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Holocaust

6

succumbing to peer pressure, obeyed orders. The Battalion 101 killed Polish Jews not by

themselves but with active help from the Poles, “who collaborated in the Final Solution

and helped them track down Jews… Often unwilling to make accusatory statements

about their comrades or to be truthful about themselves, these men must have found

considerable psychological relief in sharing blame with the Poles” (1992). The Poles

showed the battalion the Jewish hideouts. Browning uses the soldiers’ testimonies to

show that they did not know what they were doing. As one soldier said later,

“I made the effort, and it was possible for me, to shoot only children. It so

happened that the mothers led the children by the hand. My neighbor then shot the

mother and I shot the child that belonged to her, because I reasoned with myself

that after all without its mother the child could not live any longer. It was

supposed to be, so to speak, soothing to my conscience to release children unable

to live without their mothers.” (Browning, 1992)

Another testimony said,

“The shooting of the men was so repugnant to me that I missed the fourth man. It

was simply no longer possible for me to aim accurately. I suddenly felt nauseous

and ran away from the shooting site....I then ran into the woods, vomited and sat

down against a tree...my nerves were totally finished.” (Browning, 1992)

The members of Battalion 101, as Browning finds, were policemen, traders, dock or

construction workers, truck drivers, machine operators and so on before the war. Only a

handful of them were members of the Nazi party. The eagerness to conform to rules as a

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