How do we explain evil?Given the developments in Ukraine and the prospect of more horrors of war and invasion, my mind is brought back to a book I finished reading recently. In Christopher Browning's excellent 'Ordinary Men', he looks at the development of Reserve Police Battalion 101 and how these individuals began to cultivate the psychological mindset to aid in the killing of Jews in the Second World War. This book is not easy reading, and the horrors described make for some tough reading. But this book is excellent in showing how the police battalion evolved from a group of relatively unremarkable men. Using a detailed timeline and the accounts of those who were in the battalion, Browning demonstrates the degree to which not only anti-semitism but how the gradual disarmament of conscience arose over time.
Looking at the various psychological theories posited over time, including Milgram's obedience studies and Adorno's authoritarianism theory, Browning tries to place these within the context of the war. I really recommend this book. I came across it due to it being mentioned in my university course. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/647492.Ordinary_Men