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
Employing the rich testimony of almost three hundred survivors of the slave-labor camps of Starachowice, Poland, Christopher R. Browning draws the experiences of the Jewish prisoners, the Nazi authorities, and the neighboring Poles together into a chilling history of a little-known dimension of the Holocaust. Combining harrowing detail and insightful analysis on the Starachowice camps and their role in the Holocaust, Browning’s history is indispensable scholarship and an unforgettable story of survival.
In 1939, the Nazi regime?s plans for redrawing the demographic map of Eastern Europe entailed the expulsion of millions of Jews. By the fall of 1941, these plans had shifted from expulsion to systematic and total mass murder of all Jews within the Nazi grasp. The Origins of the Final Solution is the most detailed and comprehensive analysis ever written of what took place during this crucial period?of how, precisely, the Nazis? racial policies evolved from persecution and ?ethnic cleansing? to the Final Solution of the Holocaust.