Ordinary masculinity: gender analysis and holocaust scholarship.
Abstract: This paper addresses the reluctance of scholars who study the Holocaust professionally to acknowledge insights from the burgeoning discipline of men's studies. In recent years the scholarly study of masculinity has exploded among anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, and scholars of religion. The perspectives animating this "new men's studies" appear to be quite compatible with--and even a natural complement to--the gender scholarship that has made such a signal contribution to our understanding of women's experience in the Holocaust. Why, then, has the study of masculinity achieved so little scholarly recognition in the interdiscipline of Holocaust Studies? The paper suggests answers to this question, while attempting to demonstrate the relevance of gender analysis for interpreting the experience and behavior of perpetrators at every level of the Nazi Final Solution.

Key Words: masculinity, new men's studies, Holocaust Studies, gender analysis, perpetrators
Subject: Masculinity (Research)
Gender identity (Analysis)
National socialists (Social aspects)
Men's studies (Research)
Social structure (Analysis)
Interpersonal relations (Analysis)
Author: Haynes, Stephen R.
Pub Date: 01/01/2002
Publication: Name: The Journal of Men's Studies Publisher: Men's Studies Press Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences; Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2002 Men's Studies Press ISSN: 1060-8265
Issue: Date: Wntr, 2002 Source Volume: 10 Source Issue: 2
Topic: Event Name: Holocaust, 1933-1945
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Europe Geographic Code: 4E Europe
Accession Number: 83664402
Full Text: Gentlemen, if there is ever a generation after us so cowardly, so soft, that it would not understand our work as good and necessary, then, gentlemen, National Socialism will have been for nothing. On the contrary we should bury bronze tablets saying that it was we, we who had the courage to carry out this gigantic task.

-- Statement from the Nuremberg trial of a Nazi guard at Belzec

We were Germany's best and hardest. Every single one of us dedicated himself to the others. What held us together was an alliance of comradeship. Not even the bond of marriage can be stronger. It gave us the mental and physical strength to do what others were too weak to do.

-- SS veteran who served in a Nazi concentration camp

We men of the new Germany have to be very tough with ourselves even when we are forced by circumstances to be separated from our families for quite a long time.

-- Gendarmeriepostenfuhrer Fritz Jacob

Ahrens called me a coward and a sissy, and the like.... He ordered me to stand guard right by the hole (mass grave) in order to harden me up.

-- Police reservist from Third Police Battalion 91

At an academic conference on the Holocaust in 1997, I attended a panel discussion concerned with "women's voices in the Holocaust." During the question and answer period that followed, I asked the panelists, all of whom were women, whether they saw their work as opening the way for a consideration of men's experience in the Holocaust. I did not intend to be radical or provocative. I knew, as the panelists did, that under the influence of academic feminism scholars in the Humanities and Social Sciences have emphasized the gendered character of all human experience. Nonetheless, the panelists' responses indicated that they regarded my question as a threat, as one more in a series of male attempts to silence or marginalize women's voices.

This anecdote is representative of a wider problem in the field of Holocaust Studies, one evident in journals, monographs, and textbooks, (1) as well as in conference presentations: Scholars who study the Nazi Final Solution professionally are ignorant of or reluctant to acknowledge insights from the burgeoning discipline of men's studies. The relatively recent emergence of men's studies in the popular culture does not fully explain this phenomenon, for masculinity has been a subject of scholarly analysis for nearly a century. (2) It emerged in the theories of Sigmund Freud and his associates, particularly Alfred Adler, and by the middle of the twentieth century considerable scholarly attention was being directed at the "male sex role" and the prescriptive pressure it exerts upon male behavior. Furthermore, contemporary interest in masculinity dates to the late 1970s, the very period in which Holocaust Studies became a discreet field of academic inquiry.

In recent years the scholarly study of masculinity (sometimes called the "new men's studies") has exploded among anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, and scholars of religion. Emphasis is on the ways masculinity is socially constructed ("shaped by historical circumstances and social discourses, and not primarily by random biology" (3)), on multiple "masculinities" ("hegemonic" and "nonhegemonic" in particular) (4) and the dynamics among them, and on the relationship between maleness, masculinity, and the exercise of social power. (5)

Of course, not all scholars concerned with gender have welcomed this new emphasis on masculinity in scholarship and popular culture. Some express concern that the new men's studies is simply a kinder, gentler strategy for reiterating male-biased scholarship and retaining male privilege. Advocates counter that the contemporary study of masculinity is new inasmuch as it is rooted in an examination of men's experience as specifically male rather than generically human. Following feminist scholars who observe that western discourse treats male experience as universal and ungendered and that women's experience must be understood as departing from this putative "human" standard, scholars of masculinity argue that men's experience also fails to conform to the "male" universal. That is, masculinities are perceived not as generic norms, but as objects of study on a par with femininities. In an oft-cited formulation of this assumption, Harry Brod (1987) writes that

Thus, the argument goes, if women have been obscured from scholarly view by being relegated to the background of the western imagination, men have been distorted by being thrust into the foreground (see Brod, 1987, pp. 40-41).

If this is the perspective animating "the new men's studies," it would appear to be quite compatible with--and even a natural complement to--the gender scholarship that has made such an signal contribution to our understanding of women's experience in the Holocaust. Why, then, has the study of masculinity achieved so little scholarly recognition in the interdiscipline of Holocaust Studies?


It must be kept in mind that feminist perspectives did not begin to affect mainstream Holocaust scholarship until the 1980s, and it was not until the 1990s that academic conferences regularly featured sessions devoted to "women's experience" in the Shoah. Yet now that the salience of gender analysis for interpreting the Holocaust has been established, (6) it is curious that the door has not opened more widely to considerations of masculinity. There remain several sources of indifference and resistance to the study of men's experience among scholars of the Holocaust.

First, unlike feminism, which promises to expose and liberate women from an oppressive patriarchy, the "liberation" offered by men's studies holds little appeal for many of the male scholars who dominate the discipline. Given their positions of relative power in society and the academy, just what are male scholars to be liberated from? In what sense have they been victimized by male gender roles? As the female panelists by whom I was rebuffed hastened to point out, scholarship--like most forms of public discourse--has always been about men, for men, and by men.

Second, historians have dominated Holocaust scholarship, both numerically and in terms of professional clout. While they have much in common with scholars in other fields of the humanities, historians tend to be more traditional methodologically than practitioners in religion, sociology, anthropology, or literature. Generally speaking, they are more resistant to "postmodern" attacks on Enlightenment epistemology and less receptive to claims that their discipline is blind to crucial aspects of human existence. Because historians pursue "scientific" objectivity (whether or not they believe it is attainable), and because "the guiding metaphors of scientific research, the impersonality of its discourse, the structures of power and communication in science, the reproduction of its internal culture, all stem from the social position of dominant men in a gendered world," (7) historians (particularly male historians) tend to eschew methodologies that are implicitly critical of their privileged social location. This may explain why recent scholarship on masculinity has emerged among sociologists, anthropologists, and scholars of religion and has not achieved the level of acceptance across the scholarly spectrum enjoyed by academic feminism.

