** war and social upheaval: World War II -- Holocaust Einsatzgruppen

The Holocaust: Einsatzgruppen

Figure 1.--Hitler's first efforts at mass murder began with the Barbarossa invasion of the Soviet Union (June 1941). His instrument was Heydrich's SS Einsatzgruppen. The Eisrazgruppen used in Czechoslovakia were not reformed. Heydrich chose a whole new group of commanders and trainibng began as planning for Barbarossa went forward. The Einsatzgruppen commanders did not at first fully understand their orders, but quickly understood that they were expected to kills Jews of all genders and ages, as many as possible and as rapidly as possible. They were confused because the orders talked of liquidating all resistance and Bolshevick leaders and political officers. Few Jewish civilians resisted, but in Hitler's mind Bolsheb\vism and Judaism were intincically intertwined. Notice the observers in the background. They are not part of the Einsatzgruppen, but Whermacht men attracted by the excitement. They mau have participated in the rounding up process. At many execution sutes, locl civilzns were also alloed to watch.

German Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD (Einsatzgruppen) were paramilitary formations, essentially death squads, following behind front-line combat units. Their assignment was to deal primarily with Jews, but also were used against other population groups the Germans identified as unreliable or undesirable. SS Einsatzgruppen had killed substantial numbers of Jews and non-Jews in Poland (1939-40), but the numbers were still in the thousands, not the hundreds of thousands. Most Polish Jews had been confined in Ghettos. When Britain refused to surrender after the fall of France, Einsatzgruppen were organized to deal with the British as part of Operation Sea Lion (fall 1940). The Einsatzgruppen were significantly expanded and ready for large-scale operations at the onset of Barbarossa (June 1941). They were used barbarically in the Soviet Union in the (summer and fall 1941). They reported killed about 0.7 million Jews in the territories seized by the Wehrmacht. Their methods were effective, but both public and messy. And often they failed to recover valuable possessions. NAZI officials concluded that a different more coordinated plan was needed in the more developed occupied countries in Poland Western Europe. The Einsatzgruppen murdered about 1.25 million Jews and thousands of other people the Germans considered a threat or undesirable (Spring 1943). By this time the Germans had killed most of the Jews in occupied areas of the Soviet Union and the Germans after Stalingrad were now on the defensive. The killing process had shifted to more efficent methods. Jews in Poland had largely been killed in the death camps which were by this time killing Jews from Western Europe as well.

Heydrich and the SD

The Schutzstaffel (SS) began a Hitler's bodyguard. As the NAZI Party grew, Hitler saw the need for a security serbice. He ordered Himmler to create one. Himmler was already acting informally on such matters. Himmler's creation was the Sicherheitsdienst (SD). He appointed Heydrich to head the new organization (Aigust 1931). Ot was a first a non-uniformed organization and kept distinct from the uniformed SS. Historians speculate as to why Himmler chose Heydrich. Some argue tht it was because of his back ground in naval intelligence. One historian points out that Hydrich was involved in signls, not intelligence. [Boatner, p. 216.] Apparently Himmler did not know that. Heydrich s immeditely given a priority asignment. Hitler becme concerned that the NAZI Party had been infltrated, In addition the SA while extremely useful, was casusing problems. The SD purpose was to seek out internet hreats from the Party or the Sa, or even wthin the SS itself. Himmler and Heydrish with his SD woiuld ply akey role in the Night of the Long Knivs (1934). In this case ratherthn findinecidnce, Heydrichmaznufctured it. German Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD (Einsatzgruppen) began their kives as political police, arresting NAZI enenies and potential enimies. They evolved into paramilitary formations, essentially death squads, following behind front-line combat units and commiting mss mirder. They essentially launched the Holocaust--the Holocaust by bullet.


