The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1997/08/31

(7) Functions and activities with respect to commission of
war crimes. During the war great use was made of the
peculiar qualities possessed by the SS, qualities not only
of its combat force, but of its other components as well --
in executing tasks embracing the commission of war crimes
and crimes against humanity.

(a) "Antipartisan" operations. A directive issued by Keitel
on 13 March 1941, making preparations 3 months in advance
for the attack on Russia, provided that in the area of
operations the

                                                  [Page 225]
Reichsfuehrer SS was entrusted with special tasks for the
preparation of the political administration -- tasks which
would result from the struggle about to commence between two
opposing political systems. (447-PS)

One of the steps taken by the Reichsfuehrer SS to carry out
those "special tasks" was the formation and use of so-called
"antipartisan" units. They were discussed by Himmler in his
Posen speech:

     "In the meantime I have also set up the Chief of the
     anti-partisan units. Our comrade SS Obergruppenfuehrer
     von dem Bach is Chief of the antipartisan units. I
     considered it necessary for the Reichsfuehrer SS to be
     in authoritative command in all these battles, for I am
     convinced that we are best in position to take action
     against this enemy struggle, which is decidedly a
     political one. Except where units which had been
     supplied and which we had formed for this purpose were
     taken from us to fill in gaps at the front, we have
     been very successful.
     "It is notable that by setting up this department, we
     have gained for the SS in turn, a division, a corps, an
     army, and the next step -- which is the High Command of
     an-army or area of a group -- if you wish to call it
     that." (1919-PS)

What the SS did with its division, corps, and army, out of
which the antipartisan units were formed, is illustrated in
the "Activity and Situation Report No. 6 of the Task Forces
of the Security and SD in the USSR.," covering the period
from 1 October 1941 to 31 October 1941 (R-102). The report
shows that so-called "antipartisan activity was actually
nothing but a name for extermination of Jews and persons
believed politically undesirable. The report is a carefully
organized and detailed description of such extermination.
Section I describes the stations of the various Task Forces
involved, and section II their activities. The latter
section is divided into parts, each dealing with a different
geographical region -- the Baltic area, White Ruthenia, and
the Ukraine. Under each area the report of activities is
classified under three-headings: (a) Partisan activity and
counteraction; (b) arrests and executions of communists and
officials; and (c) Jews. The following units were involved

     "The present stations are:
          "Task Force A: since 7 October 1941 Krasnowardeisk.
          "Task Force B: continues in Smolensk.
          "Task Force C: since 27 September 1941 in Kiew.
          "Task Force D: since 27 September 1941 in Nikolajew.

     The Action and Special Commandos (Einsatz und Sonder
                                                  [Page 226]
     Commandos) which are attached to the Task Force
     continue on the march with the advancing troops into
     the sectors which have been assigned to them." (R-102)

The section headed "Baltic area" and subsection labeled
"Jews" read as follows (R-102): 

     "Spontaneous demonstrations against Jewry followed by 
     pogroms on the part of the population against the remaining 
     Jews have not been recorded on account of the lack of adequate 

     "However, the Estonian Protective Corps (Selbtschutz),
     formed at the time of the entry of the wehrmacht,
     immediately started a comprehensive arrest action of
     all Jews. This action was under the direction of the
     task force of the Security Police and the SD."
     "The male Jews over 16 were executed with the exception
     of doctors and the elders. At the present time this
     action is still in progress. After completion of this
     action there will remain only 500 Jewesses and children
     in the Eastern Territory." (R-102)
In the section headed "White Ruthenia," the subsection
labeled "Partisan activity and counteraction," the following

     "In Wultschina 8 juveniles were arrested as partisans
     and shot. They were inmates of a children's home. They
     had collected weapons which they hid in the woods. Upon
     search the following were found: 3 heavy machine guns,
     15 rifles, several thousand rounds of ammunition,
     several hand grenades, and several packages of poison
     gas Ebrit.

