Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer
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A total and groundbreaking reassessment of the life of Adolf Eichmann—a superb work of scholarship that reveals his activities and notoriety among a global network of National Socialists following the collapse of the Third Reich and that permanently challenges Hannah Arendt’s notion of the “banality of evil.”
Smuggled out of Europe after the collapse of Germany, Eichmann managed to live a peaceful and active exile in Argentina for years before his capture by the Mossad. Though once widely known by nicknames such as “Manager of the Holocaust,” in 1961 he was able to portray himself, from the defendant’s box in Jerusalem, as an overworked bureaucrat following orders—no more, he said, than “just a small cog in Adolf Hitler’s extermination machine.” How was this carefully crafted obfuscation possible? How did a central architect of the Final Solution manage to disappear? And what had he done with his time while in hiding?
Bettina Stangneth, the first to comprehensively analyze more than 1,300 pages of Eichmann’s own recently discovered written notes— as well as seventy-three extensive audio reel recordings of a crowded Nazi salon held weekly during the 1950s in a popular district of Buenos Aires—draws a chilling portrait, not of a reclusive, taciturn war criminal on the run, but of a highly skilled social manipulator with an inexhaustible ability to reinvent himself, an unrepentant murderer eager for acolytes with whom to discuss past glories while vigorously planning future goals with other like-minded fugitives.
A work that continues to garner immense international attention and acclaim, Eichmann Before Jerusalem maps out the astonishing links between innumerable past Nazis—from ace Luftwaffe pilots to SS henchmen—both in exile and in Germany, and reconstructs in detail the postwar life of one of the Holocaust’s principal organizers as no other book has done
of the mass murderer, who “must have had his concerns.”246 Again and again the group tries to lead Eichmann into confessing that he was an instrument manipulated by foreign powers. The identity of this new influence is revealed by the long interview that Sassen conducts with him on tape 56.247 It is Ludolf von Alvensleben.248 The discovery that the highest-ranking Nazi in Argentina had found his way into the Sassen circle is as irritating as the fact that his presence could easily have remained
consisting of clearly legible copies of the transcript, and less legible handwritten pages. So the CIA report tells us where the Israeli authorities didn’t get their copy: Hamburg. It is impossible to copy a poor-quality version into legibility. In February 1961 Robert Pendorf, the Hamburg reporter who had written on Eichmann for Stern, published his book Mörder und Ermordete: Eichmann und die Judenpolitik des Dritten Reichs (The Murderer and the Murdered: Eichmann and the Third Reich’s
Judenverfolgung in Ostgalizien 1941–1944: Organisation und Durchführung des Massenverbrechens. Munich, 1996. ———. “Die Ermordung der Juden im Generalgouvernement.” In Nationalsozialistische Vernichtungspolitik 1939–1945: Neue Forschungen und Kontroversen. Edited by Ulrich Herbert. Frankfurt am Main, 1998. Poliakov, Léon. “Adolf Eichmann ou le rêve de Caligula.” Le Monde Juif. Paris, June 4, 1949. ———. Harvest of Hate: Background to the Eichmann Story Introduced by Lord Russell of Liverpool.
Holocaust in public and, in the process, defining Eichmann’s special role. This precaution was to prove extremely useful for their defense once the war was over. Rezsö Kasztner and Joel Brand also spread the image of “the monster Adolf Eichmann”179 beyond the Reich’s borders. Before and after his arrest in Turkey, and while he was being held in Cairo, Brand reported on Eichmann and his role in the extermination of the Jews to Ira Hirschmann and the British intelligence service.180 This
coincidence. Bohne had been the head of the T4 Central Bureau, which had planned the murder of seventy thousand people in psychiatric hospitals who had been earmarked by the Reichsausschuß under Hefelmann.26 But Fritsch did more than draw in the criminals who had been forced to leave Germany. He also targeted the camp followers, the far-right authors with infamous names who were allowed to remain in Germany but no longer had any way of getting published. Fritsch’s method was simple: he wrote