Hannah Arendt Third Reich Analysis

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Hannah Arendt 's coverage of the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem brought her much controversy, partially, because she contradicted the common idea "that Eichmann was a monster," and did so in a mocking tone (Arendt, 276). She proposed that Eichmann was just a common man, not a monster. According to Hannah Arendt, the Third Reich was not made up entirely of individual monsters, but instead by law-abiding citizens influenced by this changed society. Close analysis of the last paragraph of Chapter VIII exposes this idea (Arendt, 150), as well as these ideas can be expressed throughout the rest of Chapter VIII and the whole book.
Arendt concludes Chapter VIII by demonstrating that changes in morals occurred in the Third Reich. Analysis of her language,
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Such phrases as "but, God knows…", "must have been tempted not to…", and "which most people recognize…" demonstrates this mocking tone (Arendt, 150). In the paragraph her mocking tone reflects the stupidity or lack of thinking that the citizens had in order to follow the misguided morals of Hitler. She continually uses this mocking tone throughout the book to display the stupidity of Eichmann. However, as a result her mocking tone is misinterpreted as downplaying the tragedy of the event. On the contrary it is a commentary on the people in the Third Reich. A somber tone criticizing the people and society, would play into the typical portrayal of these people as monsters. However, Arendt believed that these people were not monsters instead men and by satirically calling out these traits in her tone she highlights their evil of being obedient in a crooked…show more content…
Similarly, these ideas were expressed earlier in this chapter through the misinterpretation and changing in the Kantian ideology regarding morally upstanding citizens. The true definition of Kant 's categorical imperative states that a person should "act as if the principle of your actions were the same as that of the legislator or of the law of the land" (Arendt, 136). But, Eichmann interpreted Kant 's categorical imperative to read "act in such a way that the Führer, if he knew your action, would approve it" (Arendt, 136). Firstly, this change in the interpretation illustrates how the Führer 's word was law, which allowed for Hitler to change the moral code of the Third Reich. Therefore, people, like Eichmann, believed they were morally upstanding citizens, because they acted in the way that the Führer would approve. However, Eichmann misinterpreted Kant 's ideology. The categorical imperative requires the ability to practically think. Which, Eichmann did not possess. Practical thinking is necessary because in order to follow orders a citizen must question the morality of the laws. Therefore, Eichmann performed his duties without questioning the morality of them but believing them to be moral. Though this did not make him a monster, instead it made him a citizen who possessed the "vices of blind obedience" (Arendt, 135). His crimes
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