Monday, September 08, 2008

How Many Perpetrators in the USSR? - Part One: Overview

There is a common misapprehension among some non-scholars that the Einsatzgruppen were solely responsible for shootings of Jews in the USSR. This creates the potential for a false paradox because the Einsatzgruppen had less than 4,000 members. The misunderstanding is innocent if perpetrated by a small Holocaust museum but can become mendacious when exploited by a Holocaust denier whose purpose is to set up a Straw Man which can then be used to attack the proper historiography of the Holocaust. It is therefore necessary to correct this misapprehension at every opportunity by demonstrating that the Einsatzgruppen formed a small percentage of the total manpower involved in Jewish actions on former Soviet territory.

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There are five main types of perpetrator that are often overlooked in 'Einsatzgruppen-focussed' accounts of the East. The first is the Wehrmacht, which was often in overall charge of territories where killings were taking place. I have already discussed the nature of Wehrmacht collusion in Ukraine in this blog.

The second type is the Order Police, under the overall command of Karl Daluege, which was split into mobile and standing units. The mobile units consisted, during the Summer of 1941, of 21 Police Battalions (Browning and Matthaeus, p.231) that were assigned partially to the Wehrmacht and partially to the Higher SS and Police Leaders (HSSPF). For example, in Ukraine, battalions 318, 311 and 82 were assigned respectively to the 213rd, 444th and 454th Wehrmacht security divisions, whilst battalions 45, 303 and 314 were assigned to Police Regiment South under HSSPF Russia South, Jeckeln, who also commanded reserve battalions 304, 315 and 320 (source: Dieter Pohl, p.26 of this collection). I will show in a future blog in this series how the battalions were used by Jeckeln in major killing actions such as Kamenets-Podolsk and Babij Jar. This will demonstrate that, as Pohl notes:
Altogether the six battalions subordinated to HSSPF Russia South killed considerably more Ukrainian Jews than Einsatzgruppe C and Einsatzgruppe D combined (same source, p.40).
The main stationary Order Police were the municipal police (Schupo) and the rural police (Gendarmerie). Many of these units were the subjects of war crimes trials held in Germany between the 1950's and 1990's, which can be accessed here. These units will be discussed in another blog in this series. Eric Haberer, pp.17-18, cites their manpower numbers:
According to Daluege's annual report for 1942, the strength of Order Police stationary personnel deployed at year's end in the two Reichkommissariats [Ostland and Ukraine] amounted to 5,860 Schutzpolizei and 9,093 Gendarmerie, or a near total of 15,000. Other sources indicate that in October-November 1942, these forces had a combined strength of nearly 14,000, of which 9,463 were stationed in the RKU and 4,428 in the RKO. Of the latter, 1,394 were at the disposal of the KdO Minsk, consisting of a Schupo complement of about 300 men for policing Minsk and Baranovichi and over 1,000 Gendarmerie for the extensive rural areas of the Gebietskommissariats Lida, Novogrudok, Slonim, Gantsevichi, Baranovichi, Vileika, Glubokoe, Slutsk, Borisov (Pleshchenitsy), and Minsk-Land.

Gendarmerie placement and organization in these regions is well documented in the case of Baranovichi.21 As of November 1942, this Gebiet of 5,695 square kilometers with a population of 341,522 was policed by 73 Gendarmes in the rural areas and 27 Schutzpolizei in Baranovichi city itself.22 Located in the city as well was a 37-strong motorized Gendarmerie platoon (Zug 7) and the administrative personnel of the Gendarmerie-Gebietsfu¨hrer, the Gendarmerie-Hauptmannschaft, and the SS and Police Garrison Commander (Standortfu¨hrer). Overall, this amounted to a force of 145 Order Police, roughly half of whom were thus Gendarmerie deployed outside of the city of Baranovichi.
The third type of non-Einsatzgruppen unit was the units of the Kommandostab Reichsfuehrer SS, which were under Himmler's personal command. In mid-July 1941, two of these units - the First SS Brigade and the SS Cavalry Brigade - were assigned respectively to the areas of HSSPF Jeckeln (Russia South) and HSSPF Bach-Zelewski (Russia Center). The total manpower of these units was between 10,000 and 11,000 men (Browning and Matthaeus, p.233 and pp.279-281).

However, by far the largest numerical collections of killers were the non-German auxiliaries, known as Schutzmannschaft (Protective Detachments). Eric Haberer, p.17-18, again provides the essential background and numbers:
Although Nazi politics and racism militated against a sound policy of indigenous self-administration and policing, sheer necessity forced from early on the recruitment of local manpower to strengthen the operational capabilities of stationary and mobile Order Police formations. Thus already one month into the war with the Soviet Union, Himmler was forced to acknowledge that “the Police is unable to carry out its tasks in the occupied eastern territories with available Police and SS personnel alone. It is therefore necessary to establish as fast as possible additional protective formations [Schutzformationen] consisting of native, pro-German elements in the conquered areas.” This key-directive of 25 July 1941 set the stage for the creation of indigenous Order Police auxiliaries, ofŽ cially termed Schutzmannschaft of the Einzeldienst (stationary units) and Geschlossene Einheiten (mobile units or battalions). Subsequent orders regulating recruitment, provisioning, SS and Police jurisdiction (Gerichtsbarkeit) and many other necessities of Schuma organization (uniforms, awards, ranks, wages, and so on) were quickly forthcoming via Daluege’s Order Police Main Office and led to the rapid build-up of formidable auxiliary police forces which, as of 1 July 1942, totaled 165,128 men or Schutzmaenner.

This massive injection of non-German manpower continued for the remainder
of 1942 and leveled off at around 300,000 in early 1943.
In the Baltic states, as MacQueen notes in pp.37-38 of this article:
By late 1941, fifteen of them, ranging in strength from 200 to almost 500 men, had been formed, with another five battalions added by August 1942. While some of these were deployed primarily for the security of rail lines and other installations within Lithuania and on the occupied territories of Russia and Ukraine, others have been tied to the mass killing of Jews and reprisals against non-Jewish civilian populations in Lithuania and Belarus.
The units are mentioned in Stahlecker's consolidated report of early 1942. In other regions, Schutzmannschaft assisted the Einsatzgruppen, Jeckeln's First SS Brigade and the Order Police in the role of auxiliaries. For example, as I will show in a future blog, there was a Bukovina Battalion of auxiliaries at Babij Jar.

The final category of perpetrators was the civilian administrations. These bureaucrats sometimes gave the killing orders. For example, in the case of Lithuania, Christoph Dieckmann (in page 261 of this collection) claims that Hans Gewecke, the Regional Kommissar of Siauliai, ordered that Jewish women and children were to be shot by "Lithuanian police, overseen by Germans."

When these categories are added together, the total number of perpetrators becomes large indeed. To give one regional example, Thomas Sandkuehler (in page 127n. of this collection) has shown that, as of September 1942 there were 14,366 Reich Germans in eastern Galicia. Of these, 2,000 participated in the Jewish extermination. In addition there were eventually 4,000 Ukrainian perpetrators in the eastern Galicia region in total.

In conclusion, therefore, we an see how an excessive focus on the Einsatzgruppen distorts the true picture and only gives a small fraction of the true number of people responsible for the Holocaust in the East. The rest of this series will correct this distortion.

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