Einsatzkommando 3 in Lithuania, 1941

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michael mills
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Einsatzkommando 3 in Lithuania, 1941

Post by michael mills » 01 May 2005 06:22

Einsatzkommando 3, which operated mainly in Lithuania, played the pivotal role in 1941 in the initiation of the wholesale extermination of entire local Jewish populations in the territories occupied after the commencement of Operation Barbarossa.

Its key role was made manifest on 15 and 16 August, when Lithuanian auxiliaries commanded by a handful of EK 3 officers liquidated 3,200 Jews, Jewesses and Jewish children at the temporary concentration camp which had been established near the northern Lithuanian town of Rokiskis. This was the first time that children were included in the slaughter, and also that women were killed in equal or greater numbers than men. It marked the shift from a "White Terror" against Jewish Bolshevism to a comprehensive elimination of the Jewish population of Lithuania apart from a small residue preserved in three ghettos.

EK 3 continued this program of general slaughter for the rest of August and until the end of the year, by which time the greater part of the Jewish population of Lithuania had been destroyed. The methodology of comprehensive destruction was progressively adopted by the other German security forces operating in the occupied Soviet territories.

EK 3 is also important because of the report prepared by its comander, Karl Jäger, in December 1941, listing all the executions of enemies (mainly Jews) carried out in its area of operation until that point. The so-called Jäger Report is a key document demonstrating the initiation and development of the program of destruction of human life that eventually became a standard feature of German rule in the occupied East.

My aim is to examine the actual structure of EK 3 with a view to analysing what that structure can tell us about the initial mission of the Einsatzkommando and the process by which that group of personnel became the managers of a huge extermination campaign.

According to Appendix 2, "Stärke der Kommandos", of the Stahlecker Report of 31 January 1942, EK 3 had the following personnel:

24 Gestapo officials
32 SS reservists
44 drivers
13 Criminal Police (Kripo) officers
9 SD officials
7 temporarily assigned personnel
3 radio operators
3 clerks (women)
2 administrators
2 communications staff

Total: 139 personnel.

The above structure suggests an operational breakdown into:

1. A headquarters group consisting of:

7 Gestapo / Kripo / SD officials
5 drivers
3 radio operators
3 clerks
2 administrators
2 communications staff

Total: 22 personnel

2. A mobile operational group, consisting of:

39 Gestapo / Kripo / SD officers
39 SS reservists and temporarily assigned personnel
39 drivers

Total: 117 personnel

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.

Given the make up of the executive part of the teams, comprising Gestapo, Kripo, and SD officers, it is likely that they had two main functions:

1. An intelligence function, in particular the securing of Soviet archives and document collections captured by the advancing German forces. The high mobility of the teams would enable them to race to any area where valuable intelligence material was expected to be captured.

2. An anti-personnel action, consisting of the identification, arrest, interrogation and, as appropriate, liquidation of the more important enemy personnel, and also of suppressing any manifestations of ordinary crime such as looting.

Given the initial function of the Einsatzkommando suggested by its structure, one is prompted to ask how it could have moved to the role of managing destruction of human life on a very large scale. To answer that question, it is necessary to survey the development of the killings of population elements identified as pro-Soviet enemies, these being primarily Jews, from the beginning of the German invasion.

The first killings were carried out by members of the Lithuanian anti-Soviet resistance, primarily of the Lietuviu Aktivystu Frontas (LAF), which rose in revolt in Kaunas as soon as the Red Army and Soviet administration began its withdrawal on 21 June. The revolt was assisted by the mutiny of a major portion of the Lithuanian component of the Red forces, the 297th Territorial Corps.

By the evening of 23 June, the LAF insurgents had captured most of Kaunas, and instituted a massacre of Jewish collaborators with the Soviet regime which lasted until June 28. According to the Stahlecker Report, during that period the Lithuanian partisans killed 3,800 Jews in Kaunas and 1,200 in the smaller towns. Most probably the Jews killed were mostly male collaborators, although innocent bystanders might have fallen victim as well.

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.

With such a large number of men, the entire Jewish population of Lithuanian could quickly have been liquidated. If each of the 100,000 men had killed just two Jews, the task would have been accomplished.

