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callee 10 September 2015 09:21 PM

We Are All Eichmann
In the hazy fog of my memories from highschool is a lesson that taught about the famous Eichmann trial in Jerusalem. According to my memory, there was a Jewish survivor brought to the stand to testify. He was expected to give a first hand account of the horror of the holocaust - a kind of victim impact statement, really - to thereby drive home Eichmann's guilt. Instead, having become aware of the universal depravity of humankind and realising that no single one of us is really that superior to another, he gives a heartfelt talk that ends with him tearfully exclaiming "we are all Eichmann".

I was thinking of that quote today, and was provoked to track it down, and was surprised at how hard it was. I can find references to a philosopher talking about how "we are all eichmann's sons" but it's not at all the quote or the context of my memory.

In fact, the only solid reference I can find to this quote being used in the way I was taught is... an archived post on this forum from 2005 written by me! Unfortunately I don't give my source.

The more I've looked into it though, the more it sounds very fake to me. Almost like glurge.

So how about it: did my highschool history teacher lead me astray, or is this a real quote and my google-fu just sucks?


GenYus234 10 September 2015 09:45 PM

This site is supposed to have the complete transcripts of Eichmann's trial. They are dividied up into multiple files per witness, so it might take a bit, but you can try searching there.

callee 11 September 2015 12:14 AM

Thanks. Been making some progress.

I have found one promising looking example of the quote in a book called
"The Psychological Mystique" by a guy named Stewart Justman. He has the quote exactly as my OP and he attributes it to Hannah Arendt. I had already checked her well known "Eichmann in Jerusalem" and not found it. Unfortunately, the google book preview of Stewart's book does not give the context or source of the quote, and a google book search of all of Arendt's books does not turn it up, so I'm not sure what the Stewart quote does for me.

Meanwhile, while I did not find the exact quote, I did find the exact context in the writings of Chuck Colson. He was, of course, the Nixon adviser who went to jail for watergate, became an evangelical, and started a prison ministry as well as work tirelessly to convince the general public that christianity and american conservatism were the same thing.

He has published the story as I remember it in the OP several times in several books. Here's a concise version from "Being the Body"

In the preview though I can't see Colson's source either.

So I'm not sure whether:
a) it's not true, Colson has made this up
b) it is exactly true, and was just a real life glurgarific moment
c) it has a kernel of truth which Colson has glurgified.

I'm leaning towards c, but open to b. Probably not a.

Meka 15 September 2015 04:27 PM

Googling "Yehiel Dinur 60 Minutes" gives numerous references to the "Eichmann is in all of us" quote, but unfortunately neither a transcript nor video of the episode in question so far. I did find this video of his actual testimony, so I can confirm that he did indeed faint while on the stand. It doesn't happen right as he enters the courtroom though - he gives several minutes of what is frankly some fairly rambling at and at times bizarre testimony before collapsing.

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