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The calculated evil of Adolf Eichmann Sixty years after the infamous trial, Hannah Arendt's verdict remains appallingly wrong

There was nothing "banal" about his actions (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)

There was nothing "banal" about his actions (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)


April 12, 2021   8 mins

SS ObersturmbannfĂŒhrer (Lt. Col.) Adolf Eichmann, head of Reich Security Main Office IV.B.4 (Jewish Affairs), arrived at Budapest’s Keleti railway station together with 19 subordinates on 21 March 1944. Just 48 hours had passed since German troops had marched into the country, and a car was waiting to take Eichmann to the city’s Astoria Hotel close to the Pest riverbank. From these incongruously elegant surroundings Eichmann would commence the most feverous episode in the Final Solution of the Jewish question in Europe: the destruction of the Jews of Hungary, the only chapter in its history he was to supervise in person and in full.

For speed and scale the deportations went unmatched: 424,000 people were despatched by train in just 52 days, from 14 May to 9 July. In this fleeting window Hungarian Jews became the single largest group gassed at Auschwitz. The crematoria couldn’t cope with such “over-supply”, and Commandant Rudolf HĂ¶ĂŸ ordered special fire pits dug — filling the camp with noxious smoke. According to Primo Levi, “there were weeks when only Hungarian was heard in Auschwitz”.

Physical annihilation was undergirded by Eichmann’s elaborate psychological strategy. Sophisticated Budapest Jews who might escape or resist were pacified by newspaper reports that only “ost Juden” from Hungary’s nether regions were being removed as “undesirables”. Many only saw through the lie, if at all, when deportations reached Budapest’s outer suburbs in early July — just before Admiral Miklós Horthy, Hungary’s Head of State, halted them under diplomatic pressure from the Western Allies and neutrals.

Throughout the deportations, and across Hungary’s length, Eichmann deluged Jews with ever more complex regulations covering the minutiae of daily life. These instilled a false sense of permanence which inhibited hiding or escape: “why would the authorities go to all this trouble if they were just going to get rid of us?”

Even as deportations rolled on, Eichmann conducted elaborate negotiations for fanciful “rescue schemes” including, but not limited to, the infamous “Blood for Trucks” project involving Rudolf Kastner — the proposed barter of one million Jewish lives for 10,000 Western motor vehicles for use on the Eastern front against the USSR. The aim, Eichmann later acknowledged, was not just to split Western powers from the Soviets, but also to distract Hungary’s Jewish leaders from counter-organising: keeping minds busy and hopes alive.

All the while Eichmann treated Jewish leaders in Budapest to flashes of menace.  One day he promised them a return to normality “after the war”, the next he would snarl “Do you know who I am? I am a bloodhound!” With studied cruelty Eichmann arranged the ghettoisation of Hungary’s Jews to begin on Sunday, 16 April: the first day of Passover, 1944.

Eichmann did many things in Hungary; the one thing he did not do was simply “obey orders” — indeed over time he defied them with gathering frequency. That autumn as inevitable defeat became ever more apparent Eichmann, helped by local enthusiasts, intensified his efforts, instigating newly inventive means of eliminating Jews in Hungary and the Balkans through “death marches” and localised killing sprees. In doing so, Eichmann subverted instructions from Himmler who ordered cessation as part of a delusional plan to negotiate with the allies.

This “Eichmann in Budapest” should be recalled while contemplating the later Eichmann in Jerusalem.

By 11 May 1960 a fugitive Eichmann had lived for a decade in Buenos Aries as “Ricardo Klement”, a rabbit farmer and, later, Mercedes-Benz factory worker, an immigrant hailing from the German minority in Italy’s South Tyrol. That evening Mossad agents, following a tip-off, kidnapped “Klement” from the street outside his house as he walked home from the bus stop after work.

Ten days later a drugged-up Eichmann left Argentina on false papers aboard an El Al flight supporting a diplomatic protocol visit timed to cover his extraction. Fearing a rescue bid by any Nazi sympathiser network while refuelling, the plane exceeded its permitted milage. By touchdown in Tel Aviv it was flying on vapours.

Preparing the prosecution case took almost a year. Eichmann’s trial commenced in Jerusalem’s brand-new Bet Ha’Am theatre on 11 April 1961 before three Israeli judges. Eichmann was accused of fifteen counts of crimes against the Jewish people and against humanity. The unusual venue arose from unprecedented international interest: over 400 journalists sought accreditation, and the country had no courtroom large enough.

Controversy raged around the trial. Eichmann’s removal, a triumph of spycraft, was a flagrant breach of Argentina’s sovereignty. Israel’s authority to try crimes occurring outside its borders, enacted by (and against) non-citizens prior to its foundation seemed, at best, dubious. Sixty years on, however, discord persists less in regards to the trial’s legal foundations and more because of how courtroom events were theorised by one writer: Hannah Arendt.

