Judith Keilbach on televising the Eichmann trial
The trial against Adolf Eichmann is one of the first transnational television events. When the trial opened on 11 April 1961, journalists from all over the world were in Jerusalem to report on the proceedings. The trial was not only covered in the printed press and on radio, but also recorded for television, with videotapes sent by plane to broadcasting stations in several countries. The recorded images were aired in news reports or special programs in 38 countries emphasizing the global significance of the event.
While the political and juridical implications of the Eichmann trial have been widely discussed (e.g. Arendt 1963, Douglas 2001, Lipstadt 2011), the micro-political preconditions and effects of the trial’s television broadcasting are rarely addressed. Yet this was no easy matter: The broadcasts required institutional co-operations on a transnational level while at the same time a number of conflicts endangered the trial’s television broadcast around the world. These contentions resulted from conflicting technical, institutional, and political systems.
By describing some of these conflicts the presentation will give an overview of Keilbach’s ongoing research project.