Ordinary Men

Ordinary Men

Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland

Book - 1992
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Baker & Taylor
Tells how a German reserve police batallion rounded up 1,800 Jews from the Polish village of Jozefow, shooting all but a few hundred of them

Blackwell North Amer
In the early hours of July 13, 1942, the men of Reserve Police Battalion 101, a unit of the German Order Police, entered the Polish Village of Jozefow. They had arrived in Poland less than three weeks before, most of them recently drafted family men too old for combat service--workers, artisans, salesmen, and clerks. By nightfall, they had rounded up Jozefow's 1,800 Jews, selected several hundred men as "work Jews," and shot the rest--that is, some 1,500 women, children, and old people.
Most of these overage, rear-echelon reserve policemen had grown to maturity in the port city of Hamburg in pre-Hitler Germany and were neither committed Nazis nor racial fanatics. Nevertheless, in the sixteen months from the Jozefow massacre to the brutal Erntefest ("harvest festival") slaughter of November 1943, these average men participated in the direct shooting deaths of at least 38,000 Jews and the deportation to Treblinka's gas chambers of 45,000 more--a total body count of 83,000 for a unit of less than 500 men.
Drawing on postwar interrogations of 210 former members of the battalion, Christopher Browning lets them speak for themselves about their contribution to the Final Solution--what they did, what they thought, how they rationalized their behavior (one man would shoot only infants and children, to "release" them from their misery). In a sobering conclusion, Browning suggests that these good Germans were acting less out of deference to authority or fear of punishment than from motives as insidious as they are common: careerism and peer pressure. With its unflinching reconstruction of the battalion's murderous record and its painstaking attention to the social background and actions of individual men, this unique account offers some of the most powerful and disturbing evidence to date of the ordinary human capacity for extraordinary inhumanity.

Publisher: New York, NY : Aaron Asher Books, 1992
ISBN: 9780060190132
Branch Call Number: 940.5318 BROWN


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Aug 29, 2016

I gave this book 5 stars and totally because it is the only book I have read (and I have read A LOT of WWII history) that really covers the occupation of Poland and gets down to the gritty details. Most people, even those with more knowledge of WWII, really don't grasp the scale or the brutality of the NAZIs and their allies. This book goes a way to explaining how policemen, from a democratic, modern society, can turn into cold blooded killers. How 500 people, most middle aged, participated in the murder of over 83,000 people in a short period of time. Very few of whom were ever punished btw.

Jan 08, 2014

Ok so this is not a "novel" kinda of book. It is a text book. The book doesn't flow well, it's very choppy. I had a difficult time following along with all the statistics, dates, German cities and the battalion numbers. There were parts of the book that were story-like and easier to read which is why I gave it 2 stars instead of 1. The writing also was bad, almost as if they are missing commas and periods.


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