“Eichmann à Buenos Aires” (El desafortunado), by Ariel Magnus, translated from Spanish (Argentina) by Margot Nguyen Béraud, L’Observatoire, 204 p., € 20, digital € 15.
During his resounding trial in Jerusalem in 1961, Adolf Eichmann (1906-1962) was placed in a glass cage. Less for protection than for fear of letting the people in the room breathe the same stale air as him, Ariel Magnus argues in his second novel, Eichmann in Buenos Aires. This air, the Argentine writer and journalist, born in 1975, nevertheless chose to soak in it, despite his reluctance as a grandson of an Auschwitz survivor. And especially in spite of those of his father, who feared that by dedicating a book to him, his son would write “Something positive” on the architect of the ” final solution “.
May he be reassured. Ariel Magnus, whose Jewish family fled Nazi Germany for Argentina, succeeded in this challenge of plunging into the privacy of the dignitary of the IIIe Reich without ever falling into empathy or, conversely, indulging in epidermal disgust. Based in particular on the writings of Eichmann, the novelist retraces the last eight years (out of ten) spent by the fugitive in Argentina under the name of Ricardo Klement, between July 1952, when he brought in his wife and children, and 1960, date of his incredible kidnapping by the Mossad. He had previously been exposed by his own son’s girlfriend, Klaus.
In charge of prospecting for a hydroelectric plant in Tucuman, breeder of Angora rabbits in the town of Joaquin Gorina, employed at Mercedes-Benz in the capital … Magnus recounts the banal life of this “Unemployed deportologist”, who had to rely on the solidarity of former Nazis to feed his family. Under his pen, Eichmann appears as a man without charisma or ambition, an expert in the art of lying, including with those close to him. A being imbued with himself who, far from denying his involvement in the Shoah, never ceased to claim his role in the deportation of those whom he continued to regard as “Enemies of Germany”.
A being aware of his actions
Contrary to the philosopher Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), who saw in Eichmann a stupid man, incarnation of the banality of evil, unlike, also, those who made him a simple monster, Magnus, allowing himself to probe his psychology, describes him as a being guided by racial hatred and very aware of his deadly acts: “A mediocre who succeeded. A pretty lively freak. A complex thirsty for revenge. A theoretical anti-Semite but without an instruction manual. A turd that has learned to hide its scent. A fanatic conquered by selfishness. “
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