Tag: Adolf Eichmann

Hannah Arendt and Philip Roth: Parallel Lives

In the second half of the twentieth century, a writer of uncommon gifts travels to Israel. There, the writer, who is Jewish and fiercely intellectual, attends the trial of a Nazi war criminal. When the trial’s over, the writer writes a book about it. No, it’s not Hannah Arendt. It’s Philip Roth. Arendt and Roth led oddly parallel lives. Both were denounced by the Jewish establishment—at roughly the same time, in remarkably similar terms—for pieces they had written for The New Yorker. Long before Portnoy’s Complaint, Roth antagonized the Jewish community with his short story, “Defender of the Faith,” which appeared in the magazine in 1959. Describing the controversy, Judith Thurman writes: It sparked a violent reaction in certain quarters of the Jewish establishment. Roth was vilified as a self-hating Jew and […]

Primo Levi, “For Adolf Eichmann”

Galleys of the three volumes of The Complete Works of Primo Levi arrived in the mail today. I’ve got my summer reading plans. This poem jumped out at me, from volume 3. For Adolf Eichmann The wind runs free across our plains, The live sea beats on our beaches. Man feeds the earth, the earth gives him flowers and fruit: He lives in torment and joy, he hopes and fears, he engenders sweet children.   …And you have come, our precious enemy, Abandoned creature, man encircled by death. What can you say now, before our congregation? Will you swear by a god? What god? Will you leap joyfully into the grave? Or will you grieve the way the busy man grieves at last, Whose […]

Saskia Sassen…Willem Sassen…Adolf Eichmann

Marc Parry has a poignant, almost haunting story in the Chronicle of Higher Education about Saskia Sassen, the Columbia sociologist and urban theorist, whose father was Willem Sassen. If you’ve read Bettina Stangneth’s Eichmann Before Jerusalem—or are a close reader of Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem—you’ll know that Willem Sassen was a Dutch Nazi who joined up with the SS. More important, he was part of a circle of Nazis in postwar Argentina, where he led a series of interviews with Adolf Eichmann, in which Eichmann outs himself as a committed anti-Semite and firm believer in the Final Solution. The Sassen interviews have always been a part of the Eichmann/Arendt story, but they have become especially important in the last few […]