Third, high-profile attempts to apply the study of masculinity to the Holocaust have had limited scholarly impact. An instructive example is Klaus Theweleit's two-volume Mannerphantasien (1977; 1978, E. T. Male Fantasies 1987, 1989). Theweleit's remarkable study of Weimar Freikorpsmen became an instant classic among feminists and neo-Freudians, but has had little influence on mainstream Holocaust scholarship. In fact, one looks in vain for references to Male Fantasies in standard textbooks on the Final Solution. This is in part because the book has little to say about the Holocaust per se (focusing as it does on the German "soldier males" who were active between 1918 and 1923) and because it is so inaccessible (more than 1,000 pages long in translation, the book must remain opaque to any who lack a thorough knowledge of psychoanalytic theory and familiarity with critical theory and post-structuralism). But Male Fantasies' failure to affect Holocaust scholarship may also be related to its claim that a deep misogynist strain is constitutive of male subcultures.

The reasons for resistance to gender analysis in Holocaust Studies remain obscure, but its applicability to interpreting men's experience in the Holocaust can be easily demonstrated. I will establish this applicability by approaching male Holocaust perpetrators with a series of assumptions that emerge from contemporary gender analysis: (1) all human beings are gendered, historical subjects as well as the scholars who study them; (2) men's experience is as gendered as women's, though in different ways; (3) masculinity and femininity are inherently relational concepts, which take on meaning only in reference to each other; (4) the behavior of male combatants during wartime represents an unparalleled laboratory for the analysis of masculinity, since "the socialization of the soldier is simply an exaggeration of typical masculine socialization in [a] society"; (8) (5) ignoring the role of gender in determining attitudes and behavior only enhances its capacity to structure and distort human interactions; and (6) although gender dynamics operate unconsciously, they can be traced through analyses of language.

Working from these assumptions, this essay develops a case for applying gender analysis to the behavior and verbal self-justifications of a variety of male Holocaust perpetrators--including death camp commandants, specially selected killing-unit personnel, rank-and-file members of the armed forces, and reservists. Analysis of gender clues in the testimony of the men who perpetrated crimes against Jews and others during the Third Reich will illumine a fundamental tenet of men's studies: In western societies masculinity is typically constructed around images of strength, hardness, firmness, etc., and this has the effect of normalizing conformist, aggressive, and asocial behavior. We begin by examining the experiences of death camp supervisors, turn briefly to SS men and Einsatzgruppe officers, and conclude by discussing German reserve policemen.


One of the earliest autobiographical accounts by a Holocaust perpetrator was Commandant of Auschwitz: The Autobiography of Rudolf Hoss, first published in 1951 and appearing in English in 1959. When read with an eye for gender, Hoss's autobiography offers an illuminating introduction to the dynamics of masculinity among Nazi true believers who became perpetrators of genocide. Early in the autobiography, Hoss characterizes his military experience as a rite of male passage:

Here and throughout his autobiography, Hoss narrates his path toward genocide as a process of replacing weakness with "hardness." One such passage concerns his stint as a guard at Dachau under Theodor Eicke, who taught him that

In another passage, Hoss describes Eicke's attitude toward guards who fraternized with prisoners: Such emotions were "a sign of weakness and sentimentality," a "weak-kneed attitude" unbefitting men who were "unconditionally tough" (p. 94.). Interestingly, his Dachau experience led Hoss to conclude that he was thoroughly unsuited for service in a concentration camp: "I did not want to make a laughing-stock of myself. I did not wish to reveal my weakness." On the other hand, he was unable to admit that he was "too soft" for an SS job (p. 87).

According to Hoss's narrative, the line at Dachau separating acceptable and unacceptable models of masculinity--the demarcation between the regions of softness and hardness, emotion and performance--was extraordinarily clear: On one side were the "weak-kneed," "sentimentality," "sympathy," "pity," "soft[ness]," "weakness," "weaklings," and the "monastery"; on the other side were the "unconditionally tough," the "tough and determined men," who kept their "weapons loaded." By his own account, Hoss gradually internalized camp masculinity. For despite overseeing the deaths of millions of Jews by 1945, he claimed never to have "personally hated" his victims, "the emotion of hatred" being foreign to his nature. (10)

Throughout his autobiography, Hoss describes normative masculinity using the language of hardness, while portraying its threats with images of softness and penetrability. As gender theorist James Nelson (1988) observes, these images are typical of the "erection mentality" men unconsciously project upon the world and what is valuable in it:

Hoss invokes another image that permeates the testimony of male Holocaust perpetrators when he places masculinity in dialectical relationship with family, particularly motherhood and childhood. Claudia Koonz (1987) elucidates this dialectic in her book Mothers in the Fatherland, where she notes that Nazi wives who shared in their husbands' work were rare. Quite typical, however, were spouses who helped sustain their husbands' psychological well-being by maintaining a safe domestic world in which they found refuge emotionally, if not physically. In Hoss's story, as in the language of perpetrators at every level of the Final Solution, maleness is consistently defined over against what is soft and emotional. Yet while masculinity must eschew the maternal and the feminine, it cannot survive (or even be described) without them. As R. W. Connell (1995) notes, "masculinity as an object of knowledge is always masculinity-in-relation" (p. 44).

The complex relationship between masculinity and family in the lives of Holocaust perpetrators is foregrounded when Hoss describes his days at Vernichtungslager ("extermination camp") Auschwitz. Although his wife and family are well-provided for and happy there, (11) Hoss reports an enduring tension between his identifies as family man and death camp supervisor. In one passage, he highlights the contradiction between his impassive commandant-self and his enduring need to connect emotionally with his wife and children:

Despite his need for family members' acceptance, Hoss remains acutely aware that softening his masculine shell could have fearful consequences: "I had to appear cold and indifferent to events that must have wrung the heart of anyone possessed of human feelings. I might not even look away when afraid lest my natural emotions got the upper hand. I had to watch coldly, while the mothers with laughing or crying children went into the gas chambers" (p. 170). If Hoss was "deeply affected" by some incident, he would not immediately return home. Rather, he would mount his horse and ride, or "walk through the stables and seek relief among [his] beloved animals" (p. 172).