The assignments of the Einsatzgruppen changed over time. The initial purpose of the task forces organized by the SD ws to move jnto an area an arrest the political opposition as wll as Notable Jews and transfer them to prisons and concentation camps. Killing in the first operations (Austria and Czechoslovakia) was occassional. This changed in Poland. Sunstantial numbers of Poles were executed, mostly notable Poles in an effort to obliterate the political and cultural leaders of Polish national existence. (The Soviet NKVD was doing the same in the area they occupied to the east.) Jews were also killed. Einsatzgruppen were organized for Britain, but never deployed because the British won the Battle of Britain and the German invasion, Operation Sealion never took place. The Einsarzgruppen were expanded and organized to follow the frontline troops into the Soviet Union to kill Jews. Their assignment was to deal primarily with Jews, but also were used against other population ngtoups the Germans identified as unreliable or undesirable. It was the Jews who were killed in large numbers and included whoe family groups.

Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA -- Reich Security Office)

Hitler and the NAZIs strove to create a police state from as soon as Hitler was appointed chancellor. There were at first condtitutional difficulties, especially the fact that police power was difused among the various German states. Hitler's approached was to begin by seize control of the police in two major states, Prussia and Bavaria. G�ring was placed in charge of the Prussian police and Himmler the Bavarian police. From that beginning the NAZIs steadily expanded their control of the German police, kncreasing bits aithority, reducing judicial authotity, and centralizing the fotce. The final step in the process of centralizing the police under NAZI command was the creation of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA -- Reich Security Office). Himmler issued the decree creating the RSHA a few weeks after the beginning of World War II (September 27, 1939). This effectively centralized all agencies of state security within the SS, bluring the lines between a NAZI Party agency and a central government police agency. The RSHA thus became a SS unit responsible for combating the enemies of National Socialism. Reinhard Heydrich, Himmler's most poweful subordinate and with direct access to the F�hrer, was appointed to head the RSHA. Under Himmler's deft hand, the RHSA was created (1939). It combined the NAZI security aparatus under one command. It included the Sicherheitsdienst (SD -- Security Police), Kriminalpolizei (State Criminal Police--Kripo), and the Geheime Staatspolizei (State Secret Police--Gestapo). Many authors refer to the Gestapo as the NAZI secret police. In fact the Gestap was only one part of the NAZI elaborate security aparatus. The correct term is the RSHA. A unit of the RSHA was Amt VI headed by SS Colonel Adolph Eichmann who oversaw the mechanics of the Holocaust. The planning for the Generalplan Ost (GPO) was another RSHA undertaking. Under Heydrich's leadership, the RSHA began competing with the Abwehr in both intelligence and counter inteligence. After the July Bomb Plot and the eventual arrest of Admiral Canaris, the RSHA acquired full responsibility for intelligence abnd counter-intelligenc in the rapidly desiuntegrating Reich.

Austria: Einsatzkommando �sterreich (March 1938)

With the Wehrmact as part of the Anschluss came SS and 40,000 German policemen. Even while the celebrations were going on, Himmler's Schutzstaffeln (SS) assisted by local NAZIs began rounding up those individuals who had opposed the NAZIs. The first Einsatzgruppee was led by SS-Staf. Prof.Dr. Franz Alfred Six. (Most of the Einsatzgruppen commanders had advanced ascademic degrees.) They were ad hoc groups and not well armed military units. The Einsatzgruppen were SS intelligence units accompanying the Wehrmacht. They were essentially mobile offices of the German security agencies. They were made up of the same grouos that would cut a murderous swath across the Soviet Union. This included the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service--SD) and Sicherheitspolizei (Security Police--SIPO). The SIPO included the Geheime Staatspolizei (Secret State Police-Gestapo) and the Kriminalpolizei (Criminal Police-KRIP). The Einsatzgruppen enable the agencies to begin work immediately until they had permanent facilities from which tthey could operate. The Einsatzgruppen followed the military units and assumed responsibility for the security of the new NAZI political regime. They initiated a thorough going repression of anti-NAZI elements. The SS arrived with carefully prepared lists of NAZI opponents. The arrests covered a wide political spectrum including Socilaists, Communists, and any one who had outspokenly criticized Hitler and the NAZIs. This Einsatzgruppe was disbanded after a short period.

