Source: Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Vol. II. USGPO, Washington, 1946, pp. 248-302

[Note: The characters in brackets, eg, (2233-N-PS) refer to the official document numbers included in the series Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression. A listing of legal references and documents relating to the Gestapo and SD appears on pages 302-316. .For information on the referencing of Internet sources see Chapter 4 of S D Stein Learning, Teaching and Researching on the Internet. Addison Wesley Longman 1999, published November 1998] 

The Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo)
and Sicherheitsdienst (SD)

Nuremberg Charges

Part IV

Part I, Part II, Part III,
Part V, Part VI

Mass Murder and Extermination in Occupied Countries (part 2)
Screening and Execution of Prisoners of War (part 1)

A letter from Becker, the operator of several death vans, written to Rauff, the head of the technical section of Amt II of the RSHA, on 16 May 1942, states:

"The overhauling of vans by groups D and C is finished. While the vans of the first series can also be put into action if the weather is not too bad the vans of the second series (Saurer) stop completely in rainy weather. If it has rained for instance for only one-half hour, the van cannot be used because it simply skids away. It can only be used in absolutely dry weather. It is only a question now whether the van can only be used standing at the place of execution. First the van has to be brought to that place, which is possible only in good weather. The place of execution is usually 10-15 km away from the highways and is difficult of access because of its location ; in damp or wet weather it is not accessible at all. If the persons to be executed are driven or led to that place, then they realize immediately what is going on and get restless, which is to be avoided as far as possible. There is only one way left; to load them at the collecting point and to drive them to the spot.

"I ordered the vans of group D to be camouflaged as house-trailers by putting one set of window shutters on each side of the small van and two on each side of the larger vans, such as one often sees on farm-houses in the country, The vans became so well-known, that not only the authorities but also the civilian population called the van "death van", as soon as one of these vehicles appeared. It is my opinion that the van cannot be kept secret for any length of time, not even camouflaged.

"* * * I should like to take this opportunity to bring the following to your attention: several commands have had the unloading after the application of gas done by their own men. I brought to the attention of the commanders of those SK concerned the immense psychological injuries and damages to their health which that work can have for those men, even if not immediately, at least later on. The men complained to me about headaches which appeared after each unloading.

"* * * The application of gas usually is not undertaken correctly. In order to come to an end as fast as possible, the driver presses the accelerator to the fullest extent. By doing that the persons to be executed suffer death from suffocation and not death by dozing off as was planned. My directions now have proved that by correct adjustment of the levers death comes faster and the prisoners fall asleep peacefully. Distorted faces and excretions, such as could be seen before, are no longer noticed." (501-PS)

The death vans were not always satisfactory. A telegram from the commandant of the SIPO and SD "Ostland" to the RSHA, Amt II D, on 15 June 1942, states:

"A transport of Jews, which has to be treated in a special way, arrives weekly at the office of the commandant of the Security Police and the Security Service of White Ruthenia.

"The three S-vans, which are there, are not sufficient for that purpose. I request assignment of another S-van (5-tons). At the same time I request the shipment of 20 gas-hoses for the three S-vans on hand (2 Diamond, 1 Saurer) , since the ones on hand are leaky already." (5Ol-PS)

The reports of the various Einsatz Groups were summarized at RSHA, and the summaries were then distributed to the various, sections interested, particularly Amt III (the SD), Amt IV (the GESTAPO), and Amt V (the KRIPO) (2752-PS). One such report covering the period 1-31 October 1941 is entitled "Activity and Situation Report No. 6 of the Einsatz Groups of the Security Police and the SD in the USSR" (R-102). This report describes in summary form the activities of the various Einsatz Groups during the month of October 1941. The report first discusses the stations and in that regard states :

"During the period covered by this report the stations of the Task Forces of the Security Police and the SD have changed only in the Northern Sector. "The present stations are:

"Task Force A : since 7 October 1941 Krasnowardeisk.
"Task Force B : continues in Smolensk.
"Task Force C : since 27 September 1941 in Kiew.
"Task Force D : since 27 September 1941 in Nikolajew.

"The Action and Special Commandos (Einsatz und Sonder Commandos) which are attached to the Task Force continue on the march with the advancing troops into the sectors which have been assigned to them."( R-l 02)

The report next discusses the activities of each Einsatz Group. There is included first a discussion of the Baltic area, next of White Ruthenia, and last of the Ukraine. Under each section the work of the Einsatz Groups in connection with the action taken against partisans, Jews, and communist officials is considered. With respect to the treatment of Jews in the Baltic area the report states in part:

"* * * However, the Estonian Protective Corps (Selbtschutz), formed at the time of the entry of the Wehrmacht, immediately started a comprehensive arrest action of all Jews. This action was under the direction of the task force of the Security Police and the SD.

"The measures taken were:

1. Arrest of all male Jews over 16.
2.  Arrest of all Jewesses from l6-20 years, who lived in Reval and environs and were fit for work; these were employed in peat cutting.
3. Comprehensive detention in the synagogue of all Jewesses living in Dorport and its environs.
4. Arrest of the Jews and Jewesses fit for work in Pernau and environs.
5  Registration of all Jews according to age, sex, and ca-pacity for work for the purpose of their detention in a camp that is being prepared.