Arendt, a pre-war Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, travelled to Jerusalem to observe the trial for The New Yorker and confront the government that caused her own life’s profound dislocation. Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963) consolidated her reflective articles for the New Yorker published that year. Its subtitle, “A Report on the Banality of Evil”, became synonymous with the trial: it’s how most people “know” about Eichmann.

Unfortunately, Arendt was utterly, appallingly, wrong about the man she saw, or thought she saw, in Jerusalem.

“Banality” appears just once in Arendt’s main text: in the very last sentence. Reflecting on Eichmann’s clunky, formulaic, farewell prior to execution Arendt opined: “It was as though in those last minutes he was summoning up the lesson that this long course in human wickedness had taught us — the lesson of the fearsome, world and thought defying banality of evil.”

The “banal” designation comes at the narrative’s end but condenses observations made in memorable passages throughout including “Despite all the efforts of the prosecution, everybody could see that this man was not a ‘monster’ but it was difficult indeed not to suspect he was a clown”. 

Observing 55-year-old Eichmann’s bureaucratic bearing, ponderous speech, and petty jealousies Arendt deemed his key role in genocide motivated not by fanatical anti-Semitism (his denial of which she accepted), but “thoughtlessness” in its most literal sense. Arendt used the word to connote not “forgetfulness” but absence of autonomous cognition. She took Eichmann’s seeming “inability to speak” as evidencing incapacity to think. Such a person, Arendt reasoned, greets the “FĂŒhrer principle” joyfully – relieved from the agony of forming opinions.

Arendt’s verdict bled through her book’s cover into mainstream pop psychology. The “banality of evil” became a banality itself thanks to excessive invocation at dinner parties and in newspaper columns. It escaped Arendt that Eichmann, who she dismissed as uneducated, was playing a clever game.

Understanding Eichmann requires less focus on transcripts of the 1961 trial and more on a collection of late 1950’s recordings from informal seminars in Argentina. These were attended by numerous former and aspirant Nazis, and taped by Dutch sympathiser-journalist Willem Sassen, who hoped to write a book rehabilitating the Third Reich by proving the “Jewish propaganda” about the “slaughter of six million” to be a hoax.

Following lengthy conversations with Eichmann, Sassen abandoned the project, having been told precisely what he didn’t want to hear, and from the horse’s mouth — the “propaganda” was true.

Regrettably these recordings, though known of in 1961, were available to the court only in fragmentary transcripts: the full cache didn’t re-emerge until 1999. If they had been played at trial, Eichmann in Jerusalem would read very differently. (Fortunately, an analytical summary is now available in Bettina Stangneth’s Eichmann Before Jerusalem, published in 2011.)

On the penultimate recording in a long series (68 tapes) Eichmann, articulating his role in the Holocaust reflects on his divided nature, says: “I the cautious bureaucrat, that was me, yes indeed. But I would like to expand on the issue of the ‘cautious bureaucrat’ somewhat
 This cautious bureaucrat was attended by a fanatical warrior, fighting for the freedom of my blood which is my birth right.”

A terrifying crescendo is reached with these words “No, I have to tell you quite honestly that if out of the 10.3 million [worldwide] Jews
 identified we had killed 10.3 million, I would be satisfied
 We would have fulfilled our duty to our blood
 if we had eliminated the most cunning intellect of all the human intellects”. Contemplating repentance, Eichmann exclaims “I could do it cheaply for the sake of current opinion
 [but] for me to deeply regret it, for me to pretend that a Saul has become a Paul
 I cannot do that”.

Sassen’s Holocaust denial project ended abruptly soon afterwards.

Before Adolf Eichmann was Ricardo Klement, he was Otto Henninger and before that Adolf-Karl Barth. At war’s end, under yet another name, he was captured by the allies but escaped. We shouldn’t be surprised if one so used to disguising his identity might also conceal his complex nature. Genocidal bent and aptitude for dissimulation was not temporarily sequential: they were interlaced aspects of personality. Long before adopting false names Eichmann mastered self-concealment.

In the 1930s and 40s Eichmann wove elaborate biographic myths to create confusion. He convinced Jewish interlocutors of linguistic gifts he didn’t possess in Yiddish and Hebrew, and forged a story of upbringing amid a notorious “Templar’ German community in Palestine known for anti-Semitic violence. These motifs, fused with deep knowledge of Zionist literature in translation, allowed him to disorientate Jewish interlocutors: simultaneously opening up an unexpected connection and a register of menacing threat.

Yet despite her analytical faults, we shouldn’t condemn Arendt harshly — as some have. Critics like Deborah Lipstadt allege Arendt arrived in Jerusalem with a commission from The New Yorker and a suitcase bursting with ideas she wanted to demonstrate. They attribute to her a drive to render Eichmann a worked example of her thesis in her 1951 masterpiece the Origins of Totalitarianism about the moral disabling of individuals which a supercharged ideology possessed of state-power can achieve.

