Hannah Arendt and the Eichmann Trial

On Monday, Deborah Lipstadt wrote about eerie anniversaries. She is the author of the new book The Eichmann Trial.

I have spent much of the past few weeks talking about my new book, The Eichmann Trial. Continue reading here.

5 responses to “Hannah Arendt and the Eichmann Trial

  1. In 1935, Arendt reported on the trial of David Frankfurter, a Jew who assassinated the leader of the Nazi party in Switzerland. She said that the true “significance ” of that trial was that it educated the world about Naziism. In 1960, she criticized Ben Gurion for using Eichmann’s trial as a platform for educating the world about the Holocaust.
    I think she was one of the greatest political thinkers of the twentieth century. She was one of the first to see Naziism and antisemitism as the most important political dangers in the modern world. The subtitle of her book on Totalitarianism was “the burden of our time.”
    She would have recognized the antisemitism in today’s “Birther” movement, despite their support for Israel. She wrote that a core concept of modern antisemitism was to claim that Jews are foreigners.

  2. Pingback: Testifying for the Holocaust | Jewish Book Council Blog

  3. Deborah,

    I have started to read chapter six of your book, which deals with your discussion of Hannah Arendt, and her view of the Eichmann trial. As a lawyer, one of the things that stuck me is that you state that Arendt critiqued the testimony of some of the witnesses or survivors. You point out that her critique was based on the fact that some of these survivors never had contact with Eichmann. Accordingly, one draws the inference that the crimes that were perpetrated against those particular witnesses were committed by other people in the SS hierarchy.

    While I do support providing survivors with a forum to talk about their experience, I have to agree with Arendt regarding that aspect of the trial. When someone is on trial, only percipient witnesses should be allowed to provide testimony against that person. In this case it was Eichmann who was on trial, not the entire Third Reich.

    So, on that issue, I am asking you for clarification. Were your comments on Arendt, regarding the testimony of non percipient witnesses, meant as a criticism of her analysis? Or were your comments meant as an observation or comparison to how others viewed the trial?

  4. I haven’t read your book and your placing quote around the word ‘analysis’ disinclines me to, sorry. You may not agree with her but I hardly think Eichmann in Jerusalem is a piece of shoddy propaganda. What makes people really uncomfortable with the book is that it points the finger not at inhuman monsters but at very human ordinary clods. Until we face this very unpleasant aspect of humanity we will get nowhere. Demonizing messengers doesn’t help.

  5. Pingback: Testifying for the Holocaust » Mixed Multitudes – My Jewish Learning: Exploring Judaism & Jewish Life

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