departure was wrong Although she was primarily a philosopher, she had written an historical analysis and without checking the facts Moreover, she had refrained from taking into account much potentially relevant information Above all, her position was the result of ideological considerations, not careful scholarship. There was also a paradox, that of a Jew who herself had anti Semitic, not just anti Zionist tendencies In a letter to Karl Jaspers dated April, 1961 she describes Gideon Hauser, the chief prosecutor at the Eichmann trial, as a typical Galician Jew, very unsympathetic, is always making mistakes Of Israel and Israelis in general she wrote that The country s interest in the trial has been artificially whetted An oriental mob that would hang around any place where something is going on is hanging around the front of the courthouse She goes on like this, fulminations against oriental Jews that would not have been out of place in the Third Reich Arendt created the myth of the twentieth century the myth of the desk bound killer and his supine, cattle like victims Her Jews, as I said, collaborated in their own destruction The various Jewish Councils established by the Nazis in the ghettos of occupied Europe were little than the adjutants of death Jewish complicity here was necessary to prove the moral collapse that was one of the essential features of her particular totalitarian model All evidence to the contrary, all evidence of Jewish resistance is ignored But by far the most important omission is the forms of deception the Nazis practiced, to be carried right to the threshold of destruction, something Vasily Grossman alighted on in his essay The Hell of Treblinka Eichmann in Jerusalem is a book that comes close to justifying the monster who was a man, close to excusing him of all practical and moral responsibility Arendt s understanding of Eichmann and his times is impoverished in the extreme She obscured the real Eichmann in the way that he himself deliberately tried to obscure the facts If there was a Jewish collaborator with Nazism after the fact she is no better example Elegantly written Eichmann in Jerusalem may have been, but this should not be allowed to obscure its worthlessness as an account of the man, the motives and the crimes Only one judgement remains as a book Eichmann in Jerusalem is banal. It is hard to know what to say about this book The subtitle is pretty well right the banality of evil Eichmann comes across as a complete fool, utterly lacking in any ability to see things from the perspective of the other As Arendt says at one point, the idea that he could sit chatting to a German Jew about how unfair it was that he never received a promotion for his work in exterminating the Jews pretty much sums up the man It seems Eichmann felt he was doing his best not only for his masters, but also for the Jews too This was the part I found most surprising He knew the Jews were being exterminated, that this was or less inevitable, and so given this inevitability the moral thing to do was to make the whole process as clean and painless as possible I kept thinking of Bauman talking about the holocaust as a huge exercise in hygiene There really is no part of this that doesn t quickly sink into a horrible kind of absurdity.The problem with the holocaust is the sheer scale of it makes trying to hold it in your head comparable to trying to understand the universe, you can feel yourself sinking into insanity And it is not just the whole so many problem, although, obviously, it is that as well, but mingled with that is the remarkable level of planning involved, to which Eichmann was clearly dedicated and hardworking to a fault The problem this book raises isn t the reassuring you would need to be a monster because how much better the world would be if that were true It isn t even the we would all be Eichmann if placed in similar circumstances That, in fact, simply and demonstrably isn t the case We have endless examples of people who actively chose not to be Eichmann, people who knowingly paid for not being Eichmann with their lives, and did so as an active choice The thing that this book makes terribly clear is that simple bureaucratic processes can be used to remarkable effect in normalising the unthinkable in fact, you can commit genocide on an unprecedented scale if you have people worrying about train timetables and the supply of gas rather than where the trains will go and what the gas is for There was an insanely horrible part of this where she says that many Germans would have preferred suicide to defeat, and that some may well have felt those damn Jews had used up all of the gas The world really can be endlessly perverse in the most unspeakable of ways.A particularly interesting part of the book was the discussion of why the Nazis dealt with the Zionists All Jews were bad, but at least the Zionists had some sense of national feeling I d never thought of the monstrous consistency that might lie at the heart of nationalism.And yet, this book left me feeling terribly uneasy Once Eichmann was in Israel it was clear he was going to die for as much as Israel may