This is unfair. Arendt didn’t see in Eichmann what she wanted but what he projected. Arendt’s evaluation is consonant with that of many journalists reporting on the trial with no ideological axe to grind. It’s just that her intellectual subtlety was outflanked by Eichmann’s psychological one. As Stangeth points out, Eichmann lead “a highly intelligent person to defeat herself with her own weapon”, the assumption philosopher Arendt carried that “someone speaks and writes only when they want to be understood”.

Conversely Israeli Police Captain Avner Less, who interrogated Eichmann pre-trial, was sharper. “After the end of the first hearing [interview], I was convinced that Eichmann wasn’t telling this story for the first time,” he said afterwards: “I had the feeling this man had been rehearsing it somewhere.”

Eichmann in Jerusalem wore a mask, yet pulling that mask off doesn’t pull the rug from under Arendt’s Totalitarianism. Historical sociologists take the deep conditioning of the Third Reich seriously; contemporary behavioural psychology confirms our susceptibility to manipulation by authority figures. Paradoxically Eichmann’s performance supports Totalitarianism’s thesis: he could ably present himself as one deformed by totalitarianism because he helped to fashion it and deform others.

And so, under questioning, Eichmann presented himself both as one for whom obedience was the supreme virtue and as a mere “messenger” operating an intermediate administrative ‘clearing house’ for orders. Though he couldn’t evade conviction he hoped to slip the noose by passing himself off as a cog in the machine.

Curiously his counsel, Cologne lawyer Robert Servatius, took a contrary approach. Servatius asserted not that superior orders absolved Eichmann from subjective moral responsibility. Rather, he argued, the order’s receipt and discharge objectively subsumed Eichmann’s personal actions into “Acts of the German State” raising the shield of “sovereign immunity” — a more plausible legal argument then than now. The defence concluded on 15 August.

Judgment came on 11 December. Rejecting Servatius’s “Act of State” defence, Eichmann was found guilty on all counts. The defendant’s interpretation of events was likewise dismissed: Hungary proved Eichmann’s distinct moral agency: he was not just “obeying orders”.

A sentence of execution by hanging followed on 15 December, and was carried out on 31 May 1962. Eichmann’s body, like his victims’, was cremated: the ashes scattered at sea to prevent a grave attracting Neo-Nazi pilgrims.

It has become fashionable, since the Sassen tapes emerged, to despatch Arendt’s thesis, or at least a representation of it, to the winds of oblivion too. Her “banality of evil” thesis should, it is argued — because of its contextual inapplicability to Eichmann — be banished from the moral Lexicon per se. This however risks an empirical misreading of both Eichmann and his trial.

Eichmann was both a calmly meticulous administrator and a murderous anti-Semite. The punctilious observer of office routine and arranger of index cards is far better placed to achieve genocidal aims than the volatile smasher of windows.

The infectiousness of the genuine “banality of evil” was demonstrated, inadvertently, at trial by the defence counsel. Robert Servatius, himself entirely innocent of complicity in genocide witnessed to its precondition by unthinking, and at the time scandalous, reference of the gassing at Auschwitz as “medical matters”. The lawyer meant no offence — he had, as a former inhabitant of Nazi Germany, simply internalised the euphemistic language by which such things were referred to under the Third Reich.

If we discard Arendt completely, we risk something worse than misreading Eichmann. We chance missing the mask calculated evil wears before us now.


Alexander Faludy is a law student and freelance journalist.

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Tom Fox
Tom Fox
3 years ago

Eichmann well deserved his fate, but the writer is wrong I think in imagining that it takes a specially evil and deviant kind of human being to act in the way he did. The lessons of history and the research of people like Zimbardo and Milgram show that a great many of us, given the right (or wrong) kind of social pressure, will happily adapt to the monstrous expectations of a deviant society. I make no excuses for what was done – it was utterly monstrous, but when monsters gain control of society and set expectations such as those prevailing in Germany in the 1930s, pouring out propaganda, controlling schools, media, cinema and every aspect of life, people are easily perverted into following such a path.

The writer is wrong – and we should know what our species is capable of doing. When teh narrative of society is perverted and genocide is advocated as the solution to its ills, the torch will be taken up by about half of the population. Look at Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Serbia, Mao’s China, Cambodia, the Soviet Union under Stalin. The list is longer than that.

Stanley Milgram’s research into compliance showed that a large proportion of men would follow instructions to electrocute someone when they were assured that an authority figure had taken full responsibility. Zimbardo’s prison experiment showed the glee with which people would humiliate and victimise others in a role play. Our moral sense is NOT an objective set of criteria we absorb from heaven. It is constructed by our surroundings and is easily perverted.

