eglazier, September 3, 2011 (view all comments by eglazier)
I have a somewhat personal view of this description of what ordinary German men could be persuaded to do under circumstances that were not at all threatening nor critical to their safety and security. When I read of some of the murders of Jews that took place and looked at photographs taken by the German police in this battalion, I realized that some of my family members were possibly among those bodies lying in the streets of the small Polish towns that were being made Juden frei.
The whole story is laid out from the meticulous records kept by the Germans of all their actions; even to the record of the state railroads who charged the one-way excursion fare to the German government to pack the Jews into box cars and take them to the camps to their death.
This is not a pretty story, but one showing how easily ordinary people can be caught up in a political movement and willingly do that which their ethics and religion tells them is wrong.
We should not believe that it cannot happen here because it already has in some small way.
S Cohn, January 12, 2008 (view all comments by S Cohn)
Browning asserts an interesting thesis regarding the Einsatzgruppen; these were the death squads who adminstered conquered lands and carried out the final solution in places where they could or did not ship the jews to camps. He establishes the backround of a particular Police Battalion.
These individuals were not hardened Nazi's nor fanatical SS; nor were they even that keen on gunning down Jews. The argument that Browning makes is that anti-semitism was created in these individuals by killing jews. In order to cope with murdering, they became anti-semetic. When their commander announced their first action, he was in tears and offered an exception to whomever did not want to do this. Soldiers cried, looked the other way when some jews tried to escape, establishing a character that challenges our assumptions.
As time went on, the soldiers became used to this, and would have to joke around with each other while shooting jews. There were some instances of drunken debauchery that will break your heart as well: instances of cruelty that boggles the mind!! I would also highly recommend reading Tino Georgiou's bestselling novel--The Fates--if you haven't yet!!
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by Harper Collins,
The shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews.
Widely reviewed and read in hardcover, this is the shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews. "Browning tells us about such Germans and helps us understand . . . how they were transformed psychologically . . . into active participants in the most monstrous crime in human history".--New York Times Book Review, front page. 8 pages of photos; 2 maps.
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