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For many the name of Adolf Eichmann is synonymous with the Nazi murder of six million Jews. As a perpetuator of the Final Solution he stands alongside Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler as one of history's most notorious murderers, yet ever since Hannah Arendt's seminal book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, there has been disagreement about the essence of Eichmann and, by extension, about the definition of evil action. Was he a human monster or a petty bureaucrat? To what degree did the totalitarian organization to which he belonged absolve him and his staff from individual choice and responsibility for atrocities?
Hitler's Bureaucrats looks at the words and actions of Eichmann and the bureaucrats he worked with in Berlin and throughout the more significant Gestapo offices in Western Europe. It claims that Hannah Arendt's thesis about the banality of evil was wrong. In chilling detail, it presents a group of people completely aware of what they were doing, people with high ideological motivation, people of initiative and dexterity who contributed far beyond what was necessary. While most of these bureaucrats sat behind desks rather than behind machine guns, there was nothing banal about the role they played in the destruction of European Jewry.
The primary motivating force for their actions was a well-developed acceptance of the tenets of Nazi ideology of which racial anti-Semitism was a central component. As the documentation created by Eichmann and his colleagues reveals, not a single one of them ever expressed regret for their actions against the Jews, unless it was regret for having to pay the consequences.
Preface to the English Edition Archival Sources Tables and Charts of SS Organization Introduction
1. From Theory to Practice: 1933-1938
2. Documents in the Bureaucratic System
3. Toward the Final Solution
4. Executing the Final Solution in Germany
8. Conclusion: Listening to the Screams.
Posted February 11, 2009
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