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Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101…
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Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in… (original: 1992; edição: 1993)

de Christopher R. Browning

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1,766267,267 (4.1)48
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.… (mais)
Membro:eulensteak
Título:Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland
Autores:Christopher R. Browning
Informação:Harper Perennial (1993), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 304 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
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Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland de Christopher R. Browning (1992)

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Hoo boy. Trigger warning: all the violence and Holocaust triggers.

An exploration of the exploits of Reserve Police Battalion 101 in Poland as it relates to "Jewish actions" with a view toward the psychology of the policemen and their participation in such an evil regime.

The majority of the book focuses on what the reserve police battalions were, the organization, origin, and composition of Reserve Police Battalion (RPB) 101, and then the utilization of RPB 101 by Himmler and the SS to help carry out shootings of Jewish people or rounding up Jewish people onto trains to be sent to the concentration camps, primarily in 1942. RPB 101 is chosen because of the rich documentation regarding its participants in later war crimes trials and depositions. The author then attempts to apply recent discoveries in the field of social psychology to explain how it came about that a small percentage remained disturbed at the "Jewish actions" and found ways to not participate; many were disturbed at "shooting actions" but did not think twice about roundup and collection actions which were understood to lead to death; some became more acclimated to the "shooting actions" over time; and a small percentage truly believed and seemingly even took pleasure in the violence they perpetrated.

I understand why the author felt compelled to lay out the whole story of RPB 101 in such detail, but it makes for very difficult reading. To endure, one must become numb to the numbers to some degree, and I am not sure if that is healthy.

But the purpose of the work is very important. It is easy to demonize all Germans of the era as fully on board with National Socialism and its desire to purge Europe of Jewish people. It proves far more difficult to read primary source documentation from Germans and to see that the situation proved far more complex: in all likelihood it was a small (but loud, active, and prevalent) minority fully on board with National Socialism; another significant percentage that might have appreciated what was done for Germany but not a fan of how Hitler was doing things; and another significant percentage very much opposed to National Socialism. RPB 101 came from an area, Hamburg, which featured very little support for National Socialism; its men tended to be a little older and remembered previous regimes. The story puts to lie the idea that all had to do what they were told or face death themselves; from the beginning of the "Jewish actions" it was possible to avoid participating in shootings, and one officer was able to almost always avoid any "Jewish action." One would get branded as "weak," but no other action was necessarily taken. We learn how much alcohol was consumed so that the men could carry out their orders; it is clear that the shooting was not easy for a good number of them. Yet, indeed, more than not went along with it and participated in it for a kaleidoscope of reasons, but many centering on living according to the social expectations of the moment. When those social expectations changed radically over the next thirty years, many of the men were able to conform to the new standards and found ways to rationalize what they had done.

In short, one finds out quickly that to demonize all Germans as full Nazis is to miss out on the societal tendencies that led what had been considered one of the foremost and "civilized" nations to participate in such brutality...and that other "civilized" nations are not immune. This seems very apropos in light of what we have experienced over the past decade in America.

An ancillary purpose is to remind Western readers that much of the Final Solution did not take place in any concentration camp but in the kinds of actions done by RPB 101: shooting Jewish people in Polish ghettos. It rounds out the story more fully and explains why so many of the deaths come from the 1942-1944 timeframe.

This edition also includes the author's rebuttal to another scholar's arguments as well as an additional assessment of the evidence twenty-five years after the book's original publication. These are useful resources.

Should you read this? Yes, but it is not a fun time. But if you're committed to "never again," it's good to know what "it" is that you never want to see again, and what to do about "it" when it rises up again. ( )
1 vote deusvitae | Jun 16, 2021 |
Il 13 luglio 1942, gli uomini del Battaglione 101 della Polizia tedesca entrarono nel villaggio polacco di Józefów. Al tramonto, avevano rastrellato 1800 ebrei: ne selezionarono poche centinaia da deportare; gli altri - donne, vecchi e bambini - li uccisero. Erano operai, impiegati, commercianti, arruolati da poco. (fonte: Google Books)
  MemorialeSardoShoah | Jun 2, 2020 |
Browning’s subjects were extensively interviewed after WWII, creating more extensive records than exist for other German groups. These men were largely not career go-getters, though they varied in their commitment to Nazism, and they were sent to Poland to keep the conquered territory in line and to carry out massacres. About 85% of them participated directly in killing Jews (and some non-Jewish Poles), while a limited amount of refusal to participate directly was tolerated (though they ended up standing guard or otherwise just standing there, rather than resisting). Browning argues that anti-Semitism, though clearly relevant, wasn’t something that distinguished most of the killers; they did it because it was their job, and because their comrades were doing it so refusal would just increase the burden on their mates. Many also became jaded over time—some retreated to alcohol and others to more absolute brutality. ( )
  rivkat | Feb 13, 2019 |
Ordinary Men is, unsurprisingly, a devastating read. Author Christopher R. Browning meticulously chronicles the development of a group of reservist German policemen sent to Poland in World War Two. These were, as the title of the book says, 'ordinary men'; their formative years pre-dated the rise of Nazism; they had families, careers and were often given the sincere option of refusing 'anti-Jewish' orders. These were not the brutal, square-jawed, foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Semites we have been led to believe all Germans were. In fact, as Browning says, "By most criteria, in fact, the opposite was the case. By age, geographical origin, and social background, the men of Reserve Police Battalion 101 were least likely to be considered apt material out of which to mold future mass killers" (pg. 164). And yet, for their very first major 'action' in the East, "at least 80 percent of those called upon to shoot continued to do so until 1,500 Jews from Józefów had been killed" (pg. 74). By the end of their tour of 'duty' in the East, the ordinary men of the battalion had directly executed at least 38,000 Jews (and that is a conservative estimate, and one not including non-Jewish Polish 'collaborators' and 'partisans', or village reprisals) and were responsible for facilitating a further 45,000 on trains to extermination camps; a final total of at least 83,000 Jews (pg. 142).

