The atrocities of the Holocaust have prompted much inquiry by researchers to
understand how humans can behave so cruelly toward their fellow man. Theories have
been formed that cite the men of Battalion 101 as "exceptions" or men with "faulty
personalities," when, in fact, they were ordinary men. The people who attempted to
perform a genocide were the same people as you and me with the only difference being
the environment in which they worked. The behavior of the men in Battalion 101 was not
abnormal human behavior, rather, their actions are testament to the premise that when
humans are exposed to certain environmental and psychological conditions, extreme
brutality is highly apt to occur.
The members of the Police Battalion 101 had the same ideas and influences as the
rest of the German citizens. Because of the racist teachings produced by the German
government, the entire German society was uniform under the belief that they were the
The German were taught that anyone different from their own kind (white
Anglo-Saxon Protestant) needed to be removed from their society in order for it to
prosper. The Police Battalion men shared the same beliefs as everyone else, but they had
to perform the dirty work of killing approximately 83,000 Jews. Christopher Browning
states in his book, Ordinary Men, that, "...the men of Reserve Police Battalion 101, like
most of the German society, was immersed in a deluge of racist and anti-Semitic
propaganda" (Browning 184). Unless placed in the Battalion men's situation, one can not
fathom how a population of people can so evilly turn against another.
People in every culture are susceptible to the ideas and beliefs brought upon them
by propaganda. Whenever an idea is accepted as the 'norm', people will find a way to
justify it and follow...