TOP SECRET [Geheime Reichssache]
SPECIAL PURPOSE GROUP "A" [Einsatzgruppe A]
* * *
The systematic mopping up of the Eastern Territories embraced, in accordance with the basic orders, the complete removal if possible, of Jewry. This goal has been substantially attained -- with the exception of White Russia -- as a result of the execution up to the present time of 229,052 Jews (see Appendix). The remainder still left in the Baltic Provinces is urgently required as labour and housed in Ghettos.
To attain this object various kinds of measures were necessary in the different areas of the [Ostland].
In the three Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Jewry did not make itself decisively felt until the Bolsheviks had come into power there. But even before that the Jewish influence on the one hand and the anti-Jewish feeling of the population on the other hand, were very strong.
In the following the various areas of the Eastern Territories will be dealt with separately:
As Estonia, until the middle of the last century, was part of a closed zone of the Russian Empire, into which it was forbidden for Jews to immigrate, the number of Jews in the country has always been insignificant.
At the beginning of 1940 there were living in Estonia about 4500 Jews out of a total population of 1.2 millions. Their influence on the economic life of the country was considerably stronger than the proportion of Jews to the whole population. For instance 11% of Estonian industry was in Jewish hands. During the Bolshevik time it is true Jewish private property was nationalized, but nevertheless the Jews themselves were almost everywhere left as Directors of their former enterprises. By means of connections with the NKWD the Jews got themselves into a very strong position. They controlled the Press, cultural institutions, forced their way into the open professions, and were the only minority besides the Germans to have the right to cultural autonomy.
With the advance of the German troops the majority of the Jews, together with the Soviet-Russian authorities, left the country. Approx. 2000 Jews remained behind in the country. Out of these almost 1000 lived in Reval alone.
The Estonian Self Protection Movement [Selbstschutz], formed as the Germans advanced, did begin to arrest Jews, but there were no spontaneous pogroms. Only by the Security Police and the SD were the Jews gradually executed as they became no longer required for work.
Today there are no longer any Jews in Estonia.
The total number of Jews in Latvia amounted in 6/1935 to 93479 or 4.79% of the total population.
When the Bolsheviks came into power in Latvia in 6/1940, their Soviet-Russian racial comrades succeeded in obtaining authoritative influence for the Latvian Jews, who previously had been predominantly Zionist. Whereas before 1940 there were no Jews as State officials in Latvia, in fact were no Jews in the State Administration at all, in the Soviet Russian Republic all the influential State positions were quickly in the hands of the Jews. Half of the total number of Judges were Jewish. The number was up to 80% in the Higher Courts and in particular on the Tribunal. Equally strong was the influence of the Jews on the economy and cultural life.
When the German troops marched in there were still 70000 Jews in Latvia. The remainder had fled with the Bolsheviks. The Jews left behind were actively engaged in sabotage and setting fire to places. In Duenaburg so many fires of this kind were started by the Jews that a large part of the Town was destroyed.
After the terror of the Jewish-Bolshevik rule -- altogether 33038 Letts were transported, imprisoned or murdered -- an extensive pogrom carried out by the population might have been expected. In fact, however, only a few thousand Jews were eliminated by local forces on their own initiative. In Latvia it was necessary to carry out extensive mopping-up operations by means of Sonderkommandos with the help of forces picked from the Latvian Auxiliary Police (mostly relations of the Letts who had been carried off or murdered).
Up to 10/1941 approximately 30000 Jews had been executed by these Sonderkommandos. The remaining Jews who were still indispensable from the economic point of view were collected in Ghettos, which were established in Riga, Duenaburg and Libau.
As a result of punishments instituted for not wearing the Jewish star, black market, thieving, fraud, but also to prevent the danger of epidemics in the Ghettos, further executions were subsequently carried out. In this way 11,034 Jews were executed in Duenaburg on 9.11.41, and, as the result of an action ordered and carried out by high authorities and Police chiefs, 27800 were executed in Riga at the beginning of 12/1941, and, in the middle of 12/1941, 2350 were executed in Libau. At the moment there are in the Ghettos (other than Jews from the Reich) Latvian Jews in Riga approximately 2500 Duenaburg approximately 950 Libau approximately 300.
