Featured Guest Lecture by Henry Rousso

Thursday, 8 November 2012 • 4-5p.m.
Glasscock Center Library, Room 311, Glasscock Building
The lecture is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.

“Eichmann in Jerusalem: No Ordinary Defendant”


Institut d’histoire du temps présent (IHTP, Paris) and Visiting Professor at Yale University

Henry Rousso is senior research fellow at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, and member of the Institut d’histoire du temps présent (IHTP, Paris), that he directed from 1994 to 2005. He coordinates the European Network on Contemporary History (EURHISTXX), sponsored by the CNRS and a dozen of European Institutions and Universities. He is currently visiting professor at Yale University (Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism).

His works focus on the history and memory of traumatic pasts, especially World War II. His main books include: The Vichy Syndrome. History and Memory in France since 1944 (Paris: 1987, Cambridge: 1991);Vichy, An Ever-Present Past, with E. Conan (Paris: 1994, Hanover: 1998); The Haunting PastHistory, Memory, and Justice in France (Paris: 1998, Philadelphia, 2002); Stalinism and Nazism (Ed.) (Bruxelles: 1999, Lincoln, 2004); Vichy. L’Événement, la mémoire, l’histoire (Paris: 2001); Le dossier Lyon III. Le racisme et le négationnisme à l’université Jean-Moulin (Paris: 2004); Le Régime de Vichy (Paris 2007, Munich, 2009); Juger Eichmann, Jérusalem, 1961 (Paris,2011); and La dernière catastrophe.L’histoire, le présent, le contemporain (Paris, 2012, forthcoming).

The trial that opened in Jerusalem on 11 April 1961 has spawned countless historical, philosophical and psychological debates and analyses for half a century. Except for a few historical works, the literature on the topic wavers between an obsessive quest for the nature of the Evil lurking within Eichmann, in the wake of Arendt’s analyses, and the repetitive insistence on the role of the Shoah victims who testified during the trial — granted, an essential point but one that is today largely covered by the historiography. Those divergent views reflecting the Shoah historiography’s dilemma between whether to focus on the executioner or the victim ended up masking how much the trial’s procedural and judicial dimension was key to understanding its underpinnings. The lecture is based on a research made for an exhibition, held in Paris, at the Mémorial de la Shoah, in 2011. According to new documents, it shows how Adolf Eichmann,despite his apparent ordinariness was an unusual defendant whose active participation in his own defense deeply influenced the course of the trial — an aspect overlooked in the historiography — and partly accounts for its success.

Lecture supported in part by the France/Texas A&M University Institute (Centre Pluridisciplinaire) and the Department of International Studies at Texas A&M University.