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History in the Dock – “Eichmann in Jerusalem” – Hannah Arendt

April 22nd, 2011 · No Comments · Genocide, History, The Law, WW2

For it was history that, as far as the prosecution was concerned, stood in the center of the trial. “It is not an individual that is in the dock at this historic trial, and not the Nazi regime alone, but anti-Semitism throughout history.” This was the tone set by Ben-Gurion and faithfully followed by Mr. Hausner, who began his opening address (which lasted through three sessions) with Pharaoh in Egypt and Haman’s decree “to destroy, to slay, and to cause them to perish.” He then proceeded to quote Ezekiel: “And when I [the Lord] passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee: In thy blood, live,” explaining that these words must be understood as “the imperative that has confronted this nation ever since its first appearance on the stage of history.” It was bad history and cheap rhetoric; worse, it was clearly at cross-purposes with putting Eichmann on trial, suggesting that perhaps he was only an innocent executor of some mysteriously foreordained destiny, or, for that matter, even of anti-Semitism, which perhaps was necessary to blaze the trail of “the bloodstained road traveled by this people” to fulfill its destiny.

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