“The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together.”

–Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem

 

Adolf Eichmann was indicted in February 1961 in Jerusalem, Israel on 15 criminal charges that he had committed during the Holocaust in Germany.

Eichmann was considered as one of the chief architects of the Holocaust, as he was given orders by the Nazi SS to facilitate and manage the mass deportations of Jews to extermination camps in Eastern Europe during World War II. He was collectively responsible for gassing millions and millions of Jews, as he was handling the overall affairs of the camps. After the war, he was captured by the United States, but he escaped to Argentina, where he would live in before he was captured and brought to trial in Jerusalem. What was to follow would be highly popular trial which was covered by international journalists widely. The Israeli government organized his trial before a three-judge court in Jerusalem. Throughout the course of the trial, Eichmann did not deter from his claim that he was not an anti-Semite. He presented himself as a mere “cog” in the machine, who was only following orders in the long chain of Nazi Bureaucracy, and was not entirely aware of the degree of effect his actions had on the millions who were killed. He said: “I couldn’t help myself; I had orders, but I had nothing to do with that business.” He claimed to know nothing about gassing, and claimed that he was “horrified” when he heard of it.

His trial lasted from April till December 1961 and the famous Jew scholar and writer who fled Germany during the Hitler regime, Hannah Arendt, who wrote extensively about banality of evil, covered the trial in a lot of detail and wrote about it in her book ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem: A report on the banality of evil.” This book continues to be read extensively, as it gives a detailed account of those who were involved in the Holocaust.