To the very end of his life, Hoss strove to maintain this barrier between his public deeds and his private world. Awaiting execution, he wrote: "Whatever use is made of what I have written, I beg that all those passages relating to my wife and my family, and all my tender emotions and secret doubts, shall not be made public" (p. 201). In his final days, Hoss confessed that he was "securely anchored" to his family and to the farm that was to become their "permanent home." His real aim in life, he concluded, was to provide his children a "stable home." (12)

Written twenty-five years later, the story of Franz Stangl, Commandant at both Sobibor and Treblinka, reveals the very same gender dynamics we see at work in Hoss's autobiography. Journalist Gitta Sereny's biographical account in Into That Darkness elucidates how Stangl relied on his family for psychic balance during his stint as a death camp supervisor, and how his wife and daughters sheltered him from the emotional consequences of the Final Solution following his post-war arrest. "Did you want your family to come visit you in Poland?" Sereny asked Stangl in the early 1970s. "I was so glad to have them there," he replied. "I found rooms for us on an estate just a few kilometres from Sobibor camp, near the village" (quoted in Roth & Ritter, 1993, p. 278). But as much as he needed his family to shelter him from the reality of his work, the arrangement carried risks. When Frau Stangl learned from a German officer the true nature of her husband's job, Stangl feared that his happy domestic life was at an end. However, after a temporary emotional crisis Frau Stangl allowed herself to be convinced that Franz's role at Sobibor was "purely administrative." Afterward she did not inquire too much about her husband's work and remained fiercely loyal to the end. Her role as shield from the actuality of Stangl's horrific acts remained intact through post-war accusations and legal proceedings. According to Sereny, Stangl desperately wanted his wife present during his internment and trial: "The only thing that mattered to him was her and his children's continued loyalty and love" (quoted in Roth & Ritter, 1993, p. 283).


What of male perpetrators who were not afforded the luxury of having their families present to buffer them from the unpleasant reality of their professional duties? If the gender dynamics operating in the stories of Hoss and Stangl were also at work among male perpetrators in the middle regions of the Nazi hierarchy, we would expect to see evidence of this in the letters, interviews, and court depositions that document their experiences. And indeed we do.

In a series of letters written during the fall of 1942 to his wife and children, SS-Obersturmfuhrer Karl Kretschmer (Klee, 1994) assures his family that, while hundreds of miles away, they remain "the very substance of [his] private life" (p. 171). In this and other missives from the front, Kretschmer indicates that preserving his identity as an honorable father and husband is essential to rationalizing his participation in Einsatzgruppe murders. In one letter to his family, Kretschmer reveals the extent to which "camp masculinity" has come to inform his identity in the field:

Dozens of similar statements from members of Nazi killing squads indicate that there prevailed within the ranks a masculinity rooted in the opposition of courage/hardness/performance on one hand, and cowardice/softness/inability to perform, on the other. "It's almost impossible to imagine what nerves of steel it took to carry out that dirty work down there ... it was horrible," recalled one Einsatzgruppe member following the war. Another remembered his commanding officer warning his unit that they

Many SS-men who in various ways helped execute the Nazi Final Solution later recorded self-justifications in which the language of hardened masculinity predominates:

The recurring images and themes in these passages communicate something fundamental about the parameters of masculine identity among Nazi perpetrators. But did the same conceptions of masculinity inform perpetrators who were less nazified, who were neither true believers nor volunteered for "actions" against Jewish civilians. In other words, do we find among the "ordinary men" who became killers largely by chance the same constructions of masculinity evident among those who were ideologically prepared for murder? Was conformity to the masculine ideal a source of motivation for male Holocaust perpetrators, no matter what their experience, rank, or task?


To answer this question we will attend to recent work by Daniel Goldhagen and Christopher Browning, scholars who have painstakingly studied the ordinary perpetrators who made the Nazi Final solution a near reality. Goldhagen's (1996) Hitler's Willing Executioners has proved a magnet for attention and controversy since its publication, and the So-called Goldhagen debate has turned out to be the affair of the decade in Holocaust Studies. The participants in the "debate" are Goldhagen and his advocates, who claim the book had effected a revolution in our understanding of German perpetrators and bystanders, and Goldhagen's detractors (led by the scholars whose work he summarily dismisses), who rarely overlook an opportunity to attack Hitler's Willing Executioners.

Several years before the appearance of Goldhagen's book, Christopher Browning (1992) published a seminal study entitled Ordinary Men that focused exclusively on the wartime activities of German Order Police Battalion 101. In part to refute Browning's interpretation of the battalion's career, Goldhagen dedicated a 100-page section of his book ("Police Battalions' Ordinary Germans, Willing Killers") to reassessing the archival evidence. In two chapters devoted to the activities of Battalion 101 in Poland, Goldhagen developed an unmistakable repudiation of Browning's influential interpretation of these German perpetrators. Understandably, Browning did not concede defeat. In the revised edition of Ordinary Men and in shorter pieces published since the appearance of Hitler's Willing Executioners, Browning has offered a spirited response to Goldhagen's interpretation of the wartime career of Battalion 101.

Despite their sharp differences, however, Goldhagen, Browning and most other students of perpetrator behavior remain in implicit agreement on one thing: When interpreting the actions of "ordinary" German men who perpetrated crimes against Jewish civilians during the Holocaust, questions of gender are irrelevant. Is this assumption justified? Or is there evidence that the construction of gender played a role in the self-understanding and self-justification of these unlikely killers?


Browning's Ordinary Men is a detailed and compelling study of the composition, activities, and motivations of the men of Reserve Police Battalion 101 who operated in the Lublin District of Poland in 1942 and 1943. While Browning does not regard the social construction of masculinity as a fruitful field of interpretation, he cannot help but illuminate the role of gender in his subjects' behavior. For instance, on the very first page of Ordinary Men, Browning notes that at the time of their service in Poland his subjects were "middle-aged family men of working- and lower-middle-class background" (p. 1). Yet while he makes much of the men's age, class, and occupation (e.g., pp. 47-48), Browning says very little of their identity as "family men." This despite the fact that his designation "ordinary" is based in part on the men's identity as husbands and fathers. While Browning remarks that some of those who "stepped out" of the battalion's killing actions did so because they were "fathers with children and could not continue" (p. 62; see also p. 113), he does not pursue the possible links between his subjects' identities as family men and their reluctance to kill Jews.

Browning notes in passing that one motivation for enlisting in the Order Police was the prospect of serving "closer to home" (p. 5), no doubt a reference to the psychic benefit of working in proximity to family and friends. Indeed, home and family recur throughout the study as sources of cognitive dissonance for the battalion's men, but Browning fails to note their significance. For instance, despite paying special attention to the moral reasoning of those who "stepped out" before or during battalion actions, Browning overlooks the fact that the men's justifications for inaction often featured references to women and children. Typical in this regard was Heinz Buchmann, who communicated to his commanding officer that he "would in no case participate in such an action, in which defenseless women and children are shot" (p. 56). The prospect of killing children seemed a particularly effective deterrent for some of those who opted out of killing operations. Furthermore, according to one eyewitness, "almost tacitly everyone refrained from shooting infants and small children" (p. 59). Confronted with a ten-year-old girl who had survived the Jozefow Massacre, Major Wilhelm Trapp embraced her, promising "you shall remain alive" (p. 69).

