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Defense Documents

The Systematic Character of the National Socialist Policy for the Extermination of the Jews: Electronic Edition, by Heinz Peter Longerich

Table of Contents

A. Orders

1. The Wehrmacht had been trained to view the Jewish minority as closely bound to the Soviet system and therefore as an enemy; this indoctrination had taken place even before the beginning of the war. On 3 March 1941 Hitler gave his Chief of the Leadership Staff of the Wehrmacht (Wehrmacht-Führungsstab), Jodl, the order to edit a draft of the "Guidelines for Special Areas relating to Instruction Nr. 21",7 which was to regulate the basic principles for administration in the occupied areas. According to Hitler, particular care was to be given to the following principles: "The Jewish-Bolshevist intellegentsia, the previous 'oppressor' of the people, must be eliminated."8 This . "elimination" was not to be performed primarily by the army itself but rather by means of special SS commandos. Thus the final version of the guidelines "Richtlinien auf Sondergebieten zur Weisung Nr. 21" from 13 March   1941, in accordance with Hitler's instructions from 3 March 1941, read as follows: "In the operational area of the army the Reichsführer SS [i.e. Himmler, P.L.] is to be given special duties according to orders from the Führer for the preparation of the political administration; these responsibilities are a consequence of the battle which is finally to be carried out between two opposite political systems".9
2. A few weeks before the beginning of the war, members of the Wehrmacht were directly engaged to fight against the "Jews" as the supposed "carriers" of the Bolshevist system. In the Guidelines for the Conduct of the Troops in Russia from 19 May , which gave the company leaders the necessary reference points for an indoctrination of the soldiers in the coming ideological battle it was stated:
1. Bolshevism is the mortal enemy of the National-Socialist German people. This corrupt world view and its supporters warrant Germany's struggle. 2. This struggle demands ruthless, energetic and drastic measures against the Bolshevik agitators, guerrillas, saboteurs and Jews as well as the complete removal of all active and passive resistance.10
3. In order to implement the above mentioned "special duties by order of the Führer which are the consequence of the battle which is finally to be carried out between two opposite political systems", Reichsführer SS Himmler set up four special "Einsatzgruppen" (EG) of the Security Police and the Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst, SD) which included about 3000 men, divided into Einsatz and Special (Sonder) Commandos. They were ordered to move behind the front lines and to proceed against all "subversive endeavours directed against Reich and State".11
4. On the basis of written documents it can be shown that the Chief of the security police, Heydrich, issued two instructions to these groups before their departure for the occupied Soviet areas. These were orders (1) to initiate pogroms with the help of collaborationists from the region and (2) to liquidate Jews when they could be identified as members of some vaguely described Jewish elite or if they were in any other way "suspicious".
5. We have two documents written by Heydrich which are based upon these verbal instructions. Heydrich's note to the heads of the Einsatzgruppen of 29 June referred to the previously distributed order to foster "self-cleansing efforts" (Selbstreinigungsbestrebungen), i.e. pogroms of the Jewish population. These "self-cleansing efforts" by anti-communist or anti-Jewish groups in the area to be occupied, according to Heydrich's instructions, were "not to be hindered", rather, these efforts should be initiated but this should be done "without leaving a trace", intensified, and when necessary "steered in the correct direction".12 In a further note dated 2 July, Heydrich informed the Higher SS and Police Leaders - i.e. Himmler's highest regional representatives in the areas which were to be occupied - about "the most important instructions by me to the Wehrmacht and the commandos of the Security Police and the SD".13 Here it was stated once again that "self-cleansing efforts" (Selbstreinigungsversuchen) in the areas to be occupied were not to be hindered,14 but that on the contrary, they were to be encouraged - but without leaving a trace.
