Newsgroups: alt.revisionism,soc.history Subject: Holocaust Almanac - Actions against Latvian Jews Summary: Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org Followup-To: alt.revisionism Organization: The Old Frog's Almanac, Vancouver Island, CANADA Keywords: Latvia,Riga,Arajs,Einsatzgruppe,Stahlecker Lines: 117 Archive/File: holocaust/latvia latvia.001 Last-Modified: 1994/07/18 "During July and August 1941, the principal German actors on the Latvian scene were the Security Police and the armed forces. The Chief of Security Police's Einsatzgruppe A, Walter Stahlecker, wanted to unleash some local violence against the Latvian Jews, who numbered seventy thousand when the Germans arrived. As early as July 1, the Einsatzgruppe was in contact with Latvian personalities, notably Viktors Arajs, a young man of humble background born in a small town in 1910 who had attended the University of Riga, where he had managed to join the 'aristocratic' Lettonia fraternity. He had received a law degree in March 1941, when Latvia was under Soviet rule, but he had also defended Latvian peasants threatened with expropriation by Soviet authorities, and he had gone into hiding before the German invasion. During the summer and fall of 1941, Arajis gathered a few hundred men. They served the Einsatzgruppe and did its work.<70> The German armed forces, which included a naval command in the port city of Liepaja and army Kommandanturen in the interior, had jurisdiction over a much larger, albeit more amorphous indigenous police force, which was called Hilfspolizei or Selbstschutz. The organizers of this force were two officers of the old Latvian army, Lieutenant Colonel Voldermars Veiss and his deputy, Lieutenant Colonel Roberts Osis. One of the territorial commanders of the Selbstschutz was pruned and transformed into a Schutzmannschaft with stationary components and battalions. The pogrom-like violence envisaged by Stahlecker was slow to start. In Riga, the toll was 400.<71> In Liepaja, Latvian 'civilians' with armbands and rifles drove Jews in trucks to an area near the beach, where the victims were shot.<72> In Daugavpils, in the southeast of the country, where Latvians were only about a third of the population among Russians, Poles, and Jews, the Latvian residents hesitated to organize themselves and 'confront' the Jewish inhabitants.<73> To be sure, this situation was soon remedied and the Latvian Selbstschutz there was engaged in massive shootings. <74> In Jelgava, south of the capital, the Security Police observed a similar lethargy but reported with satisfaction that finally the 'population' had killed all the 1,550 Jews in the city and its environs.<75> If, in the early days, Latvians appeared to be less spontaneous than their Estonian and Lithuanian neighbors, their efficiency increased over time. In Riga, the police prefecture and the central prison were used as holding pens for Jewish men whom the Arajs Kommando removed in batches to a shooting site in the woods. In a number of towns, Arajs men arrived in blue busses to shoot the Jews concentrated by local Latvian police. By mid-October, more than thirty thousand Latvian Jews had been killed by German and Latvian police forces.<76> Most of the remainder were shoved into a ghetto in Riga. The sojourn of the survivors in the Riga Ghetto was brief. Transports of German Jews were due in the city, and to make room for the deportees, Higher SS and Police Leader Friedrich Jeckeln struck at the ghetto at the end of November and the beginning of December, killing another 27,800 Jews.<77> All available forces were thrown into this action: German police, a Schutzmannshaft battalion, Arajs men, Riga precinct police, and Riga harbor police.<78> At the conclusion of the operation, Lietenant Alberts Danskorps of the Arajs Kommando was observed with a mandolin, playing Chopin's funeral march, as he led a group of 450 Jews dragged out of hiding to the old cemetary, where they were shot. <79>" (Hilberg, Perpetrators, 100-101) Viktors Arajs fought as a battalion commander, first in the 15th, then in the 19th Latvian SS divisions. Years later he was tried in a German court and sentenced to life imprisonment. (Ibid., 102) <70> On Arajs, see the judgement against him by a Hamburg court, December 21, 1979 (37) 5/76. See also the paper presented by Andrew Ezergailis, "Sonderkommando Arajs," at the Ninth International Conference of Baltic Studies in Scandinavia, Stockholm, June 3-4, 1982. <71> Reich Security Main Office IV-A-1, Operational Report No. 24, July 16, 1941, Nuremberg trials document NO-2938. <72> Testimony by Reinhard Wiener (in the German navy at the time), December 15, 1969, in the case against Erhard Grauel (Einsatzkommando 2) before a Hannover Court, 2 Js 261/60. Wiener, who made a short clandestine film of these shootings, saw about two hundred spectators at the site. <73> See <71> above <74> Security Division 281/VII (Military Government), signed in draft by Generalleutnant Friedrich Bayer, to Commander of Army Group North Rear Area, July 27, 1941, National Archives Record Group 242, T315, Roll 1871. The toll as of that date was three thousand to four thousand. <75> Reich Security Main Office IV-A-1, Operational Report No. 40, August 1, 1941, Nuremberg trials document NO-2950. <76> Stahlecker report, October 15, 1941. Nuremberg trials document L-180. <77> Undated draft report by Stahlecker (February 1942), Nuremberg trials document PS-2273. <78> Indictment of Arajs, May 10, 1976, 141 Js 534/60, and judgement, December 21, 1979 (37) 5/76. Petitions by Latvian Riga precinct and harbor policemen to receive Jewish Ghetto furniture, National Archives Record Group 242, T459, Roll 2. Several of the policemen indicate that they had participated in the 'Jewish action.' <79> Account by Benjamin Edelstein (undated) in the collection of evidence prepared for the Arajs indictment, 141 Js 534/60, pp. 6075-6097. Work Cited Hilberg, Raul. Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders: The Jewish Catastrophe 1933-1945. New York: Harper-Collins Publishers, Inc. 1992
Site Map ·
What's New? ·
© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012
This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and
to combat hatred.
Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.
As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may
include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and
provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist
and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.
Home · Site Map · What's New? · Search Nizkor
© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012