Sudetenland: Einsatzgruppen I Dresden, II Wien, III Br�n (September-October 1938)

Deserted by the British and French at the Munich Conference, the Czechs were forced to turn over the Sudetenland. It was an area primarily inhabited by ethnic Germans. Most of the Czechs fled the area before or shortly after the Germans entered. SS units entered with the Whermacht. The Einsatzgruppen were founded as Germany prepared for war over Czechoslovakia (summer 1938). They were much better organized than in Austria and now had military arms which they were authorized to use at the commander's disgression. . Their purpose was to travel in the wake of the Whermacht as it advanced into the Sudetenland and occupy offices formerly belonging to the Czechoslovak state as well as to arrest opponents. They had lists of Germans who had opposed the NAZIs. They proceeded to arrest any enemies of the Reich who had been so rast to remain in the Sudentenland. Many had fled to what was left of Czechoslovakia. Under thge terms of the arrangements forced on the Czechs, they had to turn over to the Germans any German natiuinal identified as an enenemy of the Reich. Three Eisatzgruppen were formed for the task: Dresden, Wien, and II Br�n. The names derived from wehre they were formed. The commander Einsatzgruppe I Dresden was SS-Staf. Heinz Jost. One report indicated tht he had five subordinate Einsatzkommando. This may have expanded when 6 months later he moved into Czechoslovakia proper. Einsatzkommando 1 Glatz was commanded by Rasch with Biermann as his deputy. It operated arfound Sumperk. Einsatzkommando 2 Ratibor was commanded by Hermann with Heinrich as his deputy. It operated around Opava. Einsatzkommando 3 Waldenburg was commanded by Canaris with Gottschalk as his deputy. It operated around Trutnov. Einsatzkommando 4 Schandau was commanded by Schulz with Lehmann as his deputy. It operated around Usti nad Labem. Einsatzkommando 5 Zittau was commanded bu Schaefer with Ott as his deputy. It operated around Liberec. Einsatzkommando 6 Annaberg wascommanded by Albath with Hoehenscheidt as his deputy. It operated around Chomutov. Einsatzkommando 7 Plauen was commanded by Hasselberg with Schulze as his deputy. It operated around Karlovy Vary. Einsatzkommando 8 Wunsiedel was commanded by Stossberg with Hofmann as his deputy. It operated around Cheb. Einsatzkommando 9 Weiden was commanded by Felde with Brauneas his deputy. It operated around Stribro. The commander of Eisatzgruppe II Wien was SS-Staf. Dr. jur. Franz Walther Stahlecker. One report indicated wo Einsatzkommando. We have found three. Einsatzkommando 10 Freistadt was commanded by Blomberg with Remmers as adeputy. It operated around Cesky Krumlov. Einsatzkommando 11 Regen was commanded by Flesch with Remmers as his deputy. It operated around Nyrsko. Einsatzkommando 12 Mistelbach was commanded by Fehlis with Hoth as his deputy. It operated around Znojmo. The commander of Einsatzgruppe III Br�n was SS-Staf. Dr. jur. Franz Walther Stahlecker. It consisted of Einsatzkommando (Olm�tz, Br�nn, and Zlin).

Czechoslovakia: Einsatzgruppe I Prag (March 1939)