6. Furthermore, in the same note from 2 July, Heydrich listed under the key-word "executions" those groups of persons who were to be shot by the Einsatzgruppen:
  • To be executed areall
  • all functionaries of the Comintern (as well as all professional Communists)
  • the higher, middle and radical lower functionaries of the Party, the Central Committees, the district and regional committees
  • people's commissars
  • Jews in Party and State functions
  • other radical elements (saboteurs, propagandists, snipers, assassins and agitators, etc.)15
7. This order is certainly not to be interpreted as meaning that Heydrich intended to limit executions to those Jews who held "Party and State functions". Given the fact that in the course of war preparations the supposedly close connection between Jews and the Soviet system was repeatedly emphasised, it can be concluded that the instructions to execute "other radical elements" was primarily directed against the Jewish population. Even the last word of this itemisation, "etc." shows that the circle of "other radical elements" was by no means clearly delineated.
8. Further, the idea that efforts were made from the beginning to limit the set of Jewish victims precisely to "Jews in Party and State functions" is not compatible with the (stated) intention of allowing collaborators to initiate these "self-cleansing operations", i.e. pogroms and massacres. A pogrom once begun cannot be confined to specific Jewish victims chosen according to their function.
9. That the Einsatzgruppen received explicit orders to murder Jewish civilians has been confirmed by all members of the leadership of the Einsatzgruppen who were questioned about this after the war. From this testimony we have consistent corroboration that in the period from Spring to the Summer of 1941 the Einsatzgruppen received orders for the mass murder of the Jewish civilian population in the occupied Soviet Union. Even though there are differences in the testimonies as to the exact time and place of the issuance of orders, it is nevertheless remarkable that none of those interrogated disputed having been given the order to liquidate and that the large majority of the former leadership personnel testified that they received instructions for the indiscriminate liquidation of the entire Jewish population, including women and children.
10. An analysis of the available individual testimonies gives the following picture: a series of former leaders- whether of the Einsatzkommandos (EK) or the so-called Special Commandos (Sonderkommandos) who were interrogated on this question   after the war, i.e. Walter Blume (Leader of the Special Commando 7 a)16, Martin Sandberger (Leader of the EK 1 a)17, Rudolf Batz (Leader of the EK 2)18, Alfred Filbert (Leader of the EK 9)19, as well as Karl Jäger (leader of the EK 3)20 testified that at the beginning of the war Heydrich had informed them of an order by the Führer which made clear that the Jewish population in the Soviet areas to-be occupied were to be liquidated; Paul Johannes Zapp (Leader of the Special Commando 11 a)21 testified further that this command also explicitly ordered the murder of women and children. Several other former leaders testified in this regard that precise orders for the liquidation of the Jewish civilian population were issued - but not until the war had been started - yet still in the Summer of 1941 by the Einsatzgruppen leaders;. namely Erwin Schulz (Leader of the EK 5)22, Gustav Nosske (EK 12)23, Karl Tschierschky (member of the staff of EG A)24, Otto Bradfisch (Leader of the EK 8)25, and Erhard Kroeger (Leader of the EK 6)26. Two Leaders, Günther Herrmann (Leader of Commando 4 b)27 and Erich Ehrlinger (Leader of the EK 1b)28 testified only that they had been ordered by the Einsatzgruppen commanders to shoot Jewish men after the invasion of the Soviet Union.


