'Ordinary' Mass Murderers?

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The Periodical Observer

That does not mean welfare reform should be regarded as an unqualified success, say the authors. "There’s more work but not much more disposable income, especially after...the expenses associated with work." Many poor families that leave welfare fail to obtain food stamps or Medicaid because of "administrative mistakes, lack of information, [or their desire] to leave stigmatized systems that treat them badly." Most mothers who’ve gone from welfare to work do not receive child care subsidies.

"For the families who haven’t been able to break into the labor market," write Bernstein and Greenberg, "the tattered safety net is providing less help than ever. Furthermore, the [new Temporary Assistance for Needy Families] program, which has been greatly supported by the strong economy, is not prepared for the next recession."

Bernstein and Greenberg urge Congress to shift the 1996 law’s focus when it comes up for renewal next year. "In 1996 Congress emphasized the need to cut welfare caseloads and states responded impressively." The states should next be challenged, and given sufficient resources, to meet "a national goal of reducing, and ultimately eliminating, child and family poverty."

‘Ordinary’ Mass Murderers?

"Were the Perpetrators of Genocide ‘Ordinary Men’ or ‘Real Nazis’? Results from Fifteen Hundred Biographies" by Michael Mann, in Holocaust and Genocide Studies (Winter 2000), Dept. of Academic Publications, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024–2126.

Was Nazi Germany’s murder of six million Jews and millions of other unarmed persons the work of "real Nazis"—i.e., fervent Nazi ideologues and murderous sadists—or was it carried out by "ordinary" men? Passionate debate has raged over this question in recent years.

In Hitler’s Willing Executioners (1996), a bestseller in Germany and America, historian Daniel Jonah Goldhagen argued that "ordinary Germans" full of anti-Semitism did much of the Holocaust’s work. In Ordinary Men (1992), historian Christopher Browning contended that the killers in Hamburg’s Reserve Police Battalion 101, for instance, were unexceptional men driven to act by the atmosphere of total war and their fear of breaking ranks.

Clearly, committed Nazis, as well as some sadists, were leaders in the genocide, and the perpetrators were so numerous that "fairly ordinary people" must also have been involved, says Mann, a sociologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. But after examining the backgrounds and characteristics of 1,581 presumed German war criminals—"the largest and most representative sample of mass murderers yet studied"—he finds these individuals "clustered toward the ‘real Nazi’ end of the spectrum."

Ethnic German "refugees" who had been living abroad in Alsace-Lorraine and other territories lost after World War I, or living in regions near borders threatened with Allied intervention, were especially "overrepresented" among the war criminals, Mann notes. Their circumstances apparently inflamed nationalist and Nazi sentiments. A conspicuous exception: the Sudeten Germans, whom Czechoslovakia treated quite well during the interwar years. "When Hitler marched in, fewer than two percent of Sudetens were in the Nazi Party."

Ninety-five percent of the war criminals were men. Few of the women had any record of having joined an adult Nazi organization before 1939, or of having taken part in any previous violence. The women, the Sudeten Germans, and the foreign ethnic Germans not recruited until after their "liberation" by the Wehrmacht—these, says Mann, seem the likeliest candidates among the war criminals for "ordinary" status.

"Most of the remaining 90 percent of the sample had some [prior] Nazi record, rising to a large majority in the upper ranks," he writes. One-third of the men on whom prewar records were available, he says, had been involved in serious violence or noted as especially fanatic Nazis.

It appears, says Mann, that at the center of Nazi genocide were "ideological, experi

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Many ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland cheered Adolf Hitler when Germany annexed it in 1938. But less than two percent of the Sudeten Germans had opted before then to join the Nazi Party.

enced Nazis," who were driven not simply by Nazi Party members—twice the level of all anti-Semitism but by "broader currents of German men at the time, he points out. Of embittered nationalism." the 13 battalion members convicted of war

Even in Police Battalion 101, which crimes, 10 were Nazi Party members. Even Browning and Goldhagen closely studied, in this "ordinary men" battalion, "the hier-Mann finds signs "that things might actual-archy and the experienced core were mostly ly have been a little out of the ordinary." Nazis or initiates in violence, ordering and Thirty-eight percent of the policemen were guiding the rawer recruits into genocide."

Press & Media

The Giveaway Scoop

"Giving It Away" by John Morton, in American Journalism Review (Jan.–Feb. 2001), Univ. of Maryland, 1117 Journalism Bldg., College Park, Md. 20742–7111.

In New York, the Daily News has been giving away an afternoon edition, the Express, at subway stations, bus stops, and commuter train depots; in Philadelphia, commuters in the transit system have been getting a free daily called the Metro. This trend—if it is one—flies in the face of conventional wisdom, observes newspaper analyst Morton.

Only a handful of the 1,483 daily newspapers in the United States are given away to readers, even though many of the 8,138 weekly newspapers in the country are. "There seems to be a dichotomy in the attitude of advertisers toward paid and free newspapers," Morton explains. "Paid dailies are attractive, but not free ones, and free weeklies, he says, are attractive, but not paid ones (at least for major advertisers)." The free weeklies do well mainly in the suburbs, where they can offer advertisers blanket "coverage" of generally affluent households.

Why the difference? In a word, tradition, says Morton. Dailies "have always charged, and advertisers have always used them on the log-

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