Britain and the Eichmann Trial: An Unexamined Aspect in ‘Bystander’ Studies

  • Joseph SneeEmail author
Part of the The Holocaust and its Contexts book series (HOLC)


This chapter focuses on the British response to the Holocaust, by drawing on Foreign Office documents from the time of the Eichmann trial. These documents contain internal discussions by Foreign Office officials of Britain’s wartime records, and therefore constitute a unique and important perspective on this matter. Contrary to the more polarized scholarship on this question, it will be argued here that these sources show that during the Second World War, Britain’s response to the persecution of the Jews was deeply ambivalent. In responding to various proposals to save European Jews, the British government was motivated not by humanitarianism, but considerations of self-interest, international reputation, and political realism. This was to an extent that the Foreign Office even chose to avoid defending this response when the proceedings of the Eichmann trial brought it to public attention.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal Holloway, University of LondonEghamUK

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