Adolf Eichmann Portrait or Merely Instrument of Evil

Hannah Arendts historically important and powerful book, entitled Eichmann in Jerusalem A Report on the Banality of Evil, narrates the story of Adolf Eichmann, a man accused to be one of the architects of the Holocaust that had caused thousands of deaths for the Jews. Arendt devoted her book in exploring the person that is being accused of heinous crimes. Beginning with the trial itself, the author continues by providing background on the life of Eichmann, his works and achievements especially in the military, and several possible roles he assumed during the World War II. The accounts in the book detail who Eichmann really was and what should be the most proper verdict and punishment to be accorded to him. The book effectively explains the real participation of Eichmann in the killing of the Jews. Arendts book is powerful and significant because it provides deeper context on the realities the world was exposed to and became aware of during the Nazi rule.
Eichmann in Jerusalem considers a lot of important details that many would have overlooked. The discussion of how Eichmann would be tried is a good introduction by the author because it helps the readers understand that the topic of the book is complicated and has indeed sparked a lot of controversies. Arendts work certifies the anger of Jews over the atrocities they had experienced and how they intend to punish each and every person who had caused their sufferings, and Eichmann was one of those people who are being held accountable for the terrifying genocide.
While Eichmanns role in the war was mostly on paper works, he had a direct participation in the deaths of thousands of lives. One of the gravest sins of Eichmann was his order to continue the deportation of thousands of Jews that led to their deaths. Arendts book details enough descriptions of Eichmann to describe him not as an immoral person but as a person whose morality had been shaped differently. The actions of Eichmann, however grave and evil they may seem, were all the result of his conviction of being a good follower to his superiors. For Eichmann, moral and ethical values are defined as the capability to follow the laws of the land and carry out what is ordered for him to do. Eichmann was the image of the perfect idealist, like everybody else, had of course his personal feelings and emotions, but he would never permit them to interfere with his actions if they came into conflict with his idea (Arendt 42). The author goes as far as to emphasize a number of times how Eichmann, as a man set in the mission to follow his leaders, would even probably kill his own father if that is what is ordered by Hitler.
Arendts book continues to expound on the guiltiness of Eichmann. The author describes in her work how Eichmann was largely already convicted in the eyes of the Jews even before the trial began. As the direction of the book hints, Eichmann was guilty as the government had bravely and illegally kidnapped him already. He was tried for the deaths of many Jews and yet, he continued to maintain that he was only doing what he believed was ethically right, and that was to follow orders. The trial convicted him for the actions his superiors had done. The trial will only determine what crimes he would be punished for.  All the while, Eichmann maintained that he feels guilty before God, not before the law (Arendt 21). He could have lowered the punishment that would be granted to him if he appealed not guilty for several other reasons. However, because he was firm with his beliefs, he maintained that statement all through out.
This is where the most controversial analysis of the author enters. In a large part of the book, Arendts position on Eichmanns case implies that the man being tried is not as guilty as he is believed to be. In a subtle way, Arendt may have even attempted to defend Eichmann through some of her words by stating that except for an extraordinary diligence in looking out for his personal advancement, he had no motives at all for allowing the Jews to die under his command (287). The inability of Eichmann to make correct moral convictions may convince a person to believe that he did not personally intend to kill all the Jews. However, this actually makes Eichmann a more terrifying person. He is typically the best description of evil that has no certain cause but has produced immense destruction. Despite his inability to make moral decisions, he is not excused from the commission of those heinous crimes because he chose to be there and hold the position he had in the first place. Probably the most important conclusion of Arendts work is her message that human beings should be capable of telling right from wrong even when all they have to guide them is their own judgment, which, moreover, happens to be completely at odds with what they must regard as the unanimous opinion of all those around them (295). This message is reiterated in the book for emphasis.
Arendts popular phrase the banality of evil, which was significantly used to describe Eichmann, has a great impact on the readers of this book because it powerfully describes how evil operated during the Holocaust (252). Eichmann may not have directly shot a person to death, but the position he held made him accountable for thousands of lives that perished during that dark time of history. The book effectively presents the many faces that evil possesses and how terrifying it could be when it comes and destroys everything that is right and just.

Eichmann in Jerusalem is incredibly terrifying not only because it recounts the Holocaust but because it introduces readers to the decisions that men could make and what grave results these decisions could produce. The book is insightful and filled with descriptions of realities that could send chills to the spine while maintaining the interest of the readers to be informed. Although Arendts work is not entirely agreeable, it still serves as an important document that re-emphasizes the need for the people today to be aware of and continuously concerned with their history and how it affects the realities around them.


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