Learning from a Massacare
Ideology is an impressive force. A look at modern-day America can show you exactly the power of a pervasive ideology, used for good and bad, depending on who you ask. What the story of the Reserve Police Battalion 101 shows two things: a hard limit of ideology and an aspect of the Nazi management that worked well.
When it came to Kristalnacht, the people did not need more than propaganda and a slight push to break windows and beat innocent people. But Kristalnacht was a “grass-roots” movement: there was no overt ‘order’ to make it happen. No one was told “You must go wreak havoc through the city.” But as the events at Jozefow show, once there was an official order, once the choice was removed from the equation, the reactions changed to one of revulsion. This might not have happened right away, but based on the reaction after the fact (Browning 76), most members of Battalion 101 did not find what they had done to be any definition of ‘good’. This could also be that the members of Battalion 101, who were primarily not full-fledged Nazi supporters.
The forced deportation at Lomazy showed something that the Nazi regime held over from their time before they came to power: adaptability. The changes at Lomazy showed that the Nazi leaders knew how poorly the order would be received. They brought in ideological sympathizers, the Hiwis, as well as not having the Battalion members commit most of the murders. The Battalion members were primarily used to force the Jews into trains. But they still knew the destination of those trains: “Once all the cars were sealed, the men of Reserve Police Battalion 101 quickly departed without waiting to see the train pull away” (Browning 94).
Browning, Christopher R. Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland. New York: HarperPerennial, 1998. Print.