Eichmann in Jerusalem

Michael R. Marrus

in Hannah Arendt in Jerusalem

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2001 | ISBN: 9780520220560
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520923669 | DOI:
Eichmann in Jerusalem

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This chapter approaches Hannah Arendt's view of the Eichmann trial from one vantage point that is sometimes overlooked — legal argumentation, which in fact preoccupied Arendt from the very moment she heard of Eichmann's capture and considered covering the trial for the New Yorker. This is not to ignore some obvious instances of personal antipathies, blinkered views, and simple prejudices in her narrative — which was intended, one must recall, as a journalistic account, and not a learned evaluation. It is rather to suggest that Arendt's “agenda” was quite different from our own, in which identity politics comes so quickly to the fore. In thinking of the Eichmann trial Arendt operated very much in the shadow of the Nuremberg tribunal and therefore had a point of reference quite different from that of many of her critics. She was primarily concerned with how legal systems, both at Nuremberg and in Jerusalem, could “deal with the facts of administrative massacres organized by the state apparatus” — what she understood as a radically new order of criminality, one of the outstanding characteristics of modern times.

Keywords: Eichmann trial; Nuremberg tribunal; legal systems; legal argumentation; criminality

Chapter.  3597 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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