Unit 3 Assignment 1 – Bryan Tran

Hannah Arendt

  • Hannah Arendt was born in Hanover, Germany in 1906.
  • Studied philosophy at the University of Marburg with Martin Heidegger
  • Had an affair with Heidegger.
  • Worked for the organization Youth Aliyah, which rescued Jewish youth.
  • Had a second husband named Heinrich Blücher.
  • She was imprisoned.
  • She and Blücher fled Nazi Europe and went to New York, in 1941.
  • She and Blücher lived on Riverside Drive in NYC and in Kingston, NY near Bard College where Blücher taught for 17 years.


“Banality of Evil” in Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism

  • Arendt – a sobering reflection on “the lesson that this long course in human wickedness had taught us — the lesson of the fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality of evil.”
  • She thought the essence of totalitarianism was to make functionaries and mere cogs in the administrative machinery out of men
  • Some accused her of suggesting that the atrocity of the Holocaust had been commonplace, which of course was the very opposite of her point 
  • Arendt argued that Eichmann, far from being a “monster,” as the Israeli prosecutor insisted, was nothing more than a thoughtless bureaucrat, passionate in his desire to please his superiors\
  • Arendt’s book was criticized by the Jewish community


Adolf Eichmann

  • He was a German high official who was hanged by the State of Israel for his part in the Holocaust, the Nazi extermination of Jews during World War II
  • he became a member of Heinrich Himmler’s SS, the Nazi paramilitary corps
  • He was the coordinator of the “final solution” which was mass extinction
  • He was captured and was put under trial about his acts. And claimed to not be anti-Semite.
  • Eichmann portrayed himself as an obedient bureaucrat who merely carried out his assigned duties


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