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Overview[ edit ] Arendt's subtitle famously introduced the phrase "the banality of evil," which also serves as the final words of the book. In part, at least, the phrase refers to Eichmann's deportment at the trial as the man displayed neither guilt for his actions nor hatred for those trying him, claiming he bore no responsibility because he was simply "doing his job" "He did his duty Arendt takes Eichmann's court testimony and the historical evidence available, and she makes several observations about Eichmann: Eichmann stated himself in court that he had always tried to abide by Immanuel Kant 's categorical imperative as discussed directly on pp.
She argues that Eichmann had essentially taken the wrong lesson from Kant: Eichmann had not recognized the " golden rule " and principle of reciprocity implicit in the categorical imperative, but had understood only the concept of one man's actions coinciding with general law.
Eichmann attempted to follow the spirit of the laws he carried out, as if the legislator himself would approve. In Kant's formulation of the categorical imperative, the legislator is the moral selfand all men are legislators; in Eichmann's formulation, the legislator was Hitler.
Eichmann claimed this changed when he was charged with carrying out the Final Solutionat which point Arendt claims "he had ceased to live according to Kantian principles, that he had known it, and that he had consoled himself with the thoughts that he no longer 'was master of his own deeds,' that he was unable 'to change anything'" p.
The man demonstrated his unrealistic worldview and crippling lack of communication skills through reliance on "officialese" Amtssprache and the euphemistic Sprachregelung that made implementation of Hitler's policies "somehow palatable.
Eichmann was a "joiner" his entire life, in that he constantly joined organizations in order to define himself, and had difficulties thinking for himself without doing so.
Inhe failed in his attempt to join the Schlaraffia a men's organization similar to Freemasonryat which point a family friend and future war criminal Ernst Kaltenbrunner encouraged him to join the SS.
At the end of World War IIEichmann found himself depressed because "it then dawned on him that thenceforward he would have to live without being a member of something or other" pp. Despite his claims, Eichmann was not, in fact, very intelligent.
As Arendt details in the book's second chapter, he was unable to complete either high school or vocational trainingand only found his first significant job traveling salesman for the Vacuum Oil Company through family connections. Arendt noted that, during both his SS career and Jerusalem trial, Eichmann tried to cover up his lack of skills and education, and even "blushed" when these facts came to light.
Moreover, Eichmann made these claims even though they hurt his defense, hence Arendt's remark that "Bragging was the vice that was Eichmann's undoing" p. Arendt also suggests that Eichmann may have preferred to be executed as a war criminal than live as a nobody. This parallels his overestimation of his own intelligence and his past value in the organizations in which he had served, as stated above.
Arendt argues that Eichmann, in his peripheral role at the Wannsee Conferencewitnessed the rank-and-file of the German civil service heartily endorse Reinhard Heydrich 's program for the Final Solution of the Jewish question in Europe German: Upon seeing members of "respectable society" endorsing mass murderand enthusiastically participating in the planning of the solution, Eichmann felt that his moral responsibility was relaxed, as if he were " Pontius Pilate ".
During his imprisonment before his trial, the Israeli government sent no fewer than six psychologists to examine Eichmann. These psychologists found no trace of mental illnessincluding personality disorder. One doctor remarked that his overall attitude towards other people, especially his family and friends, was "highly desirable", while another remarked that the only unusual trait Eichmann displayed was being more "normal" in his habits and speech than the average person pp.
Arendt suggests that this most strikingly discredits the idea that the Nazi criminals were manifestly psychopathic and different from "normal" people. Arendt insists that moral choice remains even under totalitarianismand that this choice has political consequences even when the chooser is politically powerless: Humanly speaking, no more is required, and no more can reasonably be asked, for this planet to remain a place fit for human habitation.
Arendt mentions, as a case in point, Denmark: One is tempted to recommend the story as required reading in political science for all students who wish to learn something about the enormous power potential inherent in non-violent action and in resistance to an opponent possessing vastly superior means of violence.
It was not just that the people of Denmark refused to assist in implementing the Final Solution, as the peoples of so many other conquered nations had been persuaded to do or had been eager to do — but also, that when the Reich cracked down and decided to do the job itself it found that its own personnel in Denmark had been infected by this and were unable to overcome their human aversion with the appropriate ruthlessness, as their peers in more cooperative areas had.
On Eichmann's personality, Arendt concludes: Despite all the efforts of the prosecution, everybody could see that this man was not a "monster," but it was difficult indeed not to suspect that he was a clown.
And since this suspicion would have been fatal to the entire enterprise [his trial], and was also rather hard to sustain in view of the sufferings he and his like had caused to millions of people, his worst clowneries were hardly noticed and almost never reported p.
Legality of the trial[ edit ] Beyond her discussion of Eichmann himself, Arendt discusses several additional aspects of the trial, its context, and the Holocaust.Master’s Thesis Academic Year Improving TCP/IP stack performance by fast packet I/O framework Summary Many of server applications are running on computers which are deployed in data centers.
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