Many historical atrocities have been committed because of inhumanity and the lack of pride. Many people are not concerned about the welfare of others. Instead, people major on their differences. Our differences and uniqueness should form a basis for us to complement one another. The old adage that unity is strength is surprisingly irrelevant in our modern world. Selfishness and national pride drives the modern world.
"Ordinary Men" by Christopher Browning
In the book Ordinary Men Christopher Browning tells a story of how ordinary men were commissioned to carry out terrible deeds. These ordinary men were sent to kill a large mass of people. These murders have been seen as one of the worst killings in modern history. Browning describes how the police reserve 101, just like the larger German community was indoctrinated and made to be involved in the holocaust. These men were ordinary people, not career police reservists. These middle aged men included the working class and the artisans from Hamburg. The members of Reserve Battalion 101 are described as not fitting for front-line service. there were around 500 men of German descent. They were commissioned to wipe out the Jews especially in Poland where the holocaust was the most severe. During the holocaust, the thirty eight thousand Jews were shot dead. These so called ordinary men also transported a hundred thousand to their death sites.
"Persona" (1966) by Ingmar Bergman
The film Persona gives an illustration of Elizabeth Vogler, a Swedish who becomes mute while performing an Elektra on stage. The doctors are unable to diagnose the cause of her situation. Elizabeth is then given Alma as a caretaker. Elizabeth’s doctor recommends that she should be secluded. She is then secluded in a house in the beach side during the summer. During this seclusion period, Elizabeth was neither to be visited by her husband nor son.
Alma spoke to Elizabeth persistently on issues concerning her own life. On the contrary, Elizabeth rarely spoke to Alma save for very few occasions. One such occasion was when she was almost injured by her caretaker. Elizabeth requested not to harm her. When the film comes to a conclusion, Alma has become much like Elizabeth, and her affection to Elizabeth has grown. However, in the end, Alma fights Elizabeth and denies resembling her. Alma packs her things and goes away. In the film, Alma also commits adultery with Elizabeth’s husband.
Film and Novel Comparison Example
In both film Persona and the novel the Ordinary Men, there is a number of mysterious happenings. In the film, Elizabeth suddenly becomes mute as she performs her Elektra on stage. When taken to the doctors to diagnose and treat the disease, no cause for Elizabeth’s condition could be found. Furthermore, the doctors do not have a known treatment for such a condition. The doctors, therefore, decide to use trial and error in a bid to rescue Elizabeth whose condition is growing from bad to worse. It dawns on us that Elizabeth can actually speak and it is like she has just refused to speak. One wonders why. Her ability to speak becomes evident in occasion when Alma wants to pour on her hot water; she actually talks and begs Alma not to harm her.
Some of the happenings in the film Persona are quite strange. One notable example is how Elizabeth’s husband seemed to forget his wife. Elizabeth’s husband is portrayed as forgetting her wife and referring to the nurse as his spouse. What is more shocking is the fact that the wife is actually in the vicinity. Alma also gives in to Elizabeth’s husband and they have sex. Moreover, Alma confesses her love for Elizabeth’s husband. Surprisingly, Elizabeth is right besides the bed when her husband is making love to Alma. During all this time, Elizabeth says nothing. Strange indeed! Having proved to be able to talk at few instances, she would have talked now. It is unusual and, in fact, unbelievable to for a normal woman to watch such strange happenings without any reaction.
In the novel Ordinary Men, Browning explains some strange historical happenings. Browning explains the genesis and the course of what started off slowly and grew up to be one of the worst holocausts in modern history. Christopher gives a vivid explanation of events leading to the massacre of Jews by the Germans especially in Poland. The author of the novel Ordinary Men explains how ordinary men were used to cause genocide of the Jews. It all started by German leaders indoctrinating the citizens. Most of the Germans ascribed their defeat in the First World War as caused by the Jews. The Germans also felt they were a superior species to the Jews and, therefore, were obliged to wipe out the inferior species.
The whole episode of massacre of the Jews is a strange happening. First of all, the men chosen to carry out the killings were ordinary men. Browning asserts that the members of the Reserve Police Battalion 101 were not Nazi fanatics. The battalion was composed of ordinary middle-aged men both working class and artisans. These men were to be recruited in the German official army but were found unfit for the job. One astonishing thing with the101 battalion is that none of them was forced to execute the killings. As a matter of fact, the members of this team were given an opportunity by their commander Trap. Therefore, none of the battalion 101 members was forced to shoot the Jews. However, it is astonishing to realize that only about ten to twelve soldiers decided to quit the venture. This was quite unusual owing to the fact that they were not strong Nazi members.
The Battalion 101 members went on to ruthlessly evict Jews from their places of residence. Furthermore, they intruded into the property of the Jews and brutally killed them. Elderly men, women, and children who numbered a hundred thousand were also transported by the Reserve Battalion 101 crew to their death camps. One strange characteristic of the Reserve Battalion 101 is the rate of growth of inhumanity that the team acquired as it progressed in its work. The Battalion became more ruthless and increased their intensity of killing as the operations progressed. They also started enjoying killing the Jews as they acquired national pride and superiority complex. The Jewish genocide revealed the deep seated inhumanity in the current world. We live in a modern world where human lives can be sacrificed at the national expense. The modern world has neither moral guidance nor human ethics.
Guilt Shame and Confusion in Two Literary Works
In the two literary works, some characters labor under guilt shame and confusion. Alma, for example, remembers cheating on her fiancée Karl-Henrick. Alma’s fiancée impregnated her, and she aborted the baby. However, Alma is mentally tormented by abortion. She is regretting for having decided to abort. Some of the Battalion 101 members regret their actions of killing the Jews. This is evidenced by the testimonies they give though Browning seems to support the battalion claiming that anyone would have acted as the soldiers did. Christopher claims that they are the soldiers under authority and they were to obey instructions. The soldiers’ regrets and shame come from the fact that they killed due to peer pressure and some of them were now questioned about the same.
In both the film Persona and the novel Ordinary Men, suffering is not individual or private. The suffering of the characters in the two literature works has ethical impacts. The suffering of Elizabeth affects her husband, son, Alma, and her new born child. These parties are concerned about Elizabeth’s illness and they miss her affection. Similarly, the suffering of the Jews in the hands of Battalion 101 during the genocide affected their relatives all over the world. However, suffering can also be personal, when the Jews were being persecuted, for example, in Poland, their neighbors felt nothing and they were not concerned. The only people who felt the pain were the Jews.
Elizabeth and the war veterans have lost their humanity. Elizabeth does not want to speak even when there is a proof that she can talk. His close associates and friends are stressed because of her failure to talk to them. Elizabeth’s husband and son need her yet she is nowhere to provide warmth to her husband and motherliness to her son. Because of this, her husband even commits adultery. In the same way, the members of the Reserve Battalion 101 have no trace of humanity left in their hearts. They kill elderly people, women, and children without restraint. The main objective of the Battalion is their pride.
The idea that Alma proposes that silence and immobility can show Elizabeth’s great mental strength is not correct. Because of Elizabeth’s keeping quite, many things ran out of hand. Elizabeth’s own husband slept with Alma in her presence. Elizabeth was nearly killed by Alma until she talked. Elizabeth’s career suffered a great deal, because she would not continue acting. The psychiatrist’s suggestion that Elizabeth’s keeping quite makes her avoid lying has no basis. We can communicate and lie even through facial expressions. The prosecutor is justified by calling Meursault a soulless monster because of the atrocities he committed. Emotional withdrawal is not an honorable course because it gives no opportunity to solve problems. Dialogue should be embraced in place of withdrawal. This is because most issues can be solved by talking.