In mid-August of 1941, Himmler became aware of the
psychological costs to his military personnel of the mass extermination of
women and children. Accordingly, he ordered experimentation with more
"humane" methods of killing. Drawing upon experience gained in
the "euthanasia" programme, these experiments led to the creation
of the mobile killing vans -- vans especially constructed for gassing
victims. The vans were air-tight. They had a drain in the center for
cleaning of human excrement. Exhaust fumes from the truck's engine were
piped into the van. A couple of these vans could pull into a small village,
Jews could be rounded up for transport to some unknown destination and,
within a few minutes they would all be dead. The same van could transport
them to a burial area, unload them and return to the village for another
The following German military reports confiscated after the
war provide crucial information regarding the activities of the Einsatzgruppen.
These reports were collected by Mr. Kenneth McVay. Director of the Nizkor
Reich Secret Document
To SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Rauff Berlin
The overhauling of the vans of Einsatzgruppe D and C has
I have had the vans of Einsatzgruppe D disguised as
house trailers, by having a single window shutter fixed to each side of the
small vans, and on the large ones, two shutters, such as one often sees on
farm houses in the country. The vans had become so well known that not only
the authorities but the civilian population referred to them as the
"Death Vans" as soon as one appeared....
I also gave instructions that all personnel should stay
as far away as possible from the vans when the gassing is in progress to
prevent damage to their health in the event of gas leaking out...
The gassing is generally not carried out correctly. In
order to get the Aktion finished as quickly as possible the driver presses
down on the accelerator as far as it will go. As a result the persons to be
executed die of suffocation and do not doze off as was planned....
Commander of the Security Police and the SD Einsatzkommando 3
Reich Secret Document
.. . .I confirm today that Einsatzkommando 3 has
achieved the goal of solving the Jewish problem in Lithuania: There are no
more Jewish in Lithuania, apart from working Jews and their families.
I wanted to eliminate the working Jews and their
families as well, but the Civil Administration and the Wehrmacht attacked
me most sharply and issued a prohibition against having these Jews and
their families shot.
This extract comes from a report by Einsatzgruppe A in
the Baltic countries. It is a general report of their progress up to
October 15, 1941.
Basing oneself on the consideration that the population
of the Baltic countries had suffered most severely under the rule of
Bolshevism and Jewry while they were incorporated into the USSR, it was to
be expected that after liberation from this foreign rule they would
themselves to a large extent eliminate those of the enemy left behind after
the retreat of the Red Army. It was the task of the Security Police to set
these self-cleansing movements going and to direct them into the right
channels in order to achieve the aim of this cleansing as rapidly as
possible. I was no less important to establish as unshakable and provable
facts for the future that it was the liberated population itself which took
the most severe measures, on its own initiative, against he Bolshevik and
Jewish enemy, without any German instruction being evident.
In Lithuania this was achieved for the first time by
activating the partisans in Kovno. To our surprise it was not easy at first
to set any large-scale anti-Jewish pogrom in motion there...In Estonia
there was no opportunity of instigating pogroms owing to the relatively
small number of Jews.
[Thread from another network discussing Einsatzgruppen
reports and their significance in the extermination program. The discussion
begins with a denial opponent providing documentation regarding the
The following several messages are from the
Einsatzgruppen Reports. The number of the report and the date will be noted
with each excerpt. The Einsatzgruppen reported on their activities to their
respective headquarters which sent the information to Berlin. There the
RSHA compiled concise reports in the name of the Chief of Sipo and the SD.
Copies were distributed to high- ranking army, police and SS officers,
diplomats, members of the foreign office an even to industrialists as they
related to economic factors in the Soviet territories. The Einsatzgruppen
Reports were discovered by the U.S.Army in Gestapo headquarters in Berlin
after the war. They were initially impounded by a research analyst attached
to the Berlin branch of the Office of the Chief of Council for War Crimes.
They were sealed and transported in the custody of the US Army to
Nuremberg. During the first days of the Einsatzgruppen Trial, the
authenticity of the reports was established beyond doubt and none of the
German defendants challenged their validity.
