BANAL EVIL UNDER GLASS:
EICHMANN

By Kate Orland Bere 

Copyright June 2023

 

The glass of your cage, 

Eichmann

bulletproof, polycarbonate, acrylic, 

smooth, cool, clear, framed in white 

but how thick 

and how thick the skin

of the small man posing 

behind that glass, 

you, 

smirking feverishly

mass murderer, butcher, 

administrator of death

banal evil under glass.

 

But were you, 

Eichmann, 

as banal as Arendt imagined, 

a nobody

planning the pathways of the death trains for Jews across Europe

efficiently delivering all to mockery, to mayhem

to misery

to a future with no future?

to death

fanaticism is a devil; 

the evil that lurks in your eyes

furtive in their patterns as you 

glimpsed, in that glass,

 your destiny 

  • at the end of a rope. 

 

Arendt proclaimed you banal 

because you, 

Eichmann, 

refused to think

you performed evil deeds with no ethical 

thought

your gross inhumanity 

like a vast tumour on your 

brain

obsessed only with pleasing others, 

obeying others

obsessed with pleasing 

a madman 

and his disciples of terror

cold, murderous acts

     –     all your choices, all your decisions, 

all your atrocities.

 

You, Eichmann, 

fled

on the run, you hid, 

cloaking yourself in lies

for fifteen years a fugitive 

from justice 

until your luck ran out 

in Argentina –
you never chose that path

 to avoid evil 

however

  • To avoid murder

but only to avoid 

justice.

 

You claimed in that courtroom 

like a sulky boy, 

your innocence, your ignorance, your helplessness

your poor education

behind the glass, your face 

contorting with pride, ego, malignance, 

a fake composure

yet no remorse emerged 

from that face, 

no contrition, no hint of humanity

your primary emotions 

– anxiety – and arrogance.

 

Yours was a crime never before committed. 

six million Jews murdered. 

they lived in that glass, 

they held you. 

entrapped you 

in that glass vise.

 

Just as the Night of Broken Glass 

– Kristallnacht

splintered Jewish confidence 

splintered their reality to a horrific 

surreality

ending any pretention of civility in a German State

so too would your glass cage,

Eichmann

a booth built for your ignominious 

testimony

end your pretentious ruse, 

your foolish plea 

of“not guilty” 

that glass capsule imploding with 

your lies. 

 

No bulletproof glass would save you –

save you from the wrath of your 

victims.

nothing  

not from their brethren

not from their beloved

750 witnesses saw through that glass, 

recognizing a killer

heard you proudly proclaim, 

in a recording, 

dreadful boasts, 

your savage gloating.

millions across the globe 

learned 

of your countless horrors 

six million souls 

surrounded you, 

Eichmann,

banal evil under glass.

 

Pronounced you, 

Eichmann

guilty as charged. 

 

Murder animated your dreams, 

you, Eichmann

the executive administrator of genocide,

the slave of a madman

whose twisted face no longer 

boasted

through a glass cage 

whose twisted brain could envision 

and plan 

the murders of six million humans

yet could not imagine your own end

refusing responsibility

coward, criminal, fool

until that end.

 

Six million souls 

surrounded you 

in your glass cage, 

six million souls 

locked you, in, 

Eichmann, you –

banal evil under glass.