Have you heard of the group responsible for the murder of over 1 million Jews? They were called the Einsatzgruppen. They were first created to help combat the invading forces of Austria and then to secure Austria. They were able to influence the war greatly in many ways. Their main goal for the Holocaust was to help the Nazis finish the "Final Solution"(Westermann). They were composed of members of the SS, police officials, military members, and allied Romanian forces (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum). The Einsatzgruppen had a very important role in the Holocaust that changed many times such as when it went from helping secure territories to helping take over new territories, or when they went from the mass murder of Jews to coming up with new ways to murder them.
The Einsatzgruppen's started by securing the territories that the Nazis invading forces had taken control of. They were originally police intelligence to help secure the Nazi enemies in territories that had been taken over (Yad Vasheem). They went behind all of the military combat and they would go locate and arrest Jews. They also helped combat the hostiles that were in the regions. They were not afraid to kill any hostile people if they were making it hard for them to secure the area. They would also arrest many of them and transfer them away to some camps. They tried to arrest political enemies and materials, Jews, Communist, religious leaders, and any Nazi enemy ( "Death by Bullets" ). If they had a PHd then they would try to get rid of political enemies without killing or arresting them. One example of them securing a territory is with Poland in 1939 where they were very successful at securing it (United States Holocaust Memorial
Museum). Within the first week of securing Poland, the Einsatzgruppen was able to arrest over 10,000 Jewish people. The Einsatzgruppen would also help the advancing military forces win battles and acquire new lands. They were very successful at doing this too. They had disbanded in 1939 after the Nazis had taken over Poland. Before they disbanded though, they also aided the Nazis in taking over the country of Poland. They were brought back together to help Germany take over the Soviet Union, one of their biggest threats. They way that they did this was following behind advancing military units and once they reached the enemy they would go behind the front lines and start to kill them from there ("Einsatzgruppen" ). Before that though, they would just assist the soldiers in killing people. Another way that they were able to do this is by going to cities with many Jews in them, which was many cities at the time, and just kill every single Jew that they could without remorse (Westermann). They were like some type of "Deployment" groups, like another type of military unit.
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The Einsatzgruppen also were responsible for the Mass murder of over 1.25 million Jewish people (Yad Vashem). They were divided into 4 groups who were divided into subgroups. They would all split up and cover more areas to be able to kill as many people that they could in the shortest amount of time. They would kill many types of people. Those people were mostly Jewish. At the beginning of the war they tried to just kill the women and children that were Jewish. They changed that midway through the war. They would then just kill the people that were more accessible to them then the others were. They also came up with a new killing method of their own. It was called "Gas Wagons", it worked by having the engine pump carbon dioxide into the compartment with all of the Jews in it. All that the driver had to do was to drive them to where they would be dumped. This worked at some of the camps, when it did work the camps loved it. The other camps didn't use it because it wasn't very quick or effective. You had to drive for 10-15 minutes to kill them. Once you were to where you left the bodies, you had to clean them out and put them in the hole. The mass shootings were still the best way to kill as many people as they could.
As I told you before, the Einsatzgruppen had a very important role in the Holocaust that changed many times such as when it went from helping secure territories to helping take over new territories, or when they went from the mass murder of Jews to coming up with new ways to murder them. With all of the different roles in the war that they had, they were able to change the outcome in hopes for the Nazi to kill all the Jews that they could. They were able to help try to solve the "Final Solution".
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