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.