Eichmann: the controversy of justice

You would have thought that bringing Nazis to justice would have been something the world could agree on, but the Mossad’s capture of the infamous Nazi Adolf Eichmann prompted a fiery international debate that proved otherwise. Noam Weissman explores the truth about the stranger-than-fiction capture of one of the architects of the Final Solution and debates the ethical and moral questions raised by Eichmann’s trial and subsequent execution by the State of Israel.

  • Review
  • Discussion
  • Activities
  • Reflection
  • Further Learning
  1. Who coined the phrase “the banality of evil” and what does it mean?
  2. Why were some countries and individuals upset about Eichmann’s capture?
  3. What impact did the Eichmann trial have on Israeli society?
  4. In what country did Eichmann reside after the Holocaust?
    • Venezuela
    • Argentina
    • Germany
    • Austria
  5. Which famous Nazi hunter was instrumental in finding Eichmann?
    • Simon Wiesenthal
    • David Ben-Gurion
    • Efraim Zuroff
    • Jacob Blaustein
  1. Israel decided, to the chagrin of some American Jewish leaders, to try Eichmann in Israel despite the fact that his crimes took place in Europe before Israel even existed. What do you think of this decision? Explain why it made sense to do it in Israel, and why it might have made sense to do it in Europe.
  2. In capturing Eichmann abroad and smuggling him into Israel, Israel technically broke international law. Is this justified in light of what Israel accomplished? Can breaking the law be OK under certain circumstances?
  3. In his testimony, Eichmann claimed he was just doing his job, like everyone else. Evidence proved otherwise and he was executed. But his claim begs the question: Should a person be punished for following orders, or only if one planned the results? Does intention matter?
  4. In deciding to try Eichmann in Israel, David Ben-Gurion had a clear educational objective, saying, “Israeli youth should learn the truth of what happened to the Jews of Europe between 1933 and 1945.” Why do you think this was such an important lesson to Ben-Gurion, who himself did not go through the Holocaust?
  5. For many Holocaust survivors, the Eichmann trial gave voice to their experiences and opened up the floor for them to recount their personal horror stories. Previously, the Holocaust had been a taboo topic in nascent Israel, which was set on creating a new, invincible Jew. Are there any topics in your life that you feel are “taboo”? What are they and why are they not spoken about?
  1. Lead a podcast listening party. Download our PDF Guide.
  2. Play our Eichmann Kahoot!

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