Negotiating murder: Wehrmacht soldiers and participation in atrocities, 1941-1942 Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 21, 2019
  • Beorn, Waitman W.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • How did ordinary German soldiers confront atrocities and their complicity in them? This study investigates the complexities of participation and non-participation in spontaneous acts of violence in one unit on the eastern Front. It begins by examining what kinds of propaganda soldiers were exposed to and what kinds of beliefs and worldviews they expressed in letters home. In September 1942, the 4th Panzer Signal company murdered thirty to forty Jews in the tiny Soviet town of Peregruznoje, apparently on the initiative of the unit commander. A case study of this unit illuminates a twisted terrain of choices, pressures, norms, and organizational culture that helps explain why some men (and units) killed and others did not. This work argues that the kinds of “perpetrators” among Wehrmacht soldiers fall along a continuum of response: an activist core led by the commander, followers who went along, and others who evaded participation.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Browning, Christopher R.
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

This work has no parents.