DAYTON CHRISTIAN JEWISH DIALOGUE

Minutes of Meeting

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Date: June 11, 2000

Location: University of Dayton, Alumni Hall

Meeting Topic: The Banality of Evil; Concept developed by Hannah Arendt

Facilitator: Agnes Hannahs

Hosts: Agnes and Eugene Hannahs

PRESENT: Felix Garfunkel, Chair and Agnes Hannahs, Vice-chair; Abraham Avnit, Navah Avnit, Arthur Auster, Judy Auster, Judith Baker, Joanne Beirise, Bert Buby, Phyllis Duckwall, Shirley Flacks, Erika Garfunkel, Eugene Hannahs, Sophie Kahn, Stephen Kahn, John Magee, Eileen Moorman, Bill Rain, Anne Ringkamp, Ken Rosenzweig, Bob Silverman, Robin Smith, Louise Vera, Kathleen Zamonski.

Felix called the meeting to order at 7:55 PM. On behalf of the Dialogue, Felix thanked Robin for her devoted service as Co-chair; she completed her term prior to the recent election of Dialogue officers. Felix called on first-time attendees of a Dialogue meeting to introduced themselves. Rabbi Abraham Avnit and his wife, Navah Avnit, introduced themselves. Rabbi Avnit has recently assumed the duties of rabbi of Shomrei Emunah Synagogue.

Agnes delivered what she described as an unconventional prayer. She stated that music is the universal language which has the capability to build bridges between people. She described the recent bestowing of a Papal knighthood on the distinguished Jewish musician, Gilbert Levine, after he performed a concert in the Vatican. She also shared with the attendees the musical, poetic visions of Melvin Wine and Joshua Bell. Melvin Wine plays melodic folk tunes on the violin. Joshua Bell is an internationally known violinist who recently performed the Brahms violin concerto with Neil Gittleman and the Dayton Philharmonic. These inspiring musical personalities motivated Agnes to pick up her own violin which she had not played in 4 ½ decades.

Announcements

On behalf of Church Women United, Kathy Zamonski requested that a Jewish member of the Dialogue volunteer to be on the Standing Committee of the organization. The main purpose of Church Women United is to foster understanding among the different faith traditions. Shirley Flacks and Eileen Moorman volunteered to be on the Standing Committee.

Louise Vera stated that she is working on a committee in Columbus to form a state-wide Christian-Jewish network. She also told the attendees about a Christian-Jewish Chautauqua that will be held in Lakeside Ohio (on the shores of Lake Erie) during the period August 20-25. This event is a learning experience for Christians and Jews to learn more about each others traditions. Louise said she feels that members of the Dialogue would get a great deal out of attending the Christian-Jewish Chautauqua.

Ken then introduced the meeting speaker, Agnes Hannahs. Agnes has lived in Dayton for seventeen years. She has a masters degree in linguistics. Previously, she taught English to non-English speakers at ELMI, English Language and Multicultural Institute. She is married to Eugene Hannahs and has eight grandchildren. Agnes has had a long-term interest in the Holocaust and its relationship to Christian-Jewish dialogue.

Presentation by Agnes Hannah1

To present this complex and difficult topic - difficult because of human tragedy involved and for some in this group, personal human tragedy, and because of the very great possibility of misunderstanding - I decided to present to you three people, three people who have, in one way and another, to do with the controversial phrase: "Banality of Evil." The form I am using is essay. And the three people are German born and bred, one Hannah Arendt a Jew, another Martin Heidegger a philosopher, the third Adolf Eichmann a - shall we say -functionary. They played out their parts in early and mid-20th century. Of the three, two, Heidegger and Eichmann, probably never met though they would undoubtedly have heard of each other - but all of them were involved in the events and the conclusions that created the concept of "banality of evil."