Alexander Faludy
Alexander Faludy
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

Hi Tom.
Your not wrong in the points you make, but please note the important nuance in the article which may have slipped by unnoticed.
“Eichmann in Jerusalem wore a mask, yet pulling that mask off doesn’t pull the rug from under Arendt’s Totalitarianism. Historical sociologists take the deep conditioning of the Third Reich seriously; contemporary behavioural psychology confirms our susceptibility to manipulation by authority figures. Paradoxically Eichmann’s performance supports Totalitarianism’s thesis: he could ably present himself as one deformed by totalitarianism because he helped to fashion it and deform others.”
I am in essence making a similar, perhaps identical, point to you. It was in fact Millgram’s experiment to which I was indirectly alluding above. The problem is that while this model works in general it does not work with Eichmann in particular. He joined the Nazi Party and the SD before the NSDAP rise to power. In his earlier years he worked in internal SS ‘educational’ material designed to warp the attitudes of trainees etc. So as I say Arendt was not wrong in positing how people could be warped -but she was mistaken in placing Eichmann among the warped rather than the Warpers.
Hope that clarifies things a bit.

Kind regards
Alex

Last edited 3 years ago by Alexander Faludy
John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago

Alexander, would you classify anti-racism as warped today? If not, why not?

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

If anti-racism covers anything from on the one hand opposing and calling out actual racism in our society (and few would deny that racism does exist) to, on the other hand, reverse discrimination, a wilful exaggeration of the problem, and an attempt to pit communities against each other, then it’s hard to label it all as “warped”.
Those who promote racial division are, as Eichmann was, among the warpers rather than the warped. Arguably, so are some who deny or condone real racism.

John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul N

Funny how racial division is only a problem in the homelands of European peoples.
Multiracialism is a machine for white genocide. You are too foolish to understand that by your conformism you are part of that machine.

Crow T. Robot
Crow T. Robot
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

Well, that needs a bit of unpacking. Care to?

John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago
Reply to  Crow T. Robot

Crow, coercive multiracialisation as the policy of successive governments is only a feature of the living spaces of European peoples. Nowhere at any time has any of those peoples been asked to consent to the process. Indeed, their natural desire to defend their life and land is ritually dehumanised as “hate” and “racism”.
The process of multiracialisation itself has no stopping point, no moment at which the life and rights and interests of the indigenes count in any way. We know from human history that native peoples who cannot remove their colonisers die out, and this is happening with us also. It isn’t happening by accident, or by some unfortunate mistake or combination of external circumstances. It is happening because those with actual power seek it.
Obviously, the life of the native people is the highest moral cause on the soil. It is time to speak to that cause.

Last edited 3 years ago by John Standing
Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

‘Multiracialism’ (if you want to call it that, as if there were official or physically real races), and multiculti in general, are a consequence of capitalism. Given its demonstrated power to absorb, digest, and convert other cultures into its own, it’s hardly surprising to observe it turning on its originators. But what are you going to do about it? What most people want is stuff and more stuff, and thus far capitalism has stood ready to supply it. You’re complaining about a very popular digestive process from which those who matter think they benefit greatly. And, if you did restore some kind of tribalism, capitalists would simply find a way to absorb and exploit that as well.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Starry Gordon

If races aren’t real then neither can racism be.

Jayne Lago
Jayne Lago
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

As a person who completely supports your view, I thank you for your comments. We are all being manipulated at the moment, by the media, the activist groups and I suspect there are a number of high profile people funding and turning the wheel of this horrendous fortune against the native peoples of our country. The problem is everything has been put in place without us really noticing, and now are hands are pretty much tied. I fear for my children, how this will all end as daily we are having our right of freedom to say how we feel, cancelled. For me this is much worse than the covid trauma we are going through…..it will end at some point! The destruction of our way of life, by the activists, minorities etc will not, until complete annihilation of all that our many brave souls have fought for.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

I certainly would. Anti-racism is a fascist ideology masquerading as a civil rights movement.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago

It’s good to see a thoughtful article followed by engagement from the author. Thanks.

filipp.mirosh
filipp.mirosh
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

It doesn’t seem that the writer of the article at any point argues that what, contrary to Arendt, didn’t apply to Eichmann is not applicable to humanity in general. In fact, I think that’s the most prominent caveat qualifying the critique.

Eamonn Toland
Eamonn Toland
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

Milgram’s experiments are fascinating and have been replicated. Zimbardo not so much. Interestingly, compliance plummeted if only one other person disagreed with Milgram’s psychologist, from just over 60% to around 10%. At the same time compliance shot up, from 60% to 90%, if people were asked to read the instructions to another person who applied the shock. Milgram highlights the importance of free speech and dissenting voices to protect us all from groupthink.

Last edited 3 years ago by Eamonn Toland
nigel roberts
nigel roberts
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

I am sympathetic to your perspective but have to point out that the Zimbardo and Milgram experiments have been broadly criticized for their (lack of) methodological integrity.

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

Milgram’s research into compliance has been debunked.

Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Fox

Too true. There is a further glimpse of this in the popularity of Cancel Culture and Covid Coercion – Ironic that these are obvious features of the herd but the truth of ‘herd immunity’ is widely denied by that same herd.