These are indispensable at the moment as they are specialized workers necessary for maintaining the country's economy.
Until the Bolsheviks marched in, according to a census taken in 1923 there were 153743 Jews living in Lithuania, forming 7.58% of the total population. Whereas their influence had previously for the greater part been restricted to the business world, the Lithuanian Jews, who had already been working illegally for Bolshevism, now quickly became a dominating influence in public life. In particular Jews of both sexes supported the activities of the NKWD. The transporting of 40000 Lithuanians to Siberia is traceable to the preliminary work done by the Jews.
When the German troops marched in the Lithuanians expressed their hatred of the Jews in active pogroms, at the same time Jewish communist youths set fire to many towns, through which the German armoured units had passed leaving them little damaged, by means of tins of petrol which they had previously put ready.
As a result of the pogroms carried out by the Lithuanians, who were nevertheless substantially assisted by Sipo and SD, 3800 Jews in Kauen and 1200 in the smaller towns were eliminated.
Where Jews were able to escape they were not infrequently handed over to the authorities by the farmers.
These spontaneous mopping-up actions were, however, insufficient to stabilize this rear section of the Front, and at the same time the enthusiasm of the local inhabitants waned
Therefore by means of selected units -- mostly in the proportion of 1:8 -- first of all the prisons, and then systematically district by district the Lithuanian sector was cleansed of Jews of both sexes. Altogether 136,421 people were liquidated in a great number of single actions. It is worthy of note that many of the Jews used force against the officials and Lithuanian auxiliaries who were carrying this out, and before their execution still expressed their Bolshevik convictions by cheering Stalin and abusing Germany.
As the complete liquidation of the Jews was not feasible as they were needed for labour, Ghettos were formed which at the moment are occupied as follows:
Kauen approximately 15000 Jews.
Wilna approximately 15000 Jews.
Schaulen approximately 4500 Jews.
These Jews are used primarily for work of military importance. For example up to 5000 Jews are employed in 3 shifts on the aerodrome near Kauen on earth-works and work of that sort.
4. White Russia
The White Russian Sector is more thickly populated by Jews than all the other States in the Ostland. In the year 1926, far more than 400000 Jews were counted in the then BSSR. The last Polish census showed more than 500000 Jews in the provinces [Wojwodschaften] of Bialystock, Nowo Grodlek, Polesien and Wilna. These figures are however approximate and most certainly too low, which is further apparent from the fact that far more people have given "Yiddish" as their mother tongue than there were supposed to be Jews counted in the same area. Quite half of the Jews in the White Russian Settlement Area lived at the beginning of the war in the larger towns. Minsk was occupied to a very particular extent by Jews, in 1939 there were approximately 100000 out of a total population of 238000.
The social structure of the Jews shows a broad lower stratum of very poor Jews, both in the area formerly Polish, and in the White Russian Sector which was Bolshevik before the Russo-Polish war.
The proportionately thin upper stratum dominated simply every sphere of life in the former Polish sector, mainly as a result of its strong economic position, and in the former Soviet-Russian sector as a result of their influence in the leading party positions. The Jew in the area formerly Polish is a particularly dangerous element, because of his intelligence and activity. But even the Soviet-Russian Jew has during the 25 years of Bolshevik domination assumed a very self-sufficient and arrogant air, which he has even retained after the entry of the German troops.
The final and fundamental elimination of the Jews remaining in the White Russian sector after the entry of the Germans is fraught with certain difficulties. Just in this place the Jews form an extremely high percentage of the specialized workers, who are indispensable because of the shortage in other reserves in this area.
