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The True Ideology on Trial in Eichmann in Jerusalem

The universality nature of court renders the accused to be required to not only be prosecuted, but also defended and judged. No matter the severity or feral the crime is, a human’s natural right allows he/she to have a trial (if it is fair is an entirely different debate). For Adolf Eichmann, the same is able to ring true, after being kidnapped from Argentina and taken to Israel to stand trial for his part in the eradication of the Jews during the Nazi regime. Yet, this Holocaust was not perpetrated by one man, it was a culmination of several factors all leading to the apex that is WWII, but the court does not see it in this way. For this day, the only factor/situation that matters is the lives that Adolf Eichmann directly affected and stole. On page 5 of Eichmann in Jerusalem Hannah Arendt notes that the surrounding factors of this mass extermination are simply inconsequential: “and that all the other questions of seemingly greater import—…be left in abeyance”(Arendt 5). Some of these mitigating factors that Arendt notes becoming obsolete are the roles of other nations, why did they allow this to happen, and above all why did this happen to the Jews. Arendt continues, noting that when it boils down to the true justice system, the only spotlight should be on Adolf Eichmann: “Justice insists on the importance of Adolf Eichmann”. This shows that the true “item” (for lack of a better word) on trial here is not the overall suffering of the Jewish race, not the overall racism and antisemitism, but the only think on trial here are the crimes were strictly committed at the hand Adolf Eichmann. For me, this brings up the case in Les Miserables whether stealing (a crime) a loaf a bread to feed your family (good deed), is truly a bad act. I believe that (following along the train of thought of Arendt) that this would be considered a crime because in this notion we are strictly looking at the act and not the mitigating factors surrounding it.

One thought on “The True Ideology on Trial in Eichmann in Jerusalem”

  1. Good work here mining some of the really complex language in that introductory chapter about what it means to contain the scope of the kind of justice a trial can exact by having the trial focus exclusively on the actions of the defendant. I wonder about the Les Miserables comparison, and more specifically about the idea of “mitigating factors,” because I’m not sure there are any such factors that anyone is suggesting when it comes to Eichmann: he definitely didn’t participate in genocide because his family needed to eat dinner! So I might suggest digging in a little deeper to what is at stake for *Arendt* in recognizing what this court can and can’t do.


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