Einsatzgruppen. In German it means an innocuous, "task force". In reality it embodied the evil side of Nazism. During World War Two it killed about 1.3 million Jews, gypsies and Soviet commissars. They were terminators, exterminators. Giving flesh and bones to Hitler's visceral hatred of Jews and the Untermenschen.
What is frightening is that they did the killings in a professional, well organised manner. Without pity. Just a mad devotion to the Fuehrer. It is certain that many of them were sadists. Nobody could kill such large number of humans without being slightly kinky in the head.
Of course, WW2 made almost everybody insane with hatred. The brutality of the Russian soldiers in Germany after it lost and even the many incidents of British and American soldiers' bestial behaviour towards German Waffen SS soldiers hardly shows them with a halo over their heads.
Nazism took roots in Germany only because the Allies humiliated it after WW1. It all starts with fear, hatred and the desire to dominate others. The vicious cycle never ends. But that is another story.
MIND OF THE EINSATZGRUPPEN MAN
(Special Motivation - The Motivation and Actions of the Einsatzgruppen by Walter S. Zapotoczny)
The killing by shooting, especially of women and children, had a devastating effect on many of the Einsatzgruppen member's mental state, which even heavy drinking of hard liquor (of which they were given a generous supply) could not suppress. A few committed suicide and some asked for transfer to other units. Units began experimenting with methods that would ease the burden on the shooters.
EINSATZGRUPPEN NOT MERE KILLERS....
Operational Situation Report USSR No. 20
The industrialized areas are only slightly damaged. The town is without light and water. Political and government officials have fled. The population is very depressed. Many people have lost their shelter and the food situation is worsening. To protect the communication lines and prevent acts of sabotage, the Field Commander ordered the arrest of all male inhabitants between the ages of 18-45. The civil prisoners are being screened at this time. The attitude of the population toward the Germans is one of wait-and-see. The Byelorussians show a friendlier attitude towards the Germans. However, the entire population hopes that the occupation will enable them to live a normal life in the near future.
According to the last report of Einsatzgruppe B, wooden houses in the western part of Minsk were set afire. Apparently the houses were set on fire by Jews because the Jews were supposed to evacuate their homes for returning Byelorussian refugees. At present the population is in a mood to launch a pogrom. Their fury caused certain anti-Jewish actions. A number of Jews were liquidated for this act.
On July 5, 1941, 15 Jews were executed as reprisal for the bestial murder of the Ukrainian nationalist leader Dr. Kirnychny in Rudki. The Ukrainian population on their part set the synagogue and Jewish houses on fire. 150 Ukrainians were found murdered in Stryj. In the course of a search, it was possible to arrest 12 Communists who were responsible for the murder of the Ukrainians. It concerns 11 Jews and 1 Ukrainian who were shot with the participation of the entire population of Stryj.
Location: Chernovtsy, Vorkommando at Khotin. The following was ascertained at Chernowitz:
1. The Rumanians declare North Bukovina to be Rumanian territory.
2. A great number of Jews of the poorer class are in Rumanian prisons. Nearly no intelligentsia.
3. The Rumanians are inclined to exterminate the upper echelon of Ukrainian leadership in order to settle the Ukrainian problem in the North Bukovina once and for all, taking advantage of the present situation. 22 Ukrainians are under Rumanian arrest in Chernowitz. lb has been given the following orders in this respect:
a. To influence the Rumanian authorities to take severe measures concerning the Jewish question. They must raid Jewish meetings and uncover conspiracies in order to stimulate Rumanian activities against the Jewish intelligentsia and to enable us to take a hand ourselves.
b. To hold or to turn over to us important Ukrainians; similarly, Ukrainian Communists will be put at the disposal of the Rumanians.
Zhitomir had a population of 90,000, of which about 30% were Jews, 15% Poles, the rest Ukrainians, and about 4,000 Volksdeutsche. Now there are approximately 40,000.
Zhitomir is heavily damaged by arson committed by the Russians. The population greets the Germans as they march in.
Berlin July 20, 1941
Operational Situation Report USSR No. 28
Location: Pleskau [Pskov]
Einsatzgruppe A has transmitted secret instructions (a copy of which is enclosed) concerning the deportation of anti-Soviet elements from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
I. Following consultations with Army Group South, the agreement stands that all the Einsatzkommandos as well as the Group staff stay close to the fighting troops whenever possible. This guarantees that the advance Kommandos as well as the main Kommandos will march into Kiev as soon as possible after its capture, which is expected shortly.
