Source Comparison-Comparing the Credibility of the Two Authors #2

Hannah Arendt was an American philosopher and political theorist. She was born in Hanover, Germany and was raised in a Jewish family. In this reading, Arendt reported on the court trial, after Eichmann, one of the major organizers of the Holocaust, was captured. This event took place in Jerusalem after the Holocaust and the report criticized the judges. Here, Arendt’s credibility comes from being a reporter and attending the trial. She said, “directly below the judges are the translators, whose services are needed for direct exchanges between the defendant or his counsel and the court…They are so obviously three good and honest men…that of pretending that they, all three born and educated in Germany, must wait for the Hebrew translation.”  In other words, Arendt thought that the judges and the court were not fully prepared for the trial and were biased since “Moshe Landau, the presiding judge, hardly ever withholds his answer until the translator has done his work of translating.” Arendt argued that trial was not fair to Eichmann since the trial was based on what the Jews had suffered not on what Eichmann had done. The audience of this court was representing the whole world since Germany was involved in World War II. In terms of credibility, I think Arendt’s report was not credible to the Jews in Israel. In the report, Arendt argued that the judges can not fully blame Eichmann for the death of many Jews since he, himself, was just a soldier who was following commands from the Nazis. Furthermore, Eichmann was only a patriot and his ideology came from a government that wanted to win the war and make the country great. For the German audience, I think Arendt was more credible because she represented them and was bringing up the concepts of nationalism and patriotism.


Primo Michele Levi was an Italian Jewish chemist, writer, and Holocaust survivor. In this reading, Levi’s credibility comes from the fact that this text is a memoir from what he experienced during the Holocaust. In this chapter, Levi argues that humans can never be completely happy or unhappy. In other words, he believed that what happened during the Holocaust was horrible but was in the past and people should move on. He said, “today is a good day. We look around like blind people who have recovered their sight, and we look at each other. We have never seen each other in sunlight: someone smiles. If it was not for the hunger.” In this chapter, Levi balances his writing between reporting and poetic writings. Levi’s writings were credible for the Jews since his writings give them a sign of hope to look forward to the next day that will be warmer. Levi described vivid stories of some of the vivid arrivals to the camps who did not have any experience with hunger and how they struggled later on with learning how to eat only a small portion of the bread. He said, “hunger and bread in one’s pocket are terms of opposite signs which automatically cancel each other out and cannot exist in the same individual; and the majority affirm justly that, in the end, one’s stomach is the securest sage against thefts and extortions.” I think Levi was seen credible to the Germans and non-Germans who read his book. The fact that he described the suffering of the people in the camp during the Holocaust makes him more credible than if he wrote it before or after the event.  


I think Arendt was credible in telling us how countries, including Germany, reacted towards members of the Nazi Party after World War II. In addition, since she was Jewish and escaped from the Holocaust, this also makes her credible. However, since she was writing a report in Israel, we don’t know how credible the media and newspapers that shared her report to the world were and whether they would have made some changes to make the report more interesting. On the other hand, Levi was credible by telling vivid stories of Jews suffering in the camp and the consequences of the events. Furthermore, for the new readers, he succeeds in explaining why the Holocaust was a terrible event in Germany. However, for readers who do not know the story behind the Holocaust, this chapter does not explain to the reader why the Holocaust happened but more of what happened, which may make him a bit less credible for some parties. Overall, I would choose Levi over Arendt since he shared his story during the event while he was struggling with the rest of the Jews.