The underlying question of Browning's work becomes frighteningly clear: "If the men of Reserve Police Battalion 101 could become killers under such circumstances, what group of men cannot?" (pg. 189). It is sobering, instructive and deeply chilling to contemplate; it is not for nothing that popular Canadian psychologist Jordan B. Peterson often cites Browning's book when discussing the capacity of regular people for deep malevolence, and how you should take responsibility as an individual and not submit to the one-step-at-a-time path of mindless political or racial groupthink.

Browning is more circumspect with his own conclusions; far from providing a definitive answer on how these 'ordinary men' quickly became such casual mass killers of women and children, he considers all possible factors, from the usual suspects (anti-Semitism, groupthink, coercion, etc.) to more nuanced ones, not discounting the possibility of a blend of all such factors. He offers a "multi-layered portrayal of the battalion" and a "multicausal explanation of motivation" (pg. 216). It is certainly more complex than the 'banality of evil' concept, or mere anti-Semitic sentiment (Browning comprehensively dismantles the arguments of one such proponent of the latter, Daniel Goldhagen, in an extensive Afterword). If the lack of a satisfying psychological conclusion is absent from the work, it is only because Browning is no psychologist but a historian; and in consequence he shows the professional historian's characteristic (and commendable) reticence where facts cannot be completely determined.

Consequently, whilst the book raises far more psychological questions than answers, it is excellent as a piece of reconstructive history. It pieces together obscure events from disparate and sometimes contradictory sources with judiciousness, showing the reader that the Holocaust was even more terrifying than they thought. The narrative is frightening in its implications and its stark reality; the personal details from the massacres are devastating. If the book is a difficult read, this is not only because of its dry academic observations and reproduction of statistics, but because of its lucid descriptions of unimaginable (and sometimes all-too-imaginable) genocidal horror. It is a reality we often shy away from, that world of violence and cruelty; still less do we accept that there are few heroes, and even if we sometimes accept that we could be a victim, very rarely do people acknowledge that they could be a willing perpetrator. The knowledge is almost too much to bear honestly, which is why it is commendable that Browning claims only the role of chronicler rather than pontificator. He claims only the hope that the case "will serve history better than [it has] served justice" (pg. 146). ( )
  MikeFutcher | Dec 25, 2018 |
Ordinary people, when faced with enough social pressure, and a limited array of choices, will not shrink from becoming monsters. Essentially, that is the theme of the historical review of a German reserve police battalion from WWII. Much of the records from this group were provided in the years after WWII thru interviews from the members themselves though there were also witness statements about the events they participated in.

10 to 20% of the men refused or asked for other jobs when they were ordered to execute Jews. Few relished the role. Most, just did it as their grim and terrible duty as they shot hundreds of people one by one on several occasions.

A quote from the book that I think captures the beginning of this analysis well: "The battalion had orders to kill Jews, but each individual did not. Yet 80 to 90 percent of the men proceeded to kill, though almost all of them-at least initially-were horrified and disgusted by what they were doing. To break ranks and step out, to adopt overtly nonconformist behavior, was simply beyond most men. It was easier for them to shoot.
Why? First of all, by breaking ranks, nonshooters were leaving the "dirty work" to their comrades. Since the battalion had to shoot even if individuals did not, refusing to shoot constituted refusing one's share of an unpleasant collective obligation. It was in effect an asocial act vis-à-vis one's comrades. Those who did not shoot risked isolation, rejection, and ostracism-a very uncomfortable prospect within the framework of a tight-nit unit station abroad among a hostile population, so that the individual had nowhere else to turn for support and social contact." ( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
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Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Christopher R. Browningautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Barnavi, ElieTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Dauzat, Pierre-EmmanuelPosfácioautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Vidal-Naquet, PierreIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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In the very early hours of July 13, 1942, the men of the Reserve Police Battalion 101 were roused from their bunks in the large brick school building that serves as their barracks in the Polish town of Bilgoraj.
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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.

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