Top-Rated Free Essay

The Einsatzgruppen

Topics: Nazi Germany, The Holocaust, Soviet Union, Jews, Reinhard Heydrich / Pages: 6 (2048 words) / Published: Mar 2nd, 2015
The Einsatzgruppen, and The Holocaust by bullets.
BY: Kaitlyn Campbell

Kaitlyn Campbell 5/2/14
Einsatzgruppen Essay Honors Global

The Einsatzgruppen were a highly effective group of mass murderers, who had a particularly strong negative bias towards the Jews.
The Einsatzgruppen was a German killing squad organized by Reinhard Heydrich. They consisted of several thousand men, divided into units of 800 to 1200. They were mainly composed by Schutzstaffel (SS,) and personal police. The Schutzstaffel was established by Hitler to serve as his personal guard at public gatherings. Especially when Hitler was first trying to get his ideology to spread, these public appearances tended to get a out of hand and violent. Due to Hitlers paranoia he replaced most of his own German guard with SS. He felt more secure knowing that every SS member had sworn an oath of loyalty to him, and to him alone, and that it was highly unlikely for anyone of them to rebel. Their orders were to follow the German army into Poland, and the Soviet Union, to exterminate any Jews or communists they could find. It was agreed that the Einsatzgruppen would be under the direction of the army, but the army would never go out of their tactical way to restrain them, so they basically had full control over their dealings.
Reinhard, the organizer of the Einsatzgruppen was an incredibly feared man, Reinhards own protégé, Walter Schellenberg, described him as “A man with a cruel, brave and cold intelligence.” These Einsatzgruppen or deployment groups were dispatched 1939, by Hitler to fulfill the mass murder of Jews, and any other people that were seen as imperfect. Hitler himself was very xenophobic, and ethnocentric. He believed in the perfect human race also known as the Aryans, and that anyone who did not “fit the bill” of perfect, needed to be eradicated. Hitler was drove to this intense hatred of the Jews because he feared that they held too many of the jobs such as banking, education, or jobs that were considered positions of influential power, that could belong to German citizens. The murders of these people were intensified by the sheer numbers and the brutal methods used to accomplish this unthinkable deed.
They started their killings through mass shootings in each town they entered. First they would round up the Jews and other undesirable citizens, these victims encompassed Jews, Roma (Gypsies), Soviet state officials and communists. The Einsatzgruppen also slaughtered thousands of mentally or physically disabled people who lived in the institutions. Many scholars believe that the methodical killing of Jews in the occupied Soviet Union by the Einsatzgruppen was the first step of the "Final Solution," the Nazi program to murder all European Jews. They then herded them into German territory, under the ruse of "Deportation." Many of the citizens didn 't expect anything too serious until they were forced to dig mass trenches, that would soon be their grave. At the order of an SS man they would remove their clothing and belongings and place them into piles. They were then forced to line up and kneel, so that when they were shot they would fall into the grave. They were very efficient in these mass murders, most definitely too efficient.
The Nazi generally used evasive terms to hide the true essence of their plans. They used the term “Final Solution” to refer to their plan to eliminate the Jewish people. The “final Solution” was implemented after the build up of animosity, and racism. This policy was formulated at the Wannsee Conference. This conference was held June 20, 1942, by 15 high ranking German officials, gathered in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee, to converse over the implementation of the “Final Solution.” Heydrich pointed out that approximately 11,000,000 Jews in Europe should die under the “Final Solution,” and that the Nuremberg law was to decide who was a Jew or not.
Many would ask why would anyone do such a horrid thing as to kill thousand and thousands of innocent people, and the answer is simple...Hatred and fear. Germany hated the Jews so much because they were known to be in jurisdiction of all the economy and banking in Germany while holding jobs and positions of intellectual and financial influence. With the Jewish population out of the way, their money could go to Germany, and their jobs to German workers. It was not uncommon to find Jews as Doctors, teachers, or even Journalists. Hitler was very racist towards Jews, he was also very paranoid, that the Jewish population could indoctrinate the young German population, the outcome of this irrational fear, was irrational solutions. Hitler spread the idea that the Jews were the reason their economy was suffering through propaganda. Hitler himself said in Mein Kampf "Propaganda tries to force a doctrine on the whole people... Propaganda works on the general public from the standpoint of an idea and makes them ripe for the victory of this idea,” and his idea was that to keep the race genetically pure, and that they needed to get rid of all the people who did not fulfill the description of perfect …And perfect was blonde hair, blue eyes, tall, and German. Everyone else was targeted. Posters were produced and poems were written about these ideas. The German youth grew up with these ideas as fact, indoctrinated at birth.This process made it easier for the Einsatzgruppen to weed out their targets, because the people they were living with would give them up, truly believing that they were problems to the society.
September 1941, the Einsatzgruppen moved on a ravine outside of Kiev, known as Babi yar. Kiev was taken over september 19, 1941. The Jewish population of Kiev was about 160,000, but only 100,000 managed to escape before the city was under complete German control. Shortly after the city was taken over, many of the buildings in the center of town were blown to pieces, by none other that the NKVD (Soviet security police.) This was a planned out action on their part, and they were specifically left to accomplish this task. September 26, was the day the Germans held a meeting that would determine the plan for retaliation after these deliberate attacks...The outcome, the Jews of Kiev were to be put to death.