5. 'Viele 10 Millionen Menschen werden in diesem Gebiet überflüssig und werden sterben oder nach Sibirien auswandern müssen.' EC 126, IMT XXXVI, pp. 135ff, p. 145.
6. IfZ, NG 1409.
7. Richtlinien auf Sondergebieten zur Weisung Nr. 21, OKW-KTB I 341.
8. 'Die jüdisch-bolschewistische Intelligenz, der bisherige 'Unterdrücker' des Volkes, muß beseitigt werden.' Ibid.
9. 'Im Operationsgebiet des Heeres erhält der Reichsführer SS zur Vorbereitung der politischen Verwaltung Sonderaufgaben im Auftrage des Führers, die sich aus dem endgültig auszutragenden Kampf zweier entgegengesetzter politischer Systeme ergeben.' Jacobsen, Kommissarbefehl, Document. No. 1.
10. '1. Der Bolschewismus ist der Todfeind des nationalsozialistischen deutschen Volkes. Dieser zersetzenden Weltanschauung und ihren Trägern gilt Deutschlands Kampf. 2. Dieser Kampf verlangt rücksichtsloses und energisches Druchgreifen gegen bolschewistische Hetzer, Freischärler, Saboteure, Juden und restlose Beseitigung jeden aktiven und passiven Widerstandes.' Guidelines for the Conduct of the Troops in Russia (Richtlinien für das Verhalten der Truppe in Rußland), IfZ, NOKW 1692, printed in Jacobsen, Kommissarbefehl, pp. 187f.
11. 'reichs- und staatsfeindliche Bestrebungen.' OKH-Order concerning the 'Regulations for the Deployment of the Security Police and SD in Co-operation of the army' (Regelungen des Einsatzes der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD im Verbande des Heeres) of the 28.4.1941: BAM, RH 22/155, printed in Jacobsen, Kommissarbefehl, Document No. 3.
12. 'den Selbstreinigungsbestrebungen antikommunistischer oder antijüdischer Kreise in den neu zu besetzenden Gebieten ist kein Hindernis zu bereiten. Sie sind im Gegenteil, allerdings spurenlos, auszulösen, zu intensivieren wenn erforderlich und in die richtigen Bahnen zu lenken.' BAB, R 70 SU/32, printed in Longerich (ed.), Ermordung, pp. 118f).
13. 'von mir den Einsatzgruppen- und kommandos der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD gegebenen wichtigsten Weisungen'. BAB, R 70 SU/32, printed in Longerich (ed.), Ermordung, pp. 116ff.
14. 'Selbstreinigungsversuchen antikommunistischer oder auch antijüdischer Kreise in den neu zu besetzenden Gebieten ... keine Hindernisse zu bereiten'. Ibid.
15. 'Zu exekutieren sind alle Funktionäre der Komintern (wie überhaupt die kommunistischen Berufspolitiker schlechthin) die höheren, mittleren und radikalen unteren Funktionäre der Partei, der Zentralkommitees, der Gau- und Gebietskomitees Volkskommissare Juden in Partei- und Staatsstellungen sonstigen radikalen Elemente (Saboteure, Propagandeure, Heckenschützen, Attentäter, Hetzer usw.).' Ibid.
16. ZSt., 201 AR-Z 76/59, vol. 8, pp. 9ff, 11.5.71. The same can be already found in 202 AR-Z 96/60, vol. 9, pp. 3104ff, 19.12.62.
17. ZSt., 201 AR-Z 76/59, vol. 2, pp. 351ff, 30.11.64 and 1/12/64; ZSt., II 207 AR-Z 18/58, vol. II, pp. 2313ff, 3.11.65. Cf. statements of Sandberger quoted in Ogorreck, Einsatzgruppen, pp. 59ff.
18. ZSt., 207 AR-Z 7/59, vol. 11, pp. 1279ff, 27/1/61/ Cf. statements of Batz quoted in Ogorreck, Einsatzgruppen, pp. 65f.
19. ZSt., 201 AR-Z 14/58, vol. 54, pp. 13219ff, 11.5.59; ZSt., 76/59, vol. 11, pp. 7563ff, 23.9.71. Filbert gave similar accounts in several different statements (for these see Ogorreck, Einsatzgruppen, pp. 74f).
20. ZSt., 207 AR-Z 14/58, vol. 4, pp. 1885ff, 15.6.59. Cf. Ogorreck, Einsatzgruppen, pp. 67f.
21. ZSt., 207 AR-Z 76/59, vol. 12, 7766ff, 9.12.71. ALso see statement of Zapp, 3.1.68 (StA Munich, 114 Ks 8.71, vol. 18, 3980ff). Cf. Ogorreck, Einsatzgruppen, pp. 88f.
22. ZSt, 207 AR-Z 76/59, vol. 6, pp. 58ff, 22.3.71. Cf. Ogorreck, Einsatzgruppen, pp. 82f for references to further evidence taken.
23. ZSt., II 213 AR 1902/66, Correspondence-File, vol. 2, 597ff, 24.5.71; also in Zst., 201 AR-Z 6/59, vol. 2, 315ff, 30.7.64. Also compare Ogorreck, Einsatzgruppen, pp. 91f for references to further evidence given.
24. ZSt., 207 AR-Z 76/59, vol. 8, pp. 34-41, 14.5.71. In terms of contents this stands in agreement with his earlier statements: ZSt., 207 AR-Z 14/58, correspondence file, vol. 7, pp. 3327ff, 14.8.59. For the further statements from the years 1959, 1962 and 1968, which confirm this in terms of their content, cf. Ogorreck, Einsatzgruppen, p. 59.
25. ZSt., 201 AR-Z 76/59 vol. 11, p. 7605, 8.10.71; ZSt., 202 AR-Z 81/59, vol. 2, pp. 531ff (cf. Ogorreck, Einsatzgruppen, p. 73).
26. ZSt., 201 AR-Z 76/59, vol. 9, pp. 14ff, 28.8.67; cf. Ogorreck, Einsatzgruppen, pp. 83ff.
27. ZSt., 204 AR-Z AR-Z 11/61, vol. 5, pp. 20ff, 11.10.62; cf. Ogorreck, Einsatzgruppen, pp. 80f.
28. ZSt., 204 AR-Z 21/58, vol. 4, pp. 2421ff, 5.5.59.
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