not have wanted this to be seen as a show trial, clearly this was a story with only one possible ending The concern I had was that this guy really couldn t be called a mastermind in any sense that doesn t inspire the bitterest of ironic laughs He was, in some ways, proof that the Nazis recognising that to promote him beyond where he was would only result in an exemplar case of the Peter Principle He was highly effective at organising logistics, but his motivation was not genocide or hatred of the Jews I dread to say it, but that would at least make sense Instead he was just some guy pitifully obsessed with following orders in the hope of getting a promotion, seeking to impress his superiors and completely obsessed with efficiency I certainly cannot bring myself to be sorry for his fate, but then neither can I feel the world is all that much better without him He was a fool, a terrifying fool doing his job And that fact is the most terrifying of all about this book, I fear. [Free Ebook] ♷ Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil ♳ Originally Appearing As A Series Of Articles In The New Yorker, Hannah Arendt S Authoritative And Stunning Report On The Trial Of Nazi Leader Adolf Eichmann Sparked A Flurry Of Debate Upon Its Publication This Revised Edition Includes Material That Came To Light After The Trial, As Well As Arendt S Postscript Directly Addressing The Controversy That Arose Over Her Account A Major Journalistic Triumph By An Intellectual Of Singular Influence, Eichmann In Jerusalem Is As Shocking As It Is Informative An Unflinching Look At One Of The Most Unsettling And Unsettled Issues Of The Twentieth Century That Remains Hotly Debated To This Day Reread Brilliant and terrifying as ever.Some partial reactions, which somebody else has probably written about, but I ll repeat here anyway The idea of the banality of evil that is, ordinary people who do evil things as part of a larger apparatus, is compelling But is Eichmann the best example of this He stinks of anti Semitism than even Arendt lets on To Arendt, obedience is the same as approval Hence Eichmann should hang Eichmann was not just following orders , he was a joiner A mediocrity who read about two books in his whole life, searching desperately for some cause to attach himself to He was, in his own words, an idealist , or willing to give up his own morals for a greater cause that is, the Nazi project of state sponsored genocide Did Eichmann really have no motives at all Yes, in the sense that he did what he was told He just wanted to be a part of something He lived in an echo chamber, incapable of understanding others In this way, what Arendt finds is even terrifying than the watered down version of the banality of evil Read this again, really read it. We just saw the movie What has come to light is neither nihilism nor cynicism, as one might have expected, but a quite extraordinary confusion over elementary questions of morality as if an instinct in such matters were truly the last thing to be taken for granted in our time. I ve been entertained by my fair share of WWII Nazi Holocaust media, a glut in the marketable masses of reality s intersection with fiction the never fails to rear its head every year Of course, that s the US for you, with its isolation and capitalism and pride It s no use saying that I wish I had never sought out such things to fill my time, for reasons of a complete undermining of reception of this book if nothing else But oh, how I would like to For politics is not like the nursery in politics obedience and support are the same. What I have faith in these days is a future of ever increasing alignment between morality and legality In the present I only supplicate in front of a reassurance that there indeed exists a concept of progress between my modern day and the ones before A progress aligned with my personal sensibility of ethics and individual level of comfort, at any rate and if he suffers, he must suffer for what he has done, not for what he has caused others to suffer. What we have here, in this book, is a collusion of time, place, and people Hannah Arendt went to Jerusalem to report on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, doing so through means of fact, analysis, and the lines of legal and politic that governments trundle along their way on As a result of my reading, my thinking has undergone a paradigm shift on the level that it did upon encountering The Second Sex The subject material differs, but my interpretation is the same I can never afford to become cynical, for that implies I ve learned enough to be so Fear, anger, and a burning desire to know That s acceptable And if he did not always like what he had to dohe never forgot what the alternative would have been Not only in Argentina, leading the unhappy existence of a refugee, but also in the courtroom in Jerusalem, with his life as good as forfeited, he might have still preferred if anybody had asked him to be hanged as Obersturmbannf hrer a.D in retirement rather than living out his life quietly and normally as a traveling salesman for the Vacuum Oil Company. According to the primary