However, the German occupiers did not want a large Lithuanian armed force acting independently which could have formed the basis of a future claim to Lithuanian independence. Instead, the German administration began disarming the Lithuanian partisans, and recruiting a smaller number of them into new auxiliary police and army units, called "Battalions for the National Preservation of Work". By 28 June, the independent massacres carried out by the LAF had been halted by the Germans.

At the end of June, the number of armed Lithuanian partisans had fallen to 16,000 in formations under German control. On 28 June, Colonel Bobelis, the Lithuanian provisional military commander of Kaunas, issued two orders, probably under German direction. The first announced the disbanding and disarming of the partisans; the second was the call for all former officers and men of the Lithuanian Army to register for duty in the above-named Battalions.

It was the new Lithuanian battalions that carried out renewed executions of Jewish collaborationists, this time under German direction. These executions are called a "White Terror" by Michael McQueen in his essay "Nazi Policy toward the Jews in the Reichskommissariat Ostland, June-September 1941: From White Terror to Holocaust in Lithuania", in the book "Bitter Legacy".

The "White Terror" began with a series of executions on two days, 4 and 6 July 1941, at Fort VII outside Kaunas. Lithuanian units shot 2,977 Jews, all men except 47.

It is unknown how those men and a handful of women were selected. In the case of the Jewesses, it is likely that they were persons who had some sort of connection with the previous Soviet regime, perhaps as members of Komsomol or some similar organisation. In the case of the men, they may have been selected simply because they were of military age and potential members of the Red Army. Alternatively, they may all have been members of the Jewish intelligentsia; we just do not know.

The involvement of EK 3 in the management of a program of selective mass-killing that eventually became comprehensive began with the setting up of a "Rollkommando", a mobile squad, under Obersturmführer Hamann, a few days after EK 3 took over responsibility for Lithuania from EK 1b under Ehrlinger on 1 July.

The Rollkommando Hamann consisted of "eight to ten proven (SS) men", and an unknown number of Lithuanians. It is not known which members of EK 3 comprised the "proven men", but it is likely that they were Gestapo, Kripo or SD officials plus a small number of drivers (perhaps five officials and five drivers, but that can only be a surmise).

From 7 to 31 July, the Rollkommando scoured Lithuania, killing 4,400 persons, all adults, in a number of individual actions in different localities. The number of victims of each action varied from one to 288. The vast majority were Jews, with only some 184 being identified as Lithuanian or Russian Communists.

A significant feature of the liquidation actions by the Rollkommando was that almost every one involved a mix of Jews and non-Jewish Communists, for example at Marijampole on 14 July, where the victims were "21 Jews, one Russian and nine Lithuanian Communists", or in Kedainiai on 23 July, with "83 Jews, 12 Jewish women, 14 Russian Communists, 15 Lithuanian Communists, one Russian Politruk".

According to MacQueen, these killing actions were meant to set an example, to terrorise, and to demoralise any potential opposition. In other words, they were not yet part of the extermination of a population group.

MacQueen also provides some interesting information on why the number of Jews shot was so much higher than the number of Lithuanian and Russian victims. He says that one of the functions of the Lithuanian "Saugumas", the former Secret Police of independent Lithuania which had been re-formed as the "Litauische Abteilung" of the German Sicherheitspolizei, was to separate out the "honest Lithuanian youth duped by the Komsomol" from the doomed. Contemporary Lithuanian police records demonstrate that a more heavily implicated Lithuanian, for example a Komsomol activist, could expect about three months of forced labour as punishment.

That would mean that the small number of Lithuanian and Russian Communists shot by the Rollkomando would have been only the most heavily implicated, eg more senior political officials.

As MacQueen comments, for any Lithuanian Jew formerly associated with the Komsomol, the only punishment was death. That explains the large number of Jews shot.

In the first half of August, the scale of the operations increased. The Hamann Rollkommando perpetrated 10 actions between 1 and 14 August, claiming 4,788 victims. The number of Communists shot declined, but the pattern of exemplary actions remained.

As stated at the beginning of this post, there was a qualitative change in the middle of the month, signalling the move to extermination of a population group. In the latter half of August, including the Rokiskis action, over 33,000 persons were killed in Lithuanian, of which only about 1,000 were non-Jews, among them 544 mental patients.

