Criminal Case 40/61, the Trial of Adolf Eichmann: An Eyewitness Account available in Hardcover
- Pub. Date:
- University of Pennsylvania Press
The trial of Adolf Eichmann began in 1961 under a deceptively simple label, "criminal case 40/61." Hannah Arendt covered the trial for the New Yorker magazine and recorded her observations in Eichmann in Jerusalem: The Banality of Evil. Harry Mulisch was also assigned to cover the trial for a Dutch news weekly. Arendt would later say in her book's preface that Mulisch was one of the few people who shared her views on the character of Eichmann. At the time, Mulisch was a young and little-known writer; in the years since he has since emerged as an author of major international importance, celebrated for such novels as The Assault and The Discovery of Heaven.
Mulisch modestly called his book on case 40/61 a report, and it is certainly that, as he gives firsthand accounts of the trial and its key players and scenes (the defendant's face strangely asymmetric and riddled by tics, his speech absurdly baroque). Eichmann's character comes out in his incessant bureaucratizing and calculating, as well as in his grandiose visions of himself as a Pontius Pilate-like innocent. As Mulisch intersperses his dispatches from Jerusalem with meditative accounts of a divided and ruined Berlin, an eerily rebuilt Warsaw, and a visit to the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Criminal Case 40/61, the Trial of Adolf Eichmann becomes as a disturbing and highly personal essay on the Nazi extermination of European Jews and on the human capacity to commit evil ever more efficiently in an age of technological advancement.
Here presented with a foreword by Debórah Dwork and translated for the first time into English, Criminal Case 40/61 provides the reader with an unsettling portrait not only of Eichmann's character but also of technological precision and expertise. It is a landmark of Holocaust writing.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
"40/61" is the number of the Eichmann case on the roll of the District Court of Jerusalem. In this volume I give the account of an experience behind this number. An experience is different from a train of thought: it is subject to change. At the end one finds a different person, partly with different thoughts, from at the beginning. Since the account of this changing experience is announced in the first entry, I have not made any corrections anywhere: this was not supposed to be a book about Eichmann, but to remain the double report as it was intended from the start.
What follows are not the chapters of a dissertation but a series of articles originally published in Elseviers Weekblad (a weekly; so that I was relieved of the dailies' demands of providing the news). For that reason I dated them with the day of completion, not of publication, which was usually one week later. This will avoid confusion with the dates of the diary sections. I did rid the text of some inaccuracies, mainly in the diary. I have added a short passage here and there, which would not have been suitable for a weekly. Where possible quotations are in German, for in Dutch (they are no longer what they are: dangerous. For those who cannot read German, one of the most important entrances to criminal case 40/61 will in this way remain closed—maybe that makes them fortunate.
(For this English translation the quotations are given in English, so that this important entrance to criminal case 40/61 will be accessible. All footnotes are the translator's unless otherwise indicated.)
Table of Contents
Foreword, by Debórah Dwork
2. The Verdict and the Execution
3. The Two Faces of Eichmann
4. Biography of a German
5. Jerusalem Diary I
6. A Ruin in Berlin
7. The Horror and Its Depiction
8. The Horror and Its Origin
9. The Order as Fate
10. The Ideal of Psycho-Technology
11. Jerusalem Diary II
12. On Feelings of Guilt, Guilt, and Reality
13. On Common Sense, Christians, and Thomas Mann
14. A Consideration in Warsaw
15. A Museum in Oswiecim