Spring 1941: Einsatzgruppen prepare for Barbarossa campaign

Unfortunately, we are about to reach that part of the war where the war against humanity is going to escalate to levels maybe not ever seen before (and since) on this planet.

From Wikipedia (edited):

On 13 March 1941, in the lead-up to Operation Barbarossa, the planned invasion of the Soviet Union, Hitler dictated his “Guidelines in Special Spheres re: Directive No. 21 (Operation Barbarossa)”.
Sub-paragraph B specified that Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler would be given “special tasks” on direct orders from the Führer, which he would carry out independently.
This directive was intended to prevent friction between the Wehrmacht and the SS in the upcoming offensive. Hitler also specified that criminal acts against civilians perpetrated by members of the Wehrmacht during the upcoming campaign would not be prosecuted in the military courts, and thus would go unpunished.

In a speech to his leading generals on 30 March 1941, Hitler described his envisioned war against the Soviet Union. General Franz Halder, the Army’s Chief of Staff, described the speech in his diary:

“Struggle between two ideologies. Scathing evaluation of Bolshevism, equals antisocial criminality. Communism immense future danger … This a fight to the finish. If we do not accept this, we shall beat the enemy, but in thirty years we shall again confront the Communist foe. We don’t make war to preserve the enemy … Struggle against Russia: Extermination of Bolshevik Commissars and of the Communist intelligentsia … Commissars and GPU personnel are criminals and must be treated as such. The struggle will differ from that in the west. In the east harshness now means mildness for the future.”

Though General Halder did not record any mention of Jews, German historian Andreas Hillgruber argued that because of Hitler’s frequent contemporary statements about the coming war of annihilation against “Judeo-Bolshevism”, his generals would have understood Hitler’s call for the destruction of the Soviet Union as also comprising a call for the destruction of its Jewish population.
The genocide was to be described using euphemisms such as “special tasks” and “executive measures”. The transport and murder of large numbers of people would also be referred to as “evacuation” in an attempt to hide the true nature of what was happening.

Einsatzgruppe victims were often described as having been shot while trying to escape. In May 1941, Heydrich verbally passed on the order to kill the Soviet Jews to the SiPo (Security Police) NCO School in Pretzsch, where the commanders of the reorganised Einsatzgruppen were being trained for Operation Barbarossa.

In spring 1941, Heydrich and the First Quartermaster of the German Army, General Eduard Wagner, successfully completed negotiations for co-operation between the Einsatzgruppen and the German Army to allow the implementation of the euphemistically called “special tasks”.

Following the Heydrich-Wagner agreement on 28 April 1941, Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch ordered that when Operation Barbarossa began, all German Army commanders were to immediately identify and register all Jews in occupied areas in the Soviet Union, and fully co-operate with the Einsatzgruppen.

In further meetings held in early June 1941 Himmler outlined to top SS leaders the regime’s intention to reduce the population of the Soviet Union by at least 30 million people, not only through direct killing of those considered racially inferior, but also by depriving the remainder of food and other necessities of life.

After the invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the Einsatzgruppen 's main assignment was to kill civilians, as in Poland, but this time its targets specifically included Soviet Communist commissars and Jews.

In a letter dated 2 July 1941 Heydrich communicated to his SS and Police Leaders that the Einsatzgruppen were to execute all senior and middle ranking Comintern officials; all senior and middle ranking members of the central, provincial, and district committees of the Communist Party; extremist and radical Communist Party members; people’s commissars and Jews in party and government posts. Open-ended instructions were given to execute “other radical elements (saboteurs, propagandists, snipers, assassins, agitators, etc).”
Heydrich further instructed that any pogroms spontaneously initiated by the population of the occupied territories were to be quietly encouraged, as happened especially in the western reaches of the Soviet Union.

There were various drafts of Generalplan Ost (the German plan for the treatment of the occupied eastern territories). Many different figures are used, ranging up to 80 million people killed (including all of occupied eastern Europe), tens of millions more deported and the rest used for slave labor.

The various drafts (the last to be drawn up whilst the Battle of Stalingrad was raging) set various percentages, country by country, for the number of people to be killed:
Russia: 50-60% to be killed, with half of the remainder to be deported east of the Ural mountains
Estonia, Latvia: 50% to be killed
Lithuania: 85% to be killed (Himmler, for some reason, had a special hatred for Lithuania)
Czechs: 50% to be killed
Belarusians: 75% to be killed
Ukrainians: 65% to be killed
Poles: 85% to be killed, with the “racially assimilable” to be Germanized so no Poles would remain and Poland would be destroyed forever

It seems that, since the fall of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany, the more we learn about the Wehrmacht’s participation in the war crimes and their collaboration with the Einsatzgruppen, the more the Wehrmacht seems to have been involved. The myth of the clean Wehrmacht has been blown out of the water, and I think it is good that TimeGhost will spend time on this.