By December, EK 3 listed 133,346 persons liquidated, the overwhelming majority Jews. Some had been killed by the mobile Rollkommando, great numbers by the stationary Schuma battalions at Kaunas and the Special Detachment at Vilnius, a further 3,050 across the border in Belorussia. Including the victims of the Lithunanian partisans in the first days in June, Jäger claimed 137,346 victims.

It is clear that the massive death-roll claimed by Jäger was really achieved by the Lithuanian auxiliaries, with EK 3 only performing a management or coordinating role. Only 10 personnel of the Einsatzkommando were involved in the management of the Hamann Rollkommando, and perhaps a similar number in the management of the stationary Lithunaina battalions at Kaunas and Vilnius. It is clear that most of the members of EK 3 were involved in activities other than the mass'liquidations.

Without the Lithuanians, the death-toll boasted of by Jäger in his Report could never have been achieved. That raises the question of how the relationship between EK 3 and the large number of Lithuanians who did the actual killing was achieved. For example, was the operational structure of a small number of Germans managing a much larger number of Lithuanians planned in advance, or was it something decided on on the spur of the moment?

It seems unlikely that the RSHA officials who planned the tasks and functions of the Einsatzgruppen, including EK 3, in the months leading up to Barbarossa could possibly have known that they would be able to call on the services of thousands of Lithuanians ready, willing and able to carry out the task of eliminating enemies of Germany.

It seems equally unlikely that the RSHA would have planned a structure of a few Germans commanding thousands of Lithuanians purely on the speculation that those of Lithuanian auxiliaries would indeed be available.

The actual course of events shows that the German occupiers were somewhat surprised and indeed somewhat embarrassed at the sudden appearance of about 100,000 armed Lithuanian anti-Soviet insurgents who began independently to massacre persons suspected of being Soviet collaborators, these being mainly Jews. In fact, the initial reaction of the German authorities was to suppress the Lithuanian insurgents, to disarm them and bring them under control.

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.

The above course of events suggests that the Germans did not enter Lithuania with a prepared plan to use Lithuanian personnel in a program of mass liquidation, but rather that they decided to do so when they observed the readiness of Lithuanians to kill members of population groups that the Germans also regarded as the enemy.

The actual structure of EK 3 also does not suggest a force tasked with carrying out mass liquidations, and indeed it was not able to carry out such a task without the Lithuanian input. That raises the question of the extent to which the actual liquidation program was an additional task taken on by EK 3 based on the realisation that a huge pool of Lithuanian activists was available that was ready and willing to carry out such a program.

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Post by David Thompson » 03 May 2005 08:09

Michael -- Thank you for the thought provoking post. Here are some observations.

(1) Of Stahlecker's 31 Dec 1941 report on the organization of Einsatzkommando (EK) 3, you said:
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.

I don't think that the operational statistics for EK 3 suggest the use of three-man teams. Here's why:

(a) A prior report by Stahlecker, rendered ten weeks earlier than the 31 Dec 1941 report you discussed, gives this strength for EK 3 as of 15 Oct 1941:

29 Gestapo officials
32 SS Reservists
34 Motorbicycle riders
10 Criminal Police (Kripo) officers
10 SD officials
1 Wireless Operator
1 Female employee
1 Administrator
8 Interpreters
3 Auxiliaries
___________
Total: 141

Comprehensive Report of Combat Group A up to 15 October 1941
viewtopic.php?t=60197

While there is no category for drivers, Stahlecker's 15 Oct 1941 report does note "motorbicycle" riders. No other type of vehicle is specified. Even if we take all of these "motorbicycles" to be motorcycles equipped with sidecars, they are likely to be overburdened by a three-man team. I think it is more likely that the "motorbicycle riders" were dispatch drivers who carried messages.

(b) In addition, as of 15 Oct 1941 EK 3 had 8 interpreters. This suggests that EK 3 needed to use interpreters to accomplish their mission in Lithuania. More importantly, it suggests that if Karl Jaeger just kept one interpreter with him, there would usually not be more than 7 sub-units (assuming the minimum of 1 interpreter per sub-unit). Your estimate would involve about 40 different units (117 persons divided by 3).

