35. Nazi on Trial 1: Can “just following orders” justify horrific crimes?

35. Nazi on Trial 1: Can “just following orders” justify horrific crimes?

By BBC Radio 5 Live

Our story starts in Argentina in 1960. A middle-age man is on his way home. As he gets off the bus, hooded men grab him and shuffle him into a van.

The man is Adolf Eichmann and the hooded men are Israeli intelligence officers. They smuggle him to Israel to stand trial for his role in the Holocaust. As a prominent Nazi in Hitler’s Third Reich, Eichmann organised the deportations of millions of Jewish people to death camps. He gets the chilling nickname “The Architect of the Holocaust”. The trial was broadcast globally and onlookers watched on in horror and disbelief as the crimes of a seemingly normal man were lay bare.

On this episode of Bad People, Dr. Julia Shaw and comedian Sofie Hagen dissect Eichmann’s morally dubious defence that he was “just following orders” and was acting within Nazi law. And they unpick the controversial research that led scientists to question whether all humans are capable of great harm under the right circumstances.

This episode includes audio from the short series of educational films, The Eichmann Show, created for the BBC

Warning: This episode contains strong language and descriptions of violence

CREDITS Presenters: Dr Julia Shaw and Sofie Hagen Producer: Louisa Field Assistant Producer: Simona Rata Music: Matt Chandler Editor: Rami Tzabar Academic Consultants for The Open University: Lara Frumkin and James Munro Commissioning Assistant Producer: Adam Eland Commissioning Executive: Dylan Haskins

Bad People is produced in partnership with The Open University and is a BBC Audio Science Production for BBC Sounds.


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