Last edited 3 years ago by Lindsay Gatward
Terry M
Terry M
3 years ago

“…simply internalised the euphemistic language by which such things were referred to under the Third Reich.”
Mostly peaceful demonstrations comes to mind.

Don Lightband
Don Lightband
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry M

The word “internalised” only obfuscates the real action at work which is surely that of imitation, and the attendant question of why this imitated and not that? Until we can learn to articulate in some way that very ‘why’, we are only barking up our own “internalised” wrong tree..

barbara neil
barbara neil
3 years ago

It may be me, but – I don’t see how the writer has proved Arendt wrong in her diagnosis of Eichmann.Precisely the mask is the banality. (how many neighbours of serial killers describe them as “nice”, “normal” etc?)

Alexander Faludy
Alexander Faludy
3 years ago
Reply to  barbara neil

HI Barbara,
I think my point is that Arendt mistook the part for the whole: that she was unable to appreciate the complex duality of Eichmann’s nature as revealed on the Sason tapes. E.G. She emphatically denied he was a ‘monster’ -the trouble was he was *both* monstrous and beuractratic. To these things he added an element of ‘clowning’ which was definitely a charade but one she accepted at face value. Essentially, trying to save his neck he adhered to the shrewd tactic of ‘ be smart, play dumb’.
Hope that clarifies things a bit.

Best wishes

Alex

Last edited 3 years ago by Alexander Faludy
filipp.mirosh
filipp.mirosh
3 years ago
Reply to  barbara neil

I think Arendt meant that banality, ostensibly being the root cause of a particular kind of evil, must be genuine, not merely a mask, to be part of that causality.

Ray Hall
Ray Hall
3 years ago
Reply to  barbara neil

I think the author was right . In her book , Arendt did present Eichmann as a limited bureaucrat with limited imagination – he was obeying orders and furthermore ,nobody in Eichmann’s world objected to anti-semitism. But then Arendt describes the death marches which he instigated , without higher permission , as Mr Faludy describes. Arendt’s explanation for this is that Eichmann conflated the Fuehrerprinzip with Kant’s maxims but this seems to me to be by far the weakest part of her book

John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago
Reply to  Ray Hall

Arendt connected the Fuehrerprinzip to Kant because otherwise she would have to have connected it to Judaism’s Messianic principle, along with the principle of racial supremacism – chosenness – and the Thousand Year Reich – Olam Ha-Ba.

Martin Adams
Martin Adams
3 years ago

A most interesting essay. I am 71, and read Eichmann in Jerusalem when in my early 30s. I found it a gripping read, and have dipped into it since. I had then been a Christian for around five years, and my perspective on the book was shaped only partly by a Christian perspective — more by instinctive compassion than by understanding.
On first reading, that startling final sentence with its “banality of evil” phrase jumped out as a provocative non-sequitur. Eventually I came to fancy that it meant, above all other things, that evil does not have to be obvious to be present. It can exist within the small, everyday events of life, and within ordinary people. Hitler was just the most spectacular display of it; Eichmann was closer to the norm in the bureaucratic anonymity of his character and behaviour.
In that respect I wonder whether Mr Faludy does Arendt something of a disservice. Ordinary people are capable of extraordinary evil simply by being obedient (which can be a form of banality), as has been demonstrated by numerous laboratory experiments (see Tom Fox’s comment above) and by Christopher Browning’s extraordinary book, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland.
Mr Faludy’s arguments are at their most persuasive when he argues that Arendt’s explanations of Eichmann’s behaviour as a functionary, are tantamount to excusing him for behaviour motivated by evil of a most remarkably calculating kind — most obviously in the Hungarian Holocaust.
So why has this phrase “the banality of evil” acquired such widespread currency? It seems to me that it is one of those phrases that, like the frequent secular references to Jesus’s “Do not judge” (Matthew 7:1), is beloved by dinner-party philosophers, by those who prefer to evade claims about human nature articulated in the biblical teachings of original sin (not quite the same as the later Augustinian teachings). The phrase implies concentration on what is done, rather than on who is doing it and why.
It is more comfortable and comforting to live with the idea that human beings are fundamentally good but sometimes do bad things, especially when being caught up in forces greater than they, than it is to live with the idea that sin is a condition we are all in. The latter is less comfortable because it inevitably points towards the necessity of salvation, the need for repentance. And in this context it suggests that the gulf between us and the functionaries who made it possible to commit such evil as the Holocaust and the killing fields of Cambodia, is not quite as wide as we would like it to be.

Last edited 3 years ago by Martin Adams
Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago

Now that was an interesting read. Lots to think about there. Thank you.

