Beyond "Ordinary Men"

Christopher R. Browning and Holocaust Historiography

Reflecting on the work of one of the field’s most influential scholars, the twenty essays in this book explore the evolution and application of Holocaust historiography, identify key insights into genocidal settings and point to gaps in our knowledge of humanity’s most haunting problem.Why do they kill?The publication in 1992 of Christopher R. Browning’s “Ordinary Men” raised crucial, previously unasked questions about the Holocaust: what made the members of a German police battalion – “middle-aged family men of working- and lower-class background” – become mass murderers of Jewish children, women, and men? How does motivation tie in with other factors that prompt participation in the “final solution”? And what can survivor accounts convey about genocide perpetration? Reflecting on the work of one of the field’s most influential scholars, the twenty essays in this book explore the evolution and application of Holocaust historiography, identify key insights into genocidal settings and point to gaps in our knowledge of humanity’s most haunting problem.

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Thomas Pegelow Kaplan is Professor of History at Appalachian State University, North Carolina.
Jürgen Matthäus is director for Applied Research at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC.
Mark W. Hornburg is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at UNC-Chapel Hill.