Unit 3 Assignment 1 by Lydia Catterall

The Origins of Totalitarianism

Banality of Evil

  • examines the common motives among perpetrators of evil
  • claims evil is “thought-defying” because thought searches for depth, and there is no depth in evil
  • claims the perpetuation of evil involves a disconnection from reality
  • Arendt applies the concept to Adolf Eichman after witnessing his trial
  • argues the Nazis used “holes of oblivion” to promote unrealistic ideas of wealth and power to financially struggling Germans

Adolf Eichman

  • played a chief role in carrying out the mass execution of Jews during the Holocaust
  • coordinated identification and subsequent transportation of Jews to concentration camps
  • escaped capture by U.S. troops following WWII, but then got captured, tried, and hanged by the Israeli government
  • claimed in trial that he had no knowledge of what happened in the concentration camps

*interesting observation: many of the websites I looked at discussed Hannah Arendt because they perceived her concepts as relevant in the Trump era

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