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Ordinary Men Book Review Essay

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Ordinary Men
Christopher Browning describes how the Reserve Police Battalion 101, like the rest of German society, was immersed in a flood of racist and anti-Semitic propaganda. Browning describes how the Order Police provided indoctrination both in basic training and as an ongoing practice within each unit. Many of the members were not prepared for the killing of Jews. The author examines the reasons some of the police members did not shoot. The physiological effect of isolation, rejection, and ostracism is examined in the context of being assigned to a foreign land with a hostile population. The contradictions imposed by the demands of conscience on the one hand and the norms of the battalion on the other are discussed. Ordinary Men provides a graphic portrayal of Police Battalion 101's involvement in the Holocaust.
The major focus of the book focuses on reconstruction of the events this group of men participated in. According to Browning, the men of Police Battalion 101 were just that—ordinary. They were five hundred middle-aged, working-class men of German descent. A majority of these men were neither Nazi party members nor members of the S.S. They were also from Hamburg, which was a town that was one of the least occupied Nazi areas of Germany and, thus, were not as exposed to the Nazi regime. These men were not self-selected to be part of the order police, nor were they specially selected because of violent characteristics. These men were plucked from their normal lives, put into squads, and given the mission to kill Jews because they were the only people available for the task. “Even in the face of death the Jewish mothers did not separate from their children. Thus we tolerated the mothers taking their children to the ma...


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...e men are not as intimately involved with their victims. This allows the men of Battalion 101 to be more efficient killers because the more removed a man was from the killing, the more methodical that man can become when committing murder.
In conclusion, I believe that this book was very informative and compelling because it engulfed the reader in the blatant and mindless actions of Police Battalion 101, and it showed a believable depiction of the atrocities of genocide throughout the Holocaust. The book revealed truths such as these policemen were given many opportunities to get out of killing Jews. However, many did not take the opportunity to walk away and instead committed themselves to becoming specialized experts in the "resettlement" of Jews. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Holocaust and the reasons why many of these men became killers.


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