Furthermore Einsatzgruppe A did not take over this area until after the heavy frost had set in, which made mass executions much more difficult. A further difficulty is that the Jews live widely scattered over the whole country. In view of the enormous distances, the bad conditions of the roads, the shortage of vehicles and petrol and the small forces of Security Police and SD, it needs the utmost effort in order to be able to carry out shootings in the country. Nevertheless 41000 Jews have been shot up to now. This number does not include those shot in operations by the former Einsatzkommandos. From estimated figures about 19000 partisans and criminals, that is in the majority Jews, were shot by the Armed Forces [Wehrmacht] up to 12/1941. At the moment approximately 128000 Jews must still be reckoned with in the area of the Commissariat-General. In Minsk itself exclusive of Reich Germans -- there are about 1,800 Jews living, whose shooting must be postponed in consideration of their being used as labour.
The Commander in White Russia is instructed to liquidate the Jewish question as soon as possible, despite the difficult situation. However a period of about 2 months is still required -- according to the weather.
The shutting up of all the remaining Jews in special Ghettos is also almost completed in the towns in White Russia too. They will be used for work to the fullest extent by the authorities of the Armed Forces, the Civil Administration and German Authorities.
The feeding of the Jews in the Ghettos causes considerable difficulty, especially in White Russia but also in Lithuania. Together with the general decrease in working capacity, there is increased susceptibility to all contagious diseases.
5. Jews from the Reich.
Since 12/1940  transports containing Jews have arrived at short intervals from the Reich. Of these 20000 Jews were directed to Riga and 7000 Jews to Minsk. The first 10000 Jews evacuated to Riga were housed partly in a provisionally erected reception camp and partly in a newly established hut encampment near Riga. The remaining transports have for the time being been directed into a separate part of the Riga Ghetto.
The building of the hut encampment, as a result of the employment of all Jews fit for work, is so advanced that all evacuated Jews who survive the winter can be put into this camp in the spring.
Only a small section of the Jews from the Reich is capable of working. About 70-80% are women and children or old people unfit for work. The death rate is rising continually, also as a result of the extraordinarily hard winter.
The amount done by those few Jews from the Reich who are fit for work is satisfactory. They are preferred as Tabour to the Russian Jews, because they are German speaking and because of their comparatively greater cleanliness. Worthy of note is the adaptability of the Jews, with which they attempt to form their life in 'accordance with the circumstances.
The crowding together of the Jews into the smallest space, which occurs in all the Ghettos, naturally causes greater danger of epidemics, which is being combatted as much as possible by the employment of Jewish doctors. In isolated instances sick Jews with contagious diseases were selected under the pretext of putting them into a home for the aged or a hospital and executed.
[See Chart Number 4 in the last volume of this publication]
Judenfrei free of Jews
Jewish Executions carried out by Special Purpose Group A.
Estimated number of Jews still remaining 128000.
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At the outset, it needs to be borne in mind that a Sipo report drafted at the earliest in January 1942 cannot be assumed to give an accurate account of the role assigned to the German security forces at the beginning of the invasion of the Soviet Union. In the intervening six months the whole situation had changed radically from that expected by the German Government at the commencement of the campaign, in particular the failure to achieve a decisive victory before the onset of winter. The change in the situation to the disadvantage of Germany had resulted in a radical reassessment of the treatment of the civilian population in the occupied areas, especially of elements deemed to be existentially hostile such as the Jewish minority.
A radical change in the German Government's policy toward the Jews remaining in the area of German occupation may be documented in a diary note made by Himmler after a discussion with Hitler in early December 1941, which read "Judenfrage: als Partisanen auszurotten" (Jewish Question: to be extirpated as partisans).
Although we cannot be certain as to the full import of that brief note, it is likely that Hitler and Himmler had decided that the remaining Jewish population of the occupied Soviet areas, which had been comprehensively ghettoised, was the basis of the emerging partisan threat and needed to be treated accordingly, ie destroyed.
