Quotes from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

Hannah Arendt ·  312 pages

Rating: (10.5K votes)


“For politics is not like the nursery; in politics obedience and support are the same.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“Adolf Eichmann went to the gallows with great dignity. He had asked for a bottle of red wine and had drunk half of it. He refused the help of the Protestant minister the Reverend William Hull who offered to read the Bible with him: he had only two more hours to live and therefore no “time to waste.” He walked the fifty yards from his cell to the execution chamber calm and erect with his hands bound behind him. When the guards tied his ankles and knees he asked them to loosen the bonds so that he could stand straight. “I don’t need that ” he said when the black hood was offered him. He was in complete command of himself nay he was more: he was completely himself. Nothing could have demonstrated this more convincingly than the grotesque silliness of his last words. He began by stating emphatically that he was a Gottgläubiger to express in common Nazi fashion that he was no Christian and did not believe in life after death. He then proceeded: “After a short while gentlemen we shall all meet again. Such is the fate of all men. Long live Germany long live Argentina long live Austria. I shall not forget them.” In the face of death he had found the cliché used in funeral oratory. Under the gallows his memory played him the last trick he was “elated” and he forgot that this was his own funeral.

It was as though in those last minutes he was summing up the lesson that this long course in human wickedness had taught us-the lesson of the fearsome word-and-thought-defying banality of evil.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“And just as you supported and carried out a policy of not wanting to share the earth with the Jewish people and the people of a number of other nations – as though you and your superiors had any right to determine who should and who should not inhabit the world – we find that no one, that is, no member of the human race, can be expected to want to share the earth with you. This is the reason, and the only reason, you must hang.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“Evil in the Third Reich had lost the quality by which most people recognize it—the quality of temptation.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“The net effect of this language system was not to keep these people ignorant of what they were doing, but to prevent them from equating it with their old, "normal" knowledge of murder and lies. Eichmann's great susceptibility to catch words and stock phrases, combined with his incapacity for ordinary speech, made him, of course, an ideal subject for "language rules.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil



“The Israeli court psychiatrist who examined Eichmann found him a “completely normal man, more normal, at any rate, than I am after examining him,” the implication being that the coexistence of normality and bottomless cruelty explodes our ordinary conceptions and present the true enigma of the trial.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“[Justice] demands seclusion, it permits sorrow rather than anger, and it prescribes the most careful abstention from all the nice pleasures of putting oneself in the limelight.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“There are more than a few people, especially among the cultural élite, who still publicly regret the fact that Germany sent Einstein packing, without realizing that it was a much greater crime to kill little Hans Cohn from around the corner, even though he was no genius.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“In the Third Reich evil lost its distinctive characteristic by which most people had until then recognized it. The Nazis redefined it as a civil norm.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“What has come to light is neither nihilism nor cynicism, as one might have expected, but a quite extraordinary confusion over elementary questions of morality—as if an instinct in such matters were truly the last thing to be taken for granted in our time.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil



“Of these, only the last, the crime against humanity, was new and unprecedented. Aggressive warfare is at least as old as recorded history, and while it has been denounced as "criminal" many times before, it has never been recognized as such in any formal sense.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“It is in the very nature of things human that every act that has once made its appearance and has been recorded in the history of mankind stays with mankind as a potentiality long after its actuality has become a thing of the past. No punishment has ever possessed enough power of deterrence to prevent the commission of crimes.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“Good can be radical; evil can never be radical, it can only be extreme, for it possesses neither depth nor any demonic dimension yet--and this is its horror--it can spread like a fungus over the surface of the earth and lay waste the entire world. Evil comes from a failure to think.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“But this was a moral question, and the answer to it may not have been legally relevant.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“...and if he suffers, he must suffer for what he has done, not for what he has caused others to suffer.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil



“The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted or sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“For, obviously, things were not as simple as the framers of laws had imagined them to be, and if it was of small legal relevance, it was of great political interest to know how long it takes an average person to overcome his innate repugnance toward crime, and what exactly happens to him once he had reached that point. To this question, the case of Adolf Eichmann supplied an answer that could not have been clearer and more precise.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“And the German society of eighty million people had been shielded against reality and factuality by exactly the same means, the same self-deception, lies, and stupidity that had now become engrained in Eichmann's mentality. These lies changed from year to year, and they frequently contradicted each other; moreover, they were not necessarily the same for the various branches of the Party hierarchy or the people at large. But the practice of self-deception had become so common, almost a moral prerequisite for survival, that even now, eighteen years after the collapse of the Nazi regime, when most of the specific content of its lies has been forgotten, it is sometimes difficult not to believe that mendacity has become an integral part of the German national character.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“Правосъдието трябва да бъде отличавано от загрижеността за спазването на дадени процедури, които, макар и важни сами за себе си, не могат никога да отхвърлят правото, т.е. най-дълбоката грижа на правосъдието.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“Ve nasıl siz dünyayı Yahudi halkıyla ve daha nice ulustan insanla paylaşmak istemediğiniz için-sanki sizin ve üstlerinizin bu dünyada kimin yaşayacağına, kimin yaşamayacağına karar verme hakkınız varmış gibi-bir politikayı destekleyip uyguladıysanız, biz de hiç kimsenin, yani insan ırkının hiçbir üyesinin bu dünyayı sizinle paylaşmak isteyebileceğini düşünmüyoruz. İşte bu nedenle, sadece bu nedenle, idam edilmeniz gerekir.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil



