Free Essay: Reserve Police Battalion 101

Published: 2023-03-21
Free Essay: Reserve Police Battalion 101
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  World War 2 Violence Genocide
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1329 words
12 min read

The Reserve Police Battalion 101 was a section of the Police Order in Germany that was in existence during the Poland occupation by the Nazis (Burk 564). With the help of Battalion 101, the Final Solution was implemented against the people from the Jewish race as well as repressing the Polish population. Among the responsibilities of the Police Battalion, 101 members included participating in the expulsion of Gypsies, Poles, and Jews that resulted in the round-up of the civilians, liquidation and guarding the ghettos (Christopher and Browning), the mass shooting of the members of the public and civilians as well as deporting the civilians to concentration camps. During the German invasion by Poland, Battalion 101 was among the thirteen groups of police that took charge as part of the German army. The Battalion members crossed the Poland border into the Oppeln town and rounded up the Polish soldiers, including their military equipment, as well as guarding the camp of POW afterward.

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In the year 1942, the members of the Battalion 101 rounded-up the Jozefow (Christopher and Browning), a Jewish town that resulted in the mass shooting of the civilians within the Jewish cities in the entire Lublin district. The Reserve Police Battalion 101 missions mostly involved mass shooting, massacre, and in most cases, targeted the Jewish people during the war. About 42000 Jewish prisoners from the concentration camps within Lublin district, including Poniatowa, Trawniki, and Majdanek, were massacred. Between the years 1942 and 1943, the Police Battalion was reported being responsible for about 38000 deaths of Jewish people as well as the deportation of around 45000 (Christopher and Browning). Therefore, it can be deduced that the members of the Reserve Police Battalion 101 murdered defenseless Jews either due to social pressure from their comrades and commanders or because they were afraid of losing their loved ones if they would disobey the orders.

More than one-third of the Jewish victims from Nazi Germany, especially during the Holocaust, would never board the deportation train and didn't die while in the gas chambers. However, the police forces in German together with their local supporters murdered men, and women, including the children from the Jewish race near their homestead, especially in the nearest forests, and fields (Christopher and Browning). According to historians, these kinds of mobile killing units had been responsible for around two million shooting during the Second World War. After the end of the war, many shooters, commanders were arrested and put on trial but maintained that they only followed the orders to kill. Ten years later, further interrogations on the case files against the police Battalion 101 revealed that most of the ordinary Germans who voluntarily participated in the Jewish mass murder (Navarick 133).

Moreover, while the men of the Reserve Police Battalion 101 were required to follow orders to the latter, especially the mass killing of civilians, they would possibly refuse to do so. For instance, in July 1942 (Christopher and Browning), the commander of the battalion had given an option to carry other duties before inducing in the mass shooting in the Polish town. If any men were not ready for the task, the commander was to assign them with other duties such as transportation or guarding; however, only a few men opted out. Besides, this option remained valid for months, but most of the Battalion members still chose to kill the defenseless civilians. However, when asked if they had any other choice, the majority of the Battalion members denied having any opportunity. They argued that they neither heard any speech nor remembered their commander offering any option not to kill (Navarick 138). The minority group of men who admitted the fact that they had a choice and still went ahead to kill was afraid of their comrades.

Besides, the majority of the ordinary Germans, especially the middle-aged men of the Battalion 101, become more willing to kill even though not enthusiastic killers (Stammers 56). It was only a tiny group of these men that would consistently refuse to shot. However, those that participated in the killings did so due to social pressure and the strong urge of not willing to do the opposite of the comrades and even stepping out of the group. Also, they act of stepping out would be considered as cowardice or merely a sign of being weak. To prove otherwise, most of the Battalion 101 men would continue with the killings even when they desire not to do so. Naturally, people will fear to leave their group, and it can be deduced that once a soldier always a soldier and these men had been used to the group and therefore acting contrary was a difficult choice to make.

Additionally, atrocity is the outcome of the brutalization associated with most wars, and especially racial conflicts. Among the battalion men, the oldest men had witnessed real battle during the First World War and had the chance to encounter a real enemy. However, most of the majority middle- age battalion members had not seen a deadly enemy, not even a real battle, and therefore less comrade was fighting to defend their side. Consequently, they did not experience the immediate brutalization that would affect their behavior. However, the battalion men were mostly brutalized when the war began. As the war continued, the horrors from the first encounter become a routine making the killing to them much more comfortable. It is reasonable to expect the heart of the Battalion 101 men to harden from the daily war encounters and, therefore, the change of behavior to fight back (Desch 72). In order not to look so weak, these men had to continue with the mass killings.

Lastly, naturally, human beings will obey their authorities and will fear dire punishment if they act contrary. In the efforts to respond in compliance with the directives of the people of a higher power, many people will accept to kill only to please their bosses (Zimbardo 13). Nazis had begun providing military training in the1930s, after which several battalions were sent as part of the German army in the war against Jewish Bolshevism. On arrival at the Jozefow village, their commander, Major Trapp, with tears rolling in his eyes, gave a short speech briefing the battalion men of the orders to perform an unpleasant task. Unfortunately, it wasn't his liking, but the orders had come from above. This clears shows that the Battalion 101 were following orders. To justify why they should go-ahead to kill, some men argued that Jews from the village of Jozefow were in support of the partisan (Zimbardo 17). Major Trapp then had to conclude that there was clear prove why Jewish in the Jozefow village had to be rounded-up. The young Jewish males were, therefore, selected for labor while the rest were shot dead.


In conclusion, the Reserve Police Battalion 101 members were immune to the influence of that time, including the status of Germany as a superpower as well as hatred for their enemy, Jews. The war itself significantly helped Nazis to succeed in the race war against the Jewish people. The few men who refused to participate in the battle mentioned specific self motives with some rejecting due to their age and just because the war wasn't their career. However, for the majority of the Battalion members, they participated in the mass killing because of being afraid of leaving their comrades or just social pressure. Unfortunately, most of the Battalion members were later put in the trail after the war.

Works Cited

Stammers, Tom. Ordinary men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the final solution in Poland. Macat Library, 2017.

Zimbardo, Philip G. "Lucifer effect." The Encyclopedia of Peace Psychology (2011).

Desch, Michael C. "Why Ordinary Men Commit Extraordinary Crimes: The German Military, the War on the Eastern Front, and the Final Solution." (1993).

Navarick, Douglas J. "Historical psychology and the Milgram paradigm: Tests of an experimentally derived model of defiance using accounts of massacres by Nazi Reserve Police Battalion 101." The Psychological Record, vol.62, no.1, 2012, pp.133-154.

Burk, Kurt. "Christopher R. Browning, Ordinary Men, Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland." Militargeschichtliche Zeitschrift, vol.2, 1993, p.564.

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