(c) A three man unit is a very weak one, particularly operating in areas where Soviet partisans might be present. Such a unit would be very easy to ambush and kill, especially if all three members were on one motorbicycle. Stahlecker himself, while commanding Einsatzgruppe A, was mortally wounded in combat with partisans at at Krasnogwardeisk in Mar 1942. Because EK 3 only had a single wireless operator, the use of three-man teams would preclude any calls for help or back-up, since they would not have had radios.

(d) It is my understanding that the Einsatzkommandos and Sonderkommandos of the RSHA were organized into several Teilkommandos, which were squad (10-15 men) or platoon-sized (20-35 men) groups commanded by an SS commissioned officer -- usually a first or second lieutenant, but sometimes by a captain. A number of these officers were later put on trial by German courts for their operations.

More to follow.

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Einsatzkommando 3

Post by steve248 » 03 May 2005 15:52

Apart from Jäger, the officers of EK 3 at June 1941 departure from Pretzsch assembly area were:

SS-Ostuf KK Peter Eisenbarth (Gestapo)
born 13 April 1911; SS # 344582

SS-Stubaf KK Gustav Grauer (Gestapo), Jäger Stellvertreter and Verwaltungsführer
born 31 Dec 1909; SS # 12790

SS-Ostuf KK Joachim Hamann (Gestapo)
originally Jäger adjutant and only later TKführer - incidentally when TKführer his
deputy was SS-Hschaf Helmut Rauca (extradited from Canada to West Germany,
May 1983; died in Frankfurt/Main Prison Hospital, 29 Oct 1983)

SS-Hstuf Gerhard Kortkampf (SD)
born 26 Aug 1912; SS # 77067

SS-Ostuf Paul Müller (SD)
born 12 Feb 1914; SS # 290916

SS-Ostuf KK Johannes (Hans) Schäfer (Kripo)
born 19 Dec 1911; SS # 373592

SS-Ostuf KK-KR Heinrich Schmitz (Gestapo)
no other details (came from Stapo Trier)

SS-Ostuf Erich Wolff (SD)
born 20 Dec 1912; SS # 144572

Apart from Hamann, I believe the other two TKführern were Eisenbarth and Wolff.
Hamann apparently later boasted of having executed "77.000" during his Osteinsatz.

Certainly in the first six months (June-Dec 1941) it appears that the Kommandos
each set up three Teilkommandos of between 20-30 men depending on Kommando
total size. This was the case with Kommandos of Einsatzgruppe C and D so possibly
one of the unknown orders given to the Kommandoführern before they left the
Pretzsch assembly area.

I can recommend Knut Stang, "Kollaboration und Massenmord. Die litauische Hilfspolizei,
das Rollkommando Hamann und die Ermordung der litauische Juden", publ. Peter Lang
GmbH/Europäischer Verlag der Wissenschaften, Frankfurt/Main & other locations inc New
York, 1996 - ISBN 3-631-30895-7. (no photos)
Stang lists by Kompanie, over 1,000 "litauische Hilfspolizei" by name and DOB; not too
good on the names of the Sipo/SD men who made up EK 3.

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Post by Dan » 04 May 2005 02:31

Superb thread, thanks to all three of you.

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.


One wonders about the difference an extra 8 Divisions of motivated men would have made at Stalingrad, if their motivation was more, uh, properly channeled.

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Post by StaHit » 05 May 2005 16:35

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



that number is nonsense, I can assure. There were about 5-8 thousand by most optimistical countings from modern Lithuanian historians.

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Post by David Thompson » 05 May 2005 21:39

(2) I'm also inclined to think that Prapuolenis' figure of 100,000 men is grandiose. The German figures from 2-3 months before the Prapuolenis memo do not suggest anything close to that figure, nor do subsequent developments indicate a potential volunteer manpower pool of that size:

(a) Operational Situation Report USSR No. 12 July 4, 1941
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
viewtopic.php?p=691551#691551

(b) Operational Situation Report USSR No. 14 July 6, 1941
An auxiliary police force consisting of 5 companies [in all of Lithuania] has been created from reliable partisans.
viewtopic.php?p=691553#691553

(c)
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

(d) Georg Tessin, in his essay Die Stäbe und Truppenteile der Ordnungspolizei 1936-1945 contained in Tessin and Norbert Kannapin's work Waffen-SS und Ordnungpolizei im Kriegeinsatz 1939-1945, Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück: 2000, p. 581, gives the total strength of Lithuanian police units on 1 Oct 1942 as 8,757 in small individual unit (Einzeldienst) formations and 7,917 organized in Schutzmannschaft battalions; 16,647 men in all.