Hitler only 6 months after Munich, where he pledged to Primeminister Chamberlain that he would respect the borders and independence of Czechoslovakia, ordered the Wehrmacht to invade Czechoslovakia. The Czech lands were quickly occupied. It was a peaceful occupation. Deprived of allies and their border defenses and at the mercy of the Luftwaffe, the Czechs did not resist. Slovakia was allowed to seceed from Czechoslovakia and became a compliant puppet state. Hungary was allowed to seize land in eastern Czechoslovakia. The Czech lands were made the Protectorate of Bohenia and Moravia. This was the first NAZI action which resulted in the acquisition of territory not primarily occupied by ethnic Germans. Hitler had also assured Chamberlain that he wanted no Czechs. SS Einsatzgruppen teams as in Austria and the Sudetenland also went into the occupied Czech lands. Eisatzgruppe I Prag was commanded by SS-Ostubaf. Dr. Erich Ehrlinger . It included four Einsatzkommando (Budweis, Prag, Kolin, and Pardubitz). The Eisatzgruppen organized for the Sudentenland were reformed and also employed in the occipied Czech lands. We believe that the Einsatzgruppen used in the Sudetenland we not only reformed, but expanded for operations in the Czech lands. The Einsatzgruppen assignment was to follow the Heer units into Prague and set up temporary offices for the Security Service and Security Police. They secured the property of the former Czech state includung offices and files. But it was not just buildings that they were after. They were also under orders to 'secure' political life. This meant people. As before they had lists of people to arrest. A major priority was locating and arresting NAZI critics. We have not yet found, however, a detailed decription of their operations. Hopefully readers will know more. After the Czech operations, the Einsatzgruppen were disbanded. Heydrich apparently wanted entirely new commands to execute new orders for the invasion of Poland.

Poland (September 1939)

Reinhard Heydrich, SD Chief, formed six Einsatzgruppen for the Polish campaign. Five were theoretically attached to the invading Wehrmacht forces. In fact they operated largely independently. The sixth was assigned to work specifically in the Posen (Poznan) district. About 2,700 men were involved. These were the first para military Einsatzgruppen were deployed for the first time for the invasion of Poland (September 1939). The orders in Poland were not as focused on Jews as they woukd be in the Soviet Union. Here they were ordered to arrest the elite of Polish society, including both political and cultural figures, the politically unreliable. This included authors, priests, composers, and other groups. The Einsazgruppen were the instrumnets of Opperation Tannenberg. This was Heydrich's plan to render the 'upper levels of society' harmless by killing 61,000 Polish civiklians. [Rossino, pp. 15 and 30.] Here he was carrying out Hitler's orders who phrased it succintly, '... only a nation whose upper level are destroyed can be pushed into the ranks of slavery." Mallman, B�hler, and Matth�us, p. 57.] The Einsatzgruppen also confiscated of weapons, conducted police intelligence, and oversaw various actions against Jews. Lists had been were prepared for arrest, but various ruses were used to arrest groups like university professors. Some of those arrested were shot. Others transported to concentration camps were few survived the War. Some Jews were arrested and killed, but the numbers were relatively small. The killing of Jews at this time seems to have been conducted on the iniative of Einsatzgruppen and junior Wehrmact commanders rather than on specific orders by Heydrich, although he seems to have given general instructions. One Eisatzgruppe was ordered to terrorize, generating such fear that as many Jews as pssible would flee to the east and the the Soviet sector. [Snyder, p. 127/] One estimate suggests 500 towns and villages were burned and over 16,000 people were executed by the Einsatzgruppen in Poland (September 1-October 5). The Wehrmacht actually arrested and was prepared to court martial both Wehrmacht and SS members who committed attrocities in Poland. Hitler pardoned each man arrested. No one was ever punished for exceeding orders. (And there would be no further Wehrmacht actions against its members for killing Jews and civilians.) The numbers killed were still in the thousands, not the hundreds of thousands. Rather than immediate killing operations, Polish Jews were confined in Ghettos, although this took longer than the Germans anticipated.

France (June 1940)