Andrew Salkeld
Andrew Salkeld
3 years ago

Ever had a bad boss? One who is petrified of your skills and potential to outrank or replace him. If so, you will know the type: meticulous with record keeping, obeying company rules, and in effect using the systems that exist and the corporare mindset that persists and the corporate goals that have been approved. All to achieve his own ends. He will meticulously promote these, obtain his targets and subtly use all of these factors themselves to display your inadequacies and to have you removed totally from the corporation. Is that banality of power, is that human nature, is that evil? It certainly destroys careers and lives, on a micro scale. Can we all behave like that? No, most definitely not. But some can and do. Life is a power game to them, and destruction is used as a building block for success. And when multiplied by millions, who can do that? If the space exists, it will be filled, have no doubt about that. If the power is not checked, it will attract supporters and acolytes, because it succeeds. The most distressing aspect of human nature for sure. But at this level, the words banal, evil, horrific, lose all meaning. Interpreting these actions for readers of newspapers causes authors and journalists to come up with trite phrases. The most courageous journalist would invite us to look inside ourselves and let the judges do what they have to do.

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Salkeld

The middle management layer of many global corporations are sprinkled with such individuals. These individuals hollow out (by removing talent) the company they work for until the whole edifice collapses. From my experience, most companies fail because the top management failed to see the hollowing-out of their company in time.

Andrew Salkeld
Andrew Salkeld
3 years ago
Reply to  Vijay Kant

Thank you. So very true.

Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  Vijay Kant

Something very like that may be happening in government as well.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Vijay Kant

Higher Education has gone this way.

Julia Waugh
Julia Waugh
3 years ago

This words were like a bucket of ice water over the head:
We chance missing the mask calculated evil wears before us now”
And, for me, underscored the implications of two particular paragraphs:
“All the while Eichmann treated Jewish leaders in Budapest to flashes of menace. One day he promised them a return to normality “after the war”, the next he would snarl “Do you know who I am? I am a bloodhound!”
“Eichmann was both a calmly meticulous administrator and a murderous anti-Semite. The punctilious observer of office routine and arranger of index cards is far better placed to achieve genocidal aims than the volatile smasher of windows.”

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 years ago

That’s a very interesting article, thank you for it. Alas, under the right circumstances most of mankind does seem to be able to become evil.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
3 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

I once read some research that had been done in relation to the positions adopted by people in Occupied Europe during WW2. It found that a small proportion of the population became resisters and ‘righteous Gentiles’, and another small number became active collaborators with the Germans i.e. helped to round up Jews for deportation to death camps, took part in mass shootings and other atrocities. The majority of people just kept their heads down and retreated into private life.
So whether most of mankind seems able to become evil is debatable – unless you count the passive majority as evil along with the collaborators.

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
3 years ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

I think that when people passively sit by and watch terrible deeds being done – yes they are as evil. They just don’t pull the trigger as the saying goes.

John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

So what are you doing today to save the European race from racial blame, race-replacement and genetic dissolution … the genocide of choice of the elites in our age?

Last edited 3 years ago by John Standing
Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

Perhaps one way of avoiding “racial blame” (whatever that may be) is to call out rubbish like “race-replacement and genetic dissolution”, and point out that immigration and mixed marriage are very different things from genocide.
If proponents of race-hate are allowed to peddle their poisonous message without challenge, then the rest of us may share in their guilt. For evil to triumph, it is only necessary that good people do nothing.

John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul N

Race replacement is a demographic fact. The native British will be a minority in our own land in the 2050s.
What the hell is wrong with you? Why this sick state of mind you have against your own people? Do you demand that any other race of Man be lost for global elitism and Olam Ha-ba? Of course not, hypocrite.

Last edited 3 years ago by John Standing
Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

What are you talking about? There is the human race – beyond that, the differences are pretty much cosmetic and cultural.
Besides, “pure-bred” descendants of “native British” humans (presumably you mean the first to arrive in what is now Britain) have already been outnumbered by descendants of the humans from Saxon and Norman French groups, and those of mixed ancestry. That ship has sailed.

Last edited 3 years ago by Paul N
John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul N

So you are content to see every race of Man, every ethnic group come to an end for some ideological reason inside your head?
Do you know what genocide is? Have you read the 1948 Convention?
Because you are so enculturated in malignancy and ignorance you, of course, don’t understand that race and ethnicity are measures of fitness on the soil, meaning genetic variation at the level of the continent and the local. The English developed distinctive genes on their land well over a thousand years ago. The PoBI has stated clearly that there is negligible trace of Viking and Norman genes in the modern genome, and none of the Roman legionaries. We English exist, and we possess the right in Nature to strive after that existence, like any other people of the land.
Take your pathetic white-hatred away. Learn something about humanity and about your own poisoned self.

Last edited 3 years ago by John Standing
Paul N
Paul N
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

Nobody is stopping you from existing – strive away.

“So you are content to see every race of Man, every ethnic group come to an end…”

Every empire, every group will come to an end, Ozymandias old chap. That’s life. But we’ll still have the human race – unless we destroy ourselves through ecological or nuclear disaster.
I don’t hate any ethnic group – my own or anyone else’s. But I don’t have a lot of time for racists of any colour.
Stepping back and looking again at this thread, I’m not sure that I’m the one who is spouting hatred.