(e)
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

(f)
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

(g) Even when, in February 1944, the Germans tried to raise an autonomous Lithuanian Territorial Corps by promising all-Lithuanian officers and deployment of the unit only for internal defense of the homeland, the number of volunteers amounted to only 19,000. David Littlejohn, Foreign Legions of the Third Reich vol. 4, R. James Bender Publishing, San Jose [CA]: 1987, p. 220.

All of these figures are more in line with those given by StaHit in his post above than they are with the 100,000 figure.

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Post by michael mills » 06 May 2005 00:43

I would not be so quick to dismiss the number of 100,000 claimed by Prapuolenis in an offical communication to Von Renteln, the German Gebietskommissar for Lithuania.

That number most probably includes all the members of the clandestine anti-Soviet resistance which existed during the period of Soviet occupation. It represents the number of men that Prapuolenis claimed were available for action as at the time of the Lithuanian nationalist uprising which occurred as soon as the Red Army began its withdrawal on 21 June 1941. As such, it is a credible figure.

It needs to be recalled that the German reaction to the Lithuanian uprising and the existence of such a large body of resistance fighters was to crack down and disarm and dissolve it. The Germans did not want any manifestation of Lithuanian nationalism or independence that was not under their strict control. Accordingly, they disarmed the great majority of the lithuanian Partisans, retaining only a much smaller number of 16,000 in the auxiliary forces under their control.

Comparisons with later years are not really relevant. By 1943, it was clear that the Germans were losing the war, and there was a reluctance on the part of Lithuanians to tie themselves to the losing side. Furthermore, the German suppression of the initial Lithuanian attempts to set up an independent state in 1941 had caused great disappointment and disillusionment with Germany. In June 1941 that disillusionment had not yet set in, so it is quite conceivable that there were 100,000 Lithuanian nationalists ready to fight alongside Germany against the Soviet Union.

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Post by michael mills » 06 May 2005 01:44

My aim in starting this thread was to explore the relationship between the known personnel structure of EK 3 and its "achievement" in liquidating over 100,000 persons in a six-month period.

The personnel structure of the Einsatzkommando is not one that would be expected in a group set up to carry out a huge number of mass-executions.

Take, for example, the fact that about one-third of the personnel consisted of drivers or motorcyclists. Whatever the function of these drivers or motorcyclists was, whether or not they were despatch riders, their number suggests that the Einsatzgruppe had primarily a communications function, one of collecting information and disseminating it.

Drivers/motorcyclists can always be pressed into service as shooters, but why have so many of them there in the first place?

It is clear that the killing of over 100,000 persons in Lithuania by the end of 1941 could not have been accomplished without the employment of several thousand Lithuanian auxiliaries. The book "Bitter Legacy" , from which I drew for my information, contains an essay by Sara Shner-Neshamit, a member of Kibbutz Bet Lokhamei Hagettaot, which makes the point that most of the killing was done by Lithuanian units acting on their own. She writes (p. 168):

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?


Another essay in the same book, by Sima Ycikas, research associate of the Centre for Research and Documentation of East European Jewry, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, contains the text of a declaration made by Lithuanian Jews in Munich, 14-15 April 1947 (p. 186):

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.


So the surviving Lithuanian Jews saw the disaster which had befallen them as having been perpetrated primarily by Lithuanians rather than by the German occupiers.

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.

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?

As is pointed out by Michael MacQueen, research associate at the Office of Special Investigations, United States Department of Justice, whose essay in this book I have previously referred to, there is a "complete lack of documentation" for any pre-Barbarossa plan to use Lithuanians for mass-killing of Jews, and "only a fragmentary documentary basis" for the histroy of the paramilitary underground in the period of Soviet rule 1940-41.

The alternative explanation is that the German-Lithuanian cooperation was not planned in advance, but was an ad hoc measure adopted when the German occupiers realised the zeal of the Lithuanian antionalists to take revenge on the Jews for the previous Soviet tyranny.

