The problem of Eichmann
as it takes shape in Stangneth's account is not whether he was ordinary or perverse, but how it was possible for him to state, as he did throughout his interrogations and trial, that he had done "nothing wrong," simply "obeyed orders," and that he was a mere "cog in a machine." To object that he had no "human conscience" begs the question of what exactly a human conscience is.
She called Eichmann
''terribly and terrifyingly normal,'' lacking ''criminal motives,'' ''a buffoon,'' ''a typical functionary'' who was ''banal'' rather than ''demonic'' because he was not ''deep,'' being essentially without ''ideology.'' Arendt considered Eichmann
''thoughtless,'' partly because, with a parochialism to which some intellectuals are prone, she could not accept the existence of a coherent and motivating ideological framework that rejected, root and branch, the universality of reason, and hence of human dignity.
'Fair Is Foul': Lady Macbeth in Robert Young's Eichmann
In his 2006 book, Becoming Eichmann
: Rethinking the Life, Crimes and Trial of a "Desk Murderer," H.
She labeled it "bad history" (3) and instead produced her own historical interpretation of Eichmann
and the Holocaust.
Many of Arendt's contemporaries, including some in her circle of friends, were repulsed by what they interpreted to be her shifting of blame from Eichmann
onto the leaders of the Jewish Councils.
, the organizer of Jewish deportations and the death camps, held fast to his defense that he had only "obeyed orders." As Arendt explains to her class in New York after the trial, "He insisted on renouncing his personal guilt ...
After administering the forced emigration of Viennese Jews and until the fall of 1941, Jews from Austria emigrated at proportionally higher rates than in Germany or the Protectorate, thanks to the ruthless methods of Eichmann
But the conditions in which Wallenberg and Eichmann
operated make the book a valuable contribution for the general reader.