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It is apparent that the operational group was not intended to function as a single unit moving together, but as separate three-man teams, consisting of a Gestapo/Kripo/SD official, an SS reservist as assistant cum bodyguard, and a driver. Since each team had its own driver, it could operate independently, in an extremely mobile fashion.
The structure enabled the three-man teams to fan out quickly over the Einsatzkommando's area of responsibility, carrying out its mission.
It is obvious that each three-man team could not act on its own, but would have a command function, drawing on other German personnel at the various places where it went into action.
The small size of each operational team suggests that the function for which they were designed was not something on a large scale, but small-scale actions which could be accomplished by the three-man team with some assistance from other German forces at various localities.
As stated previously, the German authorities could easily have left the 100,000 insurgents to wipe out the Jewish population of Lithuania on their own. But they preferred not to allow that to happen, most probably because they did not want to leave a large, independent Lithuanian armed force in existence. When the German authorities did go over to recruiting the Lithuanian insurgents as auxiliaries, they drastically reduced the number of men under arms from 100,000 to only 16,000.
At the beginning, the number of Lithuanian anti-Soviet partisans was very large, up to 100,000 men according to the memorandum by Prapuolenis to von Renteln in the name of the LAF dated 23 September 1941. No doubt that included the soldiers who had deserted from the 297th Territorial Corps
2 groups of partisans (1) in Kaunas:
(a) under leadership of Klimaitis, 600 men, mainly civilian workers
(b) under leadership of the physician Dr. Zigonys, about 200 men
An auxiliary police force consisting of 5 companies [in all of Lithuania] has been created from reliable partisans.
After the country had been cleared of Soviet troops, the Germans mustered the disparate resistance bodies into so-called "Self-Defense Battalions, each of around 500 to 600 men. There were twenty-four such battalions (all light infantry with the exception of one classed as "cavalry"). The overall strength amounted to 250 officers and 13,000 men -- all Lithuanians.
David Littlejohn, Foreign Legions of the Third Reich vol. 4, R. James Bender Publishing, San Jose [CA]: 1987, p. 217
In May 1943 the term Schuma [Schutzmannschaft] was abandoned in Lithuania, thereafter the designation Police Battalion was employed. The Lithuanian Police Battalions were numbered 1 to 15, 251 to 265, and 301 to 310. Their total strength was around 8,000 men.
David Littlejohn, Foreign Legions of the Third Reich vol. 4, R. James Bender Publishing, San Jose [CA]: 1987, p. 217
An effort was made in January 1943 by the Higher S.S. and Police Leader in Lithuania, Major-General Wysocki, to raise a Lithuanian S.S. Legion on the lines of those already existing in Estonia and Latvia. It met with total failure. No volunteers presented themselves. The Germans reacted by closing all institutes of higher learning and arresting a large number of intellectuals whom they blamed for sabotaging the scheme by advising their pupils and students not to volunteer.
David Littlejohn, Foreign Legions of the Third Reich vol. 4, R. James Bender Publishing, San Jose [CA]: 1987, p. 219
It is impossible to record all that the Lithuanians did to the Jews on their own initiative, without any orders from the Germans. Why did this people, with whom the Jews had lived on relatively good terms for hundreds of years, exhibit such cruelty?
We, the small remnant of Lithuanian Jewry, which had numbered 160,000, are living witnesses to the cruelty of Lithuanians toward their Jewish neighbouurs. Each of us can testify to cases of crying villainy committed during the years of occupation by Lithuanians against the Jewish population, which was innocent and defenseless. Unfortunately, we must add that all Jewish communities of the Lithuanian provinces, without exception, were destroyed by Lithuanians, while in the large towns, this was doen with their active participation.
In particular, I contend that in the first three months of the Nazi occupation the situation had more of the elements of a "White Terror", as, for example, in Hungary in 1919 after the repression of the Hungarian Soviet, than with the generally accepted view of the immediate and seamless introduction of a planned and systematic campaign of extermination. I will argue that the shift to systematic extermination was possible only when the Germans based their policy on harnessing the local forces, that is, when the Germans recognised fully the destructiveness of their Baltic collaborators.
The crucial question is whether this method of carrying out the destruction of the Jews of Lithuania, with Lithuanian nationalists acting as the killing force and the German occupiers having purely a management and coordinating role (hence the large number of despatch-riders, if that is what they were), was planned in advance.
