Eichmann in Jerusalem


Hannah Arendt

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The movement to create a state for the Jewish people, which now more generally refers to supporters of Israel. Although Zionism is Israel’s founding ideology, Arendt soon reveals that Eichmann was something of a Zionist himself while working for the S.S.; after one of his first bosses made him read the foundational Zionist text Der Judenstaat, Eichmann began to revere Zionists because of the similarities between their nationalism and that of the Nazis. Both ideologies, in his terms, were “idealist”—they were willing to sacrifice in pursuit of an idea. While only a small minority of Jews were Zionists before World War Two, the ideology grew rapidly, in part because of the Nazi preference for Zionists—they would not negotiate with anyone else—and of course Jews’ experiences of persecution during the war. Yet a number of Zionist groups and officials, like the Hungarian Rudolf Kastner, actually helped the Nazis ship fellow Jews to concentration camps in exchange for letting a few, generally privileged Jews escape to Palestine. Arendt was a Zionist herself in her youth and arguably even when she wrote this book, although the term is insufficient to capture her evidently complex views of Israel.

Zionism Quotes in Eichmann in Jerusalem

The Eichmann in Jerusalem quotes below are all either spoken by Zionism or refer to Zionism. 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
Chapter 7 Quotes

True it was that the Jewish people as a whole had not been organized, that they had possessed no territory, no government, and no army, that, in the hour of their greatest need, they had no government-in-exile to represent them among the Allies (the Jewish Agency for Palestine, under Dr. Weizmann’s presidency, was at best a miserable substitute), no caches of weapons, no youth with military training. But the whole truth was that there existed Jewish community organizations and Jewish party and welfare organizations on both the local and the international level. Wherever Jews lived, there were recognized Jewish leaders, and this leadership, almost without exception, cooperated in one way or another, for one reason or another, with the Nazis. The whole truth was that if the Jewish people had really been unorganized and leaderless, there would have been chaos and plenty of misery but the total number of victims would hardly have been between four and a half and six million people.

Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:
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Zionism Term Timeline in Eichmann in Jerusalem

The timeline below shows where the term Zionism 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
...anti-Semitism, and the world’s Jews hardly need a reminder of the Holocaust. In fact, the Zionist belief in ubiquitous anti-Semitism actually led many Zionist groups to collaborate with the Nazis in... (full context)
Chapter 3: An Expert on the Jewish Question
Zionism and Nazism Theme Icon
In his new job, Eichmann was required to read Theodor Herzl’s crucial Zionist text Der Judenstaat and became an avowed Zionist himself, seeking to find land for the... (full context)
Conscience, Authority, and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Zionism and Nazism Theme Icon
Zionism appealed to Eichmann because he considered Zionists just as “idealist” as himself—meaning they would live... (full context)
Chapter 4: The First Solution: Expulsion
Zionism and Nazism Theme Icon
Before the War, the Nazis were closely allied with the growing Zionist movement. Ninety-five percent of German Jews belonged to the Central Association of German Citizens of... (full context)
The Banality of Evil Theme Icon
Conscience, Authority, and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
...the happiest periods in his life, even if the Nazis had already given up their Zionism by then. Eichmann remembers Jewish leaders who collaborated with him, but never those who dissented,... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Wannsee Conference, or Pontius Pilate
Zionism and Nazism Theme Icon
Storytelling and Resistance Theme Icon
...Jews of all persuasions. This backfires on the prosecution, which hopes to establish that only Zionists resisted. The testimony of resistors themselves also “dissipated the haunting specter of universal cooperation.” People... (full context)
Chapter 12: Deportations from Central Europe—Hungary and Slovakia
Conscience, Authority, and Totalitarianism Theme Icon
Zionism and Nazism Theme Icon
...found its huge payments unappreciated, it started directly buying Jews’ freedom and forging baptism papers. Zionist leaders like Dr. Kastner began negotiating with Eichmann and the various other German officials in... (full context)