That represented a radical change from the task assigned to the German security forces at the commencement of the invasion, which was to identify and summarily execute particular categories of persons regarded as especially dangerous because of their identification with the Communist system; those categories included "Jews in high Party and State positions" and captured Jewish Red Army personnel.
In the intervening months, the executive actions of the German security forces, both of the Einsatzgruppen des CdSPuSD and of police units under the command of the HSSPF, had gradually changed, with more and more Jews outside the defined categories beginning to be included in mass shootings. The reasons for that development are not fully documented and remain unclear. However, Himmler's diary note of early December 1941 may well represent the final authorisation at the most senior level to subject the entire Jewish population of the occupied Soviet territories to destruction, tothe extent that they were not required for labour.
The undated report, most probably composed in January 1942, must reflect the radicalisation of German Government policy, and must be seen as re-interpreting in retrospect the events of the previous six months in terms of that more radical policy.
As a matter of fact, in providing a rationale for the mass executions of Jews, the report both refers back to the original categories designated for destruction and introduces new reasons for executive measures. For example, it refers to Jews having a prominent role in the Bolshevik domination of the Baltic States and White Russia:
Latvia:During the Bolshevik time it is true Jewish private property was nationalized, but nevertheless the Jews themselves were almost everywhere left as Directors of their former enterprises. By means of connections with the NKWD the Jews got themselves into a very strong position.
Lithuania:When the Bolsheviks came into power in Latvia in 6/1940, their Soviet-Russian racial comrades succeeded in obtaining authoritative influence for the Latvian Jews, who previously had been predominantly Zionist. Whereas before 1940 there were no Jews as State officials in Latvia, in fact were no Jews in the State Administration at all, in the Soviet Russian Republic all the influential State positions were quickly in the hands of the Jews. Half of the total number of Judges were Jewish. The number was up to 80% in the Higher Courts and in particular on the Tribunal. Equally strong was the influence of the Jews on the economy and cultural life.
White Russia:Whereas their influence had previously for the greater part been restricted to the business world, the Lithuanian Jews, who had already been working illegally for Bolshevism, now quickly became a dominating influence in public life. In particular Jews of both sexes supported the activities of the NKWD. The transporting of 40000 Lithuanians to Siberia is traceable to the preliminary work done by the Jews.
The sections of the Jewish population described in the above excerpts fall into the categories designated for summary execution in the orders issued at the beginning of the invasion. However, new rationales for mass destruction are introduced:The proportionately thin upper stratum dominated simply every sphere of life in the former Polish sector, mainly as a result of its strong economic position, and in the former Soviet-Russian sector as a result of their influence in the leading party positions. The Jew in the area formerly Polish is a particularly dangerous element, because of his intelligence and activity. But even the Soviet-Russian Jew has during the 25 years of Bolshevik domination assumed a very self-sufficient and arrogant air, which he has even retained after the entry of the German troops.
Lithuania:As a result of punishments instituted for not wearing the Jewish star, black market, thieving, fraud, but also to prevent the danger of epidemics in the Ghettos [my emphasis], further executions were subsequently carried out.
Here we see a broadening of the rationale for the elimination of Jews, beyond the original categories of Jews in high Party and State positions, ie part of the Communist system, who constituted only a minority of the whole Jewish population, to include those who were not really a politically dangerous but posed a logistical problem due to the need to feed them or due to public-health considerations. This wider group now comprised the majority of the remaining Jewish population, apart from those capable of and required for labour.The feeding of the Jews in the Ghettos causes considerable difficulty, especially in White Russia but also in Lithuania. Together with the general decrease in working capacity, there is increased susceptibility to all contagious diseases.
The increasing logistical problem posed by the ghettoised Jewish population was a result of the failure to achieve the expected decisive victory over the Soviet Union before the onset of winter; the German authorities now were faced with the alternatives of feeding the Jews over the winter, or leaving them to starve with the inevitable result of the outbreak of epidemics. Thus we can see the interplay of the changing German strategic situation and the increasing radicalisation of German policy toward the Jewish population.
