Following Orders with Reluctance
War is not an easy thing to live through. When one is a soldier it is expected that you will have to fight your fellow human beings and in the worst case even have to kill them. Being a soldier you can expect that war will be horrible. However, the men of Reserve Police Battalion 101 did not expect that they would have to kill the innocent and the unarmed just for the purpose of what we now call ethnic cleansing. As police they are supposed to uphold the laws and protect the innocent but how can you uphold the laws is they are unjust and corrupt? Many of the things that the men of the Battalion 101 were asked to do they could not cope with and who can blame them. Take their action at Jozefow where they had to kill hundreds of innocent, defenseless Jews.  As Browning states in Ordinary Men, “The resentment and bitterness in the battalion over what they had been asked to do in Jozefow was shared by virtually everyone, even those who had shot the entire day. The exclamation of one policeman to First Sergeant Kammer of First Company that ‘I’d go crazy if I had to do that again’ expressed the sentiments of many.” Many of the men had to do terrible things and some wished to be exempted, which their senior commanders sympathized with and often let some men go without having to carry out the atrocities. Certain men were exempted as long as the majority still carried out the orders, no matter how gruesome. The commanders knew that it had to be carried out and if they didn’t do it then someone else would and their men could be sent to prison or executed.
 Christopher Browning. Ordinary Men. HarperCollins. New York. 1998. pp76.