“When, a year later, the Madagascar project was declared to have become “obsolete,” everybody was psychologically, or rather, logically, prepared for the next step: since there existed no territory to which one could “evacuate,” the only “solution” was extermination. Not that Eichmann, the truth-revealer for generations to come, ever suspected the existence of such sinister plans.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“Evil comes from a failure to think. It defies thought for as soon as thought tries to engage itself with evil and examine the premises and principles from which it originates, it is frustrated because it finds nothing there. That is the banality of evil. Eichmann”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“Savaş sırasında, Alman halkının tamamı üstünde en çok etkili olan yalan, 'Alman halkının kader savaşı' sloganıydı. Hitlerin veya Goebbels'in bulduğu bu slogan, insanın kendini aldatmasını üç açıdan kolaylaştırıyordu: Birincisi, bu savaş aslında savaş değil, demeye getiriyordu; ikincisi, savaşı başlatan Almanya değil, kader olmuştu; üçüncüsü, bu savaş Almanlar için bir ölüm kalım meselesiydi - ya düşmanlarını yok edeceklerdi ya da kendileri yok olacaktı.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“None of the participants ever arrived at a clear understanding of the actual horror of Auschwitz, which is of a different nature from all the atrocities of the past, because it appeared to prosecution alike as not much more than the most horrible pogrom in Jewish history.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“The crime of the Nuremberg Laws was a national crime; it violated national, constitutional rights and liberties, but it was of no concern to the comity of nations.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil



“What are we going to say if tomorrow it occurs to some African state to send its agents into Mississippi and to kidnap one of the leaders of the segregationist movement there? And what are we going to reply if a court in Ghana or the Congo quotes the Eichmann case as precedent?”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“In his] mind, there was no contradiction between "I will jump into my grave laughing," appropriate for the end of the war, and "I shall gladly hang myself in public as a warning example for all anti-Semites on this earth," which now, under vastly different circumstances, fulfilled exactly the same function of giving him a lift.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“For the lesson of such stories is simple and within everybody's grasp. Politically speaking, it is that under conditions of terror most people will comply but some people will not, just as the lesson of the countries to which the Final Solution was proposed is that "it could happen" in most places but it did not happen everywhere. Humanly speaking, no more is required, and no more can reasonably be asked, for this planet to remain a place fit for human habitation.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“That was totally different from what the Danes did. When the Germans approached them rather cautiously about introducing the yellow badge, they were simply told that the King would be the first to wear it, and the Danish government officials were careful to point out that anti-Jewish measures of any sort would cause their own immediate resignation. It was decisive in this whole matter that the Germans did not even succeed in introducing the vitally important distinction between native Danes of Jewish origin, of whom there were about sixty-four hundred, and the fourteen hundred German Jewish refugees who had found asylum in the country prior to the war and who now had been declared stateless by the German government.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


“It is quite gratifying to feel guilty if you haven't done anything wrong: how noble! Whereas it is rather hard and certainly depressing to admit guilt and to repent. The youth of Germany is surrounded, on all sides and in all walks of life, by men in positions of authority and in public office who are very guilty indeed but who feel nothing of the sort. The normal reaction to this state of affairs should be indignation, but indignation would be quite risky--not a danger to life and limb but definitely a handicap in a career. Those young German men and women who every once in a while--on the occasion of all the Diary of Anne Frank hubbub and of the Eichmann trial--treat us to hysterical outbreaks of guilt feelings are not staggering under the burden of the past, their fathers' guilt; rather, they are trying to escape from the pressure of very present and actual problems into a cheap sentimentality.”
― Hannah Arendt, quote from Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil



About the author

Hannah Arendt
Born place: in Linden, Germany
Born date October 14, 1906
See more on GoodReads

Popular quotes

“Really, I scolded myself, you should have known that you'd end up in a stone dungeon with no facilities. That's how these things always end up, isn't it?”
― Lilith Saintcrow, quote from Working for the Devil


“Love is finding that the things you like best about yourself are not in you at all, but in the person who completes you”
― Orson Scott Card, quote from Sarah


“work for Shamron, he would have to leave the Vecellio”
― Daniel Silva, quote from The Kill Artist


“All human plans [are] subject to ruthless revision by Nature, or Fate, or whatever one preferred to call the powers behind the Universe.”
― Arthur C. Clarke, quote from 2010: Odyssey Two


“If I had a nickel for every time I almost died, I would have been driving to school in a Ferrari and flying off to Bora-Bora on the weekends.”
― Jennifer Lynn Barnes, quote from Every Other Day


Interesting books

Moon Tiger
(8K)
Moon Tiger
by Penelope Lively
Gone to Soldiers
(3.7K)
Gone to Soldiers
by Marge Piercy
Of Love and Shadows
(20.5K)
Of Love and Shadows
by Isabel Allende
Eaters of the Dead
(30K)
Eaters of the Dead
by Michael Crichton
The King
(40.5K)
The King
by J.R. Ward
Spook Country
(17K)
Spook Country
by William Gibson

About BookQuoters

BookQuoters is a community of passionate readers who enjoy sharing the most meaningful, memorable and interesting quotes from great books. As the world communicates more and more via texts, memes and sound bytes, short but profound quotes from books have become more relevant and important. For some of us a quote becomes a mantra, a goal or a philosophy by which we live. For all of us, quotes are a great way to remember a book and to carry with us the author’s best ideas.

We thoughtfully gather quotes from our favorite books, both classic and current, and choose the ones that are most thought-provoking. Each quote represents a book that is interesting, well written and has potential to enhance the reader’s life. We also accept submissions from our visitors and will select the quotes we feel are most appealing to the BookQuoters community.

Founded in 2023, BookQuoters has quickly become a large and vibrant community of people who share an affinity for books. Books are seen by some as a throwback to a previous world; conversely, gleaning the main ideas of a book via a quote or a quick summary is typical of the Information Age but is a habit disdained by some diehard readers. We feel that we have the best of both worlds at BookQuoters; we read books cover-to-cover but offer you some of the highlights. We hope you’ll join us.