More to follow.
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The report does in fact go into some detail on the deportation of the German Jews, but remains silent about the effect on the local Jews. Nevertheless, many Jewish survivors were convinced that the massacres of Jews from the Riga and Minsk ghettos that occurred at the end of November 1941 were perpetrated for the purpose of creating living space for the incoming German Jews.
As the report intimates, the massacre of the Latvian Jews occurred in two stages. The first stage was the killing of about 30,000 Jews, living outside the main urban areas; that number was less than half the Jews remaining in Latvia at the time of the German occupation, and was carried out in the late summer and early autumn of 1941 by Latvian nationalist auxiliaries under the command of the German Security Police.
That stage was followed by the ghettoisation of the remaining Jews in urban areas; there were about 45,000 Jews held in the ghettos of Riga, Libau and Duenaburg. Their ghettoisation was a policy pursued by the Reichskommissar Ostland, Hinrich Lohse; he intended to turn the ghettos into centres of war production, with the Jews as a coerced labour force.
However, as detailed in the report, most of the ghettoised Jews were liquidated in a few major shooting actions at the end of November or early December, leaving only a reported 3,750 alive. The report gives a number of reasons for the massacre - not wearing the Jewish star, black marketing, thieving, fraud - but the reality was a bit more complicated.
The background to the massacres in the Riga and Minsk ghettos is as follows.
The original German Government intention seems to have been to commence the deportation of German Jews into conquered Soviet territory in 1942, after a decisive victory had been achieved. However, in mid-September 1941 Hitler suddenly changed his mind and ordered the deportation to temporary destinations in the occupied Soviet territory to commence immediately. The impetus for his sudden decision seems to have been a report from Rosenberg that the Soviet Government had deported 400,000 Volga Germans to Soviet Central Asia; Hitler ordered the immediate deportation of German Jews as a reprisal.
The first groups of deported German Jews were sent to the Lodz Ghetto in October as there was no accommodation for them at destinations in occupied Soviet territory. The intention was to send them further into Soviet territory in the spring of 1942.
Toward the end of October, Lohse commenced the ghettoisation of the surviving Latvian Jews. Almost immediately he was informed by the Commander of the Security Police in Latvia, Rudolf Lange, that some 20,000 German Jews were scheduled to arrive at Riga and be housed in the Riga Ghetto and at the camp to be built at Salaspils.
Lohse objected to the plan on the grounds that there was no room to house the German Jews, and immediately flew off to Berlin in an endeavour to get the transport of German Jews to Latvia stopped. The quarrel between Lohse and Lange went on for several weeks, but eventually Lohse was forced to back down and accept having 20,000 German Jews dumped on him.
The evidence suggests that the HSSPF Russland-Nord, Fritz Jeckeln, who had repalced Hans-Adolf Prützmann in that position in October (Prützmann transferred to Jeckeln's former position as HSSPF Russland-Süd), decided to break the impasse by carting the Jews of the Riga Ghetto off to Rumbula Forest and massacring them there. The vacant Riga ghetto could then be filled with the incoming German Jews.
There is little documentation on how the decision to liquidate the Jews of the Riga Ghetto (which occurred in two shooting actions, on 30 November and 8 December) was arrived at. Presumably it was authorised by Himmler, to whom Jeckeln was immediately subordinate. In any case, it seems to have been made fairly precipitately, toward the end of November, and to have come as something of a surprise to Lohse and the civilian administration of Reichskommissariat Ostland.
A detailed explanation of the events leading up to the massacre in Rumbula Forest is to be found in the book by Andrew Ezergailis, "The Holocaust in Latvia".
A similar massacre of the native Jews in the Minsk Ghetto was carried out earlier in November, just before the arrival of the deported German Jews, also most probably for the purpose of creating space. However, that particular liquidation action is not mentioned in the report under discussion; it is only hinted at in the reference to the 1,800 native Jews remaining in the Minsk Ghetto.
