The Eichmann Trial
With the capture of Nazi officer, discussion about the Holocaust enters the public realm.
As an unintelligent person, Arendt asserted, Eichmann had no innate ability to identify with the Jewish plight, and he entertained no compassion for them as humans. Because his actions were couched in the rational functioning of the Nazi bureaucracy, he was able to perform his job of killing just like any other position he had held.
Since Arendt post-trial films such as The Man Who Captured Eichmann (1996) have attempted to portray Eichmann's inscrutable psychology. In the recent book, Becoming Eichmann (2007), historian David Cesarani asserts that Eichmann is an understandable figure if we consider his full mental, social, and political context in a culture that allowed one people to become an abstract racial-biological threat.
Yet Arendt's assessment of Eichmann still eclipses most other narratives of his character and life. For our post-war culture, Eichmann's actions are regarded as the shocking, and yet predictable effect of totalitarianism on the human conscience.
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