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Battalion 101 : Why did they shoot? An enquiry. Why did they shoot? By the end of today you’ll be able to: Suggest reasons why they behaved in this way.

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Presentation on theme: "Battalion 101 : Why did they shoot? An enquiry. Why did they shoot? By the end of today you’ll be able to: Suggest reasons why they behaved in this way."— Presentation transcript:

1 Battalion 101 : Why did they shoot? An enquiry

2 Why did they shoot? By the end of today you’ll be able to: Suggest reasons why they behaved in this way Position your views within the main historical schools of thought on the holocaust and use the reasons above to justify this Why did they behave in this way What is your response to this? How do your views compare to other Historians? © pending

3 When was this happening? 1933 – Nazis take over Germany Persecution: The Nazis try to force the Jews out of Germany 1939 Ghettos: Jews forced to live in separate areas 1941 – The Final Solution: The Nazis decide to start mass killings – at first through shootings (EINSATZGRUPPEN) then death camps such as Auschwitz. By million men women and children had already been killed 1939 – Outbreak of WW – German invasion of Russia

4 Where was this happening?

5 So why did ordinary people take part in these terrible events? The SS Totally loyal to Hitler Given the task of making the ‘Final Solution’ happen in 1941 Police Battalions Ordinary German policemen Used for killings because there weren’t enough SS

6 Police Battalion 101 Ordinary men from Hamburg in Germany ‘Reserve’ policemen – too old to join the army Average age 39 25% were Nazi party members Had been factory workers, waiters, tailors, teachers, truck drivers © pending

7 What did they do? Sent to Poland in July 1942 Executed more than 38,000 Jews in 16 months Sent another 45,000 to death camps Their first ‘action’ was against 1800 Polish Jews living in the village of Jozefow…

8 What happened at Jozefow? © pending

9 Why did they do it?

10 New evidence 1 At the beginning of the day the commander of Battalion 101, Major Trapp, gave a short speech to his men. With a choking voice and tears in his eyes he told his men about the task they had to complete. He said he didn’t like these orders, but that the villagers of Jozefow were helping Germany’s enemies and that the only way to end the war quickly was by following these orders. He also reminded them that their homes in Hamburg were being bombed – countless German women and children were dying. This would only end if they dealt firmly with Germany’s enemies. Before the massacre

11 New evidence 2 Major Trapp ended his speech with an extraordinary offer to his Battalion: if any of the men did not feel they could do this task they could step out. Trapp paused, and after some moments, one man stepped forward. His captain was furious and began to swear at him, but Trapp told him to hold his tongue. Then ten or twelve other men stepped forward as well. They were told to hand over their rifles and report for other duties, but were not punished. However despite this the rest of Battalion 101 did not step forward and went on to take part in the shootings for the rest of the day. Major Trapp’s offer

12 New evidence 3 When the action was finally over at dusk, and around 1500 Jews lay dead, the men climbed into their trucks and returned to their barracks. Extra rations of alcohol were provided, and the men talked little, ate almost nothing, but drank a great deal. That night one of them awoke from a nightmare firing his gun into the ceiling of the barracks. After the massacre - dusk

13 New evidence 4 When questioned in the 1960s about why they decided to shoot, the members of Battalion 101 gave different answers. Most claimed they had not heard Trapp’s offer or that they did not remember it. Of the few who admitted to hearing, one said he was worried that his comrades would think he was a coward. Another said ‘I was cowardly’. A few others said it was impossible to explain why they did it as the situation in 1942 was so different to the1960s. One man admitted that it was not until years later that he began to consider what he had done was not right. He had not given it a thought at the time. After the massacre – 25 years later

14 What happened to the men of Battalion 101? In 1947, two were sentenced to death in Poland and two were imprisoned In more were put on trial in Hamburg. Though most were found guilty, only five received prison sentences (from five to eight years) and these were later reduced on appeal No other action was taken against the remaining members of Battalion 101 What is your reaction to this?

15 Christopher Browning They did this because they were ordinary men. Like most people they took the easy option, doing what everybody else did to protect themselves. The men of Battalion 101 weren’t evil, or even Nazis for the most part. They were victims of an extraordinary situation.

16 Daniel Goldhagen Rubbish! You can’t excuse them by blaming the circumstances they were in. They knew what they were doing and did it willingly because at the time they believed it was right to kill Jews.

17 Where do you stand? (and can you justify your position…?) Christopher Browning Daniel Goldhagen They did this because they were ordinary men. Like most people they took the easy option, doing what everybody else did to protect themselves. The men of Battalion 101 weren’t evil, or even Nazis for the most part. They were victims of an extraordinary situation. Rubbish! You can’t excuse them by blaming the circumstances they were in. They knew what they were doing and did it willingly because at the time they believed it was right to kill Jews.


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