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Perpetrator Studies Network


Browning, Christopher. Ordinary Men

Historian Christopher Browning’s renowned text has played a crucial role in bringing perperator studies to the academic forefront and revolutionised the field. Browning uses the testimonies of the men of Reserve Police Battalion 101 (not fanatic Nazis but ordinary working-class men) about their time in Poland to show that their actions could not be explained merely by hatred, bloodlust, or even ideology but rather by obedience to authority and peer pressure. Browning explains the men’s actions through group dynamics and the importance of social psychology in getting them to perform acts they would individually condemn. More generally, the book has to be seen in the context of theories advanced by Stanley Milgram and others according to which people will adhere to commands given when placed in a coherent group setting, even if they might personally question their morality.

Browning, Christopher. Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (New York: Harper Collins, 1992)