Can Evil Ever Be Banal? Revisiting Hannah Arendt's Great Mistake

Even if Arendt was wrong in the case of Eichmann himself, the phrase, ‘banality of evil,’ that she coined can assist us in understanding a psychological phenomenon that is not easy to digest

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Aner Govrin
Aner Govrin

Yariv Mozer’s 2022 documentary film “The Devil’s Confession: The Lost Eichmann Tapes,” in which Adolf Eichmann is heard speaking in his own voice to the Nazi journalist Willem Sassen about his attitude toward Jews, is an event of major importance for the field of Holocaust research. This is particularly so when it comes regard to understanding the psychological motives of those who participated actively in the project of annihilating the Jews of Europe. The film also provides an opportunity for a renewed reading of Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil,” from 1963.

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