MacQueen writes (p. 92):

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.


If the exterminatory structure of a German management and coordiantion group combined with a much large group of Lithuanian executioners was not planned in advance, that would mean that the structure of EK C was not designed as such a management group, and must have had some other initial planned function, most probably one of intelligence-gathering on the one hand and identification and suppression of any remaining Soviet resistance on the other.

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Post by David Thompson » 06 May 2005 02:39

Michael -- You said:
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.

Well, these documents give us some indication of the general orders given to the Einsatzgruppen commanders (my emphases):

(1) Operational Situation Report USSR No. 10 July 2, 1941

Einsatzgruppe B

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.

(2) Operational Situation Report USSR No. 11 July 3, 1941

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.

(3) Operational Situation Report USSR No. 17 July 7, 1941

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.

(4) From Stahlecker's 15 Oct 1941 report on the activities of units under his command (Einsatzgruppe A), including EK 3, posted at: viewtopic.php?p=540402#540402
(a)
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..

(b)
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.

(c)
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.

(d)
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.

(5) More from Dr. Stahlecker, from the post at: viewtopic.php?p=677142#677142
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

24

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-

26

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....

27


You also asked:
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?

Because the German SD had been paying the leaders of the few hundred, not thousands, of Lithuanians for the preceding two years -- since the summer of 1939. See:

The "Woldemaras Supporters" of Lithuania
viewtopic.php?t=61404

For the continued existence of this group, see also this extract:

Operational Situation Report No. 14, dated July 6, 1941, at:
viewtopic.php?p=691553#691553

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Post by michael mills » 06 May 2005 04:43

The pre-war contacts between the German SD and the Voldemarist faction of Lithuanian nationalists are insufficient to explain the later collaboration between the German occupiers of Lithuania and the Lithuanian nationalist auxiliary forces.

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.

The Battalion for the Defence of National Labour was initially controlled by military men associated with General Rastikis. MacQueen relates that there was a second counterrevolution underway within the apparent counterrevolution against the Soviet power, waged by the Voldemarists against the Smetonists. According to MacQueen, the Voldemarists in the officer corps won the struggle, gaining control of the Defence of National Labour Units and also of the "Saugumas", the former Lithuanian secret police which had been a prop of Smetona's government.

The takeover by the Voldemarists was assisted by the German suppression of the Lithuanian Provisional Government. The Voldemarists were of course preferred by the Germans over General Rastikis and the Smetonists, because of the pre-war links.

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.

So my point still remains. Despite the pre-war contacts between the German Government and the Voldemarist elements, there could have been no certainty that the German occupiers would have the services of thousands of Lithuanian auxiliaries (at least 16,000 in the various auxiliary battalions that were set up).

Stahlecker's reports were written very much in hindsight, and no doubt conceal the degree of independent action by Lithuanian nationalists in the last days of June. Since it was German policy to suppress all manifestations of Lithuanian independence and use Lithuanian nationalism purely as an auxiliary force for German purposes, Stahlecker probably wanted to give the impression that everything that had happened in Lithuania had been totally under his control and organised by him. But to accept his claims at face value would be to fail to understand the degree of independent initiative by Lithuanian nationalists.

The very loose degree of supervision by Germans over Lithuanian armed units attested to by survivors of the massacres perpetrated by those units indicates that Lithuanians were not simply German stooges but were carrying out an agenda of their own which just happened to dovetail nicely with what the German occupiers wanted.

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Post by David Thompson » 06 May 2005 07:39

Michael -- You said:
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.

Operational Situation Report USSR No. 14, dated 6 Jul 1941, posted at viewtopic.php?p=691553#691553 makes the sequence of events easily understandable:

EK 1b
Location: Kaunas

Reports:

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.

In other words, the Germans had no intention of promoting the nationalist aspirations of "the self-proclaimed Lithuanian government under Colonel Skirpa." They already had hirelings in place -- the Woldemaras supporters, who "want only cultural and economic freedom and are ready to leave foreign politics to the Greater German Reich." Immediately after the Germans took over the country, they "won over" Bishop Brizguys and used him to influence General Rastikis. On 28 Jun 1941 the German Feldkommandatur told General Rastikis to disarm the partisans in Kaunas and its surroundings.