evidence Arendt utilized, Eichmann was deemed both sane and normal by six psychologists He suffered from neither guilt nor anger, but from at most the frustration of one who has always been down on their luck, someone who joined a movement in history in hopes of a promising potential and never quite fulfilled it His memory consisted not of the timeline of the war, but of the timeline of this potential his study of Jewish texts, his interaction with fellow members of the S.S., the hows and wherefores of his coming to be and the end all question of his reasons for staying on The net effect of this language system was not to keep these people ignorant of what they were doing, but to prevent them from equating it with their old, normal knowledge of murder and lies Eichmann s great susceptibility to catch words and stock phrases, combined with his incapacity for ordinary speech, made him, of course, an ideal subject for language rulesEichmann was banal in the least sense of the word His lack of intelligence not only spelled his doom due to little caution and less attention paid to his bragging tongue, it also made him perfectly happy to appropriate the words the far discreet Nazi Party told him and construct his thinking with such In view of the Jewish Question, he termed himself both expert and idealist , the former a lie and the latter a peculiar trait that led to largely respectful collaborations with Jewish Elders all over Europe regarding evacuations deportations and related matters Using these phrases, working towards a higher rank in the S.S., claiming responsibility for millions of deaths with both complete lack of guilt and oddly lofty sense of history all of that, each and every time, made him elated In Eichmann s mind, there was no contradiction between I will jump into my grave laughing, appropriate for the end of the war, and I shall gladly hang myself in public as a warning example for all anti Semites on this earth, which now, under vastly different circumstances, fulfilled exactly the same function of giving him a lift. The facts here are ugly, awkward, and fucking sadistic Eichmann s trial by sheer happenstance touches on, amidst so much , the defining of crimes against humanity , genocide versus administrative massacres , the history of anti Semitism and subsequent conflict between the Jewish understanding of pogroms and the world s views of crime and punishment, and the limits of current laws of warfare, and indeed the very terms of justice , in the face of World War Two Here, the trial in Jerusalem faltered in the face of a completely legal indictment and subsequent explanation of such, as did every other trial of WWII war criminals and lesser collaborators Here, history will repeated, not because we do not know it but because we now know the punishment and, as such, can act accordingly Here, the world took action, and one wonders whether that result was worth the trigger, and whether worse things could have happened had not the final push occurred Evil in the Third Reich had lost the quality by which most people recognize it the quality of temptation. A banality of evil is the necessity of mid civilization crises of morality like this when it comes to eliciting a legal, political, worldwide recognition of what humanity cries for, religion aspires to, and human instinct, well I don t have much faith in that last bit any But this was a moral question, and the answer to it may not have been legally relevant. This book is amazing In it, Arendt struggles with three major issues 1 the guilt and evil of the ordinary, bureaucratic, obedient German people like Eichmann who contributed to the attempted genocide of the Jewish people, 2 the complicity of some jews in the genocide through organization, mobilization, passive obedience, and negotiations with the Nazis, 3 the logical absurdity the Eichmann and Nuremberg Trials, etc In this book and the original New Yorker essays it came from Hannah Arendt isn t going for easy, clich answers She isn t asking rhetorical or weightless questions While some of her positions might not be fully supportable, the very act of asking tough questions that don t fall into easy boxes is a gift to humanity Arendt s tactic of giving no one an automatic free pass, while also not allowing people like Eichmann to become cartoonish characters of evil, allows her the room to push the idea that the potential for evil exists not just in dark, scary places, but in well lit, and very efficient bureaucracies and we all even Israel might be asked to push or pull a lever if we aren t paying close attention. A truly disturbing look at what motivates individuals to follow orders While there are some who may disagree with some of the conclusions that Hannah Arendt draws I still think this is a groundbreaking study in the connection betweeen conformity and criminal compliance. T hese defendants now ask this Tribunal to say they are not guilty of planning, executing, or conspiring to commit this long list of crimes and wrongs They stand before the record of this Tribunal as bloodstained Gloucester stood by the body of his slain king He begged of the widow, as