The History of Einsatzgruppe D

(Last modified 1995)

On 22 June 1941 the Soviet Union was attacked on a broad front by three German armies. Following in the wake of these armies were four mobile units established by the Sicherheitshauptamt (Head Security Office) of Reinhard Heydrich, the Einsatzgruppen (task forces) A, B, C and D. This research project focuses on Einsatzgruppe D, which was led first by Otto Ohlendorf and later by Walter Bierkamp and was deployed in the south of the occupied Soviet Union. Together with the 11th Army of the Wehrmacht, the unit was active in Bessarabia, Bukovina, the southern Ukraine, and the Crimea and was transferred together with Heeresgruppe A (Army A) in the summer of 1942 to the Caucasus. The unit's principal task was to murder political opponents and to participate in the Endlösung, "the final solution of the Jewish question", as part of the general policy of extermination. Roma, "asocial elements", prisoners of war and real and supposed opponents of the new regime were included in the mass murders. In addition, members of Einsatzgruppe D were co-responsible for the deployment of their own spies and the repulsion of those of the NKVD, the control of the oppressed population, and the development of a local administration. This research was funded from April 1993 until September 1995 by the Hamburg Institute for Social Research and the resulting volume, which is currently more than 450 pages in length, is nearing completion. Documents which were only recently released by the Gauck authority (which supervises access to documents formerly in the hands of the East German state) must however be worked into the text. The chapter still to be completed deals with the retreat of Einsatzgruppe D, during which the unit took part in fighting against Soviet partisans in the Pripet Marshes.

(completed in September 1995)