University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


What Turns "Ordinary" Citizens into Mass Murderers?

What Turns "Ordinary" Citizens into Mass Murderers?

This question is often asked when studying the Holocaust and other genocides. This week French filmmaker Michael Prazan will touch on this question with his groundbreaking documentary Einsatzgruppen: The Death Brigades, being shown exclusively in the Twin Cities on Thursday, November 4 and Sunday November 7 at the St. Anthony Main Theater. Prazan and the film are being sponsored by the University of Minnesota's Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS) with Minnesota Film Arts.
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"Einsatzgruppen: The Death Brigades is an essential film for those eager to understand the mechanics of evil and prevent its recurrence," said, Bruno Chaouat, director for CHGS.

"I think we all have a concept of what we individually believe evil to look like, but as we have found it isn't quite as clear cut as it would seem. Hannah Arendt in her controversial report Eichmann in Jerusalem identified the men who perpetrated the crimes representing what she called the banality of evil. Christopher Browning, in his landmark work Ordinary Men took Arendt's argument one step further focusing on the many so called "normal" Germans who turned into mass murders. Prazan's film, blending Claude Lanzmann's (the director of the acclaimed Holocaust documentary Shoah) method of interviewing witnesses, survivors and perpetrators with archive footage, adds his own, original voice to this descent into the night of human soul."