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Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer [Kindle Edition]

Bettina Stangneth , Ruth Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)

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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews


A New York Times Notable Book and a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.

“[Stangneth’s] comprehensive research brings the man and his circumstances firmly back into focus. . . . no future discussion will be able to confront the Eichmann phenomenon and its wider political implications without reference to this book.”—Steven Aschheim, The New York Times Book Review
“Extraordinary . . . . At each stage, the meticulous quality of [Stangneth’s] research and her distinctive moral outrage make the journey enthralling . . . . Stangneth’s book has the flavor of a detective story . .  . . [A] fine, important book.”—Michael Signer, The Daily Beast
“Stangneth has combined the talents of rigorous academic research with investigative journalism in tracking down and sifting through the mounds of archival data located in diffuse venues. Her efforts at comparing, collating and interpreting the wealth of material in the hall of mirrors and blind alleys that Eichmann erected are nothing less than prodigious.” —Jack Schwartz, Haaretz
“It is impossible to overestimate the meticulous care Stengneth has taken in documenting everything she says. If there is a misspelling or typographical error, she notes it . . . . This has been called ‘a disturbing book well worth reading.’ Yes, it is disturbing, and yes, it is well worth reading, even more than once.” —Stephanie Shapiro, Buffalo News
“Thrilling in its purpose….there is no doubt of its importance: Stangneth’s research, full of forgotten papers, lost interviews, and buried evidence, turns the conventional wisdom about Eichmann on its head.” —Publishers Weekly

“A riveting reconstruction of a fanatical National Socialist’s obdurate journey in exile and appalling second career in Argentina…. Stangneth masterfully sifts through the information…. A rigorously documented, essential work not only about Eichmann’s masterly masquerade, but also about how we come to accept appearances as truth.” —Kirkus (*starred review*)

"Fascinating." —Efraim Zuroff, The Jerusalem Report

Meticulously researched, compellingly argued, engagingly written. Bettina Stangneth confronts Hannah Arendt’s notion of the “banality of evil” with important new evidence and nuanced insight, permitting a fresh and informed reassessment of this riven debate. Arendt would surely have applauded the Stangneth challenge.” —Timothy Ryback

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Bettina Stangneth wrote her dissertation on Immanuel Kant and the concept of radical evil. Ever since then she has been researching a theory of the lie and has written widely on anti-Semitism in eighteenth-century and National Socialist philosophy. In 2000 she was awarded first prize by the Philosophical-Political Academy, Cologne, and she received the German NDR nonfiction book award for Eichmann Before Jerusalem in 2011. Bettina Stangneth is an independent philosopher and lives in Hamburg, Germany.
Translated from the German by Ruth Martin

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2832 KB
  • Print Length: 610 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0307959678
  • Publisher: Knopf (September 2, 2014)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,609 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is a stunning counterattack on Arandt's thesis that Eichmann represented the banal clerk who fell into great evil. That thesis was a huge influence on our view of the world's evil men since its publication in 1963. Eichmann took this persona while on trial for his life, but in actuality had gone so far as to label himself the the Czar of the Jews, Manager of the Holocaust, Caligula, Grand Inquisitor. He was anxious for the notoriety and ambitious for his position. More frightening still, once he fled to Argentina, he lived as a central point of Nazis who gloried in the past and plotted for a time when the world would be ready for them. Lest we believe the dream of never, it is important to remember the German government still holds papers from him secret.

This is a deeply researched volume based on clearly documented facts. Stangneth is determined to draw the curtain from over this terrifying man, byte her prose is precise and literate. There is no hint of dogmatism, rather these are facts drawn together to speak for themselves. I think that key to this book is not only the true nature of Eichmann, but the process by which a man like this draws a shell around himself and his past.

In the end, Eichmann's biggest regret is that only 6 million Jews were killed, he felt at 10 million, the task would have been completed. If the world is never to return to his pursuit, best to underline the world governments who aided in his escape. Frightening are the people who helped in his Shoah, such as a Muslim leader in Jerusalem and the ready soldiers in Poland. Eichmann was a man of the mirage. He tested the Final Solution in Germany where he veiled the camps in propaganda and proceeded without caution in Poland where the populace were unfazed.
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58 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adolf Eichmann's "in-between" years... September 3, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I think almost every historian knows about the life and crimes of Adolf Eichmann before 1945 and then again, after his capture in Argentina and trial on war crimes and subsequent execution in Israel in 1962. It is the years in between his escape from justice at the war's end and his kidnapping that have remained largely unlooked at. But German author Bettina Stangneth has done a superb job of uncovering those "missing years" in her new book, "Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer". (The book was translated from German by Ruth Martin.)

