Eichmann in Jerusalem


Hannah Arendt

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The Glass Booth Symbol Analysis

The Glass Booth Symbol Icon

In the Jerusalem courtroom, Eichmann sits beside the witness box in a glass booth designed especially for the occasion. More than a simple security measure, the glass booth also frames Eichmann as a spectacle for the trial’s expansive audience. Further, the wall of glass separating Eichmann from everyone else in the trial gestures to the invisible wall of words and ideology that, Arendt argues, prevents him from confronting the reality of his actions. Even though the consequences of his actions are right in front of him—the audience of Holocaust survivors in Jerusalem—he still fails to recognize his victims’ humanity and suffering. More than 50 years later, the booth remains a salient symbol of Eichmann’s trial and continues to be displayed in museums and other exhibits around the world.

The Glass Booth Quotes in Eichmann in Jerusalem

The Eichmann in Jerusalem quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Glass Booth. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Banality of Evil Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Eichmann in Jerusalem published in 1963.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Justice demands that the accused be prosecuted, defended, and judged, and that all the other questions of seemingly greater import—of “How could it happen?” and “Why did it happen?,” of “Why the Jews?” and “Why the Germans?,” of “What was the role of other nations?” and “What was the extent of co-responsibility on the side of the Allies?,” of “How could the Jews through their own leaders cooperate in their own destruction?” and “Why did they go to their death like lambs to the slaughter?”—be left in abeyance. Justice insists on the importance of Adolf Eichmann, son of Karl Adolf Eichmann, the man in the glass booth built for his protection: medium-sized, slender, middle-aged, with receding hair, ill-fitting teeth, and nearsighted eyes, who throughout the trial keeps craning his scraggy neck toward the bench (not once does he face the audience), and who desperately and for the most part successfully maintains his self-control despite the nervous tic to which his mouth must have become subject long before this trial started. On trial are his deeds, not the sufferings of the Jews, not the German people or mankind, not even anti Semitism and racism.

Related Symbols: The Glass Booth
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
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Eichmann in Jerusalem PDF

The Glass Booth Symbol Timeline in Eichmann in Jerusalem

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Glass Booth appears in Eichmann in Jerusalem. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: The House of Justice
Justice and Legal Responsibility Theme Icon
Zionism and Nazism Theme Icon
...population are native German speakers. Below are the witness box and the accused, in a glass booth , and below them are the prosecutorial team and Eichmann’s lone defense attorney, Robert Servatius. (full context)