Chapter

Malicious Clerks

Yaacov Lozowick

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520220560.003.0014
Malicious Clerks

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For many, the name Adolf Eichmann is synonymous with the Nazi murder of six million Jews. Alongside Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, he is probably the most infamous of the Nazi murderers. According to Arendt, there was nothing unusually bestial about Eichmann, who was basically a rather mediocre person. He was merely symptomatic of a new type of reality, one where banal characters can be swept up in the enthusiasm of large historical movements to such an extent that they lose the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. This chapter argues that Arendt was wrong. There was very little that was banal about Eichmann or any of his accomplices, and the little that could be found was not relevant to what they had done. Arendt's point of departure was wrong. Although she was primarily a philosopher, she had written a historical analysis and without checking her facts. Moreover, she had refrained from taking into account much potentially relevant information. Above all, her position was the result of ideological considerations, not careful scholarship. This was even more true in the case of most of her followers.

Keywords: evil; Nazis; historical analysis; Adolf Eichmann; Jews

Chapter.  4258 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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