Ordinary Men  

rm_deaminveni 50M
139 posts
2/11/2006 4:41 pm

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

Ordinary Men

If you want a scary read (and I mean scary as in disturbing, rather than "Hammer Horror" scary) read "Ordinary Men" by Christopher R Browning.

It is abook about a reserve police unit sent to Poland during the second World War. The men in this unit were responsible for the deaths of over 45000 Jews. They shot thouands and sent many more to the death camps in Poland. All part of the Nazi "Final Solution".

What is most distrubing about this book is not the nature of the holocaust iself. This is widely documented and I'm sure you all know about it. What is disturbing is that the men that made up this unit were ordinary middle-aged men, not, for the most part, career Nazis or even policemen or soldiers.

Browning's conclusions are complex, but boil down to this; these men were not animals, not Nazis as most people understand the term. These were ordinary men with complex stories and motives for carrying out orders that in many cases they found disturbing or even revolting.

Why then did they carry out these orders? Was it indoctrination? In part, yes, but that is too simple an explanation. Was it then that they were literally "only folowing orders"? Again, in part yes. Browning argues that we all defer to authority figues to varying degrees. Did these men succumb to peer pressure? Again, yes, in part this contributed to their behaviour.

The point being made is that these men were not dyed-in-the-wool psychopaths, nor were they simply puppets following orders blindly, nor were they specially selected for this horrific task because they had demonstrated some previous capacity for such a task. They were, as the book title suggests "Ordinary Men".

I can't go into a lot of detail in a short piece like this, read the book. If, like me, you can see that Browning's conclusions lead inevitably to the fact that such a thing could happen again (and many would argue that it already has in some African countries where wholesale genocide has been commited even in the last 20 years) then you too will come away from the book feeling at least a little more uneasy.

rm_corezon 53F
3376 posts
2/11/2006 6:29 pm

I appreciate the read suggestion but it is already altogether too real to me; that and the other incredibly fucked up things "normal" humans can condone and do to each other...we like to think that normal people don't do shit like that but we fail to remember history. I would rather read fantasy and escape.

Frankly I find it scary enough just to see that this current administration actually got re-elected and wondering what part of our constitution they will try to reinterpret and change next as the public swallows it hook, line, and sinker...

Additionally how many other things they will try to rationalise in the name of national security and "democracy" as they try to fan the flames of fear in the hearts of the American public in order to further their own hidden agendas.

rm_corezon 53F
3376 posts
2/11/2006 7:09 pm

Ah, you're UK. Well, obviously I was referring to our political mess here in the US.

rm_deaminveni 50M
116 posts
2/12/2006 1:51 pm

corezon: Believe me, I share your concerns. The UK administration is also working hard to remove any vestige of social justice, human rights, and freedom of expression, all in the name of "freedom", "democracy". They also "fan the fear"as you say (see my previous postings. The book I reocmmended simplybecaue it demonstrates all too clearly the path down which we could so easily be led unless "we the people" do something about it.

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