Loss Of Morality In Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men

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In 1992, Christopher Browning published his book Ordinary Men, a work in which he narrates the experiences of the men in the Reserve Police Battalion 101. Browning begins by classifying the men as ordinary people, as his title suggests, but quickly reveals not only how easily these men succumbed to the vicious acts they were expected to carry out, but how swiftly they began to take extra measures that were unnecessary as a result of their loss of morality. Based on this, Browning’s account of this Battalion allows him to explain that the Holocaust was made possible by how effortlessly an ordinary person can be swayed to do horrible things. Browning begins by giving some background on the kind of men that were drafted into this Battalion. …show more content…
During their first action, they experienced the execution of countless Jews which lasted until nightfall without the allowance of a break. Although some pleaded for their relief, this event likely desensitized them to some extent. Furthermore, after their experience in Józefów, they began euphemizing what they were doing. They referred to the executions and resettlements as “actions” and the strip searches as “clearing operations,” which allowed them to withdraw themselves from the cruelty they were performing and condone their behavior. This, I believe, is what eventually lead to their loss of morality. So soon after the events of Józefów did the men of the Battalion begin engaging in what could arguably be even more horrific behavior. No more were they simply carrying out the tasks that were required of them; they were pushing the limits and almost making a game of it. Browning explains that the men would keep a tally of the Jews they killed, and if a particularly large amount were killed in one day, they men would have victory celebrations. They would set their watches ahead so that they would beat or seize Jews who were allegedly out past curfew. Those who were most notorious for shooting were kept as guards at the fence rather than rotating duties like the rest, so that if Jew came too close they were killed (Browning,

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