Led by an expert on modern German history, Dr. Finn Ballard, this Conversation will tell the story of one of the most significant trials of the twentieth century. We will examine what a formative moment Eichmann’s trial represented for the 13-year-old nation of Israel, how it became the first platform upon which dozens of Holocaust survivors could testify, and how its broadcasted proceedings riveted the world. And we will look, too, at German Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt’s assessment of Eichmann as embodying ‘the banality of evil.’
Please be advised that this presentation will contain sensitive material and is intended for audiences 18 and older.
On a hot afternoon in May of 1960, a slim, balding, unremarkable middle-aged man known as Ricardo Klement stepped off a bus onto a roughly-paved street recently hewn through fields north of Buenos Aires, returning from his job at an automobile plant. A few paces later, he was approached by a younger man with a shock of black hair, seeming ill-at-ease, who asked in halting Spanish for the time. An instinct seized Klement, and he turned to dash homewards, but too late - he was tackled, wrestled to the ground, and bundled into a car.
One of the most sinister figures in the Third Reich, one of the most culpable perpetrators of the Holocaust, had at last been captured: not Ricardo Clement but Adolf Eichmann. In this Conversation, we will examine the career, the capture, trial, and eventual execution of SS ‘Obersturmbahnnführer’ Eichmann, an attendee at the Wannsee Conference. This man was directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews, particularly from Austria and Hungary.
After V.E. Day, Eichmann made his way to Rome with assistance from the Austrian bishop Alois Hudal in Vatican City. From there, like many Nazi perpetrators, he obtained papers for Argentina. In South America, he lived in much less opulent surroundings than those to which he had been accustomed during the Third Reich, but he was safe, and his family joined him soon thereafter. It was the combined efforts of the chief Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal, the German Jewish judge Fritz Bauer, and the Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad, which brought him eventually to justice.
As you watch this presentation we encourage you to think about:
- What is your reaction to the asylum granted to Eichmann and many other Nazis by various South American countries, particularly Argentina?
- Should other perpetrators have been extradited and brought to trial?
About Your Expert
Finn grew up in Northern Ireland before moving to England to study and later teach in the department of Film and Literature at the University of Warwick. He completed his doctoral study on German folklore and popular cinema in 2012, and has published extensively in the fields of Film Studies and Gender Studies. Since 2008, he has been living and guiding in Berlin. He now works as a historical advisor for television and film productions set in Berlin, particularly during the Weimar era or Third Reich. He is a journalist for the 'Siegessauele', Europe's foremost Queer magazine, and organises events at Berlin's English-language bookstore 'Another Country'.
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This conversation is suitable for ages 18+
60 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.