Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Thinking Evil in Dark Times: Bonhoeffer/Eichmann

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Thinking Evil in Dark Times: Bonhoeffer Eichmann

Who this event is for

  • Everyone


Union Hall, John Henry Brookes Building, Headington Campus, Gipsy Lane site


You are a German citizen living under the Nazi regime led by Adolf Hitler—do you resist or comply? Featuring dramatic monologues and explanatory interludes this event introduces the audience to two real-life historical characters: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Christian theologian, and Adolf Eichmann, a member of the Nazi bureaucracy.

Bonhoeffer was executed in 1945, having served time in prison for his staunch opposition to Nazism. Eichmann was executed in 1962 in Israel for helping to organise the deportation of Jews to killing centres and sites during the Holocaust. We meet both men during their time in captivity and watch as they ponder their actions and seek to make sense of the horrors unleashed by the Nazis.

Bonhoeffer is clearly a good man. But what was it that inspired his heroic resistance to the Nazis—why, when so many other Christians chose not to act, did he put his life on the line? Eichmann is clearly a villain. And yet, as he himself protested, he was only doing his job. He followed rather than made orders and he was not directly responsible for the death of anyone. Is he, as the philosopher Hannah Arendt once argued, a terrifying instance of “the banality of evil?”

Based on the writings of Bonhoeffer and the records of the police and court interrogations of Eichmann, this event offers a unique portrait of good and evil during one of the darkest moments of the twentieth century.