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April 03, 1987 - Image 43

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-04-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

What struck many was the
abstractness, not the con-
creteness, of Eichmann's
crime. Historians and other
writers became fascinated by
the distance of the killers
from the killed. Gerald Fteit.
linger: "Like the aerial
bomber, the bureaucrat does
not see his kill." Raul Hilberg
"The destruction of the Jews
was a total process, com-
parable in its diversity to a
modern war, a mobilization,
or a national reconstruc-
tion . . . an alignment of
agency after agency in a
machinery of destruction."
Karl-Dietrich Bracher: "Here
we are faced by the complete-
ly impersonal, 'bureaucratic'
extermination of a people
classified as a species of sub-
humans . . . "
Of course the organiza-
tional analysis of the Nazi
genocide holds a large part of
the truth. It certainly
broaches what was new about
the Nazi atrocity. But the

In lirael some have
argued against
Demjanjuk's trial
because he was a
cog. They do not
understand that
they are making the
argument for the
trial.

fascination with Nazi blood-
lessness came to infect the
study of it, as in Ernst Nolte's
repulsive description of the
Holocaust as "nothing else
[than the] solving of problems
connected with industrializa-
tion by means of disposing of
a large group of human be-
ings.' An Eichmannesque
spirit clings to such words.
Nothing Eichmannesque
clings to Hannah Arendt's
Eichmann in Jerusalem. But
it was Arendt who made the
bureaucratic nature of
• Modern genocide a common-
place with her notion of "the
banality of evil." According to
Arendt, Eichmann "was not
Iago and not Macbeth" (for
the New York intellectual
nothing is too large to be cap-
tured by a reference to
literature) and "had no
motives at all:' What -dis-
tinguished Eichmaim, finally,
was "remoteness from real-
ity:'
The Eichmann trial left
Eichmann, then, as the type
of the Nazi. That is the type
that the Demjanjuk trial
must qualify. Although Dem-
janjuk seems less well-
defined, less well-articulated,
than Eichmaim, he seems
also more vivid, more famil-
,

iar. No remoteness from real-
ity here. "Ivan" was the man
who looked the innocents in
the eyes, who laid his hands
on their flesh, who listened to
their screams — the man for
whom killing Jews was a so-
cial act, not an administrative
procedure. The Eichmanns
could not have destroyed the
Jews of Europe without the
Demjanjuks. The men with-
out motives were powerless
without the men with
motives. Without men such
as "Ivan;' all the technology
and all the administrative ap-
paratus in the world would
have availed the Nazis
nothing. What was genocide
in the case of Eichmann was
homicide after homicide after
homicide in the case of "Ivan"
and his colleagues, into the
thousands and tens of
thousands.
In Israel some have argued
against Demjanjuk's trial
because he was a cog. They do
not understand that they are
making the argument for the
trial. In the death camp
machine, there were many
cogs, but there were no mere
cogs. Tie inhumanity of
these murders has been plain
for years. It is time to see
their humanity, which is what,
the survivors still see.
(Humanity meaning more
often human than humane.)
The survivors in the court-
room will have to persuade
the judges that Demjanjuk is
"Ivan,' as they already have
done in American 'court-
rooms. It is fitting that a trial
that may result in the correc-
tion of memory should turn
so completely upon the
reliability of memory.

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Reprinted by permission of The
New Repuhlic. Copyright 1987 The

New Republic Inc.

Hussein Plans
U.S Visit

Washington (JTA) — The
United States is "looking for-
ward to a visit later this year"
by Jordan's King Hussein,
who is sending two of his top
advisors to Washington, the
State Department announced
last Monday.
Jordanian Prime Minister
Zeid Rifai and Foreign Mini-
ster Tither Masri will meet
with Vice: President George
Bush, Secretary of State
George Shultz and Secretary
of Defense Caspar Weinber-
ger.
Hussein turned down an in-
vitation to visit the U.S. early
this year reportedly because
of anger over of the Reagan
Administration's sale of arms
to Iran. Jordan is a supporter
of Iraq in the Gulf wan

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