they beg of you Say I slew them not And the Queen replied Then say they are not slain But dead they are from Robert Jackson s closing argument at the Nuremberg Tribunal In my opinion, one of the central failings of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg was its list of defendants Leave aside all questions of international law, victor s justice, and tu quoque arguments, and this is what you notice that the Nuremberg dock was filled with the lesser lights of the Nazi Party Absent was Hitler, Goebbels, and Himmler, dead by their own hands Absent was the troll Bormann, who never escaped Berlin Absent was Heydrich the hangman, killed by Czech partisans long before the tide turned The most in famous Nazi in the dock was the suave and corpulent Goering, but even he was not destined for the noose He escaped with the aid of smuggled cyanide This left the victorious Allies punishing halfwits and lackeys and avatars of evil the Jew baiter Streicher, so foul and vile even Hitler despised him the lapdog Keitel, without a brain in his head the incompetent von Ribbentrop the furiously backpedaling Doenitz the quite possibly insane Hess Destroying this grab bag of thugs and louts was a cold comfort Today, aside from Goering and the unctuous and self serving Speer, the Nuremberg defendants are mostly forgotten We don t think of Nazism extinguished at the end of a rope instead, we think of Hitler and his goofy mustache and wild gesticulations and struggle with the notion he somehow escaped justice Thus, it is quite possible that the mantel of most in famous Nazi war criminal falls upon the thin shoulders of balding, bespectacled Adolf Eichmann There are a few reasons for this First of all, he was captured by the Mossad during a brazen raid in Argentina Next, he was at the center of a widely publicized show trial in Jerusalem Mainly, though, we remember Eichmann while we forget Frick, Funk, Sauckel and Schirach because of three words Banality of evil Coined by political theorist Hannah Arendt, the phrase has stood the test of time It has a pseudo intellectual patina that has become a kind of shorthand in discussions of the Nazi regime If you want to sound smart without knowing much at all, just spit it out just make sure you pronounce banal correctly As such, it is ripe for misuse see, e.g., From a marketing standpoint, banality of evil is solid gold, the politico historical equivalent of show me the money It has kept Arendt s Eichmann in Jerusalem relevant and in print since the 60s, and there is no indication the book or the phrase is going anywhere Interestingly, though, the phrase only appears once in the text as the book s last lines It is only explained by Arendt in a postscript And that s fine, really There are plenty of people around willing to argue about what those words mean and whether they are correct Eichmann in Jerusalem is, in Arendt s words, a trial report The book version is cobbled together from her reporting for The New Yorker, as well as some later research I don t like to disagree with an author over her own creation, but Eichmann in Jerusalem doesn t really feel like a trial report, or at least not as I conceive such a thing This book doesn t concern itself with the nuts and bolts of the trial it does not analyze opening and closing statements, witness credibility, or the incisiveness of cross examination To be sure, some of these things are touched on, but if you want the story of the trial itself, how it went down, day by day or week by week, you ll have to look elsewhere By my rough count, there are about seven chapters devoted mainly to Eichmann s activities during the Holocaust, while there are only two chapters devoted solely to the trial.Instead, Arendt has written Eichmann s story as based upon what she learned at the trial Indeed, the bulk of Eichmann in Jerusalem reads like any other nonfiction book about the Nazis It covers the Wannsee Conference, forced emigrations, deportations, and finally the rail lines to the death camps The only unique angle is that Eichmann is at the center of this narrative And this is saying something, I suppose Despite his infamy, and despite the fact I ve read than my share of Nazi centric books my wife would say far than my fair share , I ve never really learned a lot about Adolf Eichmann He is almost always mentioned, but never explored This is due to the fact that however involved he was in the Holocaust, he was, at the end of the day, a functionary.Accordingly, I don t mind Arendt s decision to focus on the man at the center of the trial, rather than the mechanics of the trial itself The problem I had, however, is with Arendt s writing style For the last few minutes, I ve struggled to find the best way to express what I mean The words clunky and inelegant spring to mind, as does the phrase dense prose I would also venture to say she displays curious sentence structure Whatever the actual diagnosis I m a lawyer, not a grammarian the result forces the reader to grapple with the material, rather than absorb it This is a book I had to force my way through Sometimes I d read entire pages before realizing I had