Commentary Magazine


Ethics and Eichmann

To the Editor:

If we follow Professor Oscar Handlin’s thesis as propounded in the August issue of COMMENTARY to its “logical” conclusion, then we would have to assume that the same argument would permit Adolf Hitler to live in peace if he were alive today and residing in a country such as Argentina.

My main purpose in writing, however, is not to be critical of Professor Handlin, for it is rather difficult for me to equate ethics with the heinous crimes committed by Eichmann and his ilk. I am writing primarily to commend Norman Podhoretz and Milton Himmelfarb for their courage and clarity in their articles in the August issue. . . .

Irving Bernstein
Beverly Hills, Calif.

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To the Editor:

If Professor Handlin was distressed by Dr. Jacob Robinson’s article [July] on Eichmann, I am equally distressed by the Professor and the scores of Jewish beatniks who have made a pastime of compiling contemptuous criticism of Israeli management of the Eichmann affair. . . .

I warmly applaud Milton Himmelfarb for his comments on this subject. He indeed belongs “In the Community.” I should, in addition, like to compliment the Editor for his forthright opinion on this subject.

(Dr.) Norman S. Jaffe
Miami, Florida

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To the Editor:

When the Israeli government consented to the abduction of Adolph Eichmann from Argentina, they did so with full knowledge of the risks involved in committing an unfriendly act against a friendly government. . . . To try to give an illegal act the cloak of legality as Jacob Robinson did is an unfortunate defense. . . .

The Israeli government now has Eichmann, which is the most important fact. This should be applauded by anyone who believes the guilty should be punished, but let us not be so naive as to maintain they got him legally or ethically.

Robert S. Leaf
New York City

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To the Editor:

Mr. Norman Podhoretz in his remarks in “The Issue” merely adds confusion to the already complex Eichmann case. . . .

Mr. Podhoretz measures Eichmann’s life against those of six million Jews—and he recoils from what he sees. Surely, the death of six million Jews and the behavior of the Nazis were unprecedented, calling for something unique; but Eichmann is simply a man whose death presumably honors the memory of his victims. This is not unique; it is merely another killing in a time when mass killing is restrained only by the poor “image” it creates. . . .

Paul D. Velde
Milwaukee, Wisc.

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To the Editor:

Although brief, Oscar Handlin’s comment in reply to Jacob Robinson’s article is the best statement on the Eichmann affair that I have yet read. . . .

Morton Mezvinsky
Dept. of History
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan

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