Einsatzgruppen were not organized for France and the Low Countrie. We are not sure just why. Presumably Hitler was not as determined to obliterate non-Slavic national life in Western Europe. There was, however, a provision of the Franco-German Armistice that required Vichy police to turn over any German in the un-occupied zone (Article XIX). In practice, the Vichy police also turned over many non-Germans. Einsatzgruppen did not prove necessary because the French police cooperated so closely with the Germans. It seems unlikely that the Germans could have anticipated the degree of cooperation they got from the French. Without this assistance the relativeky smll German security aparatus would have had to have been substatially enllarged and would not have been nealy as effecive as the French police. The Einsatzgruppen for Czechoslovakia and Poland had been formed before the invasion of those countries. Why Hitler and the SS did not form Einsatzgruppen for the Western offensive we do not know. Perhaps the racial animus was not tere are anti-MAZI rgetoric was not seen as trsonous as ut was in Austria. The NAZIs like to think of themselves as the vangyrd of cibilization. Thus they were more inclined to trear Western Europe more correctly than Eastern Europe with its population of Slavs and other ethnic groups they saw as 'untermesch'. But we do not know. Pergaps reader will have some insight. After the German vicory, reltively correct behvior, except toward Jews, became a matter of war time practicality. France in particular became crotical to the NAZI war economy. Hitler in his min saw the resources of the East sstaining hthewar economy. Thefailure of the whermchy to destroy the Red Army ended that dream. The result was that exploting the French economy became critixal to the NAZI war effort. And Hitler correctly assessed that this could be best be accomplishd through a 'correct' occipation regime. Thus there were no Eisatzgruppen in France. Based on internet conversations with French people, most seem to believed that they endured a gorrific 4-year occupation. Few seem to be aware as to whatthe Germns wee planning zfter they won the Wae and war-time compromies were no longer needed.

Britain (September 1940)

German agencies after Hitler issued F�hrer Directive 16 began preparing for not only the invasion, but for occupying a subgegated Britin. This included setting up Eisatzgruppen. What we do not understand is why the Germans did not organize Einsatzgruppen for France, but did for Britain. And here the racial aspect further confuses the history. The SS decided there was only limited genetic material to be havested in France, but that the British were a kindred Aryan people. For what ever reason, the Germans decided that the subgegation of Britain required Einsatzgruppen. Walter Schellenberg, director of the counter espionage unit of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Head Office of Reich Security--RSHA) prepared a secret occupation handbook. (Schellenberg was recruited by SS-Obergruppenf�hrer Reinhard Heydrich and would later become the top German intelligence officer after British agents shot Heydrich and Abwher head, Admiral Canaris was arrested.) His handbook would have been proven useful by occupation authorities. It offered detailed informtion on a wide range of topics concerning Britain and the Empire. There were detailed analyses of both the political and economic system. Individual chapters covered an impressive list of topics, everything from Parliament and public schools to freemasonry a prenial NAZI target. The book also discussed the Boy Scouts, probably because of the importance of the Hitler Youth in Germany. Schellenberg's book today provides modern historians insights into exactly how the Germans viewed Britain. Some of it is insightful. Other sections are largely projections of twisted NAZI ideology. The most chilling section was the Sonderfahndungsliste G.B.--Special Search List for Great Britin (black book). This is what the French avoided by surrendering to the Germans and collaborating. (Of course what would have happened after the Germans won the War does not seem to have occurred to the Vichy men.) The price of British resistance was to be high. Schellenberg's black book listed 2,820 individuals who the SS would take into 'protective custody'. The people were chosen by Schellenberg's counter espionage unit with input by sympathetic British Fascists although we do not know just how the selection process worked. The Sonderfahndungsliste was the British version of the Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen--Special Prosecution Book--Poland. The SS Einsatzgruppen in Poland summarily shot thousands of civilians on the list. Churchill was of course at the top of the list as was Chamberlain.

Soviet Union (1941-43)