     "b. Arrests and executions of communists, officials,
     and criminals.
     "A further large part of the activity of the Security
     Police was devoted to the combatting of Communists and
     criminals. A special Commando in the period covered by
     this report executed 63 officials, NKVD agents and
     agitators." (R-102)

The preceding subsection ends with the following statement:

     "The liquidations for the period covered by this report
     have reached a total of 37,180 persons." (R-102)

And under the section headed "Ukraine," the subsection
"Jews," this statement occurs:

     "In Shitomir 3,145 Jews had to be shot, because from
     experience they have to be regarded as bearers of
     Bolshevik propaganda and saboteurs." (R-102)

                                                  [Page 227]
The foregoing report deals with the activities of four Task
Forces-A, B, C, and D. The more detailed report of Task
Force A up to 16 October 1941 shows great variety of SS
components in a task force:

     "This description of the over-all situation showed and
     shows that the members of the Stapo [The Secret State
     Police], Kripo and SD [Security Service] who are
     attached to the Action Group, are active mainly in
     Lithuania, Latvia, Esthonia, Ruthenia and to a smaller
     part in front of Leningrad. It show further that the
     forces of the uniformed police and the Armed SS are
     active mainly in front of Leningrad, in order to take
     measures against the returning population and under
     their own officers. This is so much easier because the
     Action detachments in Lithuania, Latvia and Esthonia
     have at their disposal native police units, as
     described in encl. 1, and because so far 150 Latvian
     reinforcements have been sent to White-Ruthenia.
     "The distribution of the leaders of Security Police and
     SD during the individual phases can be gathered from
     encl. 2, the advance and the activities of the Action-
     Group and the Action-detachments from encl. 3. It
     should be mentioned that the leaders of the Armed-SS
     and of the uniformed police who are reserves have
     declared their wish to stay on with the Security Police
     and the SD." (L-180)

Inclosure la to this report shows the constitution of the Force:

"Total Strength of Action Group A:"
Total:                                 990
Waffen-SS                              340       34.4
Motor Bicycle-Riders                   172       17.4
Administration                         18         1.8
Security Service [SD]                  35         3.5
Criminal Police [Kripo]                41         4.1
State Police [Gestapo]                 89         9
Auxiliary Police                       87         8.8
Order Police                           133       13.4
Female Employees                        13        1.3
Interpreters                            51        5.1
Teleprinter-Operators                    3        0.3
Wireless-Operators                       8        0.8" (L-180)

Another report on the antipartisan activity, from the
General Commissar for White Ruthenia to the Reich Minister
for Occupied Eastern Territories 5 June 1943, deals with the
results of the police operation "Cottbus":

                                                  [Page 228]
     "*** SS Brigadefuehrer, Major General of Police von
     Gottberg, reports that the operation 'Cottbus' had the
     following result during the period mentioned:
     Enemy dead                                        4,500
     Dead suspected of belonging to bands              5,000
     German dead                                         59"


     "The figures mentioned above indicate that again a
     heavy destruction of the population must be expected.
     If only 492 rifles are taken from 4,500 enemy dead,
     this discrepancy shows that among these enemy dead were
     numerous peasants from the country. The battalion
     Dirlewanger especially has a reputation for destroying
     many human lives. Among the 5,000 people suspected of
     belonging to bands, there were numerous women and
     "By order of the Chief of Band-Combatting, SS
     Obergruppenfuehrer von dem Bach, units of the armed
     forces have also participated in the operation ***" (R-135)

SS Obergruppenfuehrer vom dem Bach was referred to by
Himmler as "our comrade" when he placed him in charge of
antipartisan activity.

(b) Execution of civilians. The activities so far dealt with
were joint activities in which the Gestapo, Order Police,
the SD, Waffen SS, and SS Police Regiments were all
involved. But these units were, of course, also used
individually to carry out tasks of such a nature- tasks for
which any component of the SS was well trained. A letter
from the Chief of the Command Office of the Waffen SS to the
Reichsfuehrer SS, 14 October 1941, contains an intermediate
report on civilian state of emergency:

     "*** I deliver the following report regarding the
     commitment of the Waffen SS in the Protectorate Bohemia
     and Moravia during the civilian state of emergency:
     "In the mutual changes, all Battalions of the Waffen SS
     in the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia will be brought
     forth for shootings, and relatively for the supervision
     at hangings. "Up until now there occurred:
     "in Prague:                                      99 shootings
                                                      21 hangings
     "in Bruenn:                                      54 shootings
                                                      17 hangings
     "Total:                                         191 executions (including 16 Jews)
     "A complete report regarding other measures and on the
     conduct of the officers, noncoms and men will be made
     following the termination of the civilian state of
     emergency." (1972-PS)

                                                  [Page 229]

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