Browning's sources demonstrate that the men's perceived roles as protectors of women and children could play a paradoxical role in their thinking about murder. On one hand, Major Trapp sought to aid his men in overcoming their qualms about killing Jews by reminding them that "in Germany the bombs were falling on women and children" (pp. 2, 73). On the other hand, psychic conflict between the duty to kill and respect for the sanctity of family was sometimes projected upon the battalion's Jewish victims. Browning quotes a letter asking that its author be spared "without fail from this police battalion," since "almost all [Jewish] families have been torn apart." (13)

In his analysis of individual decisions to comply with or resist killing orders, Browning records dozens of references to mastery, (14) strength, and weakness, often setting them off with quotation marks to emphasize that these concepts are his subjects' own. But Browning does not perceive in such terms any clues to the killers' state of mind. Read with an eye for gender, however, this language reveals that images of weakness proliferated the testimony of men who refused to comply with killing orders. When a driver assigned to carry Jews to the forest during the Jozefow massacre asked to be relieved, he explained that "his nerves were not strong enough ..." (p. 63). In order to forestall criticism from their comrades, non-shooters claimed they were "too weak" rather than too good to kill (p. 185). Finally, when battalion veterans attacked each other in postwar legal testimony, their aspersions revolved around images such as "weak," "weakling," "weak nature[d]," and "shithead."

Browning does note the deterrent effect on moral courage of perceptions that a man was "too weak," "cowardly," or might "lose face." He states that those who evaded action by intentionally misfiring risked being called "traitor and coward" if discovered (p. 116). He also reports that even after being warned to "become tougher" (p. 130), some men simply ignored direct orders to shoot Jewish women and children. Furthermore, Browning observes that not everyone was strong enough to be considered weak, and that conformity increased with the likelihood that weakness would be exposed. But Browning fails to appreciate the centrality of the strength/weakness dichotomy in the perpetrators' mental world, and thus does not recognize what this dichotomy indicates about the construction of masculinity among both shooters and non-shooters. The most obvious clue to these gender dynamics is the way participation in killing actions became a test of manhood that effectively bifurcated the battalion into the "tough" and the "weak." As one soldier put it: "No one ever approached me concerning these operations. For these actions the officers took `men' with them, and in their eyes I was no `man'" (p. 129).

According to Browning's own text, the physical and psychological reactions of the men who murdered civilians reveal a complex interplay of weakness and strength. At one point, in response to the constant need to display strength, Major Trapp wept "like a child" (p. 58). Physical illness, another form of weakness, was common among the men, and often became an excuse for failure to participate in battalion "actions." Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea were varieties of temporary weakness that spared the men from having to prove their "strength"; and, significantly, the temporarily weak were further emasculated by the "strong." When a suspicious "irritable colon" put Captain Hoffman out of action, his men began calling him Pimpf, or "Hitler cub scout" (p. 118). In response, Hoffman desperately sought to reclaim his manhood by invoking his "honor as an officer and soldier." Thus, in the construction of male behavior among these ordinary perpetrators, the "strong" masculine was identified through negative evaluation of the "weak" non-masculine (or feminine). (15)

Browning's book contains other clues that, in the context of a masculine fraternity competing to demonstrate strength, possess unmistakable gender connotations. First, like male sexuality, perpetrator masculinity was often linked to performance; that is, it was established by taking part in battalion operations. Further, Captain Trapp's announcement that older men who are not "up to the task" of murder can step out of formation (p. 57) reveals that in the battalion's vision of masculine behavior job performance and sexual virility are intimately connected. In fact, Trapp's offer to the older men who were not "up," taken in conjunction with his own reduction to the status of cub scout, indicate that in the battalion's collective psyche those who did not conform and perform were regarded as either too young or too old to be considered real men. Despite all this evidence of what theorists call "genitalization"--a thought pattern that leads men to prize the qualities of hardness, upness, and linearity--Browning does not tell us whether impotence was a problem among the battalion's men, as it apparently was among other groups of male killers during the Holocaust. (16)

The strange case of Captain Wohlauf and his expectant wife is yet another aspect of Battalion 101's wartime career that cries out for gender analysis. According to Browning, the men of the battalion were appalled when Wohlhauf's "young bride--four months pregnant, with a military coat draped over her shoulders and a peaked military cap on her head"--climbed aboard one of the trucks headed for a killing action (p. 91). Browning surmises that the captain was seeking to impress his wife by demonstrating that he was a "master" over Polish Jewry, but also notes that Wohlhauf's men reacted with "indignation and outrage that a woman was brought to witness the terrible things they were doing" (p. 93). This reaction only intensified when Frau Wohlhauf witnessed the deportation of Jews to Treblinka in August, 1942. Because Goldhagen also emphasizes the men's reaction to Frau Wohlhauf's presence with the battalion, we shall comment below on its significance for gender analysis.

Finally, Browning records without comment several peculiarly male responses to the battalion's involvement in the murder of civilians. While the reservists served guard duty around the Lodz Ghetto, the company recreation room assumed a locker room atmosphere: "A mark was made on the bar door for each Jew shot, and `victory celebrations' were reportedly held on days when high scores were recorded" (p. 41). Neither this masculine integration of alcohol and sport, nor the association of the term "Jew-hunt" (Judenjagd) with the age-old male pastime receives attention from the author.

In the final chapter of Ordinary Men, Browning considers a series of possible explanations for the behavior of the "ordinary men" of Battalion 101--wartime brutalization, racism, segmentation and routinization, special selection, careerism, obedience, deference to authority, ideological indoctrination, and conformity. While his analysis is impressive in its thoroughness, his conclusions would certainly be affected if he were to acknowledge the gender clues that proliferate the evidence he has reviewed. (17) For one thing, he would be more reluctant to discount the role of ideological indoctrination in explaining the men's war-time behavior. According to Browning, Battalion 101's ideological training was brief and cursory, contained relatively little explicit anti-Semitism, and was utterly ineffective at "brainwashing" the men. But he underestimates the extent to which ideological education, even when it did not speak of killing Jews, could reinforce attitudes regarding strength and masculinity to which the men were already receptive. While their propaganda training did not make them kill, it no doubt encouraged would-be killers by applying masculine values to the war and their role in it. For the ideological literature they encountered trafficked in the very vocabulary of strength and mastery the men themselves relied on when describing their activities. Browning summarizes the message of one ideological pamphlet assigned to Order Police:

Another pamphlet delivered a similar message regarding partisans: "The incessant decision over life and death posed by the partisans and suspects is difficult even for the toughest soldier. But it must be done. He behaves correctly who, by setting aside all possible impulses of personal feeling, proceeds ruthlessly and mercilessly" (p. 183). It is true, as Browning argues, that this literature did not include a call to eliminate racial enemies; but by serving to make the policemen "hardened killers" (p. 87) and encouraging them to segregate feeling from performance, it no doubt contributed to their fear of appearing "soft" or "weak" before their comrades.