After the trial, the original reports were sent to the
National Archives in Washington, DC. In 1960 they were given to the
Bundesarchiv in Koblenz. Photocopies of all the reports remain in the
National Archives and at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
Report USSR No. 17
According to instructions by RSHA, liquidations of
government and party officials, in all named cities of Byelorussia, were
carried out. Concerning the Jews, according to orders, the same policy was
adopted. The exact number of the liquidated has not as yet been
Operational Situation Report USSR No. 19
In Kaunas, up to now a total of 7,800 Jews have been
liquidated, partly through pogroms and partly through shooting by
Lithuanian Kommandos. All of the corpses have been removed. Further mass
shootings are no longer possible. Therefore, I summoned a Jewish committee
and explained that up to now we had no reason to interfere with the
internal arrangements between the Lithuanians and the Jews.
Operational Situation Report USSR No. 106
In agreement with the city military command, all the
Jews of Kiev were ordered to appear at a certain place on Monday, 29
September, by 6 o'clock. This order was publicized by posters all over the
town by members of the newly organized Ukrainian militia. At the same time,
oral information was passed that all the Jews of Kiev would be moved to
another place. In cooperations with the HQ of EGC and two Kommandos of the
police regiment South, Sonderkommando 4a executed 33,771 Jews on September
29 and 30.
[NOTE: This took place in the ravine of Babi Yar outside
Operational Situation Report USSR No. 111
These were the reasons for the executions carried out by
the Kommandos: political officials; plundereres and saboteurs; active
Communists and political representatives; Jews who gained their release
from prison camps by false statements; agents and informers of the NKVD;
persons who by false depositions and witness influencing were instrumental
in the deportation of ethnic Germans; Jewish sadism and revenge;
undesirable elements; partisans; politruks; danger of plague and epidemics;
members of Russian bands; armed insurgents supplying Russian bands; rebels
and agitators; drifting juveniles; JEWS IN GENERAL. [emphasis mine]
Operational Situation Report USSR No. 117
The districts occupied by the Kommandos were cleansed of
Jews. 4,091 Jews and 46 Communists were executed during the time span
covered by the report, bringing the total to 40,699 [for the period of 1-15
October 1941 by Einsatzgruppen D].
Operational Situation Report USSR No. 126
The difficulties in carrying out such a large action -
first of all with respect to sowing disunity - were overcome in Kiev by a
call via posters to the Jewish population that they were to move. Although
at the start, one could count on the participation of about 5,000-6,000
Jews, more than 30,000 Jews turned up who, due to extraordinarily skillful
organization, believed in the transfer right up to the moment of their
Thus, even if about 75,000 Jews had been liquidated so
far, it has already become clear that a solution of the Jewish question
will not be possible in this way. True, we have succeeded in bringing about
a total solution to the Jewish problem, particularly in smaller towns and
also in the villages. However, in bigger towns it was observed that all the
Jews have disappeared after such an execution.
Operational Situation Report USSR No. 173
In the course of a routine Security Police screening of
an additional part of the civilian population around Leningrad, 140 more
people had to be shot. The reasons for this were as follows:
a) Active participation in the Communist Party before
the arrival of the German troops;
b) Seditious and provocative activity since the arrival
of the German Army;
c) Partisan activity;
e) Belonging to the Jewish race.
So, from the Einsatzgruppen Reports we learn that Jews
were being executed for no reason other than being Jewish, that these
reports were being transmitted to Berlin and that these executions
continued. From this we can conclude that Berlin did indeed order these
executions. After all, Report 17 states that the executions were ordered
and, if this was false, it is reasonable to expect that that misconception
would be corrected quickly. However, almost 8 months later executions are
still taking place because individuals belong to the "Jewish
In Report 126 we learn that these executions are
considered part of the Final Solution. This not only supports the
conclusion that the Einsatzgruppen were performing these executions based
upon orders but also that this was just a part of a bigger program to solve
the "Jewish question."