Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer by Bettina Stangneth

Translated from the German by Ruth Martin

Alfred A Knopf Press (September 2, 2014)

ISBN-10: 0307959678

ISBN-13: 978-0307959676239

608 pages

Genres: History, World War II, Europe, Nazi Germany, Military, Biography, Holocaust

Bettina Stangneth wrote her dissertation on Immanuel Kant and the concept of radical evil. Ever since then she has been researching a theory of the lie and has written widely on anti-Semitism in eighteenth-century and National Socialist philosophy. In 2000 she was awarded first prize by the Philosophical-Political Academy, Cologne, and she received the German NDR nonfiction book award for Eichmann Before Jerusalem in 2011. Bettina Stangneth is an independent philosopher and lives in Hamburg Germany.


There have been many books about Eichmann’s trial and conviction in Israel for the murder of six million Jews. And there have been books about Eichmann while he was the architect Nazi genocide. But few authors have focused primarily upon Eichmann’s escape from an Allied POW camp, his quiet life in Northern Germany and years later his life with his family in Argentina, before he was captured by the Mossad.

To accomplish this, author Stangneth must examine thousands of wide-ranging documents and anecdotal sources, many of which had not yet become available to researchers or the public. She extracts and examines evidence from new sources as well, including Eichmann’s own words about his culpability in the Nazi genocide. This is the essence of Eichmann Before Jerusalem; a profoundly well-researched and authoritative work of scholarship. It is also surprisingly engaging for a work of erudite purpose.

Eichmann Before Jerusalem is a powerful and exceptionally well-researched dissertation revealing the years in which Eichmann had escaped from Allied confinement and then joined with other like-minded Nazis in Argentina, where he and his colleagues were protected by the government from extradition.

One of the key themes of this book is Eichmann’s culpability in the industrial-scale extermination of millions of men, women and children. Stangneth produces ample empirical evidence that Eichmann enjoyed his role as the eradicator of Jews. He was proud of it in the “Sassen Tapes,” where Eichmann expresses regret for not having had the time to exterminate all nine million European Jews.

This does not coincide with the “banality of evil” described by Hannah Arendt. Here we see that Eichmann is no mild-mannered clerk following orders. He relishes in improving efficiencies of scale in the industrial process of killing Jews. Eichmann’s responsibly was to make all of Europe Judenrein (without Jews). He might well have been following orders. But he also helped create orders and through this book we see that he enjoyed improving the process of murdering Jews rapidly.

Stangneth proffers a comprehensive and noteworthy level of research on Eichmann’s life as a POW under the Allies in 1945, his escape to a farm in Northern Germany and later to his life in Argentina under the Peron administration, where escaped German war criminals were treated as valued guests.

Willem Sassen, an Austrian journalist living in Argentina recorded extensive meetings of Nazi leaders who successfully fled Europe and prosecution, including Eichmann, who had escaped from the Allies. This later became known as, “The Sassen Papers.” These “Nazis in absentia” desired to revive the creed of Nazi Germany and to build a better world based upon their reactionary political philosophy. Within the hundreds of hours of recorded voices and from handwritten notes by Eichmann himself, we view their goal – a world without Jews and a fascist state in which these former Nazis could thrive and prosper, as well as pass along Nazi “virtues” to their genetically similar progeny.

Stangneth shows with detailed references that we cannot be fooled into thinking of Eichmann as a simple clerk in the Nazi system, following orders from Himmler and Hitler to murder Jews. She delivers details from the Sassen papers and beyond that prove Eichmann was not only encouraged by his responsibility, but that he had a powerful desire to complete the job worldwide.

Stangneth’s meticulous research and evocative writing style make this book a masterpiece. Her references alone constitute more than 150 pages in this 620-page galley proof. Yet, the book is completely readable by anyone with an interest in Nazi Germany or Eichmann. However, reading a very detailed and lengthy non-fiction book is at times an onerous effort, particularly for visual learners. The addition of maps, pictures, diagrams and other visual tools would enhance readability.

Stangneth’s meticulous research, driving purpose and powerful writing enable us to observe the master of genocide as he escapes prosecution and enjoys recording conversations with like-minded Nazis in absentia. Yet, in the end, Eichmann’s profound urge to be seen, admired and valued as a hero gave him a false confidence in how he would be viewed in a trial and how little time he might have to serve in prison for his nefarious past.

Anyone with an interest in history, WWII, Nazis, Eichmann, the Holocaust, genocide, or the escape of many powerful Nazis to South America will find this book an amazing collection of old and new details. Stangneth has sourced through tens of thousands of documents and countless hours of recordings to produce this empirical book about Eichmann’s escape and his life in Argentina.

Reviewer Charles S. Weinblatt is a retired university administrator and the author of published fiction and non-fiction, including the popular Holocaust novel, Jacob’s Courage.


