In 1961, Adolf Eichmann pled for his life before the Jerusalem District Court in Beit Ha’am and an international television audience. As the world scrutinized a man indicted for crimes against humanity, the former SS lieutenant insisted that he only a “transmitter” of fascism. Nobody believed it. 1 Eichmann pled not guilty by reason of superior orders, claiming that he was innocent because he was a soldier; he was simply following orders. The superior orders plea was the same defense pled at the Nuremburg trials 16 years earlier--it was always the same. As people across the globe watched this trial unfold, the morality of Eichmann became global spectacle and disseminated into the public domain, creating hard questions. If everyone was following orders, then who was responsible for the Holocaust, both legally and morally? Eichmann and the other chief engineers of the Holocaust committed horrible acts against humanity, yet the responsibility for genocide must diffuse beyond its officers and into the populous. How could the German people let this happen?
Josh Klimaszewski is a line cook by day and a scholar by night. He has a completely useless bachelor's degree in art history. His favorite part of the Internet is how Wikipedia does all the citation work for you. He keeps himself entertained by making comics and playing in a punk band with his scuzzy friends.