Last August 1999, the New York Times editorial page printed an article in which Arendt was quoted. The article described the Eichmann diary which he wrote during his imprisonment in Jerusalem during the early 1960s while on trial for his crimes against humanity in WWII. If there is any doubt in this group as to who Eichmann was, it was the Nazi Eichmann who organized the deportation of millions of Western European Jews eastward to the killing camps.

The New York Times "editorial observer" notes in that article that "Eichmann's memoir echoes what he told his examiners at his trial. Hannah Arendt, who chronicled the trial for the New Yorker magazine, aptly described the 'banality of evil' that Eichmann seemed to represent." The article then quotes Ms. Arendt: "Psychiatrists concurred with Eichmann who stated that he was not a psychopathic killer, nor a personal enemy of the Jews. He was normal - or as one of them said, 'more normal, at any rate, than I after having examined him.'"

Some of you may have read Hannah's New Yorker articles (printed in sections in succeeding months during the early 1960's), or have read her book (available in libraries and bookstores to this day, published in 1964) in which the articles are gathered together. Some of you may have remembered the uproar - not an exaggerated term - that ensued after publication of her description and conclusions of the trial. Books, articles, radio talk, panel discussions mostly in a tone of outrage spewed forth. To none of them did Hannah specifically answer.

WE START WITH HANNAH ARENDT

Before we get into what she wrote about Eichmann and what she means by the term - her term: "banality of evil," we need to understand who she was: where she came from, her life experiences. We need also to understand how she saw herself.

Therefore, I will briefly summarize important points and influences in her life. She was hardly a passive observer of the mid-century European tragedies. She was not a person looking on from a comfortable existence as a native New Yorker living in a well-stocked America. She was one of the lucky Jews, a well-educated German Jew, who managed to flee in the nick of time, with her mother and husband, from Europe in the early 1940's to America. She had experienced first-hand the rabid anti-Semitism in the Europe of the 1930's, and the attendant breakdown of European society.

Hannah was born in 1906 in the East Prussian city of Konisburg (now - as Hannah would put it - by a twist of History, under Russian domination and called Kaliningrad). This city had been for generations a thriving port city on the Baltic Sea, and at the time of her family's residence there, the population included 5000 prosperous and enlightened citizens of Jewish heritage, many of them thoroughly assimilated into German culture. Hannah grew up in a loving extended family, but though her childhood was secure, her father died of a syphilitic "transformation" (as she later called it) when she was five, and she lost a beloved story-telling grandfather when she was six. In her teen-age, edged with sadness, and beyond, Hannah longed for community, a vision of what St. Augustine called "neighborly love." Later, as a stateless European Jew of the 1930's and 1940's, she yearned for "home" and the rock of a deep abiding love.

In her childhood and adolescence, she had not been crushed by the German historical penchant for discrimination against Jews. Occasionally there would be classmate remarks, "Your grandfather killed Jesus," said one within a week of the death of her beloved grandfather. In a television interview in the 1950's she reflected: "you see, all Jewish children encountered anti-Semitism. And the souls of many children were poisoned by it. The difference with me lay in the fact that my mother always insisted that I not humble myself. When my teachers made anti-Semitic remarks . . . I was instructed to stand up immediately, to leave the class, go home, and leave the rest to school protocol. My mother would write one of her many letters to the school, and with that, my involvement in the matter ended completely . . . But if remarks came to me from other children, that did not count. One had to defend oneself. And so, these things did not become problematic for me. My dignity was protected, absolutely protected. And my mother instilled in me that I was never to deny my Jewishness."

THE SECOND OF THE THREE: MARTIN HEIDEGGER

A brilliant student if a melancholic teenager, Arendt studied on her own starting at age 15 (she had been dismissed from gymnasium (high school) for leading a protest against a disliked teacher), and arrived at Marburg University a year before her former classmates. She enrolled at Marburg because she wanted to study under two renowned teachers: the existentialist philosopher, Martin Heidegger, and the theologian, Rudolf Bultmann. A clue to Hannah's character: she met Bultmann before his class in the New Testament started and stated most definitely that "there must be no anti-Semitic remarks" in the class. He gently told her that there would be none, or if so "we two will handle the situation."

