Banality of Evil

Posted inThe Daily Heller
Thumbnail for Banality of Evil

By: Steven Heller | April 15, 2010

Walter Haensch at the Nuremberg Trials

Hannah Arendt coined the term “banality of evil” in the 1963 book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, to characterize the bureaucrats and “ordinary people” who carried out the Holocaust. I recently came across a collection of mug shots of members of the infamous German SS Einsatzgruppen killing squads. These pictures were taken by U.S. Army photographers on behalf of the Office of Chief of Counsel for War Crimes (OCCWC) during Nuremberg Trial IX (Einsatzgruppen Trial / Einsatzgruppen-Prozess). Look at these faces closely: Each a mass murderer who was just following orders.

Erwin Schulz at the Nuremberg Trial
Walter Blume at the Nuremberg Trials
Erich Naumann at the Nuremberg Trials
Ernst Biberstein at the Nuremberg Trials