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'''Christopher Robert Browning''', born {{bda|1944|05|22}}, is an American [[historian]] of [[the Holocaust]].
Browning received his bachelor's degree from [[Oberlin College]] in 1966 and his doctorate from the [[University of Wisconsin-Madison]] in 1975. He taught at [[Pacific Lutheran University]] from 1974 to 1999, eventually becoming a Distinguished Professor. In 1999, he moved to the [[University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill]] to accept an appointment as Frank Porter Graham Professor of History. Browning is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
He is best known for his 1992 book ''Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland'', a study of German ''[[Ordnungspolizei]]'' (Order Police) Reserve Unit 101, used to massacre and round up Jews for deportation to the death camps in [[Poland]] in 1942. The conclusion of the book, which was much influenced by the experiments of [[Stanley Milgram]], was that the men of Unit 101 were not demons or [[Nazism|Nazi]] fanatics but ordinary middle-aged men of working-class background from [[Hamburg]], who had been drafted but found unfit for military duty. These men were ordered to round up Jews and if there was not enough room for them on the trains, to shoot them. The commander of the unit gave his men the choice of opting out of this duty if they found it too unpleasant; the majority chose not to exercise that option. Browning argued that the men of Unit 101 killed out of a basic obedience to authority and peer pressure, not blood-lust or primal hatred. The implication of the book is that most people placed into a group and given the choice between killing and belonging to the group or not killing and not belonging, will choose the former. Additionally the book demonstrates that ordinary people will more than likely follow orders, even those they might personally question, when they perceive these orders as originating from an authority.
''Ordinary Men'' achieved much acclaim but was denounced by [[Daniel Goldhagen]] for missing what Goldhagen considered the importance of German culture for causing the Holocaust. In an extremely hostile book review in the April 1992 edition of ''[[The New Republic]]'', Goldhagen called ''Ordinary Men'' a book of no scholarly value and accused Browning of manufacturing his evidence. Goldhagen's controversial 1996 book ''Hitler's Willing Executioners'' was largely written to rebut Browning's book.
When [[David Irving]] sued [[Deborah Lipstadt]] for libel in 2000, Browning was one of the leading witnesses for the defense. Another historian, [[Robert Jan Van Pelt]] wrote a report on the gassing facilities at [[Auschwitz concentration camp|Auschwitz]], and Browning wrote a report on the evidence for the extermination of the Jews on a wider scale.<ref>{{cite book | last = Evans | first = Richard J. | authorlink = Richard J. Evans | title = Telling Lies about Hitler | publisher = Verso | year = 2002 | pages = 35 | isbn = 1-85984-417-0 }}</ref> The American journalist D.D. Guttenplan considered Browning to be the most effective of the witnesses for Lipstadt.
==Browning's interpretation of the Holocaust==
Browning is a [[Functionalism versus intentionalism|functionalist]] in the origins of the Holocaust debate, following the principles of the "moderate functionalist" school of thought, which focuses on the structure and institution of the Third Reich, moving the focus away from Hitler. Functionalism sees the extermination of the Jews as the improvisation and radicalization of a polycratic regime. Functionalists do not vindicate [[Adolf Hitler]] yet they recognize that many other factors were involved in the [[Final Solution]].
Browning has argued that the Final Solution was the result of the "cumulative radicalization" (to use [[Hans Mommsen]]'s phrase) of the German state, especially when faced with the self-imposed "problem" of 3 million Jews (mostly Polish) whom the Nazis had forced into ghettos between 1939 and 1941. The intention was to have these and other Jews resident in the [[Third Reich]] expelled eastward once a destination was selected. For a time in 1940, the [[Madagascar Plan]], where after [[Germany]] defeated [[United Kingdom|Britain]], [[France]] was to cede [[Madagascar]] to Germany, and then all of the Jews of Europe were to be expelled to that island, was considered as a option. Germany's inability to defeat Britain prevented the execution of the Madagascar Plan. Browning has been able to establish that the phrase "Final Solution to the Jewish Question", first used in 1939, meant until 1941 a "territorial solution". Owing to the military developments of [[World War II]] and to turf wars within the German bureaucracy, expulsion lost its viability such that by 1941, members of the bureaucracy were willing to countenance the destruction of that population.
In a speech given in Paris in 1982, Browning summarized up the state of the historography as follows:<blockquote>In recent years the interpretations of National Socialism have polarized more and more into two groups that Tim Mason has aptly called Intentionalists and Functionalists. The former explain the development of Nazi Germany as a result of Hitler's intentions, which came out of a coherent and logical ideology and were realized due to an all-powerful totalitarian dictatorship. The Functionalists point out the anarchistic character of the Nazi state, its internal rivalries and the chaotic process of decision-making, which constantly led to improvisation and radicalization...These two modes of exposition of history are useful for the analysis of the strongly divergent meanings that people attribute to the Jewish policy of the Nazis in general and to the Final Solution in particular. On the one hand, Lucy Dawidowicz, a radical Intentionalist, upholds the viewpoint that already in 1919 Hitler had decided to exterminate European Jews. And not only that: He knew at what point in time his murderous plan would be realized.The Second World War was at the same time the means and opportunity to put his war against the Jews into effect. While he waited for the anticipated moment for the realization of his great plan, naturally he tolerated a senseless and meaningless pluralism in the Jewish policies of the subordinate ranks of state and party.