More to follow.
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In the first place, a clear distinction is made between the deported German Jews and the Soviet Jews, suggesting that the German Government differentiated between the two groups and had different policies for each.
The most noteworthy point is that nowhere in the report is there any reference to an intention to kill the deported German Jews, despite the fact that the vast majority were incapable of being used for work.
To be sure there is a reference to a rising death rate due to the harsh winter conditions; it is implied that many will not survive the winter to be housed in the hut encampment currently under construction.
There is also a reference to "isolated instances" of sick German Jews with contagious diseases being selected and killed; but that is clearly depicted as the exception, the normal case being the employment of Jewish doctors to prevent the outbreak of epidemics in the crowded conditions.
Far from recording any policy of killing the German Jews ( in contrast to the stated intent to go on killing the Soviet Jews), the report states that the Jews transported to Riga are to be housed in the hut encampment, which is expected to be big enough to contain all of them in the spring of 1942.
Furthermore, the attitude of the report-writer toward the deported German Jews seems to be generally positive, despite the fact that the great majority of them are unfit for labour. It is stated that the work performed by the minority fit for labour is satisfactory, and indeed they are preferred to the local Jews as labourers because of their "German characteristics", such as greater cleanliness and adaptability.
Another noteworthy feature is that nowhere in the report is mention made of the massacres of newly arrived German Jews that did actually occur, in Kaunas on 25 and 29 November, and in Riga on 30 November. The report-writer seems to prefer to forget them, despite the fact that he is quite open in referring to the more than 200,000 Soviet Jews liquidated.
That lacuna supports the interpretation that the two massacres in Kaunas and the massacre of the first transport of German Jews to Riga, which had arrived just as the slaughter of Jews from the Riga Ghetto was starting in Rumbula Forest, was actually a gigantic stuff-up, an excess of zeal by Jeckeln in Riga and Jäger in Kaunas. In that respect, this report is consistent with the reprimand radioed to Jeckeln by Himmler two days after the massacre of the transport of Berlin Jews at Rumbula, a transmission that was picked up and decoded at Bletchley Park and stored at the Public Records Office at Kew until discovered by David Irving.
The only possible conclusion is that at the date of this report, presumably January 1942, there was as yet no German Government policy of exterminating the German Jews sent to Riga and Minsk. If there had been such a policy, then the report would certainly have reflected it in an announced intention to kill those Jews as soon as possible.
Although the report documents a policy of killing all the local Soviet Jews, other than those required for labour, it demonstrates the absence of a similar policy in respect of non-Soviet Jews as at the date of the report.
Finally, what the report says about the treatment of the deported German Jews proves the falsehood of certain statements made by Jeckeln at his post-war interrogation by Soviet investigators. In that interrogation, Jeckeln stated that after being transferred from the position of HSSPF South Russia to that of HSSPF North Russia (in October 1941), he was called in by Himmler who gave him verbal instructions to kill the German Jews who were to arrive in Ostland.
If such a command had in fact been given, then surely the report under discussion would have mentioned that fact, would have listed the massacres in Kaunas and Riga as fulfilment of the order, and would have referred to an intention to continue implementing it. But as shown, the report does no such thing; it conceals the massacres, and in fact documents an intention to house the German Jews in camps. Since the report was being prepared by EG A for the RSHA, there is no reason to believe that it was using some sort of camouflaged language, particularly as it is quite open about recording the liquidation of over 200,000 Soviet Jews.
We may therefore conclude that Jeckeln's statement about the order given to him by Himmler was a fabrication, most likely one imposed on him by his Soviet interrogators. We may also conclude that the material gained from such Soviet interrogations is not trustworthy.
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There was a post by an Estonian member within the last year or two who said that the law refered to above applied to Swedes, Jews and Russians. He said the law was passed in 1928.They controlled the Press, cultural institutions, forced their way into the open professions, and were the only minority besides the Germans to have the right to cultural autonomy.
Could someone clarify this?