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The Humanization of Adolf Eichmann
on July 26, 2011
I very much enjoyed reading Mr. Bascomb's book. True to it's title, "Hunting Eichmann" offers a detailed accounting of the efforts of Mossad in tracking down, capturing, and bringing to justice the world's most wanted criminal at that time. The book is easily read, offers little known and detailed information and perspectives from the participants involved, and holds the reader's attention.
I was surprised that my perception of the Adolf Eichmann I thought I knew changed after reading this book. Since my teens in the late 1960's, I have read numerous books on the Third Reich and the Holocaust, including the great works of Sir Martin Gilbert, William Shirer, and Nazi insider Albert Speer. As a result, I saw Adolf Eichmann through a concrete looking glass... a 20th century boogey man; a black and white, one dimensional monster of epic proportions whose organizational skills, robotic ability to follow orders, and sociopathy made him a perfect choice for the tasks he eagerly carried out and was to eventually answer for.
Although the focus of this book was obviously the manhunt, Bascomb managed to humanize Eichmann through short biographical flashes, at least as much as one can humanize the inhumane. He did so by offering insight into the flawed man that Eichmann was... a true case study in contradictions: a ne'er do well who found ambition and drive at the worst possible moment. A philandering husband revered by his long-suffering wife. A stern father, both loved and respected by his sons. A man able to extinguish a million lives with the mere stroke of a pen, yet who shuddered at the prospect of his own execution. A once proud member of the Third Reich's inner circle who, within 15 years of the war's end, stood before his captors in "worn and dingy socks and underwear" while being searched after his capture. And it is this "humanization" of Adolf Eichmann that makes him truly terrifying.
***** Large segments of the trial of Adolf Eichmann have been made available by Yad Vashem on You-Tube ****