Adolf Eichmann: The Existential Failure Essay

1930 words - 8 pages

In her report of Nazi SS member Adolph Eichmann's trial in Jerusalem, first published as a series of articles in The New Yorker, Hannah Arendt managed to spark great controversy, both in the academy and among the general public. The primary attack on Arendt was that she seemed to “blame the victim”, in this case the Jews, for their role in their own extermination during the Holocaust. While by no means the focus of her book, this perceived accusation in combination with her portrayal of Eichmann as an apparently sane, ordinary man made readers uncomfortable at best and at worst vindictive and unforgiving in their critique. In assuming the objective, detached role she did, she risked ostracizing herself from both friends and colleagues as well as the Jewish community as a whole. That Arendt could insist Eichmann lacked the evil qualities he was accused of possessing, and was not the sadistic, inhuman monster the prosecution and everyone else wanted him to be was inconceivable. On the contrary, Arendt was disturbed by Eichmann, but instead by his obvious mediocrity. Were he the monster that he was expected to be, one could have easily judged and separated oneself from him, taking pride in the striking contrast between one and the accused. Instead, people were faced with a supposedly “evil” man who was, for the most part, not significantly different from the average man. It would go against the common sense of most to consider a man who facilitated such a great number of deaths “normal.” While commonplace in some ways, he represents a failed product of humanity; more specifically, he is an existential failure. The appearance of normalcy merely comes from how smoothly and effortlessly one can slip into that role. Eichmann proves himself as the antithesis of the existential hero on three interrelated criterion: he shows inability to accept responsibility, and hence his freedom, he fails to think for himself and assert himself as an individual, and thus fails to define his own essence, and finally, he adopts a grossly perverted ethics that twists his actions from being immoral to moral.
Sartre claims that the first duty of existentialism is to instill in all people knowledge of the heavy responsibility that accompanies existence. (16) Being human entails the capacity to act, with which comes responsibility to others, for one, but also to ourselves, as it is through our actions that we provide a definition of who we. This accountability, of course, requires that our actions be chosen wisely, as we must live with the consequences of having acted poorly. Using Sartre's explication of human responsibility, Eichmann fails, firstly, in the eyes of the existentialist by denying responsibility and, what's worse, denying having had agency in choosing his actions. The trial exposed that there was no threat of execution looming overhead, were he to resign from his position or transfer to one not concerned with the death camps. Eichmann knew of other options but...

Find Another Essay On Adolf Eichmann: The Existential Failure

Simon Wiesenthal: The Nazi Hunter Essay

1933 words - 8 pages and directed the killing operation, as well as those with whose knowledge, agreement, and passive participation in the murder of European Jewry was carried out.” (36 Questions and Answers, Jewish Virtual Library). One of Wiesenthal’s most prized victories was the tracking and prosecution of Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann was one of the major administrators of the slaughter of the Jews and an operational manager of the Final Solution during the Third

Nuremberg Trials Essay

1584 words - 6 pages systematic crime and individual criminal responsibility for genocide has to be looked at as a part of the overall genocidal plan. In Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem she focuses on the trial of Adolf Eichmann who pleaded “not guilty in the sense of indictment” (Arendt 21). His lawyer, Robert Servatius stated that “Eichmann feels guilty before God, not before the law” (Arendt 21). Eichmann felt that “what he had done was a crime only in

An Exposition of Kant’s, Arendt’s, and Mill’s Moral Philosophy

2792 words - 11 pages right only to the extent that it maximizes the aggregate happiness of all parties involved regardless of the motive. In the present paper, I will expose Kant’s moral precepts and the importance of duty in his Deontological principles. Then, I will evaluate Arendt’s report on Adolf Eichmann to analyze the ways in which his actions were in accordance to or against Kant’s moral philosophy. I will conclude my discussion with an evaluation of Mill’s

Genocide from the Jews in the Holocaust to the Mayans in Guatemala

1136 words - 5 pages death. The Holocaust was a mass execution of far too many innocent lives. Although Adolf Hitler may have been the mastermind, it is too convenient to blame eleven million lives on one person. The top Schutzstaffel (SS) soldiers, such as Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Eichmann, and Reinhard Heydrich, who proposed the idea for the “Final Solution,” are more to blame for the atrocious actions which occurred in the Holocaust. In the final years of the war