Against the radical Intentionalism of Lucy Dawidowicz, which emphasizes the intentions and great plan. of Hitler, the Ultrafunctionalism of Martin Broszat constitutes a diametrically opposed view of the role of the
Führer, especially with respect to the decision on the Final Solution. It is Broszat's position that Hitler never took a definitive decision nor issued a general order for the Final Solution. The annihilation program developed in stages in conjunction with a series of isolated massacres at the end of 1941 and in 1942. These locally limited mass murders were improvised answers to an impossible situation that had developed as a result of two factors:
First the ideological and political pressure for the creation of a Jew-free Europe that stemmed from Hitler and then the military reverses on the eastern front that led to stoppages in railway traffic and caused the buffer zones into which the Jews were to be removed to disappear. Once the annihilation program was in progress, it gradually institutionalized itself until it was noticed that it offered the simplest solution logistically and became a program universally applied and single-mindedly pursued. From this standpoint,Hitler was a catalyst but not a decision-maker.For Lucy Dawidowicz the Final Solution was thought out twenty years before it was put into practice; For Martin Broszat the idea developed from practice of sporadic murders of groups of Jews led to the idea to kill all Jews systematically.<ref>Christopher Browning ''La décision concernant la solution finale'' from ''Colloque de l.Ecole des Hautes Etudes en sciences sociales, L.Allemagne nazie et le génocide juif'', Gallimard-Le Seuil, Paris1985, page 19.</ref></blockquote>.
Browning divides the officials of the [[General Government|Government-General]] of occupied Poland into two factions. One, the "Productionists", favored using Jews of the ghettos as a source of slave labor to help with the war effort. The other, "Attritionists" favored letting Jews of the ghettos starve and die of disease. At the same time, there were struggles between the [[Schutzstaffel|SS]] and [[Hans Frank]], the Governor-General of Poland. The SS favored "[[The Nisko/Lublin Plan]]" of creating a "Jewish Reservation" in [[Lublin]], Poland into which all of the Jews of Greater Germany, Poland and the former Czechoslovakia were to be expelled. Frank was opposed to the "Lublin Plan" on the ground that the SS were "dumping" Jews into his territory. Frank together with [[Hermann Göring]] wished for Government-General of Poland to become the "granary" of the ''Reich'', and opposed the ethnic cleansing schemes of [[Heinrich Himmler]] and [[Arthur Greiser]] as disruptive of economic conditions<ref>Rees, Lawrence ''The Nazis'' pages 148-149.</ref>. A attempt to settle these difficulties at conference between Himmler, Göring, Frank and Greiser at Göring's Karinhall estate on February 12, 1940 was scuttled in May 1940 when Himmler was able to show Hitler a memo entitled "Some Thoughts on the Treatment of Alien Population in the East" on May 15, 1940 which Hitler called "good and correct"<ref>Rees, Lawrence ''The Nazis'' page 149.</ref>. Himmler's memo, which called for expelling all of the Jews of German-ruled Europe into Africa and reducing Poles to "leaderless laboring class", and Hitler's approval of the memo led as Browning noted to a major change in German policy in Poland along the lines suggested by Himmler<ref>Rees, Lawrence ''The Nazis'' pages 148-149.</ref>. Browning called the way the Göring/Frank-Himmler/Greiser dispute a perfect example of how Hitler encouraged his followers to engage in turf battles with one another without deciding for one policy option or other, but clearly hinting at the direction he preferred policy to go<ref>Rees, Lawrence ''The Nazis'' page 150</ref>.
*''The Final Solution and the German Foreign Office : a study of Referat D III of Abteilung Deutschland, 1940&ndash;43'', New York : Holmes & Meier, 1978.
*''Fateful Months : Essays on the Emergence of the Final Solution'', New York : Holmes & Meier, 1985.
*''Ordinary Men : Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland'', New York : HarperCollins, 1992.
*''The Path to Genocide : Essays on launching the Final Solution'', Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1998, 1992.
*''Nazi policy, Jewish workers, German killers'', Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2000.
*''Collected memories : Holocaust History and Postwar Testimony'', Madison, Wis. ; London : University of Wisconsin Press, 2003.
*''The Origins of the Final Solution : The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939 &ndash; March 1942'', Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, 2004.
<references />
*[[Yehuda Bauer|Bauer, Yehuda]] ''Rethinking the Holocaust'', New Haven [Conn.] ; London : Yale University Press, 2001
*Guttenplan, D. D. ''The Holocaust on Trial'', New York : Norton, 2001.
*[[Michael Marrus|Marrus, Michael]] ''The Holocaust in History'', Toronto : Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1987
*[[Ron Rosenbaum|Rosenbaum, Ron]] ''Explaining Hitler : the search for the origins of his evil'' New York : Random House, 1998.
==External links==
* [ Voices on Antisemitism Interview with Christopher Browning] from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
*[ Review of The Origins of the Final Solution]
*[ Review of Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers]
*[ A Brief Description of Dr. Browning]
*[''The Origins of the Final Solution : The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939 &ndash; March 1942'']
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|NAME=Browning, Christopher
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES=Browning, Christopher Robert
|SHORT DESCRIPTION=American historian of [[the Holocaust]]
|DATE OF BIRTH=[[May 22]] [[1944]]
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[[Category:1944 births]]
[[Category:Living people]]
[[Category:American historians]]
[[Category:Nazi era scholars and writers]]
[[Category:Historians of the Holocaust]]
[[Category:Military historians]]
[[Category:Oberlin College alumni]]
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Revision as of 17:30, 13 October 2008