Essay Ordinary Men by Christopher Browning

1256 Words6 Pages
Ordinary Men by Christopher Browning

I. Ordinary Men is the disconcerting examination of how a typical unit of middle-aged reserve policemen became active participants in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Polish Jews. Reserve Police Battalion 101 was made up of approximately 500 men most from working and lower-middle-class neighborhoods in Hamburg Germany. They were police reservists, not trained in combat, some of whom worked with and had been friendly with Jews before the war. Major Wilhelm Trapp, a WWI veteran and career police officer headed the battalion. On July 13, 1942 the 101st Police Battalion arrived in Jozefow where Major Trapp informed his men they had received orders to perform a "very unpleasant
…show more content…
Only 4 of the over 500 members of the unit were arrested, tried and convicted. Two were sentenced to a few years in prison, and two (including Major Wilhelm Trapp) were sentenced to death and executed. In the 1960's, the "Ordinary Men" came under scrutiny while Nazi war crimes were being investigated. Approximately 210 former "policemen" of the unit were questioned and fourteen members were put on trial. Though most were convicted, only five were given prison terms and the case pending against all others was dropped.

II. Enlightenment did not exist among the 101st battalion. There was no tolerance, acceptance or reasoning. If you believe someone to be your equal, how could you assassinate him or her? They were told to kill, and kill they did. There was no questioning their superiors when given a command, no matter how inconceivable the act was. Not following orders was unthinkable and denouncing authority was not even considered. The ‘Weltanschauung' of the Reserve Police Battalion 101 was the same as Hitler's. The men were immersed in racist and anti-Semitic propaganda. When receiving their first assignment in Jozefow, Major Trapp told his men the Jews were involved in the killing of women and children by bombing Germany and were involved with the partisans. The Jews were
Get Access