The job of doing away with the Jews was given to Sonderkommando 4a. This group consisted of Security service, security police, and SS. They were also supplemented by police battalions, and Ukraine auxiliary police forces. Posters were created to rally the Jews together under the stratagem of resettlement. They were marched to a place that contained a part of the Jewish cemetery, and a part of the Babi yar ravine. As was the Einsatzgruppen way the people were ordered to remove their clothing, and place them in piles along with their valuables. They were then forced to advance to the ravines edge, where they were shot down by automatic fire. The bodies were then covered with a very thin layer of soil. In two days the Einsatzgruppen murdered 33,771 Jews.
But fortunately, there were a few to survive to retell these past stories. One man in particular name Alexander Kimel. Alexander said “Despite all the killings we believed that the Germans are going to lose the war and we will survive. My guess is that a young healthy person cannot imagine his death. The sun will stop shining, the birds will be silent, darkness will prevail. Death is hard to imagine. It is hard to imagine that with all the tragedies, pain and hunger, there was only one case of suicide in the ghetto. The more life is unattainable, the more it is desirable and the will to live is getting stronger and stronger.” Even at the worlds darkest hour the people still had hope. Alexander mentions in his memoir that even with each day being a struggle to survive people would still live. He recalled how people would fall in love, start families, and even get into petty arguments with their neighbors. Born in Galizia, 1939, Alexander grew up as a regular boy, going to school, enjoying the company of friends, and family, with his only worries being school exams. But after his town was “nationalized” by the red army, they moved, fearing that they would be sent to Siberia, into the ghetto of another small town named Rohatyn. They lived there between 1941 and 1943, watching the Germans kill almost all of the Jews in that area. Out of 10,000 people living there only 100 survived, luckily Alexander was never sent to a concentration camp. But on March 21, 1942, their ghetto was infiltrated by the Einsatzgruppen, and 3700 people from all walks in life were forced into a ditch where they were murdered. A while later, 2,000 people were forced into cattle cars, by the Einsatzgruppen, where they were taken to Belzec’s concentration camp for gassing. And even after all that, the Germans returned again taking 1500 people onto the cattle cars, without food or water to Belzec, where they would soon meet an unforgivable fate.
When mid spring of 1943 came, the Einsatzgruppen had killed over a million Soviet Jews, and tens of thousands of Roma,institutionalized disabled people, Soviet political commissars, and partisans. The Einsatzgruppen were disbanded because they were seen as costly and inefficient, where the gas chambers worked quickly, and effectively. The mental toll on the Einsatzgruppen was also considered an avoidable occurrence. With all the men complaining of battle fatigue, and mental strain, precipitated by the mass murder of those helpless people, the women and the children in particular, they needed to come up with a more effective way of killing, and so they created the gas vans. These “gas vans” were hermetically sealed compartments on the back of automobiles, where the exhaust from the engine was pumped into. In 1941 the Germans decided that the best way to accomplish the “Final Solution” was to send all the undesirables to Nazi concentration camps, where they would be gassed with Cyanide, carbon monoxide, and Zyklon B, a brand name for a form of Hydrogen Cyanide.
The Einsatzgruppen were for over four years, from 1938 to 1942. They murdered 2 million people, including 1.3 million Jews. Twenty four men were tried for these crimes...The first crimes against humanity, the second war crimes, and finally members in criminal organization. All twenty four were charged on all accounts, and all pleaded “Not guilty.” Twenty two were deemed guilty on all accounts, and only two were deemed guilty on the third account of being a member of a criminal organization. Fourteen were sentenced with death by hanging, two were sentenced with lifetime in prison, five got 10-20 years in prison, and the last three died before they could carry out the sentencing. The Einsatzgruppen were terribly effective, and precise...but totally and unequivocally, unhuman. The brutality of it all finally came to an end, but their terrible deeds will haunt humanity for the rest of eternity.
Bibliography
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———. A Firestorm Unleashed. Vol. 4 of Holocaust. Holocaust. Woodbridge, CT: Blackbirch Press, 1998.
Babi Yar: Killing Ravine of Kiev Jewry-WWII. Accessed May 6, 2014. http://www.zchor.org/BABIYAR.HTM.
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Bibliography: Auschwitz Tour Guide. Accessed May 6, 2014. http://auschwitztourguide.com/alexander-kimel-memoirs-of-a-survivor/. Ayer, Eleanor H. A Firestorm Unleashed. Vol. 4 of Holocaust. Holocaust. Woodbridge, CT: Blackbirch Press, 1998. ———. A Firestorm Unleashed. Vol. 4 of Holocaust. Holocaust. Woodbridge, CT: Blackbirch Press, 1998. Babi Yar: Killing Ravine of Kiev Jewry-WWII. Accessed May 6, 2014. http://www.zchor.org/BABIYAR.HTM. The Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Last modified 2002. Accessed April 27, 2014. http://www.holocaust-education.dk/holocaust/massedrapsmetoder.asp. Dawidowicz, Lucy S. The War against the Jews. Tenth ed. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1975. ———. The War against the Jews. Tenth ed. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1975. Holocaust by Bullets. Yahad in Unum, 2008. Holocaust Education and Archive Research Team. Last modified 2010. Accessed May 6, 2014. http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/survivor/kapersyrets.html. Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team. Last modified 2008. Accessed May 2, 2014. http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/holoprelude/aboutthess.html. Holocaust Encyclopedia. Last modified June 10, 2013. Accessed May 10, 2014. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005477. Holocaust Encyclopedia. Last modified June 10, 2013. Accessed May 2, 2014. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005130. An Introduction to the Einsatzgruppen. Accessed May 2, 2014. http://www.holocaust-history.org/intro-einsatz/.

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