Introducing a (60 Minutes) story about Nazi Adolf Eichmann, a principle architect of the Holocaust, (Mike) Wallace posed a central question at the program’s outset: “How is it possible…for a man to act as Eichmann acted?...Was he a monster? A madman? Or was he perhaps something even more terrifying: was he normal?”
Normal? The executioner of millions of Jews normal? Most self-respecting viewers would be outraged at the very thought.
The most startling answer to Wallace’s shocking question came in an interview with Yehiel Dinur, a concentration camp survivor who testified against Eichmann at the Nuremburg trials. A film clip from Eichmann’s 1961 trial showed Dinur walking into the courtroom, stopping short, seeing Eichmann for the first time since the Nazi had sent him to Auschwitz eighteen years earlier. Dinur began to sob uncontrollably, then fainted, collapsing in a heap in the floor a sthe presiding judicial officer pounded his gavel for order in the crowded courtroom.
Was Dinur overcome by hatred? Fear? Horrid memories?
No; it was none of these. Rather, as Dinur explained to Wallace, all at once he realized Eichmann was not the godlike army officer who had sent so many to their deaths. This Eichmann was an ordinary man. “I was afraid about myself,” said Dinur “… I saw that I am capable to do this. I am…exactly like he.”
Wallace’s subsequent summation of Dinur’s terrible discovery – “Eichmann is in all of us” – is a horrifying statement; but it indeed captures the central truth about man’s nature.
Charles Colson, Who Speaks for God?