Midterm May 11
: optional – if you do so-so on mid-term and well on finals
Four small essay questions and you answer two of them
Systematic extermination of Jews of Europe. Extermination of more or less 6 million people.
Number is not characteristic. Stalin killed more than Hitler. Plus 140,000
mentally ill killed – 3
million Soviet war prisoners – 200,000 Roma – many more millions of civilians in Soviet
territory, Balkans. Totally 15-20 million killed by Nazis.
Stalin may have done same, never such systetmatic attempt to exterminate whole group going
back to places b/c knew there were some people left, going to look for them. Organized and
systematic way of exterminating group gives character to enterprise that wouldn’t find
elsewhere. 14,000 Jews in Norway – half fleed others taken by train, boat then train to be killed.
Sephardic Jews in Greek islands. Ships came and assembled them (was under Italian
sovereignty). Brought by boat to Athens in 11 days, then by train to Auschwitz. Something in
enterprise makes you wonder, ‘what it is it?’. This whole thing keeps you wondering what is it .
Would other be people killers if in right type of surrounding: Christopher Browning’s “Ordinary
Man.” Studied unit of policemen from cilsHamburg, people over age which led them to army
during war – brought to Poland (500 of them). Told that tomorrow you will kill Jewish
population of a small town. Commander said if some of you don’t feel up to it, it’s OK, can do
other things. Nobody was punished for refusing to kill Jews. People could say ‘no’. We don’t
know of one case where was real punishment. People were considered weak, unable, but not
punished. In Browning’s story, a few police said ‘no’. 98% said OK. After killings next day –
police were not trained shooters, killers, shot andmissed
until managed to kill everyone.
Commander again said it’s OK to stop. 5, 6, 7 left. But around 90% continued and became
trained, professional killers. Browning said these are ordinary man, and given surroundings,
everyone could have behaved same way. This group killed some 30,000 Jews., These were
ordinary police in their forties.
One argument is inherent in human nature. One argument says that weaker people pushed to
behave according to group; want to get promotions, not be seen as weak. Or argument is that it’s
part of modern society, modernity, organization, distance between killer and victim (if
beauracratic) explains why many people ready to give orders. Modern society conditions people
to go by rules, certain orders.
Is it specifically German? (Goldhargger’s thesis) Browning says it’s universal. Difficult to define
In Nazi system, no place for women. Contrary to communist system in Soviet union where