Mulisch modestly called his book on case 40/61 a report, and it is certainly that, as he gives firsthand accounts of the trial and its key players and scenes (the defendant's face strangely asymmetric and riddled by tics, his speech absurdly baroque). Eichmann's character comes out in his incessant bureaucratizing and calculating, as well as in his grandiose visions of himself as a Pontius Pilate-like innocent. As Mulisch intersperses his dispatches from Jerusalem with meditative accounts of a divided and ruined Berlin, an eerily rebuilt Warsaw, and a visit to the gas chambers of Auschwitz, Criminal Case 40/61, the Trial of Adolf Eichmann emerges as a disturbing and highly personal essay on the Nazi extermination of European Jews and on the human capacity to commit evil ever more efficiently in an age of technological advancement.
Here presented with a foreword by Debórah Dwork and translated for the first time into English, Criminal Case 40/61 provides the reader with an unsettling portrait not only of Eichmann's character but also of technological precision and expertise. It is a landmark of Holocaust writing.