Once General Rastikis accomplished this task, the German authorities set up an "auxiliary police force consisting of 5 companies" -- between 400 and 600 men -- which was "created from reliable partisans." It should come as no surprise that the Germans considered these partisans reliable because they were picked and led by German hirelings -- the leaders of the Woldemaras supporters.

With a monopoly on armed force in the country, the triumph of the Germans and their paid Lithuanian choices was decisively established, and the opposing factions could either go along with the arrangement or be left out in the cold. That's why, on 6 Jul 1941, the writer of the report could say "General Rastikis will immediately dissolve the temporary Lithuanian government." It took the German authorities less than a week to disarm the Smetonist faction and less than three weeks to put their Lithuanian collaborators in power.

For those practical and political reasons I do not see the difficulty envisioned by your statement:
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.

The Germans certainly had no trouble establishing their puppets in other countries they had conquered, and it is unlikely that Lithuania would have been different under any circumstances. The Smetonists would not have posed any more risk to the German troops occupying Lithuania than the Banderists posed to the German troops occupying the Ukraine.

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Post by michael mills » 06 May 2005 13:51

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.

Those historians all see the Lithuanian nationalist partisans as independently motivated actors, whose aims coincided in some respects with those of the Germans (but not in all respects), and thus could be utilised by the latter.

The fact is that the German administration was quickly able to put together an auxiliary force made up of previously independent Lithuanian auxiliaries, under the command of officers of the Voldemarist faction who were more tractable than the Smetonist faction.

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.

The EG A report of 6 July does not provide any information on whether the structure of the Lithuanian auxiliary forces had been arranged in advance before the German invasion. It says only that Voldemarists became active after the arrival of the German forces, and were able to take command of the Lithuanian insurgents, making them more amenable to German control.

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.


What that means is that the Lithuanian nationalists had their own motivation for taking revenge on the Jews whom they regarded as collaborators with the previous Soviet occupation, a motivation independent of German policies and actions. MacQueen is saying that when the Germans became fully aware of the extent of that independent Lithuanian motivation, they were able to utilise it.

Obviously MacQueen's interpretation is not compatible with the idea that the Lithuanian nationalist partisans were simply paid hirelings of the Germans, carrying out German orders. That idea is based solely on the German reports, which have a vested interest in downplaying any independent Lithuanian initiative.

The historians Ycikas and Sher-Neshamit, whose contributions also appeared in "Bitter Legacy", also present Lithuanian forces as acting to a large degree on their own initiative rather than as simple German hirelings. The latter vew is based purely on accepting the German reports at face value, without taking account of the information provided by Jewish survivors or by Lithuanian nationalist sources.

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Post by David Thompson » 06 May 2005 20:44

Michael -- You said:
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.

This statement of "concept" does not accurately characterize the points I made, which involved some of the Lithuanian nationalist leaders, and not all of the participants.

You also said:
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.

Operational Situation Report USSR No. 10, dated 2 Jul 1941 and quoted above, contains Heydrich's Order No. 2. That order was circulated to all of the Einsatzgruppen, and refers to the belief that anti-semitic pogroms could be successfully encouraged among Poles. No doubt the RSHA leadership expected that the same situation would prevail in other areas the Germans intended to occupy. Your argument assumes, without establishing it as a fact, that EK 3 was smaller or in some way different from the other Einsatzkommandos and Sonderkommandos in Einsatzgruppen A, B, C, and D. I don't see any basis for thinking that it was "a small management and coordination unit."

Though Dr. Stahlecker does not openly state in his 15 Oct 1941 report that he had assurances some of the Lithuanian partisans would undertake pogroms, it is apparent that he had to apply some pressure to get that result. Otherwise, there is no point to his wording (my emphases):
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.

and
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.

You then said:
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."

For readers who may be having trouble trying to follow this discussion of Lithuanian national factions, the country came into being immediately after WWI. Though it was a republic, it had problems with political stability. In 1926 there was a military coup, which installed Antonas Smetona as President and Augustinas Voldemaras as Prime Minister. Smetona dismissed Voldemaras from office in 1929. The German spelling is "Woldemaras," hence the term "Woldemaras supporters."