It was common at that time (perhaps now?) in Germany for a student to study at one university with notable professors, and then move on to another before settling in to write the Ph.D. thesis. Fortunately for Hannah, during her university years 1924 to 1929, the Weimar Republic was intact, and thus German Jews were living in relative safety. With a more or less stable economy, scholarships were available - and Hannah needed, by this time, scholarship money to stay in university. As happened with many a German family, inherited wealth had been wiped out by WWI and the ruinous inflation that followed.

Thirty-five year old Martin Heidegger, charismatic and a controversial figure indeed, made of his student Hannah, age 18, his mistress - his secret mistress (he was married, had children, and was writing the book, Being and Time, that would establish his reputation in Germany and abroad. Of a strict Catholic upbringing, it would not do to make the relationship public, and certainly would not further his career to divorce his wife.) Hannah, the fatherless child, the searching youngster, the vulnerable teenager, the European Jew uncertain of her place was irresistibly drawn to Heidegger's powerful influence. Awed and adoring, she listened and reflected his views as he worked on his ideas, he the brilliant, creative embodiment of the Geist: spirit, animating principle. For young German Jews at that time, searching for meaning in philosophy with the hope that it would substitute for worn-out religious platitudes, Heidegger showed them a way: he revived and incorporated Greek philosophers into contemporary German thought. Decades later when Hannah reflected on those years she said, "Thinking had come to life again; the cultural treasures of the past, believed to be dead, were being made to speak, in the course of which it turns out that they propose things altogether different from the familiar, worn-out trivialities they had been presumed to say. There existed a teacher; one could perhaps learn to think . . ." And what a teacher! He was the most popular professor at the university because of his innovative philosophical thought and mesmerizing delivery. A student described him as, "a figure out of a romance - gifted to the point of genius, poetic, aloof from both professional thinkers and adulatory students, severely handsome, simply dressed in peasant clothes, an avid skier."

And Hannah, with her wide dark eyes, her comportment, her expansive nature, her brilliance, her awe of him was irresistible . She appeared exotic in a community of the kind of women Heidegger had known: those large blond Brunnhilde's as embodied in his mother and wife. Much later, Heidegger confessed to his wife that Hannah was the animating force behind his book, Being and Time.

The relationship continued on for five years, long after Hannah had left Marburg to go onto Heidelburg to study with Karl Jaspers, the second of the two German philosophers who, between the wars, were revitalizing German philosophy. Heidegger and Jaspers connected philosophy with the genuine problems facing anyone who tries to understand the true nature of his or her existence. They carried on in the tradition of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche as existentialist philosophers. Under Jaspers' guidance, she wrote her Ph.D. thesis on Augustine. A friend remarked, "She wrote on Augustine because of a single sentence, "Love means that I want you to be."

Martin Heidegger went on to another mistress, another Jew it should be noted, though he and Hannah stayed in touch. Then in 1933, Heidegger became rector of Freiberg University (his predecessor was dismissed for refusing to post "The Jew Notice.") At his inauguration and with the encouragement of his Nazi-admiring Prussian wife, this last German Romantic (as Hannah described him), delivered a triumphant address in which he celebrated the Nazi rise to power as "the greatness, the nobility of this national awakening." Even as early as 1929, Heidegger wrote a letter, recently found, to the Ministry of Education cautioning against "the growing Judaisation" in academic circles. In his 1933 address, he said: "We are confronted with a choice, either we will replenish our German spiritual life with genuine native forces and educators or we will once and for all surrender it to the growing Judaisation in a broader and narrower sense." He pictures himself working hand in hand with Hitler to bring about the revitalization of the "volk" by a return to the values of the proud, pure, noble ancestors of the true Germans.

About this time, Heidegger met in a regular collegial dialogue with Karl Jaspers - who had naively believed in the moral goodness of philosophers. In Jaspers home, Heidegger made a point of deliberately insulting his hostess, Jaspers' beloved Jewish wife.

