Tuija Parvikko: Arendt, Eichmann and the politics of the past (2008)

Why did Hannah Arendt’s pamphlet, Eichmann in Jerusalem: a Report on the Banality of Evil (1963), cause such an immense debate in the American Jewish community? In this book, Tuija Parvikko reads this debate politically by re-examining the “original” controversy, its background, and recent analyses of the Eichmann trial. She argues that Arendt’s book was intentionally misread because it touched upon issues that were experienced as provocative and sensitive by the Amerian Jewish establishment and the State of Israel. She suggests that the book should not only be read as a political judgement of the Eichmann trial but also of the wartime political culture throughout Europe. She argues that Eichmann in Jerusalem should be understood as one of the first attempts to read the Holocaust politically.