Chris's Reviews > Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland

Ordinary Men by Christopher R. Browning
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's review
Mar 02, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: non-fiction, history
Read from March 02 to 05, 2012

I had to read this for a class otherwise I probably wouldn't have picked it up. Holocaust lit is depressing enough and this had its share of horrific tales but it didn't seem to be more than an elongated account on one battalion. It was missing more. Browning starts off with this claim that he is going to analyze and explain why 'ordinary men' become killers and I feel he really failed to do that. Towards the end, he explains several factors that helped many of the men get to that point (wanting promotions, dehumanization, peer pressure) but he still fails to give a real, true reason, which leads me to believe there really isn't one. The Holocaust happened because people are horrible and capable of horrific things. We would like to think that we all have the conscience and willpower to stand up against things like this but from the Holocaust, it seems like that was a small minority. The Afterword was pretty much a personal vendetta back-and-forth going on between Browning and another guy. (Goldhagen? I don't remember his name.) Due to Browning's lack of a real reason, I would tend to agree with other guy's point even though I haven't read it. The Holocaust seems to be a case of 'willing executioners'. However, I can definitely see some of the flaws in other guy's argument that would arise if he is using evidence how Browning claims. You can't just ignore what doesn't fit your hypothesis and pick and choose pieces of quotes to make them fit your side of the story.
I would have been interested to read other guy's account and get both sides of the story, but if Browning's claims about his evidenciary use can be believed, I'm a bit afraid to be dragged into something I know is largely faked. In summation, (lol) we have other books to read for this class so I'll just stick to those for the time being.
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12/18/2016 marked as: read

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Anna I also expected the analysys of the ordinary men doing so horrific stuff. But it really failed - I was just skipping pages to find some good parts, but I didn't.

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