Hitler made it clear that Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union would be waged with great severity. He issued orders thsat were in effect extinction orders. Despite the orders issued by OKW and subiordinate commands, Hitler had no confidence that the Wehrmacht would execute these orders with the severity he expected. He was still disturbed by what occurred in Poland when the Wehrmacht made arrests for war crimes. Nor did the orders fully describe what he wanted done, namely the mass murder of Jews. Hitler concluded that the Wehrmacht was just not the institution needed to carry out the actions he required. The solution suggested by Heydrich were Einsatzgrupoen. He gave SS Reichf�hrer Himmler the responsibility for carrying out "special tasks resulting from the struggle which has to be carried out between two opposing political systems" (March 1941). Himmler ordered the creation of four Einsatzgruppen (Special Operations Groups). Einsatzgruppen had been sent into Poland, but they were not as large nor did they have the clear instructiond given to the four new Einsatzgruppen. The Einsatzgruppen were thus significantly expanded and ready for large-scale operations at the onset of Barbarossa (June 1941). They were used barbarically in the Soviet Union in the (summer and fall 1941). Four Einsatzgruppen paramilitary mobile killing units were organized. For some reason, Heydrich decided to form entirely new Einsatzgruppen for Barbarossa. They were entirely new units with new commanders and men. They were orgsnized just before the invasion. The Einsatzgruppen were composed of both Waffen-SS and various police units which by this time were all part of the SS RSHA structure. [Taylor, p. 510.] This time their status was carefully arranged by Heydrich. He met with Eduard Wagner, the Heer Quartermaste. They agreed that at the front the Einsatzgruppen would be under Heer control but that in rear areas the army's authority would be limited to 'tactical matters'. [Harris, p. 176-77, IMT III, 246,290.] It is not clear how much Heydrich told Wagner, but it is unlikely he fully explained the enormity of what he planned to do. Einsatzgruppen A, B. and C) were attached to Army Groups North, Center and South. Einsatzgruppe D was the fourth group which was sent to the Ukraine where there were large numbers of Jews. While the three Einsatzgruppen were formerly under Wehrmacht command, this proved a formality. All four Einsatzgruppen in practice operated independently from the Wehrmscht Army Groups under the direct command of Heydrich an Himmler. It is not clear just how the two divided their responsibilities concerning the Einsatzgruppen, but Heydrish seems to have taken more of the responsibility for operational control. Einsatzgruppe D, unlike the other three Einsatzgruppen, it was not attached to one of the three invading army groups, but operated independently. They were established to follow in the wake of the advanzing Wehrmacht and carry out murder on a large scale. The Einsatzgruppen were nominally under the command of the three Army Groups that conducted Barbarossa. In fact, they followed instructions from Heydrich RSHA. Both Himmler and Heydeich had personnal access to Hiler. Hitler made it clear to the Wehrmacht that he decribed as the "Judeo-Bolshevik intelligentsia" completely eliminated. He appears to have gone much furher with Himmler and Heydrich. He never went further in open statements to the military leadership and precisely what he told the SS can not be proven. there is, however, every reason to think that the barbaritites carried out by the Einsatzgruppen , reflected Hitler's personsl instructions. Heydrixh ordered the Einsatzgruppen commanders to clear the newly conquerred territories of "suspect elemnents". Note that there was no attempt to link the actions with resistence, but simply "suspect elements" Heydrich ordered the commanders to incite local pograms against Jews. The idea was to be able to show that local populatiions had begun the campaign against Jews. SS-Brigadef�hrer Franz Stahlecker, a protoge of Heydrich from the SD and commander of Einsatzgruppen A explained, "It has to be shown that the local population themselves had taken the first measures on their own as a natural reaction against decades of supression by the Jews." [Streit, pp. 5-6] Their initial orders were not precise, but within a short time became to kill Jews in large numbers and as soon as possible. Some short term ghettoes were estsblished in the Baltic states, but in the Ukraine the killing occurred very quickly without the intermediate step of setting up ghettoes. The orders were to kill Jews, Romany, and Communiust and Goverment officials, but the primary focus was on killing Jews. There were also axtions against Ukranian nstionlists. They reported killed about 0.7 million Jews in the Soviet territories (Including the Baltic and occupied Poland) seized by the Wehrmacht. Jew were also killed in the areas of Romania that had been occupied by the Soviets, but this was mostly done by the Romanian Army.

