Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (1993)
How it works
Throughout the Nazi history, historians have tried to analyze and interpret the ways Germany managed to deplete almost the entire Jewish race. Christopher Browning manages to analyze the social aspects to why and how Nazi policemen did the things they did, regarding the mass murders brought upon the human beings. In his book, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101and the Final Solution in Poland (1993), Browning gives rich insight and personal statements from German police and argues that ordinary men were able to become mass murderers if under the peer pressure of the Nazis during World War II with three possible reasons being, manipulation and peer pressure, the need to prove their loyalty to Nazi leaders, and their securement of jobs. Christopher Browning manages to give readers a deeper context of microstudy by examining the ways social control played out in the mass murders of the Jewish, beginning from 1942 to 1943 when the Reserve Battalion was composed of an older generation of men who were too physically depleted to serve in the actual military forces of the German army. Though most men in the battalion were deemed as too old, Nazis found a way to make use of them. Browning argues that there were three main possible reasons to why these men killed Jews, one being with the use of peer pressure and manipulation.
Browning explains that with the fear of the Nazi superiors, citizens with a low background status that questioned Nazi leaders would be subject to the same cruel punishments Jews faced. Even though many of the Battalion Police were joining the subject of killing Jews, one officer Major Wilhelm Trapp of fifty-three, explained beforehand the assignment and what they were getting into. While explaining that these orders came from high Nazi officials, Trapp gave the Battalion men the offer, “If any of the older men among them did not feel up to the task that lay before him, he could step out.” The second reason to why Browning believed these men were able to be controlled was the idea that Battalion members were wanting to prove their loyalty to Nazi leaders. “The notions of loyalty, duty, discipline, requiring competent performance in the eyes if authority, become moral imperatives overriding any identification with the victim.” Browning explains that with these individuals entering an “agentic state,” they don’t feel as responsible for their actions, “but only for how well they perform.” This only led to the Battalion taking the initiative idea that the more they killed or “performed” they’re valued more. The third reason, which connected to the second is job security.
How it works
Browning examined that by maliciously killing Jews by the thousands, the Battalion group found that they were able to secure jobs. In the eyes of the battalion police, “The greater the pressure on the German ghetto clearers in terms of manpower, the greater their ferocity and brutality to get the job done.” This book provides a detailed picture of the true-life story the men from Reserve Police Battalion 101 endured, along with thousands of similar unheard stories. Browning successfully focused on giving readers a detailed picture of social control and how ordinary men could do immoral acts if placed under such pressure by a powerful man. Browning manages to make his readers grasp the concept of genocide and leaves them with the question, “If the men of Reserve Police Battalion 101 could become killers under such circumstances, what group of men cannot?”