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Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy x Jaar 2012 x
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Access_open De complexiteit van het kwaad

Een kritische lezing van Hannah Arendts Eichmann in Jerusalem

Tijdschrift Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy, Aflevering 1 2012
Trefwoorden banality of evil, Hannah Arendt, Adolf Eichmann, Holocaust studies, philosophy of international criminal law
Auteurs Klaas Rozemond
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    In her book Eichmann in Jerusalem Hannah Arendt concluded that the Eichmann trial taught us the lesson of the ‘fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality of evil’. Arendt explained the concept of banality as thoughtlessness: Eichmann did not realize what he was doing when he planned and executed the Final Solution of the Jewish Question in Nazi Germany. In this article Arendt’s analysis of Eichmann’s evil is criticized from an internal perspective: the conclusion that Eichmann was thoughtless cannot be founded on the information Arendt herself gives, especially her reports on Eichmann’s idealism, his knowledge of Kant’s categorical imperative, his Pontius Pilate feeling during the Wannsee Conference, and the two crises of conscience Eichmann experienced during the Holocaust. This information shows that Eichmann clearly realized what he was doing in a moral sense and consciously decided to go on with the Final Solution on the basis of his own convictions as a Nazi.


Klaas Rozemond
Klaas Rozemond is Associate Professor of Criminal Law at the VU University of Amsterdam.
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