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As Eichmann told it, the most potent factor in the soothing of his own conscience was the simple fact that he could see no one, no one at all, who actually was against the Final Solution. He did encounter one exception, however, which he mentioned several times, and which must have made a deep impression on him. This happened in Hungary when he was negotiating with Dr. Kastner over Himmler’s offer to release one million Jews in exchange for ten thousand trucks. Kastner, apparently emboldened by the new turn of affairs, had asked Eichmann to stop ‘the death mills at Auschwitz’, and Eichmann has answere that he would do it ‘with the greatest pleasure’ (herzlich gern) but that, alas, it was outside his competence and outside the competence of his superirors – as indeed it was. Of course, he did not expect the Jews to share the general enthusiasm over their destruction, but he did expect more than compliance, he expected – and recieved to a truly extraordinary degree – their cooperation. This was ‘of course the very cornerstone’ of everything he did, as it had been the very cornerstone of his activities in Vienna. Without Jewish help in administrative and police work – the final rounding up of Jews in Berlin was, as I have mentioned, done entirely by Jewish police – there would have been either complete chaos or an impossibly severe drain on German manpower.


By Hannah Arendt

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