Hannah Arendt's Analysis

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According to Arendt, the accused was not a devil, but more of a "buffoon". Arendt saw Adolf Eichmann as a normal hard-working bureaucrat without "devilish-demonic depth". Obedience, a sense of duty and career thinking seemed to have motivated him much more than ideological fanaticism or low motives. He committed monstrous crimes without being a monster. “Arendt saw in Eichmann a disturbingly average man of middling intelligence. She didn’t see Attila the Hun in him but something she described as evil in its total banality” (Hartouni, 2012). But that was the beginning of the questions: how could such terrifyingly normal person do such frighteningly terrible things? For Hannah Arendt, the moral discharge of the perpetrator's conscience by the…show more content…
They just stopped using it and had turned off any moral awareness. After some time, Eichmann's conscience began to work in conformity with the Nazi system "because the voice of conscience in him spoke the same way as the voice of the society that surrounded him," wrote Hannah Arendt (1978). Eichmann’s private categorical imperative of acting solely under the Leader's "law" unified with the command of official morality not to become "soft" in the face of grave murderous duty. Therefore, the killing of Jews did not run counter to his conscience. His judgment was gone. He needed only to accept the evil he did and not personally wanting to do…show more content…
Eichmann didn’t use tyranny or harassment when committing his crimes, but ambition and inner conviction. Like most of his colleagues in the Reich Security Main Office in Berlin, he saw in the so-called international Judaism a deadly threat to the German people and the "world poisoner of all peoples". Although not belonging to the true ideological elite of the SS according to origin, education and rank of service, he was convinced of the historical and biological necessity to eradicate this enemy (Jews) conscientiously. Arendt has vividly described what happens when the totalitarian ideology gains power over the minds of “normal” people like Eichmann. Since people are not born as democrats, they remain susceptible to totalitarian temptation. After all, their power of temptation lies not so much in their individual theorems as in their future-proof attitude and in their exploitation of the human desire for security and meaning. Arendt, H. (1978). Eichmann in Jerusalem a report on the banality of evil. New York: Penguin. Butler, J. (2011, August 29). Hannah Arendt's challenge to Adolf Eichmann | Judith Butler. Retrieved February 04, 2018, from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/aug/29/hannah-arendt-adolf-eichmann-banality-of-evil Hartouni, V. (2012). Visualizing atrocity Arendt, evil, and the optics of thoughtlessness. New York: New York University

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