Hitler's Bureaucrats: The Nazi Security Police and the Banality of Evil
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Hitler's Bureaucrats looks at the words and actions of Eichmann and the bureaucrats he worked with in Berlin and throughout the more significant Gestapo offices in Western Europe. It claims that Hannah Arendt's thesis about the banality of evil was wrong. In chilling detail, it presents a group of people completely aware of what they were doing, people with high ideological motivation, people of initiative and dexterity who contributed far beyond what was necessary. While most of these bureaucrats sat behind desks rather than behind machine guns, there was nothing banal about the role they played in the destruction of European Jewry.
The primary motivating force for their actions was a well-developed acceptance of the tenets of Nazi ideology of which racial anti-Semitism was a central component. As the documentation created by Eichmann and his colleagues reveals, not a single one of them ever expressed regret for their actions against the Jews, unless it was regret for having to pay the consequences.
certainly still innocent bureaucrats, even with positive personality traits. In recalling his activities during this period, Eichmann described himself as a convinced Zionist and an inquisitive student of the Jewish world.30 The picture outlined in the documents of the period is different. On August 28, 1936, Schroder (then an Oberscharführer, or sergeant) wrote a summary of the activities of his department. He acknowledged that up until the end of 1935 they had not done enough in the battle
out because the British authorities refused to allow them to enter the country, and they had no choice but to conduct some of their meetings in Cairo.44 On their return they composed a 58-page report.45 They saw what they saw through the prism of their world view. The difficult economic situation in Palestine, for example, was in their analysis due to the absence of Aryans; lacking Aryan influence, the Jews cheated each other. A concrete example of this inability to manage an 41. Wildt,
cover the Eichmann trial she was one of the most prominent political thinkers in the world, author of the seminal Origins of Totalitarianism.2 This was no ordinary journalist. Years of study of the totalitarian phenomenon had preconditioned her perspective on Eichmann. According to her theory, he was a building block in the totalitarian edifice, not a link in the ancient chain of Jew-haters. One of the most riveting chapters in her Origins describes 'Totalitarian Organizations" as having a
accomplices: there, but for the grace of circumstance, go we. Two events should be mentioned that took place during the years when I carried out this study. First, my colleague and friend Hans Safrian of Vienna preceded me with his book Die Eichmann Manner.20 It contains a fine description of Eichmann as the man who sent his forces across the continent, and of their work there. I saw no need to imitate him, or to engage him on one or another marginal point. Second, I myself became a bureaucrat,
the public those Jews whom it was already clear would not be deported at all. As regards the Jews of Vught and Barneveld, there was no response from Holland for several weeks. Werner visited IV B 4 on September 16 and 17 and heard once more about the need to deport them. On September 20 Zôpf cabled Eichmann that the position of Rauter and the new BdS, Naumann, was that the Jews of the two camps should not be deported, since they were an essential workforce.93 On the night of September 28 the last