Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland

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9780060190132: Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland

Ordinary Men has been admired all over the world and is now published in the UK for the first time. It takes as its basis the detailed records of one squad from the Nazis' extermination groups and explores in detail its composition, its actions, andthe methods by which it was trained to perform acts of genocide on an industrial scale. He introduces us to cheerful, friendly, ordinary men who killed without hesitation or apparent remorse for years on end, in docile obedience to an authority theyhappily accepted as legitimate. It is a valuable corrective to the idea of German uniqueness and offers a much more chilling picture of human beings as avidly suggestible and desperate for an organising purpose in their lives, however disgusting.

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Review:

Shocking as it is, this book--a crucial source of original research used for the bestseller Hitler's Willing Executioners--gives evidence to suggest the opposite conclusion: that the sad-sack German draftees who perpetrated much of the Holocaust were not expressing some uniquely Germanic evil, but that they were average men comparable to the run of humanity, twisted by historical forces into inhuman shapes. Browning, a thorough historian who lets no one off the moral hook nor fails to weigh any contributing factor--cowardice, ideological indoctrination, loyalty to the battalion, and reluctance to force the others to bear more than their share of what each viewed as an excruciating duty--interviewed hundreds of the killers, who simply could not explain how they had sunken into savagery under Hitler. A good book to read along with Ron Rosenbaum's comparably excellent study Explaining Hitler. --Tim Appelo

About the Author:

Christopher Browning has also written THE FINAL SOLUTION AND THE FOREIGN OFFICE and FATEFUL MONTHS: ESSAYS ON THE EMERGENCE OF THE FINAL SOLUTION. Heteaches at the University of North Carolina.

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