Shoshana Felman


A witness faints on the stand during the Eichmann trial. This Essay will explore the meaning of this unexpected legal moment, and will ask: Is the witness's collapse relevant-and if so, in what sense-to the legal framework of the trial? How does this courtroom event affect the trial's definition of legal meaning in the wake of the Holocaust? Under what circumstances and in what ways can the legal default of a witness constitute a legal testimony in its own right?

I will present, first, Hannah Arendt's reading of this episode, and will later contrast her reading with my own interpretation of this courtroom scene. Still later, I will analyze the judges' reference to this scene.