Commenting on the non-shooters' claim that it was weakness rather than moral superiority which led them to opt out of battalion killing actions, Browning comes close to elucidating the language of gender in which the behavior of his ordinary men is inscribed:

Yet Browning fails to develop these insights, and near the end of Ordinary Men insists that "this story of ordinary men is not the story of all men" (p. 189). Ironically, much of the evidence he has cited suggests that it could well be the story of most men, at least where masculinity is similarly defined.


In chapters 7 and 8 of Hitler's Willing Executioners, "Police Battalion 101: The Men's Deeds" and "Police Battalion 101: Assessing the Men's Deeds," Daniel Goldhagen (1996) offers a major reconsideration of the behavior and motivations of Browning's ordinary men. Goldhagen places special emphasis on their willingness to comply with orders to kill--as evidenced by their "incessant volunteering," their "failure to avail themselves of opportunities to avoid killing," (18) and the enthusiasm and brutality that accompanied their murderous deeds. Goldhagen differs from Browning mainly in his explanation of these behaviors. For Goldhagen, the members of Battalion 101 are representative not of soldiers under the pressure of conformity, but of Germans influenced by cultural anti-Semitism and Nazi propaganda. Significantly, Goldhagen refers consistently to the men of Reserve Battalion 101 as "the Germans." (19)

But in his careful reassessment of the wartime career of Battalion 101, Goldhagen ignores the gender clues that punctuate the men's testimony. In some cases, he passes by the same patterns of masculinity that are overlooked in Browning's text. (20) For instance, Goldhagen notes that of those men for whom family information exists, 99% had wives and 75% had children. But he fails to relate this demographic data to their behavior or thought processes. For instance, in considering an episode in which Major Trapp assembled the battalion and asked his men "to think of our women and children in our homeland who had to endure aerial bombardments" (p. 212), Goldhagen writes that Trapp's justification was emblematic of "the Nazified German mind." But he ignores the version of masculinity invoked by Trapp's words, in which maleness is judged in terms of one's ability to protect women. (21) Similarly, Goldhagen remarks that following the Jozefow Massacre the men were sickened, vomited, and lost their appetites. But he overlooks these signs of temporary physical weakness, since "no one suffered any significant emotional difficulties" afterward.

At a few points, Goldhagen strains to discover significance in testimony Browning has passed over. For instance, he observes that the Germans in Battalion 101 "tellingly" referred to their search-and-destroy missions as "Jew hunts." He then writes that

This insightful paragraph is the kind that has made Goldhagen's book popular despite its length and density; but it misses the significance of the very language it seeks to illuminate. Yes, the men of Battalion 101 referred to their searches as "hunts"; yes, this term has a pleasurable connotation in cultures where one hunts for sport rather than survival. But even more important is the fact that in these same cultures, hunting is something men do with one another, away from family and society, in part to demonstrate their manhood.

Goldhagen makes much of the way German perpetrators sought to "master" their Polish victims, for instance by removing their beards. But once again Goldhagen approaches an important gender clue only to misapprehend its significance. He writes that "the Jew, a grown man, had no choice but to stand by as another abridged his sovereignty over his own body by cutting away his beard, a symbol of his manhood" (p. 246). He fails to imagine, however, why a group of men might develop this ritual of asserting mastery over other men before killing them. Goldhagen applies the dynamics of honor and shame to the encounter (citing Orlando Patteron's Slavery and Social Death), but bypasses the fact that in most cultures honor is a gender-specific concept. Goldhagen is correct in his belief that the removal of Jews' beards was fraught with symbolism. But rather than an emblem of the "limitless power" Germans wished to exercise over Jews, it was more likely a symbolic exercise in emasculation that allowed the killers to compensate for their own barely repressed impotence and fear.

The most glaring example of Goldhagen's failure to grasp the play of gender in the career of Battalion 101 comes in his discussion of the men's wives. Like Browning, Goldhagen comments specifically on the presence of Frau Wohlhauf, who "stayed with the battalion for at least several weeks and several killing operations, and participated in one, if not two, of the large ones" (p. 241). While in Poland, Vera Wohlhauf and other women "got to observe firsthand how their men were purging the world of the putative Jewish menace,.... "Goldhagen notes that this is how the pregnant Frau Wohlhauf spent her honeymoon (p. 242). To illustrate the incongruity of her attendance at the battalion's killing actions, he includes a photograph of the lovely Frau Wohlhauf posing by the seaside.

Also like Browning, Goldhagen observes that many of the men considered Vera Wohlhauf's presence in the field inappropriate, in particular since she was pregnant. Their chief reaction, according to Goldhagen, was anger--at Frau Wohlhauf and her husband alike. Goldhagen asks whether the men were concerned that Frau Wohlhauf would discover the deeper nature of their activities. Hardly, he answers, since she had already accompanied her husband at some of the battalion's most brutal "actions." Goldhagen concludes that

Goldhagen's reference to chivalry is not so much inaccurate as it is misleading, for it ignores what the work of Claudia Koonz and other scholars sensitive to gender have made so clear: that the men of Battalion 101 were reacting to an impingement on their professional lives of the private domestic sphere in which male perpetrators desired their women to remain.

Goldhagen notes correctly that Frau Wohlhauf's expectant state caused her to arouse the men's ire more than other women. Even Major Trapp complained before a large gathering of men and a few visiting wives that it was "outrageous that women who are in a state of pregnancy should witness" such things (p. 243). But Goldhagen mistakenly supposes that references to her pregnancy make it "clear that the men were agitated because of possible damage to her sensibilities and person" (p. 242). Much more likely, her pregnancy and her extended stay with the battalion combined to make Frau Wohlhauf a walking symbol of confusion between the public and domestic spheres that perpetrators desired so assiduously to keep separate. Goldhagen remarks on the irony that the men of Battalion 101 expressed more discomfort with the presence of women than they did with the heinous nature of their own deeds. But there is more to be gleaned from this fact than "the perpetrators' obvious approval of their own historic deeds" (p. 245). Widespread outrage at the presence of an officer's pregnant wife is meaningful in itself, as it indicates the role that "family" played in the men's efforts to maintain psychic equilibrium in the killing fields of Poland. Goldhagen himself notes that "during their time as genocidal killers, the men of Police Battalion 101 went home on furloughs, lasting weeks" (p. 254). Yet the point to be noted about these furloughs is not that time "in the bosom of their families" should have allowed them to consider their horrendous deeds, but that whomever granted these furloughs regarded them as a boon to the men's long-term performance.