no idea what d just been said Despite being only 300 odd pages, it felt like a long, plodding slog None of this is helped by the massively long paragraphs and Arendt s curious hesitation about indentations This makes for aesthetically displeasing pages Eichmann in Jerusalem carries a lot of baggage with it, which I suppose is the reason people continue to read it, despite its literary shortcomings Some of the recent controversy involves Arendt s relationship with crypto Nazi cum philosopher Martin Heidegger Frankly, I don t have much to say on that score, and it feels a little too insider academics to me Still, there is plenty of controversy right there on the page, in black and white, without delving into Arendt s sex life While reading, I picked out three major areas of potential criticism The first critique, which I agree with, is in Arendt s treatment of Jewish leaders during the war It is a matter of historical fact that Jewish leaders were utilized by the Nazis in order to expedite the Holocaust The trouble with Arendt s interpretation, though, is that she essentially accuses them of collaboration This just isn t the case Yes, the Judenrat assisted the Nazis, but they did so with a knife at their throats, and that s an important piece of the puzzle that Arendt ignores Had the Judenrat resisted, Spartacus style, as she clearly wished they had, they would ve been liquidated and replaced, and nothing would ve changed Instead, the Judenrat, for the most part, did what they could to ease the situation for their people And in return, they are blamed in hindsight for lacking complete knowledge of all the Nazis contemporary machinations On this topic the idea of Jewish resistance, or lack thereof, is far complicated than Arendt makes it out to be First of all, most of these people had no formal military training Unlike in the movies, where one can learn all the arts of war during a brief montage, in the real world, one must be taught to be a soldier Second of all, the Jews of Europe were not a monolithic group they came from Germany and France and Austria and Poland and on and on Who s going to coordinate this resistance And how Finally, the Germans had a certain tendency to respond unfavorably to partisan action Indeed, Hitler s Partisan Order spelled out mathematically how many enemy were to be killed for each lost German life After Heydrich s assassination, 1,300 Czechs were murdered, 13,000 were deported And these were non Jews that Hitler needed as labor With all these disadvantages, Judah Maccabee himself, risen from the grave, couldn t have fomented serious resistance.The second major criticism leveled at Arendt has to do with her portrayal of Eichmann, and her choice of those three magic words to sum him up The Eichmann that Arendt presents is indelible a high school dropout and intellectual dud a bureaucratic ladder climber an unoriginal man who spoke in catchphrases and slogans like some kind of evil Abed from Community His banality, as Arendt explains, is in his lack of imagination He never would have murdered someone with his own hands, but he was perfectly willing operating within the Nazi framework, in which his actions were lawful to facilitate the deaths of millions It s impossible to say whether Arendt s portrait is entirely correct It is, after all, impossible to know the human heart However, she has come under criticism for taking Eichmann too much at his word, and failing to realize Eichmann was minimizing his role To be honest, I m not sure that Eichmann was shrewd enough to reframe himself in that way Anyway, one has to ask, even if he was, what end he was hoping to achieve He was damned either way, and whether he came off as an unquestioning bureaucrat or a mustache twirling villain, he was going to stretch In other words, Eichmann didn t really have all that much motive to lie On that point, however, I must admit that I m predisposed to Arendt s conception of Eichmann in particular, and Nazi era Germans in general which places me contra anything Daniel Jonah Goldhagen writes I m no expert on human nature, but I just can t believe that somehow, for some reason, the Germany of 1933 1945 had an astronomically high percentage of psychopaths and sociopaths and sadists operating outside the realm of fundamental human morality Instead, to use Christopher Browning s phrase, I think most Nazis were ordinary men That is, they were men and women subject to national political pressures, social pressures, and group pressures that coerced them follow Hitler s will Some of them undoubtedly believed in the mission, wholeheartedly, but this was the result of their complex existence within a paradigm that effectively convinced people that up was down, left was right, and evil was good The farther away from the killing, the easier this became A third and final criticism of Arendt is in her vigorous attacks on the fairness of the Jerusalem trial Like the first controversy, discussed above, I don t think this one carries much weight There is nothing groundbreaking in her critique of the process and procedures of the Eichmann Trial indeed, the items she cites are in line