"The Einsatzgruppen Case"


Case No. 9

Einsatzgruppe D

The headquarters staff of Einsatzgruppe D is in the dock. The commander was the defendant Ohlendorf and his deputy was the defendant Schubert. A subunit of Ohlendorf's command, Einsatzkommando 12, was commanded by the defendant Nosske. A third unit of Einsatzgruppe D, Sonderkommando 10b, was led by one Persterer who is now deceased. Persterer's deputy was the defendant Ruehl.

During the first nine months of Ohlendorf's year in command of Einsatzgruppe D, this force destroyed more than 90,000 human beings. These thousands, killed at an average rate of 340 per day, were variously denominated Jews, gypsies, Asiaties, and "undesirables". Between 16 November and 15 December 1941, this Einsatzgruppe killed an average of 700 human beings per day for the whole 30-day period. The intensity of the labors of Einsatzgruppe D is suggested by an April 1942 report upon its work in the Crimea, which states -

"The Crimea is freed of Jews. Only occasionally some small groups are turning up, especially in the northern areas. In cases where single Jews could camouflage themselves by means of forged papers, etc., they will, nevertheless, be recognized sooner or later, as experience has taught."

In ordering these massacres Ohlendorf and his men were not without scruples:

"It was," he said, "my wish that these executions be carried out in a manner and fashion which was military and suitably humane under the circumstances. For this reason I personally inspected a number of executions, for example, executions which were carried out by Kommando 11b under the direction of Dr. Werner Braune, executions by Kommando 11a under Sturmbannfuehrer Zapp in Nikolaev, and a smaller execution by Kommando 10b under the leadership of Alois Persterer in Ananev. For technical reasons (for example, because of road conditions) it was not possible to inspect all mass executions. Insofar as I was prevented from inspections for personal reasons, I ordered members of my staff to represent me at these. I remember that Schubert inspected an execution which was

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carried out by Kommando 11b under Braune's direction in December 1941 in Simferopol. The only people whom I generally assigned to inspections were, except for Schubert, Willy Seibert and Hans Gabel."

The execution at Simferopol which Ohlendorf mentions was reported to Berlin as, "very difficult" because "reports about actions against Jews gradually filtered through from fleeing Jews, Russians, and also from unguarded talks of German soldiers." But these difficulties apparently increased the determination of Einsatzgruppe D. On 18 February it reported to Berlin -

"By the end of February the combing-through of the occupied Crimea will have been finished. Certain important areas in towns in particular are being regularly rechecked. The search for isolated Jews who have up to now avoided being shot by hiding themselves or by giving false personnel data was contnued. From 9 January to 16 February more than 300 Jews were apprehended in Simferopol and executed. By this the number of persons executed in Simferopol increased to almost 10,000 Jews, about 300 more than the number of Jews registered. In the other Kommando areas as well, 100-200 Jews were still disposed of in each instance."

The International Military Tribunal reached the conclusion from the evidence then before it that * -

"Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police and SD operating behind the lines of the eastern front engaged in the wholesale massacre of Jews * * *. Commissars, Jews, members of the intelligentsia, 'fanatical Communists' and even those who were considered incurably sick were classified as 'intolerable', and exterminated * * *. These units were also involved in the widespread murder and ill-treatment of the civilian population of occupied territories. Under the guise of combatting partisan units, units of the SS exterminated Jews and people deemed politically undesirable by the SS, and their reports record the execution of enormous numbers of persons."

The brief details I have recounted indicate the character of the proof to come. It is for such crimes as these that we invoke the jurisdiction of this Court.

* Trial of the Major War Criminals, vol. I, pp. 266, 267, 270, Nuremberg, 1947

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Trials of War Criminals Before the Nurenberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10, Volume IV, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 45 - 46

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Electric Zen
Ken Lewis
September 16, 1998
Rev. 1.0