The Wannsee Conference

1768 words - 7 pages Wannsee meeting. Thus, the Wannsee Conference was held to coordinate implementation of a 'final solution' already underway. (United 39)Adolf Eichmann, head of Department IVB4, the Gestapo's Jewish section, prepared the notes and summary known today as the Wannsee Protocol. It was carefully edited by his superiors, and euphemisms were used; the minutes spoke of 'the evacuation of the Jews to the East' and of allocation of the Jews 'for labor in the

Obedience and Disobedience

1070 words - 5 pages . In 1945, few months after the end of World War II, Allies court started the first legal processes to the principal Nazi criminals in Nuremberg, but in later years, one of the most famous trial of the history took place in Jerusalem, in 1962 : the Eichmann Process. Adolf Eichmann was the Nazi officer most directly responsible for the logistics and planning of Hitler’s “Final Solution

Depravity for the Sake of Obedience

1189 words - 5 pages from advantageous to detrimental? Obedience becomes dangerous when it is harmful to one’s self or others. A classic example of dangerous obedience is demonstrated by Nazi official Adolf Eichmann. Throughout his trial for war crimes, Eichmann proclaimed his innocence. He placed the blame on his superiors and said he was simply following orders: orders that involved sending millions of people to extermination camps and ultimately their deaths. In

Exploring The Nature of Evil

2654 words - 11 pages a doubt one of the darkest chapters in human history (Rees 2006). Hannah Arendt aimed to address this question when she controversially wrote Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963). The book consisted of a report on the trial of Adolf Eichmann. Eichmann was a Nazi SS officer; his role included the deportation of the Jews to the Nazi concentration camps, where many of them were to inevitably be enslaved, tortured and

Milgram and Zimbardo: Overpowering Situations

1128 words - 5 pages generates psychological effects on their performance, as well as people who are expected to be below and obey an upper hand. Milgram’s experiment started shortly after the trial of Adolf Eichmann began. Adolf Eichmann was a Nazi who tortured many Jews during the Holocaust, and had others under his hand do whatever he told them to do. Milgram decided to plan a study to merely see if the followers of Eichmann were just following

The Holocaust

1507 words - 7 pages acceptence of the country to which they wanted to emigrate. Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Central Emigration Office for Jews, and his assistant, Adolf Eichmann, decided to expel Jews from Nazi lands. Eichmann threatened Jews with life imprisonment unless they left. This was the "First Solution" to the Jewish Question.Soon, there was an emigration crisis. The quotas of countries willing to receive immigrants were full. American President

Moral Philosophies

2639 words - 11 pages . Reflection is needed in order to form a judgement, which in turn influences the will, which prescribes whether or not an action is to be carried out. Therefore, Descartes' scientific moral philosophy deals with the concepts of reflection and action which are examined in the course. In Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt outlines a legal moral philosophy. She portrays it through the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. Arendt accuses the

Similar Essays

Adolf Eichmann (1906 1962) Essay

793 words - 4 pages separated from their families and never saw them again. Only Jews that were fit to do work were the ones that survived during the Holocaust. Young children, women, and people of old age were put to death. Many people participated in the Nazi Party and were a part of the mass killings of Jews. Adolf Eichmann was one of these people. Adolf Eichmann was born in 1906, and died in 1962. Eichmann grew up in Austria and joined the Nazi Party in the year

Adolf Eichmann Essay

700 words - 3 pages Though not as recognizable as Adolf Hitler, Adolf Eichmann played a major role in the Holocaust. Eichmann was born in Soligen, Germany, on March 19, 1906. He completed his basic schooling and advanced to a mechanical engineering program, although later dropping out in the late 1920’s. After Eichmann dropped out he took on a series of stray jobs, including a laborer, office worker, traveling salesman, and eventually began working with his father

Embodiment Of The Principle Of Universal Jurisdiction

2384 words - 10 pages Eichmann trial, the judiciary in Israel set a substantial and contemporary precedent towards the advancement of universal jurisdiction. The court in a detailed verdict appealed to the idea of the natural law to find universal jurisdiction applied. The accused in this case, Adolf Eichmann was appointed to the Jewish Section of the “Security Services” (SS) in 1934 and later on became extremely involved in Hitler’s’ formulation and operation of the

Eichmann, The Banality Of Evil, And Thinking In Arendt's Thought

5246 words - 21 pages argue that the faculty of thinking works to avoid evildoing by utilizing the Socratic principle of noncontradiction. "What is the subject of our thought? Experience! Nothing else!" (1) (Hannah Arendt) Eichmann in Jerusalem (2) was originated when Hannah Arendt went to Jerusalem in order to report, for The New Yorker, on the trial of Otto Adolf Eichmann, (3) who was acused of crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity, and