In Christopher R. Brownings historic publication, he explained the mindset of the individuals who participated in the Final Solution. There were two specific reactions that the men could have had when they were forced to kill. First, Browning explains that the men only killed for fear of what would happen if they did not. Imagine working for people who had no trouble killing others; it is simple to come to the conclusion that if an order was not followed there would be dire consequences. All of the men in the Reserve Police Battalion 101 wanted to have a job after to war and if they happened to have a trade at home they would be much more inclined to disobey orders. However, several of the men in the Battalion were policemen before the war or aspired to be still after the war. They knew that they would not receive the job by disobeying orders. Readers can notice that the much of the group only carried out the point blank murder when under the direct supervision of their superior.
Another explanation as to why these “ordinary men” would kill numerous innocent people resides in the fact that obedience is drilled into everyone from an early age. People are taught to obey their superiors in all situations and to believe that “they understand the situation the best.” To be sure, this is ob...
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... transfers. The men probably didn’t realize the magnitude of what they were doing. They only ever witnessed a slight fraction of the amounts of people killed in the genocide and a great deal of the time did not need to be near the shooting. This fact could have allowed the men to rationalize their actions and be unaware of the impact of the genocide throughout the world.
In conclusion, the “ordinary men” involved in the Final Solution, did not willingly engage in the killing of innocent people. In fact, the men either felt a fear of the consequence if they didn’t or felt an obligation to obey their superiors (considering it was ingrained into them throughout childhood or because they wanted a job after the war). During the war, the Nazi’s used fear and superiority to force people to carry out what they wanted and the men in Battalion 101 were no exception to this.
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