AI38 Hannah Arendt's "Eichmann in Jerusalem"

Arendt's 1963 text was the beginning of some very tough discussions. It was not only criticized and attacked for having accused the so-called “Judenraete” of collaborating with the SS. Her interpretation of Eichmann's character as a basically harmless fool was the subject of violent debates; so violent that Arendt lost old friends over it like Gerschom Scholem. Is there really such a thing as a banality of evil, as the book's subtitle claims? And did it show itself in the organization of the Shoah? What would be a non-banal evil? Would it be the “radical evil” of Kant? The seminar is organized around the key events of organization by Eichmann and the so-called “Eichmann-Kommando” of the deportation of Hungarian Jews in Budapest, mostly to Auschwitz-Birkenau, after March 1944. By July 1944, 437,402 Jews had been deported. Thus the course will not only be about Arendt's text in the narrow sense, but also about the entire context it opened. To this end, EEyal Sivan's film “Un spécialiste, portrait d’un criminel moderne” (1999) will also be screened and discussed.

  • Course Specifications
  • Type: Elective
  • Lesson type: Lecture
  • Hours: 28 (5 credits)
  • Requirement: essay
  • Instructor: Prof. PETER TRAWNY
  • Course Readings 1
  • Arendt Hannah, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (Viking, 1963)