Nederlands Holocaust in Europe Mass murder

Mass executions

Already between September 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, and June 1941, the beginning of Operation Barbarossa (the war between Germany and the Soviet Union) mass executions took place on a large scale. Hundreds of thousands of Poles, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, and Russian Jews were victims of these mass executions. Many other citizens, such as the non-Jewish Polish intelligentsia, were murdered. A small number of mobile units, known as the Einsatzgruppen (task forces), carried out these mass executions. These units consisted of SS and policemen, who could be deployed on short notice for ‘special assignments'. Deployment of the Einsatzgruppen was organised by the Reichssicherheitshauptambt under leadership of Reinhard Heydrich. They were often assisted by the Ordnungspolizei (German public order police), the local police, and the local population. Commandos of the Einsatzgruppen often gathered half or even the entire population of a village, led them away, shot them, and buried the bodies in mass graves or open pits.  Starting in the autumn of 1941, prisoners were also gassed in hermetically sealed lorries. Deployment of the Einsatzgruppen was the first step towards the Endlösung (final solution) to the Jewish question.


8-67951 8-67961 8_WII19a J_1944_Soviet_investigators_at_Babi_Yar
  1. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered by Einsatzgruppen in Poland and the former Soviet Union.
    NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  2. A mass grave, November 1941
    NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  3. In the Polish city of Sniatyn, Jewish men and a child are shoved towards a pit before being murdered, 11 May 1943
    NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
  4. Babi Yar, 1944
    Soviet researchers investigating a mass grave. More than 33,000 Jewish residents of Kiev were murdered in Babi Yar.
    NIOD Collection, Amsterdam
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