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28 April 1941: German army commander-in-chief Walter von Brauchitsch signs a directive regarding the Wagner-Heydrich agreement (‘Commitment of Security Police and SD in Units of the Army’). The directive is meant to regulate exactly how the German army is supposed to collaborate with specially designed units under control of the RSHA (part of the SS). The Wagner-Heydrich agreement had been negotiated earlier in April and finalized this week. Principal negotiators were Reinhard Heydrich (chief of the RSHA and Himmler’s deputy) and army quartermaster general Eduard Wagner.

The directive (translated):

Subject: Regulation on Commitment of the Security Police and SD in units of the army.

The execution of special Security Police missions outside the unit makes the commitment of special detachments of the Security Police (Security Service) in the operational area necessary.

In agreement with the chief of the Security Police and the Security Service, the commitment of the Security Police and the Security Service in the operational area is regulated as follows:

  1. Missions.

a. In the army rear area: Before the start of operations, securing of tangible objects (material, archives, card indices of state organizations or organizations hostile to the state, units, groups, etc.) as well as especially important individuals (leading emigrants, saboteurs, terrorists, etc.).

The commander in chief can exclude the commitment of the Sonderkommandos in those parts of the army area where such commitment would disturb the operations.

b. In the army group rear area: Discovering and combating endeavors inimical to the state and Reich, insofar as they are not incorporated in the enemy armed forces, as well as generally informing the commanders of the army group rear areas about the political situation.

The principles for collaboration between the Gestapo and the counterintelligence offices of the armed forces set up jointly on 1 January 1937, are valid, when relevant, for the collaboration with the intelligence officers and/or intelligence offices.

  1. Collaboration between the Sonderkommandos and the military commanding authorities in the Army Rear Area (to la). The special detachments of the Security Police (Security Service) carry out their missions upon their own authority. They are subordinate to the armies as far as marching orders, rations, and quarters are concerned. Disciplinary and legal subordination under the Chief of the Security Police and Security Service is not influenced by this. They receive their technical instructions from the Chief of the Security Police and Security Service, and if occasion should arise are subordinated to restrictive orders of the armies with reference to their activity. (See No. la.)

A commissioner of the Chief of the Security Police and of the Security Service will be employed in the area of each army for the central direction of these detachments. He is required to bring to the attention of the Commander in Chief of the Army promptly the instructions sent to him by the Chief of the Security Police and Security Service. The military commander is empowered to issue instructions to the commissioner which are necessary to avoid an interruption in operations; they take precedence over all other instructions.

The commissioners are ordered to cooperate closely with the Ic continuously; recall of a liaison official of the commissioner to the Ic can be demanded by the commanding authorities. The Ic has to coordinate the missions of the Sonderkommandos with those of military intelligence, the activity of the Secret Field Police and the necessities of the operations.

Within the scope of their mission and upon their own responsibility the Sonderkommandos are empowered to take executive measures concerning the civilian population. They are required hereby to cooperate with intelligence most closely. Measures which could have an effect on the operations, require the approval of the Commander in Chief of the Army.

  1. Collaboration between the Einsatzgruppen and/or Kommandos of the Security Police (Security Service) and the Commander in the Army Group Rear Area (to 1b): Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos of the Security Police (Security Service) will be installed in the army group rear area. They are subordinate to the commissioner of the Chief of the Security Police and Security Service with the commander of the army group rear area and are subordinated to the latter with reference to marching orders, quarters, and rations.

They receive their technical instructions from the Chief of the Security Police and Security Service.

In case no other means of communication are available they are to use their own radio sets and special codes for transmitting orders. The Chief of Army Signal Communications is to regulate their wavelength allocation.

The commissioner and, if occasion arises, the Kommando leaders of the Einsatzkommandos with the Security Divisions are required to bring the instructions sent to them to the attention of the military commanders promptly–in a state of emergency the commander in the army group rear area is empowered to issue restrictive orders, which take precedence over all other instructions.

The Einsatzgruppen and/or Kommandos are empowered to take executive measures concerning the civilian population within the scope of their missions, upon their own responsibility.

They are required to collaborate most closely with intelligence.

  1. Delineation of authority between Sonderkommandos, Einsatzkommandos, and Einsatzgruppen and the Secret Field Police. The intelligence police missions within the unit and the direct protection of the unit remain the mission of the Secret Field Police alone. All matters of this sort are to be turned over by the Sonderkommandos and/or Einsatzgruppen and Kommandos to the Secret Field Police at once as, vice versa, all occurrences within the scope of missions of the Sonderkommandos must be turned over to the Sonderkommandos and/or Einsatzgruppen and Einsatzkommandos immediately.