The 17th Army Command has suggested the use first of all of the anti-Jewish and anti-Communist Poles living in the newly-occupied areas for self-cleansing activities.
On July 1, 1941 Chief of Security Police and SD issued the following order to all Einsatzgruppen:
Order No. 2:
Poles residing in the newly-occupied Polish territories may be expected, on the basis of their experiences, to be anti-Communist and also anti-Jewish. It is obvious that the cleansing activities have to extend first of all to the Bolsheviks and the Jews. As for the Polish intelligentsia and others, decisions can be taken later, unless there is a special reason for taking action in individual cases considered to be dangerous.
It is therefore obvious that such Poles need not be included in the cleansing action, especially as they are of great importance as elements to initiate pogroms and for obtaining information. (This depends, of course, on local conditions.)
This policy is to be applied, of course, to all similar cases.
Einsatzkommando 2: Location July 3, 1941: Siauliai, NKVD Building.
Siauliai: 35,000 inhabitants (12-15,000 Jews). About 2,000 Jews are still left. The others have fled. The prison is empty. In order to keep the war plants and the plants vital for the population operational, the Wehrmacht is, for the time being, not in a position to dispose of the Jewish manpower still available and fit for work.
2) Police Work
According to the instructions by RSHA, liquidations of government and party officials, in all named cities of Byelorussia, were carried out. Concerning the Jews, according to orders, the same policy was adopted. The exact number of the liquidated has not as yet been established.
Similarly, native anti-Semitic forces were included to start pograms against Jews [at Kovno, Lithuania on 25-26 Jun 1941} during the first hours after capture, though this inducement proved to be very difficultFollowing out orders, the Security Police was determined to solve the Jewish question with all possible means and most decisively. But it was desirable that the Security Police should not put in an immediate appearance, at least in the beginning, since the extraordinarily harsh measures were apt to stir even German circles..
Action against Jewry. From the beginning it was to be expected that the Jewish problem in the East could not be solved by pogroms alone. In accordance with the basic orders received, however, the cleansing activities of the Security Police had to aim at a complete annihilation of the Jews. Special detachments reinforced by selected units in Lithouania partisan detachments, in Latvia units of the Latvian auxiliary police therefore performed extensive executions both in the towns and in rural areas.
After the carrying out of the first larger executions in Lithouania and Latvia it became soon apparent that an annihilation of the Jews without leaving any traces could not be carried out, at least not at the present moment.
In this connection it may be mentioned that some authorities of the Civil Administration offered resistance, at times even a strong one, against the carrying out of larger executions. This resistance was answered by calling attention to the fact that it was a matter of carrying out basic orders.
Similarly, within a few hours of our entering the city, local anti-Semitic elements were induced to engage in pogroms against the Jews, despite the extremely difficult conditions. In accordance with orders the security police were bent on solving the Jewish question with extreme firmness using all the ways and means at its disposal. It was thought a good idea for the security police not to be seen to be involved, at least not immediately, in these unusually tough measures, which were also bound to attract attention in German circles. The impression had to be created that the local population itself had taken the first steps of its own accord as a natural reaction to decades of oppression by the Jews and the more recent terror exerted by the Communists.
In view of the fact that operations to extend the field of action were under way and the security police had their hands full, every attempt was made from the outset to ensure that reliable elements in the local population participated in the fight against the pests in their country, that is, the Jews and the Communists. Precautions, which will be described in more detail below, had to be taken when directing the first spontaneous self-cleansing actions that reliable people were engaged in the mopping-up work who could act as a permanent source of assistance to the security police. In order to do this the
activist forces had banded together into so-called partisan units in order to engage actively in the struggle against Bolshevism. According to their own accounts they lost 4,000 of their number.
In Kaunas four fairly large groups of partisans had formed with whom the advance party had immediately established contact. These groups had not been organized under one coherent leadership. Instead, each group tried to gain superiority over the others and to enter into closer association with the Wehrmacht so that they would be included in a military operation against the Soviet army and as a result the dominant group would be able to capitalize on the changes in the government of Lithuania and thus be able to form a new [Lithuanian] army. Whilst for political reasons military deployment of the partisans could not be considered, within a short time a 300-strong auxiliary group fit for action was formed from the reliable members of the undisciplined partisan groups under the leadership of the Lithuanian journalist Klimatis. This group, as it proved itself satisfactory, was deployed not only in Kaunas itself but also in numerous parts of Lithuania where it performed its duties, in particu-
lar preparation of and participation in the execution of large liquidation actions, under the constant supervision of the Einsatzkommando with no significant problems... .
