Ordinary Men

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade April 2001

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Many books have been written about the atrocities that occurred during the Holocaust. Most of the books written speak of Adolf Hitler's military and how many Jews were killed while he was in control. They review mainly the military aspects which protected Germany while the Holocaust was happening. "Ordinary Men" by Christopher R. Browning is a finely focused book written with the efforts of trying to reveal the psychological aspects of the Holocaust. He has studied the records of a series of judicial interrogations of the members of Battalion 101 that took place in the 1960s. His intent was to determine how a group of ordinary middle-aged men from Hamburg, some of whom had worked with and been friendly with Jews before the war, adapted themselves to the executioner's task. The human behavior of officers and soldiers is closely examined to find the chilling truth behind this chilling event. This paper will examine the author's themes on which the book is based and relate these themes to ethics and human morality.

The first issue to examine is why did ordinary citizens participate in the process of mass murder. These soldiers were regular human beings with wives and children and other family members back home. They carried careers in which many of them reacted with Jews in their daily lives. Before the way, each of the officers, without question, had a set of morals in which they lived their lives by. The first mission in this book is a good example to prove this statement. Major Trapp, the battalion officer, issued the first orders for his battalion to kill Jews. Clearly startled by this action we read that he was pale and nervous. With a choking voice and tears in his eyes, he explained to his men that they would have...