Sadie Blackshear Unit 3 Assignment 1

Hannah Arendt — Banality of Evil

  • Immensity of Eichmann’s crimes and the ordinariness of the man.
  • Insisted he was a Zionist and seek understanding from his Jewish interrogators in Israel but was responsible for transporting millions
  • Fervent, relentless dedication to the Nazi movement.
  • Eichmann feared “to live a leaderless and difficult individual life,” in which “I would receive no directives from anybody.”
  • He found in the Nazi movement a sense of importance.
  • Desire to prove himself meaningful rendered him unable to think clearly

Banal definition?


Hannah Arendt — The Origins of Totalitarianism

  • Culminates in a vivid account of the system of concentration and death camps that Arendt believed defined totalitarian rule
  • Set of fundamental questions about how tyranny can arise and the dangerous forms of inhumanity to which it can lead
  • Origins of totalitarianism, not explaining its “causes”
  • Freedom is fragile, and when sensationalist demagogues speak, and others start following them, it is wise to pay attention
  • “Grotesque disparity between cause and effect”
  • Central condition of the rise of totalitarianism was a crisis in the functioning and the legitimacy of party politics and of parliamentary government

Adolf Eichmann

  • Traveling salesman, lost job in depression
  • Joined Nazi party April 1932 & rose in the hierarchy
  • Joined the terrorist school of the Austrian Legion at Lechfeld, Germany
  • Dealt with “Jewish Affairs” in the Security Service (???)
  • Eichmann was to coordinate the details; thus, although it was not yet generally known that the “final solution” was mass execution, Eichmann had in effect been named chief executioner
  • Organized the identification, assembly, and transportation of Jews from all over occupied Europe to their death sites
  • Became POW to US, but escaped and fled to Argentina
  • Israeli troops captured him in Argentina & smuggled him out of the country for trial (extradition is illegal)
  • Ex post facto justice?
  • He had continued to oversee the deportation of victims but that he sought to keep his distance from the actual killing (supposedly) after hearing the screams
  • Manager who relied on a variety of strategies and tactics to secure scarce cattle cars and other equipment used to deport Jews at a time when equipment shortages threatened the German war effort. He repeatedly devised innovative solutions to overcome obstacles; more than “following orders”

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