Are all human beings capable of murder? We are all quite capable to some degree, however when can someone be held accountable for such an act? Should it not be when the blood shed from the victim is on the hands of the suspect in question? Eichmann in Jerusalem, is the book about the trial of Adolf Eichmann, a German, “committed of crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity and war crimes during the whole period of the Nazi regime” (Arendt 1994: 21). And in this book, it discusses Eichmann’s role during the Holocaust and whether or not he should be seen as guilty or innocent in regards to the murder of the Jewish people, all in the opinion of Hannah Arendt, the author. Murder is the act of killing. The key word here being the “act,” meaning the physical act of doing something. So, if Eichmann is accused of murder, the act of killing, would he have had not to have committed the physical act itself? I believe so.
Eichmann is not a very clever person. For one, according to Arendt, he did never graduate high school and two, was incapable of thinking for himself. “Eichmann’s inability to speak coherently in court was connected with his incapacity to think, or to think from another point of view” (Arendt 1994: xiii). It is then stated that “…what he said was always the same, expressed in the same words. The longer one listened to him, the more obvious it became that his inability to speak was closely connected with an inability to think, namely to think from the standpoint of somebody else” (Ibid 1994: 49). Arendt argues this point of view quite well and in regards to my own view of Eichmann, I feel obliged to agree with her. Eichmann, by no means is intelligent. As I see it, he is simply a follower. He even claims on several occasions that he was merely following orders. Any sensible man knows the difference between right and wrong and whether or not an order should be followed if of all things it results in the murder of an individual or individuals. However, is he responsible for the murder of 6 million Jews, to the same extent as Hitler? I do not think so. He may have contributed to their death in another way, but he certainly was no killer.“I never killed any human being . I never gave an order to kill either a Jew or a non- Jew; I just did not do it” (Arendt 1994: 23). Arendt goes as far as to say that Eichmann, is not even a monster. A word that most individuals would use to describe a murderer. “Despite all the efforts of the prosecution, everybody could see that this man was not a ‘monster’, but it was difficult indeed not to suspect that he was a clown” (Arendt 1994: 54).