John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul N

Article 2c applies. Conditions have been created, principally but not exclusively the endless, high-speed colonisation of the English homeland, which are not survivable. Here is the Oxford demographer David Coleman writing in Standpoint Magazine in June 2016:
“Even without migration 
 the White British population would cease to be the majority in the UK by the late 2060s. However, should current high levels of immigration persist for any length of time, that date would move closer to the present. Britain would then become unrecognisable to its present inhabitants. Some would welcome a brave new experiment, pioneering a wider world future. Others might say Finis Britanniae.”
Obviously, the borders have remained open since 2016, so we will see our minoritisation within the natural lifespan of anyone under fifty, perhaps, today. Once we become a minority to people who have been taught to hate us, what kind of hell do you think our children will inhabit?
Your ethnic group, if you are not mixed, is the group you are descended from. You cannot change that. Ethnicity is not elective.
Now look with open eyes at your weakness of mind and your emotional condition, and ask yourself what you can do to become a normal, healthy human being.

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

Biologically, there is no such thing as race!

Last edited 3 years ago by Vijay Kant
John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago
Reply to  Vijay Kant

Do get an education. Race is genetic variation at the level of the continent. The attempt to deny it was lost with the cracking of the genome over 20 years ago, and today population geneticists deal in that currency al the time. Those persons who indulge in denialism now do so for deeply suspect reasons. What is yours?

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

There is certainly no such thing as ‘race’, then, over the the space of the Eurasian continent, or of the territories the descendants of its populations have colonized. Except in remote corners of the world, too much breeding going on, up and down the Silk Road and a lot of other places.

Rick Sharona
Rick Sharona
3 years ago
Reply to  Vijay Kant

Can you explain why 75-80% of professional sports teams in the NFL and NBA are black without using race?

Jayne Lago
Jayne Lago
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul N

Which is exactly what’s happening!

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

Your comment could have come from the subject of this article.

John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

My comment is that of a normal loving Englishman who desires his people to live sovereign and free on their own blessed land. Why do you find this objectionable? What is wrong with you?

Last edited 3 years ago by John Standing
Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

Your ideas about race replacement sound remarkably similar to those of the Christchurch shooter and the Serbian nationalists who inspired him.
If the prospect of white British/English becoming a minority without immigration worries you to the point of taking or advocating action, what form might that action take?

John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Child, you are sullying yourself by dehumanising the truth of all peoples of European descent. We are all suffering this crime. Here is the Oxford demographer David Coleman writing in Standpoint Magazine in June 2016, and confirming the point in respect to the natives of Britain:
“Even without migration 
 the White British population would cease to be the majority in the UK by the late 2060s. However, should current high levels of immigration persist for any length of time, that date would move closer to the present. Britain would then become unrecognisable to its present inhabitants. Some would welcome a brave new experiment, pioneering a wider world future. Others might say Finis Britanniae.”

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

Yes, but if you wish to avert this, as you seem to, what action do you advocate?

John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

Initially, introducing the self-estranged, self-harming souls of the liberal zeitgeist to the politics of being and relation.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

And then? I notice you made no attempt to deny the similarities between your ideas and those of Eichmann, the Serbian nationalists and the Christchurch shooter. Perhaps, when you have introduced the likes of myself to the politics of being and relation, whatever that means, you hope to implement more of their ideas?

Last edited 3 years ago by Ian Perkins
John Standing
John Standing
3 years ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

And then, having freed the people from the grasp of those who attach no human value to their life, and from the ideologies which generated such nihilism and destructiveness … then let them speak their will.

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

White natives, purged of race traitors, will ensure the dominance of their genes? Your mask doesn’t have far to slip.

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
3 years ago
Reply to  John Standing

Blame your English ancestors for spoiling it all for you. They should have stayed home and learned cooking instead of colonising the world! You would not be suffering from indigestion if only they had just stayed at home.

Last edited 3 years ago by Vijay Kant
Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
3 years ago

Actually, my experience of people I think most of you would call evil, and of their deeds, is that they are banal. That is, unproductive and boring. It is true that some individuals seem charismatic and exciting, like Hitler, but Hitler had to operate on a vast scope to be noticeable. Probably, almost every single individual he killed or ruined or exiled was more lively and interesting than he was. If you doubt this, read Mein Kampf or his recorded conversations. The real mystery, to me, is not that such people exist — doubtless it is the result of some kind of brain deformity — but that so many people follow and serve them without considering what they’re doing. ‘Just doing my job’ are scary, dangerous words.