Jacob’s Courage: A Holocaust Love Story



Jacob's Courage

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Jacob’s Courage chronicles the dazzling beauty of passionate love and enduring bravery in a lurid world where the innocent are brutally murdered.  This is a tender coming of age love story of two young Jews when the Nazi war machine enters Austria.  Follow lovers Jacob and Rachael from their comfortable Salzburg homes to a decrepit ghetto, from there to a prison camp where they secretly become man and wife.  Revel in their excitement as they escape through a tunnel, join the local partisans and fight the Nazis.  Finally ride the fetid terrifying train to Auschwitz.  Stung by the death of loved-ones, enslaved and starved, the young lovers have nothing to count on but faith, love and courage.  From desperation and despair, to unforgettable moments of chaste beauty, Jacob’s Courage examines a constellation of emotions during a time of brutality and genocide.

Gut Wrenching and Heart Rending.  Weinblatt’s characters and characterizations compel the reader to read onward.  At the end of the read one feels both hope and admiration for the human spirit.”  Holocaust Center of Toledo Director, Hindea Markowicz

“And I Cried…  This book brings the Holocaust to life and evokes emotions not found in many history books.  Weaving together a story of love, passion, horror, and history, Weinblatt left nothing out.” Sylvania Historical Society

“A tender, coming of age tale.  This book shows the critical roles that love, determination, and steadfast belief play toward battling one’s demons both physically and mentally.  Jacob’s Courage is ultimately a tribute to the triumphant human spirit.”  Jewish Book World

“Jacob’s Courage follows the young couple from the forced ghettos to the concentration camps and beyond, with several harrowing twists and turns that allow Weinblatt to illustrate the myriad tragedies Holocaust victims faced.”  Toledo Free Press

“The reader sees events through the eyes of archetypal participants… a doctor forced to experiment on his own, a Sonderkommando and a hero.”  The Association of Jewish Libraries

The love story was beautiful and touching. This was such an emotional read. Weinblatt’s vivid descriptions of the time beautifully entwines with the love story. Jacob’s Courage is a powerful story of how love does conquer all. No matter how hard the times are, love and humanity never lose their power.”  My Love Affair with Books.

“The author maintains a driving, relentless pace.  Jacob and his beloved Rachael try to escape the madness of Nazi Germany while maintaining their humanity; in the end, the visionary protagonist comes to echo his Biblical counterpart who fled danger in his own country and saw a life-changing vision in his dreams.”  The University of Toledo Alumni Magazine

 “Weinblatt has painted a picture with words of the horrors of the holocaust.  He has done so in a haunting and evocative way.  Weinblatt has the talent to convey the terror of the Jews.” James E. Vigiletti, Attorney at Law. 

“You see hear and smell…  Hitler’s Third Reich.”  Ron Braithwaite, author 

Jacob’s Courage reminded me of one of the greatest books of the 20th Century, Viktor Frankl’s, Man’s Search for Meaning.  Weinblatt has painted a picture with words of the horrors of the holocaust.  Jacob’s Courage is a personal, real life example of holding on to something greater than one’s self.  The love that grows between Jacob and Rachael sustains them through the horrors of life in a Nazi death camp.  We all could learn a lesson from these two teenagers, coming of age and faced with the greatest existential threat to life.”  Frank Fiore, author

Not since Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place have the horrors of the holocaust been brought to life in such vivid detail.  Charles Weinblatt takes you to Nazi Germany through the lives of two young people whose world is torn apart at a time in their lives when it should be blossoming.  Weinblatt does a masterful job of touching your emotions throughout the book by placing you inside the lives of Jacob and Rachel.  I recommend you pick up a copy of this book and a box of tissues.  Get ready for a good cry and a heart warming ending as Jacob and Rachel find the courage to live.”  Rick Rodgers, author

Weinblatt weaves such detail into his story that the reader comes away with a powerful sense of what life was like for the Jews during this horrible period in history.  Jacob’s Courage may be a work of fiction but it shines a spotlight on the truth. Anyone interested in World War II, the Holocaust, Jewish history, or a love story, should pick up Jacob’s Courage.”  Darcia Helle, author.

“This is an amazing book… one of the best reads that I’ve had in a long while and I literally could not put it down.”  Jodi Shepard.

Charles Weinblatt’s masterpiece is a gripping story… as well as a literary triumph.”  Marvin May.

For a clear and no-hold’s-barred description of life as a Jew in Nazi Germany, you can’t beat Jacob’s Courage, by Charles Weinblatt.”  Jennifer Feddersen, Editor.

“One of the best books ever written about the Holocaust. I’ve read hundreds of books on the subject as both my parents were survivors. However, this one touched my heart in a special way.”  – Toby Faywlowicz Schafer


 Click on your choice of retailer: Texas Tech University Press, or

AmazonBarnes & Noble, Powell’s, Buy.com, iTunes, Smashwords, Mazo Publishers.

Jacob’s Courage is a Kindle book.  Order it here. 

Visit the Facebook fan page for Jacob’s Courage: http://tiny.cc/12avp

Weinblatt is also the author of Book Marketing 101, Runaway Ducksand Job Seeking Skills for Students.  Visit his SMASHWORDS content here 


Jewish Literary Review

Toledo Blade

 Toledo Free Press

 Wandering Educators 


Joey Pinkney

Mike Angley

Morgen Bailey

Paper Dragon

Thoughtful Reflections

Friday Author Interview

BookMarketing BuzzBlog

MUTT Online

Are you interested in the e-preview copy of Jacob’s Courage?  Contact me at csw2@bex.net. Continue reading

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