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Einsatzgruppen: Mobile Killing Squads

Mobile killing squad in the eastern Galician town of Drohobycz, Autumn 1941. CL:Yad Vashem

Jewish women undress before they are murdered, Liepaja, Latvia, December 15, 1941. CL:Zentrale Stelle, Ludwiqsburq
Execution of Jewish women in Liepaja, Latvia, December 15, 1941. CL:Zentrale Ste11e, Ludwigsburg


"The place of the execution was isolated in order to avoid that the civilian population would unnecessarily become witness of a spectacle....The execution commando (Exekutionskommando)...was posted on the other side of the antitank ditch and the persons which were designated to be executed were shot dead from behind as quickly as possible." Dr. Werner Braune, Head of Einsatzgruppe D, Nuremberg, July 8, 1947



Mass Execution. CL:BPK

In the spring of 1941, the SS organized four mobile killing squads (Einsatzqruppen) for the occupied Soviet Union and Baltic regions. These specifically trained murder units followed invading troops to capture and eliminate "Jews, communists, and other Soviet officials." Hitler, distrustful of the will of his generals to carry out his intended "war of annihilation," appointed Heinrich Himmler to carry out "special tasks" on the eastern front.

The procedure was similar throughout German-occupied Soviet territory. Local populations were encouraged to murder Jews and seize their abandoned property. At the same time, the Waffen SS and local collaborators rounded up groups of Jews and removed them to mass burial pits where they were shot dead.

By 1943, over 1,400,000 Jews were executed in the occupied Soviet Union

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