Unknowingly, Goldhagen includes a variety of clues that indicate the importance of family in emotionally sustaining members of police battalions caught up in murder. For instance, in a chapter entitled "Police Battalions: Lives, Killings and Motives," he notes that the men did not perform their duties in a social or cultural vacuum. He details the German cultural life that battalion members created for themselves in wartime Poland, and places this in "stark, even jarring, contrast to their apocalyptic deeds" (p. 264). There were religious services, theatre productions for the men and their families, opportunities for swimming and tennis, athletic events, "social evenings," musical afternoons, etc. Goldhagen perceives in these activities nothing more than cruel irony, and must conclude that the men's sensibilities did not "remotely approximate our own" (p. 269). Yet the consistent provision of such diversions in the periods between genocidal killing sprees only confirms the role of domestic life--real or contrived--in maintaining the sanity of perpetrators. Obviously, the men desperately needed the illusion of normalcy provided by the sorts of leisure activities they might pursue at home. They engaged in them not because they were unaffected by their murderous deeds, but because they were. The fact that wives and children were encouraged to join their husbands in battalion-sponsored cultural events suggests that those who planned them understood the importance of providing time and space for the men to express their private family selves, selves based in emotion rather than performance. (22)


The issues raised in the Goldhagen-Browning debate continue to provoke discussion in Holocaust Studies. In a recent article entitled "Ordinary Germans or Ordinary Men?: Another Look at the Perpetrators," Christopher Browning (1998) surveys the behavior of non-German perpetrators and confirms that "situational" rather than ideological or national factors best explain the conduct of the men in Battalion 101. Browning thus reasserts his original claim with regard to perpetrators in general. "In trying to understand the vast majority of perpetrators," he writes, "we are dealing not with `ordinary Germans' but with `ordinary men'" (p. 54).

Other scholars have joined the fray. In a recent example, Inga Clendinnen's (1999) Reading the Holocaust takes Goldhagen to task for his lack of curiosity ("He is not curious about these men and what they did, because he believes he already knows why ...") and applauds Browning's study as "more penetrating, more subtle, and more interesting both methodologically and morally" (pp. 118, 119). But while such partisan judgments illuminate some of Godhagen's flaws, they obscure those he shares with Browning, particularly the tacit assumption that the dynamics of masculinity possess no explanatory value for interpreting the behavior of Holocaust perpetrators. Thus Browning's response to Hitler's Willing Executioners--and Clendinnen's defense of Browning--only confirm the failure of all three to take into account the function of gender in the career of Battalion 101.

In terms of gender analysis, it is not necessary to take sides in the Goldhagen-Browning debate; for both scholars are right, and both are wrong. The men of Battalion 101 were "broadly representative" of German society, as Goldhagen maintains, and in this sense should be viewed as "ordinary Germans." And, as Browning reminds us, they were indicative both of other Holocaust perpetrators, regardless of nationality, and the perpetrators of other crimes--real and experimental. Yet both men fail to perceive the various expressions of the perpetrators' identities as men that permeate the records they assess. How do we explain this failure of otherwise incisive students of human behavior to perceive the play of gender in the subjects they have analyzed so carefully?

It is not that they are unaware of recent scholarship or suffer from disciplinary tunnel vision. Goldhagen in particular represents an academic generation socialized since the advent of feminism, and his magnum opus is otherwise impressively interdisciplinary. Furthermore, he advocates a mode of analysis known as "thick description" which seeks to create as rich as possible a background for interpretation by "setting down the meanings particular social actions have for the actors whose actions they are" (p. 117). Yet despite his intention of attending as closely as possible to the perpetrators' own Lebenswelt ("life world"), Goldhagen, as inexplicably as Browning, overlooks the gender dynamics that animate the eyewitness accounts he painstakingly analyzes.

Nor are these scholars devoid of historical imagination. For instance, when discussing the men's willingness to murder Jewish children, Goldhagen imagines them walking "through the woods with their own children by their sides, marching gaily and inquisitively along." Did they remember these walks as they accompanied young Jewish children to the killing sites, Goldhagen asks rhetorically? It is a powerful passage that gives readers pause. But it also heightens our disappointment with the things the author cannot--or will not--imagine. Even Browning, whose style is more traditional, occasionally comments on the symbolic meaning of the language used by the perpetrators. He notes, for instance, that "the full weight" of one perpetrator's statement cannot be appreciated without the knowledge that erlosen, the German word for "release" [in the sense of releasing from suffering through murder] also means to "redeem." Browning is generally aware when repression and projection have distorted the language of the men whose testimonies he is reading. But he has no ear for gender.

An important factor appears to be the methodological assumptions of the scholars who study perpetrators. In addition to the notion that gender analysis has nothing to contribute to our understanding of male perpetrators, most of those who study the Holocaust share the view that the behavior of men like those in Battalion 101 resulted from the special circumstances in which these men found themselves. Browning and Goldhagen both emphasize that "environment" offers the key to understanding these ordinary perpetrators, though Browning refers to the various situational factors that came to bear upon them in Poland, while Goldhagen has in mind an anti-Jewish German culture. This is another way of saying that they unconsciously assume a univalent notion of masculinity--one that is heterosexual, misogynist, and hegemonic, one represented by the male who defines himself over against women and is determined to prove his strength by dominating and, if necessary, eliminating others.

As Browning himself observes, "other historians looking at the same materials would retell these events in somewhat different ways" (p. xix). But gender consciousness--as opposed to gender theory--should not be regarded primarily as a matter of style, methodology, or advocacy, but as a kind of vision developed by interpreters of history, a way of seeing that emerges as men and women engage in conversation. This essay has sought to indicate the dynamics of masculinity in the experiences and testimonies of male perpetrators active at every level of the Nazi Final Solution, and, in the process, to suggest how a wider recognition of the gendered character of male experience may enrich scholarly understanding of Holocaust perpetrators.


(1.) A recent collection of "interpretive essays from the field's leading scholars" provides compelling evidence of the problem. In The Holocaust: Readings and Interpretations, Helen B. Mitchell and Joseph R. Mitchell (2001) address "gender" in a chapter dealing exclusively with women's experience.

(2.) R. W. Connell (1995) writes that "in the course of the twentieth century there have been three main projects for a science of masculinity. One was based in the clinical knowledge acquired by therapists, and its leading ideas came from Freudian theory. The second was based in social psychology and centered on the enormously popular idea of `sex role.' The third involves recent developments in anthropology, history and sociology" (p. 7). For an excellent introduction to the historical development of this field, see Connell's chapter entitled "The Science of Masculinity."

(3.) In Berger, Wallis, & Watson, p. 3.

(4.) "To recognize diversity in masculinities is not enough. We must also recognize the relations between the different kinds of masculinity: relations of alliance, dominance and subordination. These relationships are constructed through practices that exclude and include, that intimidate, exploit, and so on. There is a gender politics within masculinity" (Connell, 1995, p. 37).

