Corporal Dakota L. Meyer's M.O.H. Citation
Maximum Warrior - Dakota Meyer

Book Review: The Eichmann Trial

This book review is courtesy of Elise Cooper for

Sound familiar? A daring raid was made into another country to seek justice against someone who committed an atrocious act. Fifty years ago Adolf Eichmann was captured and tried by the state of Israel for the genocidal acts he committed. A book by Deborah Lipstadt, The Eichmann Trial is an in depth study of his trial.

Adolf Eichmann, a high ranking Nazi officer, sometimes called “the architect of the Holocaust” was one of it’s’ predominate figures. He was assigned the task of facilitating and managing the logistics of the mass deportation of Jews to ghettos and extermination camps, known as the “Final Solution.” At the conclusion of World War II he fled to Argentina where he hid until he was captured by Israeli secret agents and brought to Israel for trial in April, 1961. He was eventually found guilty and hung in May, 1962.

Another atrocious criminal was captured and killed in May of this year, Osama Bin Laden. While being interviewed about her book Lipstadt made many interesting observations between the Osama Bin Laden and Eichmann raids. Both Israel and America infringed upon another country's sovereignty, even though there was diplomatic relations, to make sure the mission was successfully accomplished. Argentina harbored Eichmann, and Pakistan, harbored Osama Bin Laden. Both these countries could not be trusted with the fear that they would warn the fugitive and allow him to escape. Lipstadt described both:"Bin Laden was capable of genocidal acts and was considered a clear and present danger, while Eichmann committed genocide and was a past threat.”  Another glaring similarity was that both evil doers were buried at sea for the same reason:  neither Israel nor America wanted a gravesite to be used as a pilgrimage site.

Lipstadt gives the reader an overview of the trial in a very compelling fashion.  She points out how Eichmann tried to manipulate the trial and propagandized his views. This is the same fear some in America have regarding a Federal trial of the terrorists. Lipstadt explains Eichmann was able to “dance” around the questions, drawing himself into extended exchanges with the prosecutor which ranged from misinterpreting the truth to reinterpreting it.  She described Eichmann in the book as “a drowning man grasping at straws…that this man would say anything if he thought it would clear him.”

The reader is able to gain a complete understanding of why the Eichmann trial is extremely important, a lesson that should not be lost on Americans today.  According to Lipstadt, “The trial told the story of the Holocaust in all its detail and, in so doing, captured the imagination not just of Israel’s youth and world Jewry, but of the entire world.” 

There are some very interesting points explored in the latter part of the book. This trial for the first time gave the survivors a voice; yet, many people questioned why they did not fight back.  When asked about this, Lipstadt responded that “a lot of people think if it were me I would have fought back.  This is too simplistic.” In the book there is quote that hammers the point home, “No one is authorized to judge them…imagine, if he can, that he has lived for months or years in a ghetto, tormented by chronic hunger, fatigue, promiscuity and humiliation…that he is thrown at last inside the walls of an indecipherable inferno.”

Another point which will definitely get the readers pondering is her contention that the Nazis were normal people who performed evil acts, not people who were psychopaths.  When asked about this Lipstadt commented that “It’s too easy to say they were crazy or barbarians.  It takes the human race off the hook too quickly.”

In The Eichmann Trial Lipstadt artfully allows the reader to grip the legal drama.  Her final chapters are devoted to recounting the aftermath of the trial, including a discussion that centers around Hannah Arendt, hired by the New Yorker Magazine to cover the proceedings. For anyone interested in courtroom drama and who wants to understand how this trial brought the Nazi genocide to the forefront of people’s consciousnesses this is a must read.