If you wonder why I am talking about Heidegger when the subject is Eichmann, there are some seminal ideas that Hannah absorbed from her experience with Heidegger that later are reflected in her writing - including the writing of the Eichmann book. Let us look at Heidegger's response to Hannah when she wrote him in great distress concerning the rumors (true) that he was excluding Jewish students from his seminars, rejecting Jewish doctoral students, and refusing to consort with Jewish colleagues on his campus, as well as his public rejection of Edmund Husserl, the German Jewish philosopher who aided and abetted Heidegger during the long years as a doctoral student and assistant professor.

Heidegger wrote Hannah back denying the rumors vehemently and sarcastically. He insisted that all the talk about his alleged anti-Semitism had nothing to do with his personal relationships with Jews, including her. "Of course, I have been slandered all during my career," he complains in his letter. "How could I expect any gratitude from my students, including you, Hannah, who I thought was my dear friend."

In her year at Marburg with Heidegger he had encouraged Hannah in the study of German Romanticism with its roots in Rousseau and Goethe and the 18th century Enlightenment. Romanticism indeed! One hundred fifty years after Romanticism's first impulse, German Romanticism had gone wrong, gone demonic!

It is worth noting here that a characteristic that biographers and acquaintances describe about Heidegger was that his eyes shifted back and forth rapidly. He had trouble looking people directly in the eye.

And what did Hannah learn from this? She forever after was disillusioned with intellectuals who refused to think politically--those who remove themselves from life, who looked with condescension on social and political forces swirling around them. She came to feel that deluded academics helped open the door to Hitler.

In Heidegger, the philosophical master, she experienced first-hand what can happen to a brilliant mind when that person lives in a world of illusion and refuses to see what a group such as the Nazis with their Nazi-speak are about.

And being a Jew and feeling close identity with all Jews, she chastised Jews who tried to negotiate with the Nazis. One example was the German Jew named Wiesengrund who hoped to morph into Italian Christian identity by using his mother's maiden name: Adorno. In the Eichmann book, Hannah devotes about 10 pages to a discussion of how Jews helped Nazis in WWII in an effort to save themselves. The strong negative reaction to her book was due in part to these ten pages.

She stated unequivocally: "When one is attacked as a Jew, one must defend oneself as a Jew; not as a German, not as a world citizen, not as an upholder of the Rights of Man."

Politically aware, Hannah aligned herself with her Jewish heritage, and affiliated herself with activist Jewish causes: in Berlin in the early 1930's this meant working for Kurt Blumenfeld and the German Zionists. Because of her affiliation with this group, she was arrested and interrogated for 8 days by a young, newly-minted police officer, who was as yet unsure of his powers. She played dumb and indignant, and he let her go, but she knew that the next arrest would be the last. "Those who stayed in Berlin," she later said, "ended up in the cellars of the Gestapo or in concentration camps. That was such a shock to me that ever after I felt responsible. That is to say, I no longer felt that I could be simply an observer."

She fled to France, and in Paris worked for Youth Aliyah, the Jewish organization which worked to get young Jewish refugees out of Europe and to prepare them for life in Palestine.

While in France as a stateless refugee, she married a German - not a Jew but a Communist - Communists were in as much danger as Jews. A friend described Hannah and Heinrich Blucher together, "They were two shipwrecked people who had left behind their country, friends, families, work, dreams."

Inevitably, the refugees pouring into France caused a backlash. The French government rounded up all "stateless persons." Heinrich was sent first to a camp, Hannah to another camp within the week and was told to bring enough food and water for two days, and a suitcase of a certain weight. Hannah found herself transported, along with 6,356 other women and children internees to Gurs. The internees were treated decently enough with adequate food. The suffering was in not knowing what was going to happen and how they would ever find husbands, sons, fathers again. And what would happen if the SS came. After some weeks, France fell to Germany and in the resultant confusion, Hannah escaped from the camp - but without identity papers. Those who stayed behind, hoping their families would find them there, were eventually sent to concentration camps.

