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""Ordinary Men""
"Ordinary Men"
Melissa T. Littlefield
In his book, Ordinary Men, Christopher R. Browning gives readers an in-depth look into the minds of the "ordinary" German men, specifically those of Reserve Police Battalion 101, who became perpetrators in one of the most horrifying events in history; The Holocaust. The question arises; how and why did these ordinary men suddenly become cold-blooded killers? This is the issue Browning explores throughout the reading. The men of Reserve Police Battalion 101 did not begin as bad men or murderers. So, what happened? There are a number of circumstances that can be attributed to what led these ordinary men to aid in Hitler's Final Solution.

The issue of simply following orders proved to be the most frequently stated explanation, given by the perpetrators, for their behavior. Along with the culture of the Nazi dictatorship came extreme obedience and discipline. "Orders were orders, and no one in such a political climate could be expected to disobey them, they insisted" (Browing, p.170). The men of Reserve Police Battalion 101, from the very start, were simply following the orders given to them. When first called to serve, most men were not even fully informed or aware of exactly what they were expected to do. They had no knowledge of the massacres they would later have to take part in. However, many admitted that when they were told by a higher authority to kill, they did because they were ordered to do so. Fear for his own live kept many from backing out or refusing authority.

Another circumstance leading to the contribution of the Final Solution was conformity. To give an example, one can look at the situation at Jozenfow when Major Trapp informed his men, for the first time, of the upcoming massacre they would have to take part in. Trapp offered a way out...

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