In view of the fact that the population of the Baltic countries had suffered tremendously during their incorporation into the USSR under the leadership of the Bolsheviks and Jews, it could be assumed that after their liberation from this foreign domination they themselves would largely render harmless their enemies left behind in the country after the withdrawal of the Red Army. The task of the security police was to set these purges in motion and put them on to the right track so as to ensure that the liquidation goals that had been set might be achieved in the shortest possible time. It was equally essential to create an established and provable fact for the future that the liberated population had taken the hardest measures against their Bolshevik and Jewish adversaries of their own accord without directions from German authorities being discernible.
In Lithuania this goal was achieved for the first time in Kaunas through the deployment of partisans. It was initially surprisingly difficult to set a fairly large-scale pogrom in motion there. The leader of the above-mentioned partisan group, Klimatis, who was the first to be recruited, succeeded in starting a pogrom on the basis of instructions he had been given by the small advance party that had been deployed in Kovno without any German orders or incitement being discernible. During the first pogrom, in the night of 25/26 June, more then 1,500 Jews were eliminated by the Lithuanian partisans, several synagogues were set on fire or destroyed by other methods and a Jewish quarter of about sixty houses was burnt down. On following nights 2,300 Jews were rendered harmless in the same way. In other parts of Lithuania there were similar actions following the example of Kaunas, albeit on a smaller scale, but which included Communists that had remained in the area.
The Wehrmacht units were briefed and showed full understanding for the action. As a result, the cleaning-up operations went off very smoothly. From the outset it was clear that the possibility of carrying out pogroms only presented itself during the first days of the occupation....
If it was planned in advance, it would mean that the German planners knew that they would have available some thousands of Lithuanians ready, willing and able to do the dirty work. But how could the German planners have known that?
In June 1941, the German security forces could have had no assurance that the Voldemarists with whom they had been in contact would emerge as the leadership of the anti-Soviet uprising.
As it happened, the uprising that occurred on 21 June was initially under the control of elements belonging to the faction of the former Lithuanian ruler, Smetona. Those elements set up a Lithuanian Provisional Government immediately upon the withdrawal of the Soviet administration, led by General Rastikis, a Smetonist.
Furthermore, the first Lithuanian armed units were set up by Smetonists. On 28 June, the Lithuanian provisional military commander, Colonel Bobelis, issued two orders, no doubt under German direction (or so MacQueen thinks). The first order anounced the disbanding and disarming of the Lithuanian partisans which had rebeeled against the Soviets; the second called for all officers and men of the Lithuanian Army to register for duty. Within days hundreds of former soldiers had flocked to join this unit, the Battalion for the Defence of National Labour.
Public feelings among the Lithuanians in Kaunas are good and are pro-German. The Lithuanian population does not agree with the self-proclaimed Lithuanian government under Colonel Skirpa. The government is defined as a group of the army who has vested interests, first of all to take advantage of the presently unclear conditions, and to gain material profits. Former Lithuanian parties have already attempted to make contacts. The Roman Catholic Bishop Brizguys, who holds an influential position in Lithuanian circles, was won over. He maintains a close relationship with General Rastikis. The followers of Woldemaras are starting to be somewhat active. Basically they reject General Rastikis, because he is close to Christian-Democratic circles. They strive only for a limited Lithuanian independence, i.e., they want only cultural and economic freedom and are ready to leave foreign politics to the Greater German Reich. General Rastikis will immediately dissolve the temporary Lithuanian government.
Partisans in Kaunas and its surroundings have been disarmed on June 28 by order of the German Feldkommandatur. An auxiliary police force consisting of 5 companies has been created from reliable partisans. Two of these companies were subordinated to the Einsatzkommando. Of these, one company guards the Jewish concentration camp. In the meantime, In Kaunas, Fort VII has been established where executions are carried out. The other company, with the agreement of the Field Commander of the Einsatzkommando, is to be employed for regular police tasks.
However, there could have been no certainty that the Voldemarists would emerge victorious in the internal Lithuanian competition for power in the vacuum left by the retreating Soviets. The German might well have been faced with a solid Smetonist leadership of the Lithuanian forces.
I will argue that the shift to systematic extermination was possible only when the Germans based their policy on harnessing the local forces, that is, when the Germans recognised fully the destructiveness of their Baltic collaborators.
