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Similarly, the first attempted rebuttal of Arendt's thesis relied on a misreading of this phrase, claiming Arendt meant that there was nothing exceptional about the Holocaust.

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Arendt's subtitle famously introduced the phrase "the banality of evil," which also serves as the final words of the book.

In part, at least, the phrase refers to Eichmann's deportment at the trial as the man displayed neither guilt for his actions nor hatred for those trying him, claiming he bore no responsibility because he was simply "doing his job" ("He did his duty...; he not only obeyed orders, he also obeyed the law." p. Arendt takes Eichmann's court testimony and the historical evidence available, and she makes several observations about Eichmann: Arendt suggests that this most strikingly discredits the idea that the Nazi criminals were manifestly psychopathic and different from "normal" people.

In his 2006 book, Becoming Eichmann: Rethinking the Life, Crimes and Trial of a "Desk Murderer", Holocaust researcher David Cesarani questioned Arendt's portrait of Eichmann on several grounds.

According to his findings, Arendt attended only part of the trial, witnessing Eichmann's testimony for "at most four days" and basing her writings mostly on recordings and the trial transcript.

It was not just that the people of Denmark refused to assist in implementing the Final Solution, as the peoples of so many other conquered nations had been persuaded to do (or had been eager to do) — but also, that when the Reich cracked down and decided to do the job itself it found that its own personnel in Denmark had been infected by this and were unable to overcome their human aversion with the appropriate ruthlessness, as their peers in more cooperative areas had.

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