Carnegie Mellon University

Ordinary Men as Holocaust Perpetrators

Ordinary Men as Holocaust Perpetrators

A Reappraisal After Twenty-five Years

Wednesday, September 26
Porter Hall 100
4:30pm Lecture

A lecture by:
Christopher R. Browning
Frank Porter Graham Professor of History Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Christopher Browning is one of the world’s foremost experts on the Holocaust. His book Ordinary Men is the story of Reserve Police Battalion 101 of the German Order Police, which was responsible for mass shootings and roundups of Jewish people for deportation to Nazi death camps in 1942. It argues that most of the men of RPB 101 were not fanatical Nazis but ordinary middle-aged men who committed these atrocities out of the group dynamics of conformity, deference to authority, role adaptation, and the altering of moral norms to justify their actions. While the book discusses a specific unit, its general argument is that most people are susceptible to the pressure of a group setting and committing actions they would never do of their own volition.