And "by one of World-History's fortunate tricks" she and Heinrich found each other. He was walking the streets of Montauban in southern France looking for someone there who could fix his glasses; she was there on her way to friends who lived nearby when the two of them met by chance in the street.

Then comes the struggle and lines and luck in procuring exit visas from France. Because of her work with Youth Aliyah, Hannah is able to procure the necessary visas for them both. They start the walk over the Pyrenees and because of a temporary relaxation of visa restrictions, they enter Spain without incident. On the Portugal coast, they wait three months for a ship to take them to America. They are among the last to get aboard ships taking refugees away from Europe.

It is 1941. Hannah and Heinrich are in New York City. Neither know any English though Hannah knows Greek, Hebrew, French. Hannah learns English fairly quickly, Heinrich, self-taught, learns more slowly and painfully. At first, Hannah works for a German language newspaper, Aufbau; Heinrich shovels chemicals in a New Jersey factory. Within three years, Hannah is competent enough in English to be hired as an editor of Schocken Books and later as executive director of the Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, which recovers 1.5 million volumes of Hebraica and Judaica, and thousands of ceremonial and artistic objects, and a thousand scrolls of law.

Alfred Kazin describes her at that time, "When I met her in the late 1940's, she was a blazing Jew working round the clock for Jewish Cultural Reconstruction from a dingy little office. Her job was to round up and restore to what remained of Jewish communities in Europe the libraries and religious objects stolen by the Nazis." In the 1950's she made many trips to Europe in the course of this work. And at night she wrote. You will see in the handout that she wasted little time in despair or refugee dislocation. As soon as she could put decent English sentences together, she began her career as a writer of political books - in English, and she became recognized, as a professor at various prestigious universities throughout the land. On the handout sheet you can see what the two of them, Heinrich and Hannah, by perseverance and direction, accomplished during the next thirty years.

No naif was Hannah, no ivory-tower academic, no passive listener, no uninvolved citizen when she was assigned, in 1961, by the New Yorker to go to Jerusalem to cover the Eichmann trial.

THE THIRD PLAYER: ADOLPH EICHMANN

Hannah is in the Jerusalem courtroom. Eichmann is on trial, having been captured and kidnapped from Argentina by Israeli police. Hannah sits in the visitor's section, watching Eichmann and the procedures of the court. The prosecutor and the press have represented Eichmann as a pathological Jew-baiter, a vicious sadist, a monster of depravity.

Hannah, watching him and listening to his testimony, comes to see Eichmann as none of these things. He is far more terrible: "a feeble-spirited clown. From a humdrum life without significance and consequence the wind had blown him into History, as he understood it, namely into a Movement that always kept moving and in which somebody like him could start from scratch and still make a career."

Hannah did not dispute Eichmann's responsibility for the death of millions of Jews, nor did she doubt that he should be hanged. But she looked at him from an existentialist viewpoint: as he was in his life, how he saw himself and his role in his society. It was then that she coined the term: "banality of evil." She saw him as a banal little man, not at all uncommon, a man eager all his life to obey, to please his superiors, and thus to find a place in the prevailing dominant culture. As an unsuccessful child and young person (he never graduated from school) he obeyed his father, in the army he obeyed, and when he joined the Nazi party he found that by obeying superiors he fit in and could get someplace.

In the courtroom, 16 years after the fall of Germany, he regarded Hitler's edicts as unquestionable law, could still feel the annoyance when colleagues had put difficulties in his way during his organization of "evacuations and emigrations" (Nazi-speak for deportations to concentration camps). In the courtroom, he used the euphemisms and clichés the Nazis provided him with to gloss over the enormity of what he had done.

If there was moral unease, it was dispelled by remembering Hitler's warning that as a loyal servant of Hitler helping bring in the 1000 year Reich, there would be discomforts, and sacrifices to be made, and continuous war.