Otto Adolf Eichmann was born in 1906 in Germany, but spent much of his early life in Austria. He was one of the "Second Wave" of Nazis. Those born later than Adolf Hitler and his cohort and raised during the WW1 years. These men weren't old enough to have served in the war, but were just as affected by the German loss and "betrayal" of those "traitors" back home. Many became fanatical Nazis and committed some of worst "crimes against humanity" both before and during WW2. Adolf Eichmann was at the top of the list of war criminals. He organised the killing of millions of Jews and he was very proud of his work.

After the war, Adolf Eichmann went on the run in Germany to avoid being turned over to Allied authorities for trial. He hid on a farm in northern Germany - in Luneberg Heath - but in the early 1950's, he went on the well-traveled road to perceived safety in Juan Peron's Argentina. The author makes it clear that "Odessa" and other groups touted as pipelines to take ex-Nazis from Europe to South America were somewhat less than well-organised, but Eichmann and others were helped along their journeys.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars October 5, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a young physician training in neurosurgery at the University of Buenos Aires in 1958, I met many interesting people, some ordinary, some famous characters and some infamous folks. A 45-year-old man of German nationality was in the latter category, but I do not recall his name. We had operated on him in the area of his fifth lumbar vertebra to remove a herniated disk that was pressing a nerve root and causing pain. The operation had been successful and he was grateful for that.
He was a talkative fellow, spoke educated Spanish with a slight Germanic accent. He readily admitted that he had been an active member of the National-Socialist (Nazi) Party during the war in Europe. He actually bragged about it, especially recounting his covert exploits as a Nazi spy, sent to Argentina by the Abwehr, the German military intelligence organization, violating the neutrality of the country.
After the war, the Perón government accepted him as a refugee and he became eventually an Argentine citizen.
I asked him what he did for a living. Without hesitation, he said the Universidad of Buenos Aires employed him as an `Expert on Jews.' I was shocked, but also intrigued, and asked him how he used his professed expertise. He explained patiently to me that the University officials had been worried that Jews in Buenos Aires had "excessive" influence on University affairs.
His job consisted of going over lists of employees, faculty and students, and tag those names that sounded Jewish, for further inquiry.
He said his inquiries were discreet and did not intrude into anybody's privacy. He felt that it was the University's responsibility to follow up on his findings, especially regarding the matriculation of Jewish students.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars and deserves good marks in that regard
This book is exhaustively detailed, and I do mean exhaustively, but well worth a read. It is probably about as close to a true picture of Eichmann in exile as we'll ever get, and... Read more
Published 21 hours ago by J. Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars I agree with both the good and bad reviews ...
I have to agree with both the positive and negative reviews of this book. The scholarship is thoroughly impressive and, to the extent it is written like a legal brief in opposition... Read more
Published 27 days ago by Peter Meltzer
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Boring... I don't think it contradicts Hanna Arendt whom I admire very much.
Published 1 month ago by Amalia Banuelos
5.0 out of 5 stars A Reader
A terrifying and untold bit of history- well told and examined
Published 1 month ago by a critic
4.0 out of 5 stars Great piece of detective work reveals Eichmann's brazenness after the...
Until now you might have been forgiven for thinking that when Adolf Eichmann, one of the chief architects of the Holocaust, vanished after World War Two and made his way to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by David Ljunggren
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Read
Somewhere in this tome of rather uncompelling research is the statement (paraphrased), "You can judge an author by how he or she treats their reader". Read more
Published 1 month ago by SRJ
4.0 out of 5 stars that Eichman was a conscious and rather happy player in making...
Interesting, relatively contemporary examination of the Arendt theory of "the banality of evil" Stangneth's examines Eichman's life as he tries to allude the authorities. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Rextilleon
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling Reading
Eichman Before Jerusalem explores Eichman's life from the end of WWII until his capture. It is well researched and introduces material that was not widely known prior to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Denise Andres
5.0 out of 5 stars Tough read - very detailed and monotonous
Published 1 month ago by William L. Bush
3.0 out of 5 stars Well researched
This is an impressively well researched book however, the narrative is exceedingly dry and fractured. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Owen McCusker
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