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Post by michael mills » 08 May 2005 06:15

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."


The statement that the employment of "indigenous anti-semites" and "hired thugs" "increased the speed and volune of the killing operations" does not do justice to the situation in Lithuania, where the mass-killing was totally dependent on the availability of 16,000 Lithuanian nationalist auxiliaries.

It was not simply a matter of the "killing operations" being speeded up, it was a matter of their being perpetrated at all. It is clear that without the willing collaboration of thousands of Lithuanians, 130,000 persons could not have been killed in six months.

As I have pointed out, a force of 140 men, of whom one-third are motorcycle despatch riders, is not one designed or equipped to carry out mass killing operations by itself.

It can however act as a management unit for auxiliaries ready, willing and able to carry out such operations, if such are available. In the case of the Hamann Rollkommando, only 10 Germans from EK 3 were deputed to command a much larger force of Lithuanians who did the actual killing.

The reality of what happened in Lithuania is shown by the reports of Jewish survivors, who tell how in most of the smaller localities in the country the killings were carried by Lithuanians, with minimal German supervision, and quite often without the presence of any Germans at all, entirely on native Lithuanian initiative. Stahlecker's reports are deceptive in that they conceal the degree of independent Lithuanian action, no doubt because Stahlecker did not watn to admit that the Lithuanian units were not entirely under his control.

I think it rather rash to claim that MacQueen is mistaken, especially when one has not read his work. He does not have "too narrow a focus"; to the contrary, his focus is wider than that of those who rely solely on German reports, since he takes into account evidence from Lithuanian sources.

Here is what MacQueen says about the orders given to the Einsatzgruppen (pp. 94-95):

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?


I think macQueen has hit the nail on the head. The personnel structure of EK 3 is one appropriate to the task of thoroughly investigating and if necessary carrying out individual executions of persons falling into the categories defined by Heydrich in his Order No. 3 of 2 July.

However, the personnel structure was not suitable for carrying out mass killings of whole population groups, as later occurred. To carry out such a task, EK 3 needed a large force of Lithuanian auxiliaries thirsting for revenge against the Jewish population for its putative collaboration with the Soviet occupation.

The sine qua non for the slaughter of the greater part of the Jewish population of Lithuania in the latter half of 1941 was therefore the existence within a large part of the Lithuanian population of an overwhelming desire for revenge against the Jewish population. The existence of such a desire was demonstrated by the revenge killings carried out by Lithuanian nationalists in the period between the beginning of the collapse of the Soviet administration on 21 June and the establishment of German control on 28 June, and by the reaction of the crowds of Lithuanian civilians to those killings.

To dismiss the large number of Lithuanian anti-Soviet nationalists who took revenge on Jews and then acted partly as German auxiliaries and partly on their own initiative in the mass killing of the greater part of the Lithuanian Jewish population simply as a handful of "hirelings" of the German occupiers is a distortion of historical truth.

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Executions

Post by steve248 » 08 May 2005 15:05

There is a good deal of speculation about the mass executions perpetrated by the Einsatzgruppen on the territory of the former Soviet Union. Whilst having little information about how Einsatzgruppe A operated, they probably operated in much the same way as
Einsatzgruppe C and D that I have researched.

The main "shooters", to use Browning's term, in the first few months of the campaign
were in fact the Schupo and Waffen-SS reservists attached to each Kommando. In
Martin Gilbert, Never Again. A History of the Holocaust" published by Harper Collins
in co-operation with the Imperial War Museum, 2000 (ISBN 0 00 220175 4) is a large
photograph of the mass execution at Dubossary in September 1941 - an execution
by EK 12. It shows 15 "shooters" in a row quite literally shooting the victims.

At the much larger mass execution in Simferopol, a three day "Aktion" in December
1941 was carried out with several firing squads made up of 20 men each.

Practically all the men who made up the firing squads were the Schupo and Waffen-SS
reservists. The same scenarios were used by Kommandos of EG C in the Ukraine.

Until EG A in the Baltics was able to recruit and employ local auxiliaries, I would say
all the executions were carried out in a similar method using their own men.

Heydrich did urge the Einsatzgruppen chiefs to recuit local auxiliaries and foment
pogroms - some were more able to do this, and some were not.

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