Eichmann kept himself as much as possible from the killing camps. He did visit them but never near the gas chambers. He never watched the selection of those who were fit for work, those who were not, he never watched mass executions.

Two examples in his court testimony will place his mindset: at Theresienstadt, the model camp that the Nazis set up as a showcase for visiting Swiss Red Cross officials. Eichmann inquires of a Jew incarcerated there, someone he had known in childhood, after his welfare. The Jew expresses his bewilderment at being there and his deep unhappiness. Eichmann listens attentively and with a great display of kindliness towards the old man, he commands the camp guards to reassign the old man from hard labor to sweeping pathways. And when he is tired, the camp inmate is to be allowed to sit on a particular bench. He tells the court that when he left, he felt good: he knew he had been kind to an old Jew, one he had once known.

The other example is his visit to Auschwitz which spreads over 18 miles. Inadvertently, he witnesses a sight that upsets him. It will not be described here. In the court, he says, "I hardly looked, I could not; I could not; I had had enough . . . I was much too upset. For me this was monstrous. I am not so tough as to be able to endure something of this sort without any reaction . . . if today I am shone a gaping wound, I cannot possibly look at it. I am that type of person so that very often I was told that I couldn't have become a doctor. I still remember how I pictured the thing to myself, and then I become physically weak, as though I had lived through some great agitation. Such things happen to everybody, and it left me with a certain inner trembling."

Agnes interjected, "BANALITY OF EVIL! Indeed!"

We go on: In the book, 312 pages, Hannah uses about 10 to describe, not with tact nor subtlety, the actions of the Jewish Councils. She makes it clear that the Jewish people themselves are not implicated in the misdeeds of the Jewish Councils. But she brings the subject up because she wants to "write the truth about a collapse of the human spirit in order to praise and encourage its triumph" and to illustrate how, when a person wills it, the loss of individual conscience can come about in a man like Eichmann, so eager to obey and conform to the prevailing ethos. After meeting with Jewish Councils, specifically those in Budapest and Vienna, Eichmann claims that his conscience has been soothed by "the simple fact that I could see no one, no one at all, who actually was against the Final Solution." Hannah writes, "Jewish councils aided the Nazis: they compiled lists of persons and their property, secured money from the deportees to defray the expenses of their deportation and extermination, kept track of vacated apartments, supplied police forces to help seize Jews and get them on trains, and handed over the assets of the Jewish community." All of this was in the hope that they themselves would be saved.

The reception to Hannah's book was outrage. A Jew - who had escaped the 1940's Europe - was writing to the world about Jewish behavior in the desperate times during the later Nazi rule. In the reaction to the articles and the book, the outrage took on a life of its own over a period of several years. She was accused of being a Jew-hater, a self-hater, an Israeli-hater and people who had not read her Eichmann essay, or had read only excerpts, listened to other people's reactions and plunged right in to the fray. She lost friends over this book.

Why the reaction? You may have some ideas. One may have been that Europeans, Americans, including Jews, at that time had not come to terms with the Holocaust. No one talked about it (when was it named as "holocaust"). People in the aftermath of the war, including refugees, wanted and needed to get on with their lives, store the experiences and assessments in the back of their minds, and leave behind the pictures, the ghettos, the poverty, the pogroms. Hannah's forthright account of her view on Eichmann, as well as her short discussion of some of the European Jewish Councils, stirred up a lot of unfinished business.

Finally: would Hannah have written differently if she had fully comprehended the reaction? Biographers, colleagues, friends, students say "no" she would not have. She never joined in on panel discussions, she never wrote rebuttals, she did not defend herself. She spoke what she saw as the truth, and spoke it forthrightly in her pungent and distinctive writing style. A biographer wrote: "She wanted both the Jewish people and the rest of the world to face that truth, and to understand it; for understanding, she was sure, was the first step in preventing anything similar from ever happening again."

