Hannah Arendt 's Interpretation Of The Eichmann Trial

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Term Paper: A Life on Trial: What Motivated Adolf Eichmann and How Have Future Generations Understood Him?

Abstract: In this term paper, I will be focussing on the contradictory reviews on Hannah Arendt’s interpretation of The Eichmann Trial. With information from her book as well as commentary from other authors specifically David Cesarani and Deborah E. Lipstadt, I will be focussing on arguments in relation to Eichmann’s war crimes and the role he played in the mass-murder of European Jewry.

Adolf Eichmann as a man was considered to be mediocre. The importance of understanding who he was as a person is much more than his anti-semitic values. He was raised in northern Austria, in a middle-class household where casual anti-semitism was nothing out of the ordinary. In 1920 Austria, Eichmann considered Jews to be acquaintances. He was employed by Jews as an Oil and Kerosene salesman. He had Jewish relatives through marriage. Arendt specifically analyses that Anti-semitism was not the root cause for Eichmann joining the Nazi Party in 1932. She stresses the reason that he was a joiner. Cesarani delves deeper into Eichmann’s personal connections and issues more, he rationalised that Eichmann admired the Nazi’s position regarding the Treaty of Versailles. But he also agreed with Arendt’s opinion that anti-semitism was not the reason that led Eichmann into the Nazi Party. 

“Although she was wonderfully perceptive about the structure and working of the Third Reich and Eichmann’s

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