Menschenschreck “If the international financiers in and outside Europe should succeed inplunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not bethe Bolshevizing of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but theannihilation of the Jewish race in Europe. “- Adolf Hitler- Jan 30, 1939When the Nazi party came to power in January of 1933, it almostimmediately began to take hostile measures toward the Jewish people. Thegovernment passed special legislation that excluded Jews from the protectionof German law. The property of Jews was then legally seized, andconcentration camps were set up in which Jews were executed, tortured, orcondemned to slave labor.
The Nazis organized sporadic and local massacreswhich occurred in a nationwide program in 1938. After the outbreak of WorldWar II anti-Semitic activity increased dramatically. By the end of the war,millions of Jews and others targeted by the Nazis, had been killed in theHolocaust. The Jewish dead numbered more than 5 million: about 3 million inkilling centers and other camps, 1. 4 million in shooting operations, and morethan 600,000 in Polish ghettos.
Who were the men that carried out theseterrible murders? One would think them to be savage killers speciallyselected for their history of brutality and violence. But, in fact, thesemen were typically normal middle-aged business men. How could theseordinary men be influenced in such a way to allow them to commit suchatrocities? The governmental policies, pressures of comrades and individualbehaviors helped to transform these men into the mass murderers of EuropeanJews that they soon became. The government and the military were very important to the transformation ofthese men. The men of the battalions were often told how the German race wasthe greatest on earth. Their commanding officers continually reminded themthat as Germans they had to be strong and ruthless.
They were told toproject an image of superiority and not to show any mercy on the inferiorJewish race. Anti-Semitism was practiced throughout the government andmilitary. One policy the government continually reinforced was that that theJews were not even humans. The Jews were often referred to as ?wild animals?and given no respect. Some commanders of the Order Police encouragedshooting blindly into the ghettos to try to shoot down Jews for sport.
Company recreation rooms were commonly decorated with racist slogans andvictory celebrations were often held when large numbers of Jews were killed. The military units held weekly ?class? in which they taught ?ideologicalpropaganda? that would use literature such as pamphlets entitled ?SS Man andThe Question of Blood? and ?The Politics of Race. ” These classes furtheredthe idea that the Jews were nothing but a troublesome inferior race. Theywere taught how to kill their victims so that they would die quickly andsuffer little. The government also issued such laws as the Barbarossa decreewhich gave the order police a varitable ?shooting license? against theRussians.
The Order police were told that they were in a war against the Jewsand the Bolsheviks and they ?should proceed ruthlessly against the Jews. ?The Order police ?should be proud to be participating in the defeat of theworld enemy, Bolshevism. The soldiers were continually reminded of how thewomen and children in Germany were being bombed and how the Jews instigatedthe American boycott which was destroying Germany’s economy. If the soldierswere searching career advancement in the Police force. If this was the case,?orders are orders?, and the soldier would comply with the orders of theirsuperiors.
Through these ideas presented by the institutions of governmentand military the Order Police became a strong killing machine. The comrades of an individual soldier had a profound influence on thetransformation from normal citizen to murderer. Although this influence mayhave been unintentional it was still a major factor. Peer pressure’s abitch. The pressure to conform to the job at hand was great in these smalltightly knit battalions.
By not shooting, an individual would not be doinghis part in an already unpleasant task. Stepping out would make the rest ofthe battalion believe that the soldier thought himself to be ?too good? forsuch tasks. The mission had to be accomplished with or without him. Policemen who did not shoot were often isolated, rejected and ostracized bytheir comrades. The policemen had nowhere else to turn for mental supportand societal contact besides his comrades.
He would not want to jeopardizethis over the simple matter of killing mere ?wild animals. ? Another way themen in the battalions were able to kill the Jews was that they were suppliedwith rations of alcohol. They were drunk for many of the killings. One ofthe soldiers was quoted as saying ?Most of the other comrades drank so muchsolely because of the many shootings of the Jews, for such a life was quiteintolerable sober. ?The individuals personal justifications helped to change the behavior of thesoldiers.
Many of the soldiers tried to prove to themselves that what theywere doing was right. They justified their actions with such comments as?They are destroying Germany. ? It soon became policy for the policemen tokill the Jews. It was a daily ritual for the Police to slaughter thousandsof Jews everyday. They genuinely thought that they were helping the world byrelieving it of the waste of society, the Jews.
By the end of the war the soldiers of the Order Police had become masskillers of the European Jews. The Order Police had effectively dehumanizedthe Jews and for many of the soldiers murder was daily practice. In fact,some of the soldiers came to enjoy it. They would try and come up with anyexcuse to beat or shoot a Jew.
Some of the soldiers would set their watchesahead so as to beat Jews out after the curfew. They would also rip the Starof David off the Jews clothing and then beat the Jew for not wearing it. Thekilling of jews became so routine that it was oftenly refered to as ?OurDaily Bread? by some of the more ?eager killers. ? The Government and military, comrades and personal justifications placedupon the Order Police of World War Two turned them into the largest massmurders of all time. In total approximatly six million jews were masacuredby these so-called ?ordinary men.?