(5.) "Gay theory and feminist theory share a perception of mainstream masculinity as being (in the advanced capitalist countries at least) fundamentally linked to power, organized for domination, and resistant to change because of power relations. In some formulations, masculinity is virtually equated with the exercise of power in its most naked forms" (Connell, 1995, p. 42).

(6.) Among the major scholarly works that address the topic are Claudia Koonz, Mothers in the Fatherland: Women, the Family and Nazi Politics (New York: St. Martin's, 1987); John K. Roth and Carol Rittner, R.S.N., Different Voices: Women and the Holocaust (New York: Continuum, 1993); and Dalia Ofer and Lenore J. Weitzman, Eds., Women in the Holocaust (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).

(7.) Connell, 1995, p. 6. Connell does point out, however, that by the end of the 1970s some scholars were calling for a "men's history" analogous to "women's history."

(8.) Nelson, 1988, p. 42. Nelson continues: "Steeling the recruit against his emotions, hardening his willingness to exercise violence and inflict death, works best on young men still unsure of their own identities.... During basic training, he is continually threatened by the awesome, intimidating drill instructor, who screams into his face epithets identifying him as homosexual or feminine, while he must remain utterly passive under threat of physical violence. When sexual identity is sufficiently threatened, psychological control is achieved and the young man's sexuality is linked with military functions of aggression and dominance" (p. 71).

(9.) In Hoss, 1959, p. 42. In the Freikorps, Hoss rediscovered the purpose of military life: "I found a home again and a sense of security in the comradeship of my fellows. Oddly enough it was I, the lone wolf, always keeping my thoughts and my feelings to myself, who felt continually drawn toward that comradeship which enables a man to rely on others in time of need and of danger" (p. 44).

(10.) Hoss writes: "I must emphasize here that I have never personally hated the Jews. It is true that I looked upon them as the enemies of our people. But just because of this I saw no difference between them and the other prisoners, and I treated them all in the same way. I never drew any distinctions. In any case even the emotion of hatred is foreign to my nature" (p. 146).

(11.) "My family, to be sure, were well provided for in Auschwitz. Every wish that my wife or children expressed was granted them. The children could live a free and untrammeled life. My wife's garden was a paradise of flowers. The prisoners never missed an opportunity for doing some little act of kindness to my wife or children and thus attracting their attention" (Hoss, 1959, p. 174).

(12.) "Since returning from the war to which I went as a youngster and from which I came back a man, I have had two lights to guide me: my fatherland and, later, my family.... My second worship was my family. To them I was securely anchored. My thoughts were always with their future, and our farm was to become their permanent home. In our children both my wife and I saw our aim in life. To bring them up so that they could play their part in the world, and to give them all a stable home, was our one task in life" (Hoss, 1959, p. 200).

(13.) Carl to Kube, October 30, 1941; in Ordinary Men, p. 22. Recognition of the need to maintain psychic balance among the rank and file is suggested in a July, 1941, directive from the Police Regiment Center, which stated that "the battalion and company commanders are especially to provide for the spiritual care of the men who participate in this [killing] action" (p. 14).

(14.) One Order policemen described his breakdown during the Jozefow Massacre, saying "I thought I could master the situation ..." (p. 72). When officers wished to pressure their underlings to conform, it is typically by calling them "cowards" (p. 56).

(15.) See Nelson, 1988, p. 42.

(16.) One SS officer reported that "a very common manifestation in members of these firing-squads was temporary impotence," and that "a number of SS officers and men were sent back to serve at home `on account of their great weakness.'" Statement by SS-Obersturmfuhrer (and Catholic priest) Albert Hartl. In The Good Old Days, pp. 81-82.

(17.) In this section of the book, Browning does consider the role of self-interest and careerism among his ordinary men, particularly in officers such as Captain Hoffman. He also notes the desire to appear "manly and tough" before one's peers (although in relation to subjects in the Milgram experiments, not to the men of Battalion 101).

(18.) Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (New York: Knopf, 1996), p. 250. Page numbers hereafter are to this edition. For critical responses to Goldhagen's book, see Franklin H. Littell, ed., Hyping the Holocaust: Scholars Answer Goldhagen (East Rockaway, NJ: Cummings & Hathaway, 1997); Norman G. Finkelstein and Ruth Bettina Birn, A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth (New York: Holt, 1998); Robert R. Shandley, ed., Unwilling Germans?: The Goldhagen Debate (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998); and Geoff Eley, The Goldhagen Effect: History, Memory, Nazism--Facing the German Past (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2000).

(19.) Goldhagen stresses that very few (4%) of the men in Battalion 101 were members of the SS and most were no more Nazified than the general German population. They hailed from an area (Hamburg) that was not a Nazi stronghold, and a few of them had even shown hostility to the regime. As relatively mature men with families and children, they were "the least likely to be martial in spirit and temperament" (206).

(20.) Goldhagen uses the murder of one of the men by partisans in September, 1942, and the retaliatory killings it provoked to emphasize how differently the "Nazified German mind" viewed the murder of Poles and Jews. But the language used to describe the incident--Major Trapp referred to it as a "cowardly murder" (feige Mordtat)--actually conforms to a gender-informed view of the battalion's activities.

(21.) Goldhagen also quotes Trapp's offer of release to older battalion members who did not "feel up to it." Whether or not younger men believed they had been invited to step forward as well, as Goldhagen argues, it is significant that the invitation was couched in terms that made a concession to weakness in general and male impotence in particular.

(22.) As Goldhagen writes, "some significant number of perpetrators must have had their family members with them, as the invitation to the evening with the theater troupe suggests, by explicitly stating that families were welcome" (p. 267).


Berger, M., Wallis, B., & Watson, S. (Eds.). (1995). Constructing masculinity. New York: Routledge.

Boyd, S. B., Longwood, W. M., & Muesse, M. W. (Eds.). (1996). Redeeming men: Religion and masculinities. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox.

Brod, H. (1987). The case for men's studies. In H. Brod (Ed.), The making of masculinities: The new men's studies (pp. 39-62). Boston: Allen and Unwin.

Browning, C. (1992). Ordinary men: Reserve police battalion 101 and the final solution in Poland. New York: HarperCollins.

Browning, C. (1998). Ordinary Germans or Ordinary Men?: Another Look at the Perpetrators. In D. G. Schilling (Ed.), Lessons and legacies, Vol. H: Teaching the Holocaust in a changing worm (pp. 41-54). Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

Clendinnen, I. (1999). Reading the holocaust. Cambridge: Cambridge University.

Connell, R. W. (1995). Masculinities. Berkeley: University of California.

Eley, G. (2000). The Goldhagen effect: history, memory, nazism--Facing the German past. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.