North Africa: Eisatzgruppen Tunis (November 1943)

SS Standartenf�hrer Walter Rauff was placed in charge of Eisatxgruppen Tunis with the assignment of destroying the substantial Jewish population of North Africa. Rauff had played an important role in the killing phase of the Holocaust. He helped develop gas vans, essentially mobile gas chambers, used to murder Jews, disabled people, communists, and other targeted groups (1941-42). He worked in the Criminal Technical Institute of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA). There he helped design gas vans used before the large permanent gas chambes were constructed. Even before the Afrika Korps was committed to North Africa, Eichmann and his staff were thinking about the substantil Jewish population of North Africa and the Middle East. Vichy without German prodding began to take actions aginst the Jews in its colonies. The commitment of the Afrika Korps to North Africa put the Germans in control of Libya and for a time western Egypt. As far as we know, while German troops engaged in actions like looting Jewish shops and taunting occsional Jews, but no killing operations. There was no organized action against Libyan Jews. This began to change after Rommel�s seizure of Tobruk (June 1942) and invasion of Egypt. It looked for a while like Alexandria, Cairo, and the Suez Cnal would soon fall. Rauff was assigned to assemble an Einsatzgruppen to carry out 'executive measures on the civilian population'. As the Arab, Italian (in Libya), and French (in Tunisia) civilians were not a threat, this was a clear NAZI euphemism for the mass murder of North African Jews. The Deputy Kommandof�hrer was SS-Hstuf. Theodor Saevecke. The Holocaust by this time had evolved beyond ensalvement to murder. Events on the grond cut Rauff's mission short. The British 8th Army first stopped Rommel at El Alamein and then smashed the Afrika Korps forcing a retreat west of the survivors (October 1942). There the front stabilized for a few months after Hitler rushed reinforcements into Tunisia to stop the Allied armies moving east from the Torch landings (November 1942). As a result Rauff's Einsatzkommando Tunis was limited to Tunisia. Rauff immediately began the persecution of Tunisian Jews. [Patterson] The MI5 file records on Rauff confirm that he was posted to Tunis in 1942 as head of the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), where he commanded Einsatzkommando which conducted a 'well-organised persecution campaign against the country's Jews and Partisans'. There were virtually no partisans in Tunisia , meaning virtually the exclusive taget was Tunisian Jews. Vichy authorities had already begun anti-Semetic measures such as limits on Jewish employment, residence, and requiring forced labor. Rauff took over the process began by Vichy. More than 2,500 Tunisian Jews perished in in the slave labour camps. We believe the number of Jews who died in these camps rapidly escalated when the Germans took over from Vivhy. The Eisatzcommando ws also actively involved in robbing the Tunisian Jews of their vvaluable possesion. The Germans had to move fast as the Allies first drove the Germans into pocket around Tunis and Bizerte (March 1943 and then forced the battered survivors to surrender (May 1943). By that time Rauff and his Einsatzkomando had covered Tinisia, including off-shore islands like Djerba. Rauff and his command were among the few Germans to escape the Allied encirclement. Rauff's men after the fall of Tunis were evacuated (May 9). We do not have details on how this was accomplished. Rauff became the SS secret police chief in northern Italy, the rump Fascist state established by the deposed Mussolini.

Middle East: Einsatzgrupppe �gypten

As Rommel and the Afrika Korps advanced wast toward Suez and Egypt, SS commanders realized that there were Jews in Egypt and even more in Palestine beyond Egypt, some 0.5 million Jews. As a result SS authorities organized an Einsatzgruppe to kill Jews in the British Mandate of Palestine and Egypt. [Mallman and Cueppers, pp. 128-30.] The Einsatzgrupppe �gypten was standing by in Athens, Greece, prepared to go into action as soon as the Afrika Korps reached Suez. The palm was to first exterminate the Jews of Egypt and then move into Palestine. Eventually the Jews in other Middle Eastern countries (Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Iran wiuld experience similar fates. SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Walter Rauff was assined to lead the Einsatzgrupppe �gypten. It only included 24 members, but the olan was to enlist Arab collaborators. This would allow 'mass murder would continue under German leadership without interruption'. The Arab collaborators would play promient roles in anti-Semitic radio propaganda, recruitimg Arab volunteers to staff killing operations, and in raising an Arab-German Battalion. Former Iraqi prime minister Rashid Ali al-Gaylani and Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem were enrolled to play prominant parts. [Mallman and Cueppers, pp. 128-30.] It never seems to have occurred to these men and their associates what would be store the Arabs in a world dominated by the NAZis with their race obsession and imperialistic ambitions. Afrika Korps commander Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, promised full co-operation to assisting Einsatzgrupppe �gypten in the murder of the Jewish populations in areas he conquered. Rommel's willingness to work with the Eimsatzgruupe suggestsd that he was as every bit as committed to NAZI policiesc as the Wehrmnacht commanders on the Eastern Front. [Weinberg] Anticipating Rommel's victory in Egypt, an agreement was signed between the Afrika Korps and Einsatzgrupppe �gypten (July 1942). It was virtually identical to the agreement May 1941 agreement between Reinhard Heydrich and Eduard Wagner that governed Einsatzgruppen-Wehrmacht relations on the Eastern front with Barbarossa. In exchange for logistical support, Einsatzgrupppe �gypten was to serve under Wehrmacht command in front-line areas. [Mallman and Cueppers, p. 117]


