Two days ago was the 9th November. It was the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht or the Night of Shattered Glass. Today is Remembrance Day, a time when we celebrate the end of WWI. It seems fitting to talk about a book showing us the evil that was Adolf Eichmann.
Kristallnacht was government sanctioned violence against Jews in Germany. Synagogues, Jewish homes and Jewish businesses were targeted by the Brown Shirts. They were raided, a number of Jews murdered and then the buildings burned down. Several parts of the world know the horror that is fire; California, the Amazon and parts of Australia are currently suffering from the devastating fires that seem to have become our norm. Fire Brigades the world over are trained to put out fires. Can you imagine being in the Fire Brigade and being told to make sure the fire doesn’t spread to the building owned by non-Jews or Gentiles but not being allowed to put out the fire in the building owned by Jews? How much would that hurt you? That’s one of the things that happened during Kristallnacht. Not that you’d know that from this book as the focus is on Adolf Eichmann rather than Kristallnacht, I’m just making a point.
World War I was considered the Great War, the war to end all wars. That was totally wrong as it turned out. And we continually share stories of the Holocaust telling people to remember so it doesn’t happen again. That is also totally wrong. Wars and genocide still happen today. I would like to go back to the days when the leader of the country lead their people into battle, sometimes they died and the war was over. But at least it would be much shorter and far fewer people would be affected. And then some of the wars wouldn’t happen as the leader would do so much more to avoid actually going to war themselves.
We talk about the Holocaust and say ‘never again’. The problem with saying that is that we’re not putting the ‘never again’ into action. There are places around the world where the rulers are trying to commit genocide on specific cultures. Some of them are doing it quietly enacting laws making things difficult for specific cultures to get jobs or to live in certain areas. Other countries are sending their armed forces to ‘fight evil’ and in the process the civilians are being slaughtered or running to seek refuge in other countries. And the refugees are often not treated as people, instead they are sent away or put in camps which very much resemble the concentration camps from Nazi Europe.
I probably should talk about the book. Eichmann was a horrible man. He was the man who was behind the extermination of the Jews. This book details his life and explains some of how he was able to do what he did. It also goes part way to explaining some of the why he did what he did. It is a chilling read.
At the age of 12 Comer Clarke had already decided he was going to be a journalist and dedicated himself to that task by learning to type and write shorthand by the age of 13. He continued by joining the Western Gazette at the age of 15. Clarke was relentless in his determination to get facts, at one stage ‘he lived in a tent for two weeks in North-west Greenland…to get the story of a British expedition.’ He had almost finished a book about Eichmann when Eichmann was arrested. Clarke took a holiday in order to get the final facts about Eichmann’s arrest.
One thing I’ve found about books written by investigative journalists is that the facts are generally spot on. I read a novel set in WWI written by a journalist. In trying to call him out on some of his facts I found my knowledge was wrong and his facts were spot on. I’m willing to bet the same is true of Clarke and that his facts will be absolutely correct. Bear in mind this book was published in 1960 shortly after Eichmann’s arrest, but before his trial and subsequent hanging.
I took the liberty of looking at Eichmann’s Wikipedia page. I know I shouldn’t be relying on Wikipedia but it’s handy. During Eichmann’s trial he talks about having taken an oath of loyalty to Hitler and that he was only following orders. This book tells a different story. It tells that Eichmann was doing far more than following orders but that he was making it look as if other people were in charge of the operations. It’s almost as if he was trying to cover his tracks from the very first.
I recommend this book if you’re a Holocaust buff. You might have trouble finding it under this title. I’ve found a book called Eichmann: The Man and His Crimes on Goodreads.