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Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 2, 2014

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Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer + Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (Penguin Classics)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1St Edition edition (September 2, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307959678
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307959676
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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*)

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

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

Customer Reviews

Eichmann, Good German, Good Nazi murderer, or both?
N. Ravitch
This book is a stunning counterattack on Arandt's thesis that Eichmann represented the banal clerk who fell into great evil.
Amelia Gremelspacher
For anyone that is interested in the Holocaust, this is a compelling read.
David W. Angle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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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56 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By N. Ravitch on September 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Eichmann, Good German, Good Nazi murderer, or both?

I agree fully with all the positive reviews of this book and also with the first negative one. The author has used materials from Eichmann's residency in Argentina before his removal for trial in Israel and has determined completely that there were two Eichmanns: the fabricated one who only obeyed orders and his oath to the Third Reich and Hitler despite his feeling of revulsion at what he was asked to do; the real Eichmann who was the one who believed totally in the Nazi program for Germany, Europe and the Jewish victims and played a foremost role in driving the Jews from occupied Europe to their death.

Eichmann was able to manipulate people and evidence and recollections in order to construct the two personae. One was designed to enlighten Nazi sympathizers, first in Argentina and then in the future in Germany, about his real ideals and deeds. The other was to fool the authorities at his trial into granting him a light sentence. Eichmann, the real one, was a total Nazi who believed in the Darwinian biological struggle of the races and in the need for the Jewish race to disappear from Europe and perhaps from the earth entirely. He believed in the fundamental Fascist rejection of any transcendent basis for morality and an acceptance of a totally instrumental and materialistic foundation for moral decisions.

Eichmann disconcerted his Nazi associates in Argentina because he gloried in his deeds of evil while they wished to pretend that the genocide of the Jews had been greatly exaggerated. He disconcerted his judges in Jerusalem because he presented himself as a dimwitted bureaucrat whose guilt seemed only secondary. Actually he fooled them all.
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