Eichmann in Jerusalem

by

Hannah Arendt

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The 1945-46 trials of 24 high-ranking Nazi criminals by the Allies’ International Military Tribune. At the time, Eichmann was detained in an American camp but still anonymous; his name arose frequently at Nuremberg (this was in part, Arendt suggests, because he was absent, and so blame could be shifted onto him) and he decided to flee to Argentina to avoid recognition. The Nuremberg Trials set an important precedent for a series of other postwar trials, including Eichmann’s, in part by introducing the concept of “crimes against humanity” (although Arendt argues that it failed to adequately define this concept). Eichmann’s defense lawyer, Robert Servatius, also defended war criminals at the Nuremberg Trials, which Arendt argues were similarly biased against the defense as Eichmann’s (in terms of the resources available to each side). Unrelated to the Nuremberg Laws.

Nuremberg Trials Quotes in Eichmann in Jerusalem

The Eichmann in Jerusalem quotes below are all either spoken by Nuremberg Trials or refer to Nuremberg Trials. For each quote, you can also see the other terms 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 8 Quotes

Eichmann, much less intelligent and without any education to speak of, at least dimly realized that it was not an order but a law which had turned them all into criminals. The distinction between an order and the Führer’s word was that the latter’s validity was not limited in time and space, which is the outstanding characteristic of the former. This is also the true reason why the Führer’s order for the Final Solution was followed by a huge shower of regulations and directives, all drafted by expert lawyers and legal advisers, not by mere administrators; this order, in contrast to ordinary orders, was treated as a law.

Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:
Epilogue Quotes

It is essentially for this reason: that the unprecedented, once it has appeared, may become a precedent for the future, that all trials touching upon “crimes against humanity” must be judged according to a standard that is today still an “ideal.” If genocide is an actual possibility of the future, then no people on earth—least of all, of course, the Jewish people, in Israel or elsewhere—can feel reasonably sure of its continued existence without the help and the protection of international law. Success or failure in dealing with the hitherto unprecedented can lie only in the extent to which this dealing may serve as a valid precedent on the road international penal law.

Related Characters: Adolf Eichmann
Page Number: 273
Explanation and Analysis:
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Nuremberg Trials Term Timeline in Eichmann in Jerusalem

The timeline below shows where the term Nuremberg Trials 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
...the prosecution’s “key sentence” because its case is founded precisely on Jewish suffering. After the Nuremberg Trials , Hausner and seemingly “everyone else in Israel” insisted that a Jewish court had to... (full context)
The Banality of Evil Theme Icon
Conscience, Authority, and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Zionism and Nazism Theme Icon
...reserved its harshest punishment for offenders who openly admitted and denounced their actions at the Nuremberg Trials , in 1962, almost half of West Germany’s active judges have worked under the Nazis,... (full context)
Chapter 13: The Killing Centers in the East
Justice and Legal Responsibility Theme Icon
Zionism and Nazism Theme Icon
...about them, as did dozens of other officials, and although one Nazi declared at the Nuremberg Trials that Eichmann ran the whole operation, the judges reasonably throw this claim out, since no... (full context)
Chapter 14: Evidence and Witnesses
Conscience, Authority, and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Justice and Legal Responsibility Theme Icon
Zionism and Nazism Theme Icon
...as does his inability to access most of the documents he wanted. Like at the Nuremberg Trials , the defense also lacks the prosecution’s advantage of research assistants. (full context)
The Banality of Evil Theme Icon
Justice and Legal Responsibility Theme Icon
In fact, Servatius was also a defense attorney at the Nuremberg Trials , which makes his willingness to defend Eichmann strange—he claims he’s in it for the... (full context)
Chapter 15: Judgment, Appeal, and Execution
The Banality of Evil Theme Icon
...not even contact his family. Starting in November 1945, his name arose repeatedly at the Nuremberg Trials , and the next January he managed to escape the camp. He worked for four... (full context)
Epilogue
Justice and Legal Responsibility Theme Icon
Zionism and Nazism Theme Icon
...were three kinds of objections to Eichmann’s trials: first, that (like the defendants at the Nuremberg Trials ) “Eichmann was tried under a retroactive law and appeared in the court of the... (full context)
Justice and Legal Responsibility Theme Icon
To the first kind of objection, the court responded that the Nuremberg Trials set the only valid precedent to Eichmann’s kind of unprecedented crime. Such laws “had to... (full context)
Justice and Legal Responsibility Theme Icon
Zionism and Nazism Theme Icon
At the Nuremberg Trials , the judges were hesitant to convict Nazis of “crimes against humanity,” but reserved the... (full context)
Conscience, Authority, and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Justice and Legal Responsibility Theme Icon
Storytelling and Resistance Theme Icon
Ultimately, Eichmann’s trial was no different than the other trials that were modeled after the Nuremberg Trials and followed the war, except that his kidnapping was “a clear violation of international law.”... (full context)
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Zionism and Nazism Theme Icon
...other Successor trials’ judges before them. The Jerusalem trial was no greater failure than the Nuremberg Trials , but its central failures were threefold. The first was that Jerusalem provided imperfect justice... (full context)
Postscript
Justice and Legal Responsibility Theme Icon
...clearly ruled against Eichmann because of his “monstrous deeds,” according to precedent (as in the Nuremberg Trials ), and not because of his unprecedented crimes against humanity. (full context)