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Death By Design: The Invasion of The Soviet Union

Lithuanian auxiliaries arrest the Jews of Kovno, separating men from women, 1941. CL:Zentrale Stelle, Ludwigsburg
Jewish women of Kovno after roundup by Lithuanian fascists, 1941. CL:Zentrale Stelle,Ludwigsburg
Registration of Ukrainian women in the occupied Soviet Union for slave labor inside the Third Reich, 1942. CL-BPK
Native volunteers who aided German armies and SS on Eastern Front, 1941/42. CL:BPK

The fate of the Jews in occupied territories often varied according to local attitude. In the Baltic countries (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) as well as in the Ukraine, local populations collaborated in the persecution of Jews. Confiscation of property, slave labor, random violence, and murder were commonplace.

Soviet POWs at Uman-Miropol, July 1941. CL:BP

"The fight will be very different from the fight in the West. In the East, harshness is kindness toward the future. The commanders must demand of themselves the sacrifice of overcoming their scruples."
Adolf Hitler, March 30, 1941




A Soviet Jew and his son at the assembly center
in Uman-Miropol, July 1941.


On June 22, 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. In the months preceding this invasion, Nazi leadership had decided to destroy all the Jews of the Soviet Union. Immediately behind the invading forces, specially trained mobile assault units of the SS (Einsatzgruppen), with the assistance of the local populations, police and civil authorities, began the systematic murder of Jews. Mass shootings in open trenches or pits were often carried out in full view of local populations, Wehrmacht soldiers and military officials. A policy of annihilation was visible fact by 1941.

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