I end this paper. Much much more could have been read and inwardly digested by me, and much more could have been commented on. In no way do I feel the subject is closed or the study is definitive. It isn't. I present only a small fraction of what could have been said, especially in reference to Eichmann, to Hannah's reaction to the trial, and to aftermath. I am not here to defend any of the three persons or their views. I present them to you, briefly to be sure, to do with them what you will.2 Agnes's formal presentation concluded at 8:55 PM.

Discussion

Shirley said that Holocaust commemoration did begin in the 1950's. Steve said he is unsure what is meant by banality of evil. Agnes replied that Arendt saw in Eichmann not a monster but a cog in the wheel. It was more important to Eichmann to be a part of the grand Nazi plan. Louise said that Arendt's treatment of the "bureaucracy of evil" is a feature of modernism and post modernism. In bureaucracies, ordinary people have extraordinary control over other people.

Rabbi Avnitz said that this discussion touched his heart and touched his family. He said that he lost in the Holocaust his grandmother and aunts and uncles, all from his mother's side. He observed that Eichmann's desire to get some recognition with the Nazi movement does not make him a good man or excuse the evil he committed. In Judaism, if a person saves one person, it is as if he saved the entire world. And if a person kills one person, it is as if he killed the entire world. In Judaism, even the divinely arranged killing of people, such as the drowning death of the Egyptian soldiers who were chasing the freed Hebrew slaves, is treated with great remorse.

Felix addressed the culpability of Eichmann. Even though he did not look evil, he was indeed evil. Felix also stated that the Jewish Councils did not always act in an immoral way by collaborating with the Nazis in their plans for Jewish extermination. Agnes recommended that people read Arendt's books and come to their own conclusions. Robin said she recently read a novel that involved the banality of evil. Eileen defined the banality of evil as what happens when an ordinary person gets caught up in an evil system. Ordinary people can do monstrous things. Eileen's conclusion is that people must always ride herd on themselves. Arthur reacted to referring to Eichmann as just a cog in the wheel. The term cog in this context is demeaning to the victims. Eichmann had to develop complex procedures that carried out the Holocaust. Agnes replied that the term cog was Agnes's own word, not Arendts' word. Steve talked about the Goldhagen concept of ordinary people doing horrible things.

The meeting adjourned at about 9:30 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Ken Rosenzweig, Secretary

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1 Agnes distributed a handout to the attendees which contained poetry by Hannah Arendt, photographs of her, an annotated bibliography of her writing, and other information about her. A copy of this handout may be obtained by e-mailing Agnes or telephoning her; see Agnes's contact information on page 1 of these minutes.

2 Hannah Arendt: Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963). THE controversial book of Hannah Arendt's professional career. The Nazi war criminal, in charge of the extermination of European Jews, was seen by Arendt as an ambitious bureaucrat who epitomized "the fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality of evil."

Jacob Robinson, And The Crooked Shall Be Made Straight: The Eichmann Trial, The Jewish Catastrophe, and Hannah Arendt's Narrative (1965). This is a page-by-page rebuttal to Eichmann in Jerusalem.

Norman Podhoretz, Ex-Friends: Falling Out with Allen Ginsberg, Lionel & Diana Trilling, Lillian Hellman, Hannah Arendt, and Norman Mailer (1999). Despite 'falling out' with Hannah Arendt over Eichmann in Jerusalem, the author describes her thus: "I associate her unshakably solid footing in common everyday reality ... with her womanliness--and Hannah, though not physically attractive by conventional standards, was in every sense a very womanly woman indeed."

Melvyn A. Hill (ed.), Hannah Arendt: The Recovery of the Public World (1979). Each of the contributors views Arendt's work as controversial ... this book is meant to clarify the controversial quality in Hannah Arendt's thinking.

Anthony Grafton, "Arendt and Eichmann at the Dinner Table," The American Scholar (Winter, 1999). This is a discussion over a series of family dinners in the 1960's at which Hannah Arendt and her Eichmann book are discussed by Grafton's parents.