Ordinary Men Book Review Sample essay

Analytical Essay Assignment

“Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland” is a study of the German order police. This Unit used to round up and massacre the Jews and deport them to the Nazi death camps. These men were ordinary middle aged working class men who found their way into the police force of the era, but were found unfit for a role in military forefront. Their duty was to wound up the excess Jews especially in the trains and shoot them. It was a hard life for the policemen of Battalion 101. Browning was of the opinion that the policemen in Battalion 101 killed out of the desire to obey the authority of the time and also due to peer pressure.

The Holocaust was a time that the authority was totalitarian and their orders could not face any opposition Once drafted into the battleground, the men had to obey the orders of the authority irrespective of whether they were in the battleground or otherwise. It was peer pressure from their colleagues that led them to their lifestyle of killing Jews. One may not have been of the idea of killing the innocent, but once they have been recruited into the task of killing, they get hooked and used to their jobs. There might have been primal hatred from the policemen in the unit towards the Jews citizenry.

Primal hatred and blood-lust was not a driving factor for the policemen towards killing the Jews but the desire to satisfy authority and pure peer pressure. There were killings performed by average men. The author notes that when people are placed in a group setting, majority of the people will adhere to the commands given to them, irrespective of whether the commands and instructions are morally repulsive and socially unacceptable. It is the nature of ordinary men to follow orders without any question to the authority. There might be personal questions, but no one amongst the members will master the courage to question their master. When individuals perceive the orders given as being sent by an individual in a position of power, there will rarely ask any question because of the perceived consequences from the authority figures. 

It might have been difficult, but there were some men who resisted the urge kill innocent Jews just for the sake of peer pressure and following the instructions of the authorities. One of the measures taken by these men was to remain true to their values and principles. It also helped that they were apathetic to the Jews and the situations in which they pound themselves. One of the things they did was refraining from murdering innocent citizens simply based on their racial profile.

The conclusion of the book is a chilling account, one that is true nevertheless. Browning notes that if it was possible for the men of Battalion 101 to commit such heinous crimes under such conditions, it is possible for any member of the society and group of individuals to turn into crime and murder innocent civilians . Tracing the path of the men of battalion 101, it is evident that they were innocent men before authority and peer pressure marred their decision making. There was a transformation in the manner with which the men carried out their activities before and after serving time in the German Nazi camps. This transformation is evident in the ease with which these ordinary citizens could carry out their killings after serving their time in the camps.

Irrespective of whether they were serving at the battlefront or not, the men of battalion 101 were hardened into killing innocent civilians after serving some time under the authority of the Nazi army generals. 


  1. Browning, Christopher. Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. New York: Oxford Printing Press, 1993.

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