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.
Christopher R. Browning is professor of history at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. He is a contributor to Yad Vashem's official twenty-four-volume history of the Holocaust and the author of two earlier books on the subject.
Müller examines the Wehrmacht's leadership principles, organization, equipment, and training, as well as the front-line experiences of soldiers, airmen, Waffen SS, foreign legionnaires, and volunteers. He skillfully demonstrates how state-directed propaganda and terror influenced the extent to which the militarized Volksgemeinschaft (national community) was transformed under the pressure of total mobilization. Finally, he evaluates the army's conduct of the war, from blitzkrieg to the final surrender and charges of war crimes. Brief acts of resistance, such as an officers' "rebellion of conscience" in July 1944, embody the repressed, principled humanity of Germany's soldiers, but ultimately, Müller concludes, the Wehrmacht became the "steel guarantor" of the criminal Nazi regime.
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.
The experience is surprisingly common: the author estimates that approximately 15 percent of people undergo this event at some point in their lives. Various cultures have their own name for the phenomenon and have constructed their own mythology around it; the supernatural tenor of many Old Hag stories is unavoidable. Hufford, as a folklorist, is well-placed to investigate this puzzling occurrence.