II. According to the report of an eyewitness from Tarnopol, an officer of the German Air Force was led through the city by the Russian police, followed by a large crowd of Jews, and was insulted and ill treated. The population is in general convinced that it is mostly the Jews who should be held responsible for the atrocities that are committed everywhere.
IV. So far, a total of 240 executions have been carried out in Rovno: mostly Jewish Bolshevik agents and informers of the NKVD. The advanced Kommando Lublin for special tasks arrived here yesterday and together with the militia will now proceed to undertake the further purging of the town and its environs.
As it was learned that the Russians before they left have either deported the Ukrainian intelligentsia, or executed them, that is, murdered them, it is assumed that in the last days before the retreat of the Russians, about 100 influential Ukrainians were murdered. So far the bodies have not been found — a search has been initiated.
About 100-150 Ukrainians were murdered by the Russians in Kremenets. Some of these Ukrainians are said to have been thrown into cauldrons of boiling water. This has been deduced from the fact that the bodies were found without skin when they were exhumed. In retaliation, the Ukrainians killed 130 Jews with sticks.
In Dubno, where the activities have essentially come to an end, a total of 100 executions were carried out. Among them was a Ukrainian who since 1940 has worked without interruption for the NKVD. He confessed he was responsible for the murder or deportation of Ukrainians into Central Russia; in addition, two Communist officials and confidants of the NKVD who instigated sniper-warfare; one Communist who had revealed every activity of the Ukrainian nationalists to the Russians and had initiated the evacuation or deportation of many local families. Finally, there were also two Russians who were found in possession of shoulder-straps, leather-wear and army under-wear of German soldiers. Before leaving Dubno, the Russians, as they had done in Lvov, committed extensive mass-murder.
Altogether 127 executions were carried out in Tarnopol. Before their flight, as in Lvov and Dubno, the Russians went on a rampage there. Disinterments revealed 10 bodies of German soldiers. Almost all of them had their hands tied behind their backs with wire. The bodies revealed traces of extremely cruel mutilations such as gouged eyes, severed tongues and limbs.
The number of Ukrainians who were murdered by the Russians, among them women and children, is set finally at 600. Jews and Poles were spared by the Russians. The Ukrainians estimate the total number of victims since the occupation of the Ukraine by the Russians at about 2,000. The planned deportation of the Ukrainians al-ready started in 1939. There is hardly a family in Tarnopol from which one or several members have not disappeared. In the town, containing about 40,000 inhabitants, among them 12,000 Ukrainians, 18,000 Jews, and 10,000 Poles, there are fewer than 10,000 Ukrainians left. The entire Ukrainian intelligentsia is destroyed. Since the beginning of the war, 160 members of the Ukrainian intelligentsia were either murdered or deported.
Inhabitants of the town had observed a column of about 1,000 civilians driven out of town by police and army early in the morning of July 1, 1941.
As in Lvov, torture chambers were discovered in the cellars of the Court of Justice. Apparently, hot and cold showers were also used here (as in Lemberg) for torture, as several bodies were found, totally naked, their skin burst and torn in many places. A grate was found in another room, made of wire and set above the ground about 1m in height, traces of ashes were found underneath. A Ukrainian engineer, who was also to be murdered but saved his life by smearing the blood of a dead victim over his face, reports that one could also hear screams of pain from women and girls.
The troops passing by who saw these horrors, in particular the bodies of the murdered German soldiers, killed approximately 600 Jews and burned down their houses.
Berlin, July 28, 1941
43 copies (32nd copy)
Operational Situation Report USSR No. 36
I. Police Activity:
a. In the course of an extensive search action, 38 more persons were arrested in cooperation with the GFP. A larger number of weapons, radios and files has been secured. Further action led to the liquidation of 193 Jews. Two armed robbers caught red-handed were also liquidated. A Jewish-Polish secret organization was discovered and was infiltrated by secret agents. They will be uncovered only after more details are available. An organization plan of the NKVD and NKGB was set up in Vilnius with the assistance of secret agents. For the time being, one cannot know for certain if this plan is complete in all its details.
