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One of the most devastating and frightening time-periods of our history was during the Second World War when between five and six million Jewish civilians were killed throughout Europe in a mass genocide A large portion of the Jews were killed by the Nazis under Hitlers regime However thousands more of them were also put to death by the German Reserve Police Battalion 101 The members of the reserve police were middle-aged men who were not forced to kill the many defenseless citizens who had died They were given the option to step away and refuse to engage in such brutal acts without being penalized However only a small fifteen to twenty percent of these men accepted the choice given to them while a significant majority were soon going to be a large part of one of the most disturbing eras in history the Holocaust Since the end of this dreadful time-period many questions have been raised concerning why most of the German men in the reserve police participated when they were given the option not to The ideas of obedience to authority and conformity were studied by the social scientist Stanley Milgram Toward the end of the Holocaust Milgram became very interested in these two concepts and their relation to the German participation in the killings of Jewish decent Milgram tested the individuals ability to resist authority that was not backed by any external coercive threat Browning172 The results of the tests corresponded with what Milgram felt was the cause of the many men who coincided with authorities When conducting series of tests with middle-aged men to observe their actions in relation to obedience to authority two thirds of Milgrams subjects were obedient to the point of inflicting extreme pain Browning172 He performed other tests as well which showed evidence that the men the subjects were influenced greatly by their peers This suggests that conformity played a large role as well in the decisions
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