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Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland Hardcover – Feb 1992


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 231 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (Feb. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060190132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060190132
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 840,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Helps us understand, better than we did before, not only what they did to make the Holocaust happen but also how they were transformed psychologically from the ordinary men of [the] title into active participants in the most monstrous crime in human history.""-- New York Times Book Review""A staggering and important book, a book that manages without polemic to communicate at least an intimation of the unthinkable."-- Michael Dorris, " Chicago Tribune""A remarkable--and singularly chilling--glimpse of human behavior...This meticulously researched book...represents a major contribution to the literature of the Holocaust." -- Andrew Nagorski, "Newsweek" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Christopher Browning has also written THE FINAL SOLUTION AND THE FOREIGN OFFICE and FATEFUL MONTHS: ESSAYS ON THE EMERGENCE OF THE FINAL SOLUTION. Heteaches at the University of North Carolina. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
IN THE VERY EARLY HOURS OF JULY 13, 1942, THE MEN OF Reserve Police Battalion 101 were roused from their bunks in the large brick school building that served as their barracks in the Polish town of Bilgoraj. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By John Winterson Richards on 16 Feb. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Descriptions of the Holocaust never lose their power to horrify - the cold bureaucratic language of official reports is particularly sickening. However, those who try to comfort themselves with the illusion that the Holocaust was the work of a unique handful of sadists will find this study of a single Reserve Police Battalion doubly disturbing: sadists there certainly were, but mass murder on such a gigantic scale would not have been possible without the participation of a huge number of "ordinary men". One's sympathies are solely with the Jewish and Polish victims, but an honest man must also ask himself some uncomfortable questions, "What would I have done if I had found myself conscripted into a Reserve Police Battalion and ordered to shoot unarmed men, women, and children? Would I have been one of the few with the courage to refuse to shoot? If so, is that enough? Does morality not demand more? Would I have been capable of more active opposition?" Many people might like to fantasise that they would have rescued like Oskar Schindler, protested like Sophie Scholl, or even resisted like Claus von Stauffenberg. Yet fantasy is what it is: the reality is that for every Schindler, every Sophie Scholl, and every von Stauffenberg, there were thousands of people like the men of Reserve Police Battalion 101, most of whom knew that what they were doing was wrong but who did it nonetheless. We should never attempt to justify this, but we need to explain it if we are to stand any chance of preventing such atrocities in future.Read more ›
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 Dec. 1998
Format: Paperback
Reserve Police Battalion 101 was composed of 500 middle-aged men who had come from Hamburg, Germany and were either too old or unsuitable for the army. It was these ordinary men that carried out a piece of the dreaded New Order in Hitler's Europe, systematically gunning down Jews, Poles and other undesirables. They followed the dreaded "Einsatzgruppen," or Mobile Killing Units that carried out similar ghastly deeds and were, in turn, predecessed by the German army operating in the East. In this tremendously interesting and radical book, Christopher Browning has painted a portrait filled with much more than blood, guts and bone-splitting detail: he has clearly shown how these ordinary men became the perpetrators of some of the most henous crimes in history. It was Police Battalion 101 that commited the single greatest atrocity commited during the whole of the Second World War. It was this group -- which began as one composed of men who could not bear to see their victims falling in corpse-filled ditches -- that were responsible for the shooting of 38,000 people and another 45,200 who were deported to the killing center of Treblinka. Tracing their origins from the killers' own testimonies and using a brilliant writing style, Browning's book remains a crowning historical achievment, for it shows how this group of ordinary men went from scared individuals to systematic killers of humanity.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Bull on 30 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
What makes this work genuinely remarkable is that unlike so many books about the Holocaust, and other atrocities of the Second World War, it attempts to view events through the eyes of the perpetrators rather than those of the victims. Whilst some reviewers seem to find the whole premise reprehensible, this is what makes this volume fresh, different, and rivetting. Some have criticised Browning on the grounds that the depositions of murderers always, or almost always, contain deliberate fabrications, convenient lapses of memory, and other devices of wishful thinking to justify their actions: but Browning does in fact bring this to the reader's attention, realises the implications for his research, and tries to take some of this into account.

What emerges that is particularly valuable is vast areas of 'grey' in what is so often a black and white picture of good and evil. Some of the Reserve Police unit embrace their task of annihilation with gusto - one officer brings his new wife along to witness the slaying. Others carry out their duty grimly without comment, others follow orders but stop when there are no directions. The unit commander clearly does not like the job - and absolves some of his more humane, or more squeamish, underlings, of their duty. One or two brave men refuse to kill - but even one of these cannot seem to completely escape culpability when faced with a direct order from a senior officer who is not of his own unit. Given the nature of the evidence that exists Browning has done a remarkable job. This is one of those books that it is difficult to put down until finished.

So why four stars not five ? This is a very good book - but there are a few points of note.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Gibson on 2 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
The horrors of the Nazis are well documented, this book looks at how a number of ordinary mature pillars of society embraced the Nazi killing machine and became facilitators of slaughter of innocents.

Having researched this subject over a couple of years, the psyche of Nazi murderers, this book has finalised my interest in the subject and answered the outstanding dilemas I had.

If you want drama and voyourism about Nazi attrocity, this is NOT for you, it goes much further, deeper and poses dark questions about how we might behave in similar barbaric circumstances.
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