with what other legal scholars such as Nuremberg prosecutor Telford Taylor have written Importantly, at the end of the day, she acknowledges Eichmann s guilt, and states flatly that he deserved to die And just as you Eichmann supported and carried out a policy of not wanting to share the earth with the Jewish people as though you and your superiors had any right to determine who should and who should not inhabit the world we find that no one, that is, no member of the human race, can be expected to want to share the earth with you This is the reason, and the only reason, you must hang It would ve been satisfying were Eichmann a monster So too with Hitler, Himmler, Goering and the rest Monsters can be recognized monsters can be destroyed But these men weren t monsters They were of this earth When Hitler put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger, it turned out that he was flesh and bone and soft tissue, just like the rest of us.That, I suppose, is why Arendt s Eichmann is so discomforting. The horror and enigma surrounding the Holocaust trials is probably best exhibited in Peter Weiss s play The Investigation Based on the actual testimonies given during the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials reading it is an experience that is cold, brutal and almost physical in ways unexpected Witnesses try to communicate the incommunicable suffering of victims and survivors Defendants try to deny or extenuate their respective roles in the heinous crimes and Judges try to measure up an appropriate sentence against the evil involved that keeps on getting bigger, hideous and unbearable In the course of brief dialogues, Weiss deftly manages to raise some inconvenient questions and leaves the tough task of contemplation for the readers In that sense, where this play ends, Eichmann in Jerusalem beginsOne last question, the most disturbing of all, was asked by the judges, and especially by the presiding judge, over and over again Had the killing of Jews gone against his conscience But this was a moral question, and the answer to it may not have been legally relevant.I am tempted to say that Hannah Arendt followed Eichmann s trial as an impartial third party whose aim was to view things in the light of a relevant objectivity but it would be too bold a claim given my superficial knowledge about the concerned subject matter Still I can say that she definitely strives to penetrate the colossal intricacy of Nazi machinery along with the challenges faced by a wary legal system It s not a coin we are talking about but a demonic labyrinth of crimes against humanity and the difficulty in analyzing its structure must have been enormous From the outset only, Arendt s lucid and assured writing conveys the much needed message that whatever shall follow will not complicate the already complicated events but rather deconstruct the methods and consequences of venomous indoctrinationWhat stuck in the minds of these men who had become murderers was simply the notion of being involved in something historic, grandiose, unique, which must therefore be difficult to bear This was important, because the murderers were not sadists or killers by nature on the contrary, a systematic effort was made to weed out all those who derived physical pleasure from what they did. And in the centre of all this is a man sitting in the bullet proof glass cage, recounting the whys and hows and wheres of the gross injustice he perpetrated while Arendt carefully observes his various stances actuated by a thorough research and presents a report that is worth reading for the sheer amount of information and new perspectives it offers for our perusal Although all her arguments bear a force that warrants some sort of reaction even from the unaffected, there are instances where things appears to be stretched a little too far on her part especially when it comes to pass judgments on Eichmann s character And no, I m not referring to the banality which is most likely a foregone conclusion and Arendt herself regretted the use of that word but certain extraneous assumptions The banality however, whether that of a person or some invisible evil force can t be dismissed in its entirety when one reads the following words Just as the law in civilized countries assumes that the voice of conscience tells everybody Thou shalt not kill, even though man s natural desires and inclinations may at times be murderous, so the law of Hitler s land demanded that the voice of conscience tell everybody Thou shalt kill, although the organizers of the massacres knew full well that murder is against the normal desires and inclinations of most people Evil in the Third Reich had lost the quality by which most people recognize it the quality of temptation. Maybe there are many philosophies at play here that I didn t able to differentiate or even recognize but one thing that is apparent against the tragic backdrop of wars is the dwelling place of truth that usually gets blurred or wiped out under the layers of black and white, right and wrong, good and evil Arendt has explored those very places in a manner that is admirable and brave.