Ramon Wyss
Ramon Wyss
3 years ago

I would like to draw attention to Claude Lanzmanns film, ‘The last of the unjust’, where he interviewed at length Benjamin Murmelstein, the only survivor of the Jewish ‘Ältenrat’, in charge of the Ghetto at Theresienstadt. Benjamin was well acquainted with Eichmann and describes him as an evil Antisemite, not shy to any actions against Jews. He described how he ordered and personally participated in the destruction of the Wien Synagoge. Benjamin wanted to witness in Jerusalem, but was not invited- he had been expelled from the Jewish community. He wrote a book about Eichmann and Theresienstadt. Ha also objected to H Arendts description of Eichmann.
I liked your article giving a nuanced description of H Arendts viewpoint.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ramon Wyss
ralph bell
ralph bell
3 years ago

Highly illuminating article about this particular war criminal and the different interpretations of his acts and charater/psychology he presents.

Ari Dale
Ari Dale
3 years ago

I wonder what Alexander Faludy, the article’s author, meant in his closing line: “We chance missing the mask [that]calculated evil wears before us now.” Which calculated evil?

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
3 years ago
Reply to  Ari Dale

The calculated evil of … me declining to publicly answer your question.

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
3 years ago

You only need to experience office politics to know that many people are 99% herd and 1% individual.
Are some cultures more ‘herd’ than others ?
Does language mould the ‘herd’ cultural trait ?

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

In “Russia under the Bolshevik Regime” Richard Pipes notes: “Early analyses of the totalitarian phenomenon were written almost exclusively by German scholars on the basis of their own national experience. This explains the exaggerated importance attached by Hannah Arendt to anti-Semitism as an attribute of totalitarianism.” Alexander makes it clear that Eichmann was a virulent Anti-Semite, but not where his Anti-Semitism came from. I suspect (I don’t really know) that it derived in part from White Russian refugees who blamed the Russian Revolution and the murder of the family of Nicholas II on a Jewish conspiracy. The links between the Russian Revolution and Nazism, so well described by Pipes, are largely ignored by other historians.

Jennifer Britton
Jennifer Britton
3 years ago

Thought provoking essay, Mr Faludy. Arendt’s work on totalitarianism is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand its roots and its methods for gaining control.

For a discussion of Arendt’s assessment of Eichmann as “the banality if evil,” I recommend reading Susan Neiman’s “Evil in Modern Thought.” The following lines from the book stand out for me: “Few Nazis showed signs that traditionally made evil tempting. Out of uniform, they were rather pathetic, which mitigates their otherwise sickening tendency to feel sorry for themselves….Auschwitz was hardly the only example of evil produced by human cogs—just the clearest.”

Andrea X
Andrea X
3 years ago

Thank you.
I didn’t know any of that and, to my shame, I hadn’t heard of any of the protagonists of this story.

Jorge Toer
Jorge Toer
3 years ago

Well done,,finally I have been reading some high degree of intelectual language , search the truth,human misery and cowardy to approach criminal acts committed
in the name of eugenics, racist or worst, do not give a human status, to others for the only reason to be different.

msgarrood
msgarrood
3 years ago

Just for the sake of correctness, there is no “German minority” in “Italy’s” South Tyrol, but a German-speaking majority.
South Tyrol was annexed by Italy in 1918 against the wishes of its overwhelmingly German-speaking Austrian Tyrolean inhabitants.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
3 years ago

We can see what 1930’s Germany was subjected to, in terms of anti-Semitic propaganda which had the effect of brainwashing most of a population, when we see senior Americans, like Mike Pompeo, talking today about China and Chinese people as inherently evil, as a justification for America going to war with China to stop it threatening the US. Today most Americans (not all), if you ask them what they think of Chinese people, will answer that they hate them and attribute evil-doing to them. This is a consequence of propaganda against China issued by Trump’s Government, and by other opinion-leaders in the US. There are many other cases in history of mass brainwashing, but I wanted to choose a contemporary example to press the point that Eichmann’s crime is not at all unique, and his wrong-doing was not uniquely evil. It’s important to get beyond this kind of approach and language and place Eichmann in context, in order to understand better what actually happened in Nazi Germany, and by extension, what is happening today and doubtless will continue to happen as long as people exist.

kennedyabk
kennedyabk
3 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

China is a communist, pariah state; actively committing genocide, brutally colonizing the developing world, brazenly stealing intellectual property, dominating world markets through theft and slave labor. The CCP is a real threat to free people and liberal societies all over the world and you are either a fool or evil to liken condemnation of China to Naziism

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
3 years ago

They could do with somebody like him to have organised the international Corona virus operation.

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Andrews

He would have arranged all Corona patients to be executed. That is the type of banal evil he was!

Last edited 3 years ago by Vijay Kant
Keith Brockwell
Keith Brockwell
3 years ago
Reply to  Vijay Kant

Vijay,
The uniquely successful lockdown of Wuhan followed by rumours of vast numbers of lost mobile customers and funeral urns may point to your suggested Corona solution. The World Health Organisation having helped the cover up. Useful fools or an example of evil banality?

mac mahmood
mac mahmood
3 years ago

And ever since the zionists have been following he Eichmann playbook in Palestine.

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
3 years ago
Reply to  mac mahmood

Palestine is an invention of fertile minds!

Last edited 3 years ago by Vijay Kant