That day in the forest was traumatic for Reserve Police Battalion 101. They didn’t like shooting people in the head all day. A few of them asked for and got transfers.
The problem that faced Trapp and his superiors in Lublin, therefore, was not the ethically and politically grounded oppo- sition of a few but the broad demoralization shared both by those who shot to the end and those who had not been able to continue. It was above all a reaction to the sheer horror of the killing process itself. If Reserve Police Battalion 101 was to continue to provide vital manpower for the implementation of the Final Solution in the Lublin district, the psychological burden on the men had to be taken into account and alleviated.In subsequent actions two vital changes were introduced and henceforth — with some notable exceptions — adhered to. First, most of the future operations of Reserve Police Battalion 101 involved ghetto clearing and deportation, not outright massacre on the spot. The policemen were thus relieved of the immediate horror of the killing process, which (for deportees from the northern Lublin district) was carried out in the extermination camp at Treblinka. Second, while deportation was a horrifying procedure characterized by the terrible coercive violence needed to drive people onto the death trains as well as the systematic killing of those who could not be marched to the trains, these actions were generally undertaken jointly by units of Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Trawnikis, SS-trained auxiliaries from Soviet territories, recruited from the POW camps and usually assigned the very worst parts of the ghetto clearing and deportation.
Problem solved. The police had to round up the Jews for transport, but they didn’t have to do (all) the killing. They had help with the rounding up.
In fact they still had to do a lot of killing, because anyone who couldn’t march to the train station was shot immediately. But apparently it was enough less to make the difference.
In short, the psychological alleviation necessary to integrate Reserve Police Battalion 101 into the killing process was to be achieved through a twofold division of labor. The bulk of the killing was to be removed to the extermination camp, and the worst of the on-the-spot "dirty work" was to be assigned to the Trawnikis. This change would prove sufficient to allow the men of Reserve Police Battalion 101 to become accustomed to their participation in the Final Solu- tion. When the time came to kill again, the policemen did not "go crazy." Instead they became increasingly efficient and calloused executioners.
Which is pretty horrifying when you think about it. It means if the horrors are at a distance, we don’t care about them. Even if we know all about them, we don’t care about them unless the blood is actually spattering into our faces.
Lifton writes that the doctors in the extermination camps were concerned about one thing: how to dispose of the corpses. There was a huge consignment from Hungary at one point and the crematoria were completely overwhelmed, so the corpses had to be incinerated in trenches outside. How do you do that? It’s a technical problem. That’s what the doctors talked about. They criticized each other for coming up with bad solutions.