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When Adolph Eichmann stood trial in Jerusalem in 1961, Israel and the rest of the world experienced a reaction unlike any other produced by proceedings against a Nazi war criminal. Although some details about the Holocaust were generally known by the early sixties, the painful topic had slipped from public discussion as countries touched by World War II moved on to other pressing matters. Among Israeli Jews fighting for a new homeland, the near-extermination of European Jewry was misunderstood as an embarrassment -- an instance of Jewish impotence in the face of victimization by the Nazis. However, as the head of Hitler's Race and Resettlement Office stood trial on Israeli soil under the eye of the international media and Israeli survivors told their powerful stories to the world, the Holocaust became a defining experience for Zionism and human history.
Facing the Glass Cage, being published in English for the first time, is a detailed account of Eichmann's trial by the poet and journalist Haim Gouri, who was assigned to cover the event by the Israeli daily newspaper Lamerhav. The trial changed attitudes toward the Holocaust, and Gouri's reporting was the literary catalyst of this change. Packed with tension, Gouri's riveting descriptions of the testimony reveal a marked shift in attitudes toward Holocaust survivors in Israeli society. He admits to his initial skepticism toward these witnesses, and yet he learns much from them. Gouri's account is both a fascinating historical document and a chronicle of an extraordinary poet's encounter with one of the most terrible events of our times.