b. Until further notice, about 200 persons are being liquidated daily in Minsk. This concerns Bolshevik officials, criminals, Asiatics, etc. They are being sorted out from among civilian-camp prisoners. Among those already liquidated were also the former politically oriented staff commissar, Gregory Bylich, born 1890 in Lesog, and his wife. Both had been very active in the deportation of Byelorussians to Siberia. Actions were further carried out in Rakov, about 40 km from Minsk, and in the forest region north of the Minsk-Borissov-Krupka line. 58 Jews, Communist officials, and agents, prison inmates as well as soldiers in plain clothes suspected of having contact with partisan groups, were liquidated. In addition, 12 Jewesses who were proven to be agents for the KP during the Polish campaign were shot.
c. Concerning their KP memberships: Our experience up to now shows that a majority of members at heart rejected the Bolshevik Weltanschauung [world outlook]. The Soviet leading class had exerted strong pressure on the population to join the KP Those who refused were in many cases sent to Siberia, thrown into prison or shot. The percentage of the population that was forced to join the party varied, however, within the diverse groups of peoples. In general, the Jews belong to the party out of inner conviction. The same goes for the Russians who lived in Byelorussian areas. Also the Poles were forced into memberships.
However, coercion to join the KP was often the case with the Byelorussians. The Kommandos have been ordered to consider these facts carefully in the course of the liquidations.
II. Civilian Life Activity:
a. The activity of the Roman Catholic Church, which has in the Byelorussian area mainly Polish leadership, is very noticeable and clearly attempts, with the Byelorussian clergy, to do missionary work.
b. Preference of Byelorussian personnel for "leading and organizational" positions in the former Polish areas as well as gradual removal and relief of the Poles partly causes reactions in their mood.
c. Ruthless requisitions have had a negative influence on the general public mood as well as the prevailing conditions in Minsk and its rural environs. A price list has been drawn up, and the question of wages was handled in Minsk. Free trade will be opened up soon. The Reichskreditkasse has granted the city of Minsk a substantial loan for its reconstruction expenses. For the time being financial re-sources are drawn from forced loans from the Jewish population. The appointed head of the Minsk district has appointed an administrator of the kolkhozes [collective farms]. The following immediate projects have been ordered:
A survey of cattle and cultivated fields has to be drawn up; further-more, all the distributions in the kolkhoz-factories were cancelled. The immediate publication of a newspaper in the Byelorussian language is planned. The first 5,000 copies are to be printed. The con-tent: general information, German Army reports and news from the front. For the time being, political issues are not to be touched. Radio station Baranovichi lacks material to transmit; there are not enough records either.
d. It is evident that the population rejects the Bolshevik rule in the area around Orscha, Krupka, and Shklov, 200 km east of Minsk; how-ever, this is so mainly for economic and social reasons. The population is still greatly intimidated. Economic life is completely paralyzed, food very scarce. The population rummages in demolished places for things which they could use. Einsatzkommando 7b has set up appointed town administrations in Krupka, Shklov and other places. Four-fifths of Shklov are destroyed, mainly by arson. Citizens are afraid to assume an office in the town hall for fear that the leaders of the Komsomol might take revenge. We succeeded nevertheless in forming a city council consisting of 8 Russians who carried out the following:
1. Clearing of houses inhabited by Jews and placing the Jews in ghettos (cases of leprosy and scabies were observed among the Jews).
2. Distribution of flour to the population from army reserves.
3. Work in city kolkhoz was begun.
e. The antagonism between Poland and Lithuania continues in the district of Vilnius. Poles feel disadvantaged in the distribution of goods.
Lithuanians believe that they have the right to arrest Poles and to confiscate their belongings. There is, however, a general agreement with the measures taken by the Germans, particularly with the proceedings against the Jews. It was established that the above-mentioned Lithuanian organization has dissolved spontaneously with the advance of the German forces. The active forces went over to the activist [collaborating] groups. Activity of Schaulists has increased in the university. Tension between Fascist and Catholic groups can be noticed there. Fascist groups are in the minority.
AN AVERAGE EINSATZGRUPPEN KOMMANDO'S LETTER HOME....
THE EINSATZGRUPPEN HALL OF FAME
As far as Lange is concerned, he was the biggest murderer I have ever known. To write a book about him would definitely not be enough. As he is dead, it is no use talking about him. I would, however, mention that he was one of the most notorious anti-Semites in the twentieth century. He hated Jews so much that he could not look at them; one never wanted to pass him either in the motor pool or anywhere else