Einsatzgruppen in eastern europe

Einsatzgruppen are the nazi killing sqauds, active behind the frontline.  With the aim to kill enemies of the state in the broadest sense. The first active operation was operation Tannenberg. Operation tannenberg was the killing action in Poland. They killed the polish intellegentia and political enemies. Also, disabled people from both Poland and Germany where executed. However, not many Jews were shot.

The second big operation of the einsatzgruppen followed after the start of operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia. In 1941 the Nazi invaded Russia and from the start of the einsatzgruppen had, as with operation Tannenberg, the order to shoot enemies of the state. In russia the einsatzgruppen were organized in 4 different groups ranked A till D.  The order did contain an exemption for responsibility of their actions towards the court. So, the members could kill freely without the risk of being sued by a non-military court.

einsatzgruppen scaled

Group organization

The groups were organized from members of different organizations. The SS, gestapo, military police but mainly auxiliary troops from local right wing movements. It was not uncommon for people to be shot by their locals. Also the local civilians knew what was happening at the execution site, it was open for them to visit and spectate the executions.

During the first part of the invasion of only adult men were shot, but when the was continued the order changed towards killing all “resistance members”, thus also killing the woman and childres of the male adults.

warsaw ghetto roundup

Modus operandi

The massacres themselves followed roughly the same modus operandi: people were living selected for execution in a specific region were collected in 1 village, called the extermination ghetto. An execution site was selected closely by the ghetto in a hidden location. People were brought with their belongings to the execution site by truck or foot. When arrived at the execution site they were ordered to hand over valuables, strip naked and get in or close to the execution pit. At that point they were shot by an SS member or local auxiliary.

einsatzgruppen massacre ditch

Alternatives for the einsatzgruppen

Once Himmler visited an execution. He was shocked by the effect of the killing on his SS men. Note, he was not shocked by the cruelty towards the persons to be executed. He therefore ordered to find better alternatives for the shootings, to easy the burden on his men. 2 solutions came up. The first was the use of the gas vans. The second by ghettoizing the people and transporting them towards death camps.

gas van

Einsatzgruppen active in Eastern Europe.

The einsatzgruppen active in eastern Europe are divided up into 4 main groups. Each group was linked to an armygroup. This armygroup was responsible for the logistics and movements of the einsatzgruppen. Each einsatzgruppe can be subdivided into sonderkommandos, active on the frontline, and einsatzkommando, active behind the frontline.

Einsatzgruppe A, under command of SS-Brigadeführer Dr. Franz Walter Stahlecker ,replaced by Heinz Jost.

  • Sonderkommando 1a: Martin Sandberger.
  • Sonderkommando 1b: Erich Ehrlinger, replaced by Eduard Strauch.
  • Einsatzkommando 2: Rudolf Batz, replaced by Strauch, replaced by Rudolf Lange.
  • Einsatzkommando 3: Karl Jäger, replaced by Wilhelm Fuchs, replaced by Hans-Joachim Böhme.

einsatzgruppe B, under command of SS-Brigadeführer Arthur Nebe, replaced by Erich Naumann.

  • Sonderkommando 7a: Walter Blume, replaced by Eugen Steimle, replaced by Albert Rapp.
  • Sonderkommando 7b: Günter Rausch, replaced by Adolf Ott, replaced by Albert Rapp.
  • Sonderkommando 7c: Wilhelm Bock.
  • Einsatzkommando 8: Otto Bradfisch, replaced by Heinz Richter, replaced by Erich Isselhorst, replaced by Hans Schindhelm.
  • Einsatzkommando 9: Alfred Filbert, replaced by Oswald Schäfer, replaced by Wihelm Wiebens.
  • Vorkommando Moskau: Franz Six, replaced by Woldemar Klingelhöfer.

Einsatzgruppe C, under command of SS-Gruppenführer Dr. Otto Rasch ,replaced by Max Thomas.

  • Sonderkommando 4a: Paul Blobel replaced by Erwin Weinmann, replaced by Eugen Steimle, replaced by Schmidt.
  • Sonderkommando 4b: Günter Hermann, replaced by Lothar Fendler, replaced by, replaced by Hänsch.
  • Einsatzkommando 5: Erwin Schulz, replaced by August Meier.
  • Einsatzkommando 6: Erhard Kröger, replaced by Mohret Ernst Bilberstein.

Einsatzgruppe D, under command of Karl Jäger, replaced by Wilhelm Fuchs, replaced by Hans-Joachim Böhme.

  • Sonderkommando 10a: Heinz Seetzen, replaced by Jurt Christman.
  • Sonderkommando 10b: Aloïs Persterer.
  • Einsatzkommando 11a: Paul Zapp.
  • Einsatzkommando 11b: Bruno Müller, replaced by Werner Braune, replaced by Paul Schulz.
  • Einsatzkommando 12: Gustav Nosske, replaced by Erich Müller.
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