Ordinary Men and Mein Krieg
Over the past few classes we have discussed the war on the eastern front, particularly on the atrocities committed by the Nazis. Through reading the book Ordinary Men and watching the movie Mein Krieg, we have seen how normal people can become callous killers. In Ordinary Men, only about a dozen men originally decide to avoid the massacres of the Jewish people at Jozefow. Eventually the battalion became hardened and dependent on alcohol in order to continue out its “actions.”(1) These were average people who had lived before the Nazi regime came to power, and had the understanding of what they were doing was wrong. In Mein Krieg we see how soldiers personally experienced the war on the eastern front. Most of the men interviewed seemed to show little regret at what took place. Although, some did have moments of pain and restraint in discussing executions and taking Soviet prisoners of war. As many of the individuals looked back on their experiences in the war, many tried to focus on positives like referring to it almost as a vacation to see other parts of the world. Of course I doubt many people would want to recall the terrible things that had taken place. These past few classes have opened my eyes to see how easily regular people can turn to terrible actions given a situation such as this.
(1) Christopher R. Browning, Ordinary Men Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, HarperCollins Publishers, New York City, 1992