On June 22, 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.
Einsatzgruppe D 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.