The concept that the Lithuanian nationalists who rose in revolt against the crumbling Soviet occupation on 21 June 1941 were all just paid puppets of the German invaders is a drastic over-simplication that is not supported by the historians whose contributions in the book "Bitter Legacy" have been referred to by me.
But the question is whether German planning was predicated on the assurance that such an auxiliary force would definitely be available, and would be zealous in its purging of pro-Soviet elements, meaning that the Germans would only need to provide a small management and coordination unit.
Similarly, native anti-Semitic forces were included to start pograms against Jews [at Kovno, Lithuania on 25-26 Jun 1941] during the first hours after capture, though this inducement proved to be very difficult.
It was initially surprisingly difficult to set a fairly large-scale pogrom in motion there. The leader of the above-mentioned partisan group, Klimatis, who was the first to be recruited, succeeded in starting a pogrom on the basis of instructions he had been given by the small advance party that had been deployed in Kovno without any German orders or incitement being discernible.
The issue here is whether MacQueen was correct is his interpretation, which he stated thus:I will argue that the shift to systematic extermination was possible only when the Germans based their policy on harnessing the local forces, that is, when the Germans recognised fully the destructiveness of their Baltic collaborators.
I think that MacQueen is incorrect here, and has been misled by having too narrow a focus. The activities of EK 3 took place within the context of a larger operation, involving 4 different Einsatzgruppen and a number of smaller units the size of EK 3. The other Einsatzkommandos and Sonderkommandos did not require a policy based on "harnessing the local forces." When indigenous anti-semites and hired thugs could be successfully employed, they increased the speed and volume of the killing operations, but did not affect the basic orders given to the Einsatzgruppen -- to accomplish "an annihilation of the Jews without leaving any traces," and without attracting "attention in German circles."
No one can dispute that Hitler intended to extirpate the Jews of Europe root and branch in the course of the war and, indeed, to continue that policy for however long it might take. One can, however, allege that the achievement of this policy was not one of the immediate, clearly defined goals during the planning and launching of Barbarossa. The documentary record of Nazi intentions toward the Jews at this time is, at best, ambiguous.
The war diary of the German High Command for March 3, 1941, contains the draft "Guidelines for Special Matters" (Richtlinien auf Sondergebieten) for operation barbarossa, with the notation that these guidelines had been personally looked over and approved by Hitler. The only reference to the destruction of the Jews as a component of Nazi war aims is contained in a general outline for the political recasting of the Soviet state:The Jewish-Bolshevik intelligentsia, up to now the oppressors of the people, must be eliminated. The former aristocratic-bourgeois intelligentsia, especially its remnants of the emigration, also has no place. The Russian people reject it and anyway it is hostile to Germany. This applies particularly in the Baltic states.
It is clear that at this stage of planning the intention was solely to destroy the leading elements, the Führungsschicht, of the Soviet state. The "Jewish-Bolshevik intelligentsia" referred to here is the appellation dictated by Nazi ideology, which stressed the purported role of an elite cadre of Jews as the bearer of the "Bolshevik bacillus".
There is no direct documentation of the instructions given to Einsatzgruppe A which would follow Army Group North through Lithuania and beyond. From the few relevant records which do exist it is clear that the subject of the Jews was raised only at the last minute, just before the Einsatzkommandos marched off.vvWe do know, however, what the orders issued to the Einsatzgruppen after the beginning of the invasion stated on the treatment of the Jews.
Reinhard Heydrich, as head of the RSHA (Reich Security Main Office) issued periodic orders to the Einsatzgruppen. The third such order, dated July 2, 1941, states clearly:4) Executions: To be executed are all functionaries of the Comintern (and all other professional communist politicians); the higher, middle and radical lower functionaries of the Party, the Central Committee and the regional district committees; Jews in State and Party posts; other radical elements (saboteurs, propagandists, snipers, assassins, agitators, etc). When in individual cases execution is necessary, it is of course to be carried out, but only after the case has been thoroughly investigated.
This order can scarcely be interpreted as a directive for the immediate and systematic annihilation of all Jews in the Barbarossa operations area [my emphasis]. If we accept that the extirpation of the Jews was the central aim of Nazi racial policy in the East already at this stage of the war, regardless of its absence from the orders given to the Wehrmacht and the SS?Police apparatus, how then did the Nazis intend to proceed to this end?
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