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Best of Slow Journalism: Saskia Sassen’s missing chapter

AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

How are Saskia Sassen, a world-famous left-wing scholar, and Otto Adolf Eichmann, key orchestrator of the Holocaust, connected? For years Sassen, now a sociology professor at Columbia University, neatly avoided discussing her father’s friendship with Eichmann. In ‘Saskia Sassen’s missing chapter’, published by The Chronicle of Higher Education she speaks candidly about how the mass-murderer and other Nazis used to visit her family home in Argentina in the 1950s.

A recent book about the SS chief, Eichmann before Jerusalem, sparked a debate about his character and his role in the Holocaust. The book portrays him as an expert manipulator of his image and a wilful, unrepentant murderer. This image contrasts with Hannah Arendt’s famous picture of Eichmann as a non-ideological bureaucrat, a mere cog in the Nazi machine. But The Chronicle’s interview picks up a more conspicuous strand of the book, about how one Dutch girl’s early interaction with Nazi ideologies shaped her into the thought-leader on sociology she is today.

Marc Parry joins the dots between Sassen’s childhood, her politics and her activism. He grapples with disparate accounts of her father who has been depicted as curious journalist as well as staunch defender of Eichmann.

Click here for this thoroughly compelling read.

Words: Victoria Seabrook

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