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Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland Paperback – April 24, 1998
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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
From Publishers Weekly
Browning reconstructs how a German reserve police battalion composed of "ordinary men," middle-aged, working class people, killed tens of thousands of Jews during WW II.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
I recommand it to anyone who wants to know more about what was going on in Poland in 1942. This book is perfect.
The content can be difficult to read at times, something that should go without saying. And by the author's own admission it tries to analyze possible motivations behind the members of the battalion which means it can appear to be "sympathizing" with them. This could certainly turn some readers off. I personally didn't get that impression but would warn any potential reader that the perspective of the author as a researcher into the motivations of the subjects could be off-putting. It by no means made light of the activities of the battalion and you are reminded of their horrible actions time and time again.
It was considerably detailed without being too long. The final chapter (prior to the afterward) is entirely devoted to discussing why a group of "ordinary men" would do what this battalion did. It includes research, some of which is very well known, that has been done regarding following the masses and obeying authority. I would put it in the category of psychology as much as history so keep that in mind if you're considering reading it. That element of the book is essential to the overall picture that it leaves you with.
Overall, I felt it was an excellent book although one that left me with serious concerns about humanity and in fact left me with a more complicated perspective of what drives "ordinary men" to horrendous activities than I went in with.