The SS had an ally which was prepared to join in the killing of Jews once the British had been driven out of India. Indian nationalist Subhas Chandra Bose, who had reached Berlin, asked Himmler for 'special SS training' of some of Bose's anti-British followers. We are not entirely sure why. Hindus unlike Christians and Muslims had no special anti-Semitic animus. And there was only a small indian Jewish community. We suspect it was a way that Bose saw to curry favor with the Germans. Bose's plan was to have a cadre of SS-trained Indians to assist the Einsatzgruppen to kill Jews when they arrived in India. Himmler wa impressed with Bose's initiative and granted the request. The RHSA thus enrolled Indians in special training courses. [Mallman and Cueppers, p. 130] Bose like the Arabs does not seem to have given any thought to India's future in a world dominated by the Germans and Japanese, both with countries dominated by racial concepts and imperialistic ambitions and far more willing to use deadly force than the British. As with the Arabs, the focus was on ousting the British. Perhaps Bose impressed with early German victories simply saw benefits to be on the winning side. Perhaps our Indian readers will know more.

German Assessment

The Einsatzgruppen were effective, but from the SS point of view had seriousv disadvantahes. Operations werev both public and messy. And perhaps more importantly, they often failed to recover valuable possessions. NAZI officials concluded that a different more coordinated plan was needed in the more developed occupied countries such as Poland and Western Europe. The Einsatzgruppen murdered about 1.25 million Jews and thousands of other people the Germans considered a threat or undesirable (1941-43). By this time the Germans had killed most of the Jews in occupied areas of the Soviet Union and the Germans after Stalingrad were now on the defensive. The killing process had shited to more efficent methods. Jews in Poland were largely been killed in the death camps which along with Auschwitz were used to kill Jews from Western Europe as well. Here the killing process was neither public or messy. And the process of harvestginAnd the killinf was cinducted by an incresubly small German staff. valuable possession much more organized,


Boatner, Mark M. III. Reinhard Heydrich (1996).

Harris, p. 176-7, IMT III, 246,290.

Mallman, Klaus-Michael, Jochen B�hler, and J�rgen Matth�us. Einsatzgruppen in Polen: Darstellung und Dokummenbtation (Darmstadt: WGB, 2008).

Mallman, Klaus-Michael and Martin Cueppers. Nazi Palestine (New York: Enigma Books, 2010).

Ohlendorf. Nuremberg testimony.

Snyder, Timothy. Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (Basic Books: New York, 2010), 524p.

Patterson, Tony. "'Chivalrous' Rommel wanted to bring Holocaust to Middle East", The Independent (London), (May 25, 2007). This article was based on a two-part documentary series that was broadcast on Germany's ZDF television channel, entitled 'Rommels Krieg, Rommels Schatz'. tThe documentary was authored by J�rg M�llner and Jean-Christoph Caron.

Rossino, Alexander. HitlerStrikes Poland: Blitzkrieg, Ideology, and Atrocity (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2003).

Streit, C. "The Germany Army and the policies of genocide," in Hirschfeld, ed. Policies of Genocide.

Taylor, Telford. The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials (Little Brown, 1992).

Weinberg, Gerhard. "Some myths of World War II". Journal of Military History (July 2011).

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