Finkelstein, N. G., & Birn, R. B. (1998). A nation on trial: The Goldhagen thesis and historical truth. New York: Holt.

Goldhagen, D. J. (1996). Hitler's willing executioners: Ordinary Germans and the holocaust. New York: Knopf.

Hoss, R. (1959). Commandant in Auschwitz (Trans. Constantine Fitz Gibbon). Cleveland and New York: The World Publishing.

Klee, E., Dressen, W., and Riess, V. (Eds.). (1994). The good old days: The Holocaust as seen by the perpetrators and bystanders. New York: Free Press.

Koonz, C. (1987). Mothers in the fatherland: Women, the family and Nazi politics. New York: St. Martin's.

Littell, F. H. (Ed.). (1997). Hyping the Holocaust: Scholars answer Goldhagen. East Rockaway, NJ: Cummings & Hathaway.

Mitchell, H. B., & Mitchell, J. R. (Eds.). (2001). The Holocaust: Readings and interpretations. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Nelson, J. B. (1988). The intimate connection: Male sexuality, masculine spirituality. Philadelphia: Westminster.

Ofer D., & Weitzman, L. J. (Eds.). (1998). Women in the Holocaust. New Haven: Yale University.

Patterson, Orlando (1982). Slavery and social death: A comparative study. Cambridge: Harvard.

Roth, J. K., & Rittner, C. (Eds.). (1993). Different voices: Women and the Holocaust. New York: Continuum.

Schilling, D. G. (Ed.). (1998). Lessons and legacies, volume H: Teaching the Holocaust in a changing world. Evanston: Northwestern University.

Shandley, R. R. (Ed.). (1998). Unwilling Germans?: The Goldhagen debate. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Stephen R. Haynes, Department of Religious Studies, Rhodes College, 2000 Parkway, Memphis, Tennessee 38112. Electronic mail may be sent to Haynes@rhodes.edu.
Like women's studies, men's studies aims at the emasculation of patriarchal
   ideology's masquerade as knowledge. Men's studies argues that while women's
   studies corrects the exclusion of women from the traditional canon caused
   by androcentric scholarship's elevation of man as male to man as generic
   human, the implications of this fallacy for our understanding of men have
   gone largely unrecognized. While seemingly about men, traditional
   scholarship's treatment of generic man as the human norm in fact
   systematically excludes from consideration what is unique to men qua men.
   (p. xiv)

The upshot of my army service [during World War I] was that I had reached
   manhood, both physically and mentally, long before my years.... The
   frightened schoolboy who had escaped from his mother's care and fought his
   first action against the enemy had become a tough and hardened soldier. (p.
   42) (9)

Any show of sympathy [toward prisoners] would be regarded by the enemies of
   the state as weakness, which they would immediately exploit. Furthermore,
   it was unworthy of an SS man to feel pity for "enemies of the state."
   [Eicke] had no room for weaklings in his ranks, and if any man felt that
   way he should withdraw, to a monastery as quickly as possible. Only tough
   and determined men were of any use to him. It was not for nothing that they
   wore the death's head badge and always kept their weapons loaded. (p. 73)

Consider hardness. In the male world of achievement, hard facts mean more
   than soft data. Men listen more readily to data from the "hard sciences"
   than to the soft, seemingly mushy information and theories of the people
   sciences.... Consider upness. Computers are "up" when they are functioning,
   "down," when they are in trouble. (p. 37)

I withdrew further and further into myself. I hedged myself in, became
   unapproachable, and visibly harder. My family, and especially my wife,
   suffered on account of this, since my behavior was often intolerable. I had
   eyes only for my work, my task. All human emotions were forced into the
   background. My wife was perpetually trying to draw me out of my seclusion.
   She invited old friends from outside the camp to visit us, as well as my
   comrades in the camp, hoping that I would be able to relax in their
   company. She arranged parties away from the camps with the same end in
   view.... (p. 124)

We have got to appear to be tough here or else we will lose the war. There
   is no room for pity of any kind.... I have already told you about the
   shooting--that I could not say "no" here either.... It is a weakness not to
   be able to stand the sight of dead people; the best way of overcoming it is
   to do it more often. Then it becomes a habit. (p. 171)

would have to conquer [their] weaker selves and that what was needed were
   tough men who understood how to carry out orders.... Any officer who had
   declared that he was too weak to do such things [participate in shootings
   of Jews] would have been considered unfit to be an officer. (quoted in
   Klee, 1994, pp. 62, 80)

The officer shot the people himself as the others refused. He swore at us
   and said we were cowards.... (quoted in Klee, 1994, p. 67)

   The reason I did not say to Leideritz that I could not take part in these
   things was that I was afraid that Leideritz and others would think I was a
   coward. I was worried that I would be affected adversely in some way in the
   future if I allowed myself to be seen as being too weak. I did not want
   Leideritz or other people to get the impression that I was not as hard as
   an SS-Mann ought to have been.... (quoted in Klee, 1994, p. 72)

   [Raschwitz] ordered me to go to the grave and to shoot Jews there with my
   pistol. I, however refused to comply with this order.... Raschwitz then
   hurled some abuse at me ... he ... used the term "coward" and other terms
   of abuse. (quoted in Klee, 1994, p. 79)

Shaped by a severe northern climate that ruthlessly eliminated weak
   elements, the Nordic race was superior to any other in the world, as could
   be seen from German cultural and military achievements. The German Volk
   faced a constant struggle for survival ordained by nature, according to
   whose laws "all weak and inferior are destroyed" and "only the strong and
   powerful continue to propagate." (p. 180)

Insidiously, therefore, most of those who did not shoot only reaffirmed the
   "macho" values of the majority--according to which it was a positive
   quality to be "tough" enough to kill unarmed, noncombatant men, women and
   children--and tried not to rupture the bonds of comradeship that
   constituted their social world.... Only the very exceptional remained
   indifferent to taunts of "weakling" from their comrades and could live with
   the fact that they were considered to be "no man." (p. 185)

The Germans' use of the term "Jew-hunt" was not casual. It expressed the
   killers' conception of the nature of their activity and the attendant
   emotion. Theirs was the exterminatory pursuit of the remnants of a
   particularly pernicious species that needed to be destroyed in its
   entirety. Moreover, the word "Jagd" has a positive Gefuhlswert, a positive
   emotional valence. Hunting is a pleasurable pursuit, rich in adventure,
   involving no danger to the hunter, and its reward is a record of animals
   slain--in the case of the men of this police battalion and other German
   "Jew-hunters," a record of Jews ferreted out and killed. (p. 238)

Their objections bespeak no shame at what they were doing, no desire to
   conceal from others their contribution to mass annihilation and torture,
   but rather a sense of chivalry and propriety that Frau Wohlhauf's presence
   violated, particularly since this ghetto clearing was, even by their
   standards, unusually brutal and gruesome. (p. 242)
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