Friday, April 30, 2010

Hannah Arendt "Eichmann in Jerusalem"

He was a man who proceeded the Nazis' Jewish extermination plan. He escaped from Germany to Argentina after WWII, was then captured by Israeli Mossad, and was executed in Jerusalem. I had limited knowledge about Adolf Eichman, before reading this book.

This book is the record of Eichman's Nazi work, his Jerusalem court trials and Arendt's observation.

After I finished reading this book, at first, I felt sorry for Eichman, partly. He read Zionist's books, was impressed, and seriously considered the extraordinary plan to move Jewish people from Germany and Europe to Madagascar and establish their nation. He felt bad to see the execution of Jewish people. "I moved Jewish people to concentration camps by my boss's command. I only obeyed the command." said Eichman repeatedly in Jerusalem courts. I think it may be true.

On the other hand, his loyal attitude is a good example for workers especially in organizations, I think. Normal organizations don't command murder or execution, but there is a possibility they might command some illegal actions. What do we do when in such a situation?

Arendt comments that Eichman deserves the death penalty in any situation. My conclusion hasn't been decided yet.

My viewpoints points of this book are as follows:

Eichman's position wasn't very high. The reason why his position became more important was that the Jewish problem gradually became more important in Nazi ideology. On this point, I think that many other people are to be punished.

In Germany and her occupying nations, Jewish organizations became the "Nazi's tool". For example, 103,000 Jewish people were moved to an execution concentration camp by the support of the Jewish council. High class Jewish people were the exception, however, they were in "insensible accomplices", Arendt said. I may also be an "insensible accomplices" in some situations without noticing.

There were many variations of responses to the Nazis' Jewish policy in Europe. Danish government clerks told Germany that they would quit their work if Germany asked them to commit any kind of Jewish suppression. In Italy, the government established an exception of the Jewish suppression law for the Jewish people who had family members who belonged to the Fascist Party. The rule covered most of Italian Jewish people. Bulgaria even turned down Jewish Badges for six months. On the other hand, those who supported the Nazis' Jewish suppression in a full scale were the eastern peoples (Ukrainians, Lithuanians, and some Russians), even though Nazis thought them also to be lower human beings. In Romania, Jewish people were killed by suffocation by stuffing up to 5,000 people in cargo trains as the trains travelled around the same railroads. Sometimes the bodies were then displayed at Jewish butcher shops.
Why were there such differences? The book didn't have the answer. I understand that this book isn't for thinking over this question, so if I find a book about this problem, I want to read it.

It took more time to read than usual this book because the sentences were difficult to read smoothly. I don't know the reason why is either the original sentences were difficult or the translation was hard. Anyway, this book deserves such time.