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Einsatzgruppen

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German troops executing partisans, Eastern Front 1941
The Einsatzgruppen or "task forces" were types of death squads that were part of the SS. The Einsatzgruppen killed Jews, handicaped people, political figures, etc. They also operated behind German lines and they kept a record of all massacres/killings. In the early days of the Einsatzgruppen, victims would be shot similarly to an execution.

Eventually Heinrich Himmler began to worry about the psychological effects that the killing execution style had on the Einsatzgruppen. So he demanded a new way be found. As a response to his concerns, new kinds gassing units were developed[1] They were in essence, trucks with a gas chamber mounted on it which utilized the carbon monoxide from the truck exhaust. These vans were first set into use in 1941 and were fairly common.

Formation

The Einsatzgruppen were formed in 1939 and was completely under the control of the SS. They were formed by Reinhard Hydrich and it was composed of mainly Waffen-SS, Ordnungspolizei (German police Units), and the kriminalpolizei. They were founded to carry out their goals in Czechoslovakia, although they weren't really a lasting group as they were disbanded and yet agian called upon later on. The Einsatzgruppen's goal was to carry out The Final Solution which meant murdering Jews, Romany, and suspected communists.

Operation and History

The Einsatzgruppen mainly operated in the Soviet Union and they each followed a specific army group.[2] However, there was only one Einsatzgruppen group that did not follow the army groups (Group D) and it was stationed in Ukraine. The Einsatzgruppen were in fact sometimes assisted with their executions by Wehrmacht soldiers and their actions were mainly encouraged. After Czechoslovakia, the Einsatzgruppen were reformed and began to carry out executions in Poland. Their task was to eliminate the upper class. Just as the Wehrmacht moved through Europe, the Einsatzgruppen quickly followed into the Netherlands, Belgium, and France. There was even a planned Einsatzgruppen movement into Great Britain. Furthermore, the Einsatzgruppen moved behind the Wehrmacht all through the Soviet Union and peaked in 1941. However, they continued to operate until 1945 even with a lowered use.

References

  1. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005130
  2. http://holocaust-history.org/intro-einsatz/

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