[July 30, 2022] A sad week for our Boy Scout Troop. Yesterday, we buried one of our Eagle Scouts; a good young man at 18 years of age, lifeguard, plans to attend college, 10 years in scouting, Catholic, dedicated, reliable, and trustworthy. It is difficult to realize we will never see this young man’s potential realized. Or to see his smile. A great loss to us all. We are all connected to more of the world than we realize. At the church mass, there were a couple of hundred present, mostly young people from his school, scout troops, life guard buddies, relatives, aviation enthusiasts (he wanted to be a pilot), and several military personnel. In the Boy Scouts, we stress virtue, truthfulness, and courtesy. We encourage manly pursuits like camping, survival, swimming, shooting, woodcraft, hiking and more, all of the many skills Boy Scouts were required to learn and excel at. I once asked him what he liked most about scouting. This was his answer: everything. And this was the young man. We all will miss him.
Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, Christopher R. Browning 2017
Christopher R. Browning’s shocking account of how a unit of average middle-aged Germans became the cold-blooded murderers of tens of thousands of Jews—now with a new afterword and additional photographs. Ordinary Men is the true story of Reserve Police Battalion 101 of the German Order Police, which was responsible for mass shootings as well as round-ups of Jewish people for deportation to Nazi death camps in Poland in 1942. Browning argues that most of the men of RPB 101 were not fanatical Nazis but, rather, ordinary middle-aged, working-class men who committed these atrocities out of a mixture of motives, including the group dynamics of conformity, deference to authority, role adaptation, and the altering of moral norms to justify their actions.
Three groups quickly emerged within the battalion: a core of eager killers, a plurality who carried out their duties reliably but without initiative, and a small minority who evaded participation in the acts of killing without diminishing the murderous efficiency of the battalion whatsoever. While this book discusses a specific Reserve Unit during WWII, the general argument Browning makes is that most people succumb to the pressures of a group setting and commit actions they would never do of their own volition.
Ordinary Men is a powerful, chilling, and important work with themes and arguments that continue to resonate today.
Great book. Highly recommended.
Please read my newest book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” at Amazon (link here).
To go to the complete Professional Reading list, click on this direct link: www.theleadermaker.com/reading-list/
Side Note: Please remember and take a look at Tom Copeland’s reading blog. His website, which I highly recommend, can be found here: https://militaryreadinglists.com/map