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Holocaust

7

means of taking advantage in the careers was reinforced by the leaders’ anti-rhetoric

rhetoric. The Jews were portrayed as evil men, responsible for the killing of German

women and children. It was not battlefield frenzy that is usually whipped up during times

of war that made the Battalion 101 kill hundreds of people. The process of

dehumanization, that the Nazi leaders were able to indoctrinate the soldiers into, made

them pull the trigger against all Jews in Poland. They considered the killings not as

‘killings’ but as ‘actions’ and ‘resettlements’ on the orders of the commanders – in this

case that of Major Trapp, who himself suffered pangs of guilt later, as Browning (1992)

shows from his testimonies recorded later (Reich, 1992).

Although Goldhagen (1996) and Browning (1992) interpreted the testimonies of

the soldiers of the Batallion 101, the motivations for the killings that led to the Final

Solution in Poland was perhaps a combination of both theories. Anti-Semitic feelings had

been developing in Germany since a long time before the Second World War but it may

be a little simplistic to theorize that such feelings were the inherent nature of all Germans.

Rather, political and economic developments in Germany since the late nineteenth

century had provoked the anti-Semitic hysteria. This feeling of victimization was

effectively used by Hitler and the Nazi Party, who rekindled urge in Germans to snatch

back their won rights. The killings that the soldiers – that of Battalion 101 not the least of

them – were a result of such herd mentality, reinforced by peer pressure.

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