The Eichmann Polemics: Hannah Arendt and Her Critics

Hannah Arendt, the German Jewish political philosopher who had escaped from a Nazi internment camp, [1] had obtained international fame and recognition in 1951 with her book The Origins of Totalitarianism. [2] Feeling compelled to witness the trial of Adolf Eichmann (‘an obligation I owe my past’), [3] she proposed to the editor of The New Yorker that she report on the prominent Nazi’s trial in Jerusalem. The editor gladly accepted the offer, placing no restrictions on what she wrote. [4] Arendt’s eagerly awaited ‘report’ finally appeared in The New Yorker in five successive issues from 16 February – 16 March 1963. In May 1963 the articles were compiled into a book published by Viking Press, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil.

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