The Nazi Party 's Inner Circle Essay

1538 WordsOct 6, 20167 Pages
How can ordinary people come to commit atrocities against defenceless victims? Hitler was an evil man, or at least was prepared to employ evil actions to achieve his goals. There is very little in literature to suggest anything contrary to this opinion. Most literature suggests that while Hitler had some level of power over Himmler and the rest of the Nazi Party’s inner circle, they were also well aware of the extent and implications of their actions. Despite this, the atrocities of the Holocaust were not carried out by these “evil” leaders, but instead were the actions of thousands of “ordinary” people across Europe. In discussing how these people can be motivated to commit atrocities, I will focus on Christopher Browning’s analysis of Holocaust police battalions, along with contradictory evidence. I will also compare the motivations of Hutu civilians in the mid-1990s, and how their experience supports and undermines Browning’s theory. Browning is seen as a pioneer of Holocaust Studies, and his literature has drawn great respect and acceptance from the academic world (USHRI 1996). As such, I will take Browning’s theory as my hypothetical explanation of how ordinary people come to commit atrocities against defenceless victims. Browning believes that “indoctrination”, along with the pressing circumstances of a “dehumanising war”, pushed ordinary men to commit atrocities of which they normally they would have considered themselves incapable (Browning 1992). Browning’s
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