“I am not a lawyer or a journalist; I am a writer, the only one to have occupied himself to this extent with Eichmann.” Thus Harry Mulisch characterizes himself. As a most competent writer, he covers the Eichmann trial with an artist’s brush, not a reporter’s notebook.
Criminal Case 40/61, The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
The author was a very young, unknown writer in 1961 when he was sent to cover the trial in Jerusalem by a Dutch weekly publication. It is unfortunate that it took all this time to get the English translation. Now, he is renowned in the Netherlands as a novelist, poet and critic.
Mulisch does much more than cover the trial. With a novelist’s eye, he leads the reader on an exploration of the psyches and philosophies not only of Eichmann, but of the judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and various individuals involved in the trial of the century. He tours Israel, where he learns that he himself is not half Jewish, but all Jewish, because his mother is Jewish. He also visits Berlin, Warsaw and Auschwitz.
He devotes much attention to philosophers, ancient and modern, as he analyzes Eichmann and other prominent Nazis, and exposes them to theories of evil and its manifestations. He concludes that Eichmann, of all the Nazi hierarchy, was most susceptible to following orders, without questioning any aspects of evil consequences.
His thesis that commiting evil is more efficient in an era of advanced technology is even more relevant today than it was during the Nazi era. Index.
Arlyne Samuels a graduate of Brooklyn College, taught and supervised English in New York City for 40 years. She was the coordinator of the book club of the Greater Worcester (MA) Chapter of Hadassah. Arlyne passed away in May 2009 and will be missed by the Jewish Book World team.
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