by Chrisopher Browning
A simple narrative, but a harrowing one, and provides a usefull intense focus on some of the specific individuals present at the ground level of mass-shootings of civilians by German soldiers in the Second World War. The most depressing part of the book is the detail that men in this unit were given a chance, on the first massacre of Jews, to opt out of the killing, no draconian reprisal or threat against them. Some did, but the majority continued on with the killing.
The narrative proceeds along the cycle of violence, arguing for the significance of the psychological disconnect at different stages of the massacre, and linking various details to the biographical backdrop on these individuals. The book is about the nuts and bolts of the Holocaust, and the question of what could have allowed some Germans to murder so many. It’s not the gas chambers or cold mechanistic efficiency at this stage, rather shootings that are very close and direct. Unpleasant subject matter but well laid out, and necessary to study.