"If the international financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in
plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be
the Bolshevizing of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the
annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe."
- Adolf Hitler- Jan 30, 1939

When the Nazi party came to power in January of 1933, it almost
immediately began to take hostile measures toward the Jewish people. The
government passed special legislation that excluded Jews from the protection
of German law. The property of Jews was then legally seized, and
concentration camps were set up in which Jews were executed, tortured, or
condemned to slave labor. The Nazis organized sporadic and local massacres
which occurred in a nationwide program in 1938. After the outbreak of World
War 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 the
Holocaust. The Jewish dead numbered more than 5 million: about 3 million in
killing centers and other camps, 1.4 million in shooting operations, and more
than 600,000 in Polish ghettos. Who were the men that carried out these
terrible murders? One would think them to be savage killers specially
selected for their history of brutality and violence. But, in fact, these
men were typically normal middle-aged business men. How could these
ordinary men be influenced in such a way to allow them to commit such
atrocities? The governmental policies, pressures of comrades and individual
behaviors helped to transform these men into the mass murderers of European
Jews that they soon became.
The government and the military were very important to the transformation of
these men. The men of the battalions were often told how the German race was
the greatest on earth. Their commanding officers continually reminded them
that as Germans they had to be strong and ruthless. They were told to
project an image of superiority and not to show any mercy on the inferior
Jewish race. Anti-Semitism was practiced throughout the government and
military. One policy the government continually reinforced was that that the
Jews were not even humans. The Jews were often referred to as ?wild animals?
and given no respect. Some commanders of the Order Police encouraged
shooting blindly into the ghettos to try to shoot down Jews for sport.
Company recreation rooms were commonly decorated with racist slogans and
victory celebrations were often held when large numbers of Jews were killed.
The military units held weekly ?class? in which they taught ?ideological
propaganda? that would use literature such as pamphlets entitled ?SS Man and
The Question of Blood? and ?The Politics of Race." These classes furthered
the idea that the Jews were nothing but a troublesome inferior race. They
were taught how to kill their victims so that they would die quickly and
suffer little. The government also issued such laws as the Barbarossa decree
which gave the order police a varitable ?shooting license? against the
Russians. The Order police were told that they were in a war against the Jews
and the Bolsheviks and they ?should proceed ruthlessly against the Jews.?
The Order police ?should be proud to be participating in the defeat of the
world enemy, Bolshevism. The soldiers were continually reminded of how the
women and children in Germany were being bombed and how the Jews instigated
the American boycott which was destroying Germany's economy. If the soldiers
were searching career advancement in the Police force. If this was the case,
?orders are orders?, and the soldier would comply with the orders of their
superiors. Through these ideas presented by the institutions of government
and military the Order Police became a strong killing machine.
The comrades of an individual soldier had a profound influence on the
transformation from normal citizen to murderer. Although this influence may
have been unintentional it was still a major factor. Peer pressure's a
bitch. The pressure to conform to the job at hand was great in these small
tightly knit battalions. By not shooting, an individual would not be doing
his part in an already unpleasant task. Stepping out would make the rest of
the battalion believe that the soldier thought himself to be ?too good? for