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Choices: Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland

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When faced with a difficult choice a person will think the multitude of different options over before making their final decision. Do they go with the choice that will benefit them or the choice that will benefit others? Many decisions are made on the circumstances of the situation a person is in. If a person is told in a time of war to participate in an act, that person will participate due to the fear of the consequences, even if that person does not know what the consequences are. In Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland by Christopher Browning the men of the battalion are faced with many options during their time in the battalion. Choices that include killing Jews in a firing squad to transporting Jews to Concentration Camps. Most of the men in the battalion were hesitant at first but soon gave in to the tasks they were given. Many of them were ordinary men with no record or thoughts of murder or criminal activity. These same circumstances were used in an experiment by Philip Zimbardo called the Stanford Prison Experiment. The results of his experiment and the actions of the Battalion are almost the exact same. Both occurrences had the same inner workings; order of authority, willingness to participate, and responsibilities of the actions. Each description playing an important part in the overall outcome.
“Our ability to selectively engage and disengage our moral standards…helps explain how people can be barbarically cruel in one moment and compassionate the next (The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, Philip Zimbardo pg18).” This quote by Albert Bandura is an accurate representation of the men in Police Battalion 101. They started their lives as regul...


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...d Prison Experiment’s actions were all done under orders and none of it was rebellion. There was rebellion in the prison experiment but there were more dishonest orders than dishonest rebellions. Any time a person is face with a hard decision they should base their decision off of the three characteristics of the two groups. Do they have the order so that nothing goes awry? Do they have the willingness to take action for the cause they fight for? Do they have the responsibility to take blame for anything that they have done? If so then the choice that is made is the best choice possible.



Works Cited

Browning, Christopher R. Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. New York: HarperPerennial, 1998. Print.
Zimbardo, Philip G. The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. New York: Random House, 2007. Print.



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