Adolf Eichmann organized the mass deportation and attempt to exterminate all Jewish people from Germany and other countries. While he was in the field or at his desk, he was the center of Nazi genocide. He was the man in charge and responsible for shipping over 2 million Jews to their deaths in Auschwitz and many other death camps. Hannah Arendt has portrayed Eichmann illustrates “the banality of evil”. Adolf Eichmann was born into a middle class family and never completed his education. Although he was not considered the smartest, he was good at making deliveries and shipments while working for an oil company.
Little did he know he would be doing the same job but with people. Eichmann joined a Nazi association in August of 1933, and went into military training for a year to become an SS officer. In the year 1938, Eichmann organized a central office for Jewish Emigration. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum states it is estimated that over 110,000 Hungarian Jews went through this central office under his instruction in a little under a year. After World War II had broke out, he began organizing mass deportations of Jews in attempt to make Germany Jewish free.
Eichmann moved was promoted to director of “Clearing activities. ” In 1941 he deported over 1. 5 million Jews to all over Europe to the killing and work sites known as concentration camps. Whether he was at his desk in his office, or in the field, he was seen as the center of the extermination. As the war ended, Eichmann was taken by the United States and was in our custody. It is believed that Eichmann in the end sent over 2 million people to their deaths in Auschwitz and other death camps. Adolf Eichmann’s trial was held in Jerusalem in 1961 and lasts a little over a year.
He was hanged May 31, 1962. Adolf Eichmann was essentially the middle man who claimed to have only been follow orders by his commanding officers. This was his biggest defense statement. Hannah Arendt believes that Adolf Eichmann was a normal person who created evil inside of themselves, the banality of evil. The Eichmann trial started out with the statement, “the tragedy of Jewry as a whole was to be in the central concern. For if we shall charge (Eichmann) also with crimes against non-Jews. . . this is. ” This was the main statement that the prosecution would be key to this case.
This trial was held in the District court of Jerusalem and was considered a “show trial” because of all the reporters and news crews that were in the court house. Eichmann believed that it was the Jews duty to “sit in judgment on their enemies” considering Eichmann did kill their people. This trial was also a lesson to the non-Jewish community, “We want to establish before the nations of the world how millions of people, because they happened to be Jews, and one million babies, because they happened to be Jewish babies, were murdered by the Nazis.
Although the Nazis were blamed for these deaths, there were other nations who are to also be blamed for this situation to happen. This trial didn’t only get Eichmann for war crimes, they had also been able to arrest others with similar crimes. Four months before the trial had begun six other men had been arrested with evidence against them that they were “Nazi criminals”. Ben-Gurion (Prime Minister of Israel) did “not care what verdict is delivered against Eichmann,” as long as the Jerusalem court delivered one. Eichmann was charged on fifteen counts on committing crimes against Jewish people.
Eichmann pleaded “not guilty in the sense of the indictment”, although; he did feel guilty “before God, not before the law. ” Eichmann had been indicted for murder when he had never killed a person in his life. Eichmann states, “With the killing of Jews I had nothing to do. I never killed a Jew, or a non-Jew, for that matter- I never killed any human being. ” He was simply the middle man doing his job. The only thing he could be accused of was the fast that he aided in the extermination of Jews states the book Eichmann in Jerusalem; a Report on the Banality of Evil.
People saw Eichmann as a man with blood lust and the urge to kill but after being examined by a psychiatrist he was declared “normal” and even “a man with very positive ideas. ” While doing exams on him they had also found he “had no case of insane hatred of Jews, of fanatical anti-Semitism or indoctrination of any kind. ” Arendt confronted evil inside of Eichmann later on in the trial. She states “therein lies the horror.
In Arendt’s book, Eichmannism in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, she uses the phrase, “ banality of evil” to describe Adolf Eichmann. She raised the question of whether evil is radical or simply a function of thoughtlessness, the tendency of ordinary people to obey orders and conform to mass opinion without critically thinking about the results of their action or inaction. “he was a mere functionary, a man without qualities” states Arendt in the beginning of the trial. the most significant argument George Cotkin believes, is that Arendt made was that she argues “Eichmann was no fanatic , lacking a hint of ‘insane hatred of Jews.
” Eichmann denied any role or part in the killings of the Jews. He claims he “simply followed orders” keeping the trains moving efficiently. Cotkin says Eichmann, “perfectly exemplified the man doing his job, compartmentalized within the bureaucracy, unwilling to peer too closely at what was actually transpiring”. During the trial, Eichmann said “I hardly looked. I could not. ” When he saw the gas vans going to and from Auschwitz. It “upset” him and he continued back to his work when thinking of his loyalty to Hitler.
According to Hannah Arendt, “he had acted in an evil manner, even if his intention was without evil”. Although Cotkin seems to disagree mostly with Arendts statements but he did agree that “bringing evil down to a concrete level as it might appear in the figure of typical unthinking bureaucrat. Had Eichmann possessed the capacity of strenuous thought, of confronting moral choices, then he might have been less prone to follow orders”. If Eichmann had followed his morals and not stayed true to the Nazi rules he could have saved hundreds of thousands lives.