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.