Ordinary Men

Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland

Ordinary Men

Christopher R. Browning’s shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews—now with a new afterword and additional photographs. Ordinary Men is the true story of Reserve Police Battalion 101 of the German Order Police, which was responsible for mass shootings as well as round-ups of Jewish people for deportation to Nazi death camps in Poland in 1942. Browning argues that most of the men of RPB 101 were not fanatical Nazis but, rather, ordinary middle-aged, working-class men who committed these atrocities out of a mixture of motives, including the group dynamics of conformity, deference to authority, role adaptation, and the altering of moral norms to justify their actions. Very quickly three groups emerged within the battalion: a core of eager killers, a plurality who carried out their duties reliably but without initiative, and a small minority who evaded participation in the acts of killing without diminishing the murderous efficiency of the battalion whatsoever. While this book discusses a specific Reserve Unit during WWII, the general argument Browning makes is that most people succumb to the pressures of a group setting and commit actions they would never do of their own volition. Ordinary Men is a powerful, chilling, and important work with themes and arguments that continue to resonate today. “A remarkable—and singularly chilling—glimpse of human behavior...This meticulously researched book...represents a major contribution to the literature of the Holocaust."—Newsweek

Ordinary Men

Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland

Ordinary Men

Of all the controversies facing historians today, few are more divisive or more important than the question of how the Holocaust was possible. What led thousands of Germans - many of them middle-aged reservists with, apparently, little Nazi zeal - to willingly commit acts of genocide? Was it ideology? Was there something rotten in the German soul? Or was it - as Christopher Browning argues in this highly influential book - more a matter of conformity, a response to intolerable social and psychological pressure? Ordinary Men is a microhistory, the detailed study of a single unit in the Nazi killing machine. Browning evaluates a wide range of evidence to seek to explain the actions of the "ordinary men" who made up reserve Police Battalion 101, taking advantage of the wide range of resources prepared in the early 1960s for a proposed war crimes trial. He concludes that his subjects were not "evil;" rather, their actions are best explained by a desire to be part of a team, not to shirk responsibility that would otherwise fall on the shoulders of comrades, and a willingness to obey authority. Browning's ability to explore the strengths and weaknesses of arguments - both the survivors' and other historians' - is what sets his work apart from other studies that have attempted to get to the root of the motivations for the Holocaust, and it is also what marks Ordinary Men as one of the most important works of its generation.

The Origins of the Final Solution

The Origins of the Final Solution

The Origins of the Final Solution is the most detailed, careful, and comprehensive analysis to date of the descent of the Nazi persecution of the Jews into mass murder: the Holocaust. Arguing that genocide was not a preconceived plan but rather a discovered possibility, Christopher Browning explains how Hitler's decision to murder the Jews en masse emerged in stages and by a process of elimination that gradually foreclosed plans for their expulsion from Europe. Only in the interval between late September and late October 1941 did the desire to "remove" the Jews intersect with the discovery of acceptable means of killing them on a large scale and with the euphoria of expected victory in Russia, all of which followed on from two years of 'race war' and 'racial imperialism' in eastern Europe that prepared 'ordinary Germans' for this fateful task.

Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers

Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers

This volume uses new evidence to shed light on controversial issues in current Holocaust scholarship.

The Holocaust and the Germanization of Ukraine

The Holocaust and the Germanization of Ukraine

The German invasion of the Soviet Union during the Second World War was central to Nazi plans for territorial expansion and genocidal demographic revolution. To create 'living space', Nazi Germany pursued two policies. The first was the systematic murder of millions of Jews, Slavs, Roma, and other groups that the Nazis found undesirable on racial, religious, ethnic, ideological, hereditary, or behavioral grounds. It also pursued a parallel, albeit smaller, program to mobilize supposedly Germanic residents of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union - so-called Volksdeutsche or ethnic Germans - as the vanguard of German expansion. This study recovers the intersection of these two projects in Transnistria, a portion of southern Ukraine that, because of its numerous Volksdeutsche communities, became an epicenter of both Nazi Volksdeutsche policy and the Holocaust in conquered Soviet territory, ultimately asking why local residents, whom German authorities identified as Volksdeutsche, participated in the Holocaust with apparent enthusiasm.

Resistance and Conformity in the Third Reich

Resistance and Conformity in the Third Reich

This is a thematically arranged text illustrating popular resisitance to Nazism in Germany from 1930-1945, and the affect of Nazism on everyday life. The book combines a lucid, synthesized analysis together with a wide selection of integrated source material taken from pamphlets, diaries, recent oral testimonies, correspondence and more. Different chapters focus on social groups and activities, such as youth movements, religion, Jewish Germans, and the working classes.

Nazi Germany And The Jews: The Years Of Persecution

1933-1939

Nazi Germany And The Jews: The Years Of Persecution

A magisterial history of the Jews in Nazi Germany and the regime's policies towards them in the years prior to World War II and the Holocaust. Written by arguably the world's leading scholar on the subject. Himself a survivor, Friedlander has been a leading figure in Holocaust studies for decades and this book represents a definitive summing up of his research and that of hundreds of other historians. NAZI GERMANY AND THE JEWS: THE YEARS OF PERSECUTION is perhaps the richest examination of the subject yet written, and, crucially, one that never loses sight of the experiences of individuals in its discussion of Nazi politics and the terrible statistics and technological and administrative sophistication of the Final Solution.