"The male Jews over 16 were executed with the exception of doctors and the elders. At the present time this action is still in progress. After completion of this action there will remain only 500 Jewesses and children in the Eastern terri-tory. * * *" (R-102)

With respect to partisan activity in White Ruthenia, the report states in part:

"* * * In the village Michalowo, after careful reconnaissance through civilian agents, 8 partisans were surprised in a house by the same Commando of the Security Police and the SD, they were arrested and hanged the next day in this particularly partisan infested village.

"The president of the District Region Soviets in Tarenitsch and his secretary were shot because of their connections with partisans.

"During an action approximately 70 kilometers south of Mogilow, 25 Armenians, Kirghize and Mongols were apprehended with false identification papers with which they tried to conceal the fact that they belong to a partisan group. They were liquidated. * * *" (R-102)

With respect to arrests and executions of communists in White Ruthenia, the report states in part:

"A further large part of the activity of the Security Police was devoted to the combating of Communists and criminals. A special Commando in the period covered by this report executed 63 officials, NKVD agents and agitators. * * *" (R-l02)

With respect to the action taken against the Jews in White Ruthenia the report states in part:

"* * * All the more vigorous are the actions of the task forces of the Security Police and the SD against the Jews who make it necessary that steps be taken against them in different spheres.

"In Gorodnia 165 Jewish terrorists and in Tschenrigow 19 Jewish Communists were liquidated. 8 more Jewish communists were shot at Beresna.

"It was experienced repeatedly that the Jewish women showed an especially obstinate behaviour. For this reason 28 Jewesses had to be shot in Krugoje and 337 at Mogilew.

"In Borissow 321 Jewish saboteurs and 118 Jewish looters were executed.

"In Bobruisk 380 Jews were shot who had engaged to the last in incitement and horror propaganda [Hetz-und Greuelpropa-ganda] against the German army of occupation.

"In Tatarsk the Jews had left the Ghetto of their own accord and returned to their old home quarters, attempting to expel the Russians who had been quartered there in the meantime. All male Jews as well as 3 Jewesses were shot.

"In Sadrudubs the Jews offered some resistance against the establishment of a Ghetto so that 272 Jews and Jewesses had to be shot. Among them was a political Commissar.


"In Mogilew too, the Jews attempted to sabotage their removal to the Ghetto; 113 Jews were liquidated.


"Moreover four Jews were shot on account of refusal to work and 2 Jews were shot because they had sabotaged orders issued by the German occupation authorities.

"In Talka 222 Jews were shot for anti-German propaganda and in Marina Gorka 996 Jews were shot because they had sabotaged orders issued by the German occupation authorities.

"At Schklow 627 more Jews were shot because they had participated in acts of sabotage.

"Witebsk "On account of the extreme danger of an epidemic, a beginning was made to liquidate the Jews in the ghetto at Witebsk. This involved approximately 3000 Jews. * * *" (R-102)

With respect to partisan activity in the Ukraine the report states in part:

"Although partisan activity in the south sector is very strong too, there is nevertheless the impression that spreading and effective partisan activity are strongly affected by the flight of higher partisan leaders and by the lack of initiative of the subordinate leaders who have remained behind. Only in one case a commando of the Security Police and the SD succeeded in a fight with partisans in shooting the Secretary of the Communist Party for the administration district of Nikolajew-Cherson, who was at the time Commissar of a partisan group for the district Nikolajew-Cherson-Krim. * * *" (R-102)

With respect to treatment of Jews in the Ukraine the report states in part:

"The embitterment of the Ukrainian population against the Jews is extremely great because they are thought responsible for the explosions in Kiew. They are also regarded as informers and agents of the NKVD who started the terror against the Ukrainian people. As a measure of retaliation for the arson at Kiew, all Jews were arrested and altogether 33,771 Jews were executed on the 29th and 30th September. Money, valuables and clothing were secured and put at the disposal of the National-Socialist League for Public Welfare (NSV) for the equipment of the National Germans [Volksdeutschen] and partly put at the disposal of the provisional city administration for distribution to the needy population.


"In Shitomir 3,145 Jews had to be shot, because from experience they have to be regarded as bearers of Bolshevik propaganda and saboteurs.


"In Cherson 410 Jews were executed as a measure of retaliation for acts of sabotage. -Especially in the area east of the Dnjepr the solution of the Jewish question has been taken up energetically by the task forces of the Security Police and the SD. The areas newly occupied by the Commandos were purged of Jews. In the course of this action 4,891 Jews were liquidated. At other places the Jews were marked and registered. This rendered it possible to put at the disposal of the Wehrmacht for urgent labor, Jewish worker groups up to 1,000 persons." (R-102)

These reports, circulated among the various offices of the RSHA, brought general knowledge to the entire organization of the program of mass murder conducted by these special task forces of the SIPO and SD. (R-102)

The activities of the Einsatz Groups continued throughout 1943 and 1944 under Kaltenbrunner as Chief of the SIPO and SD. New groups were formed and sent into action in the West (2890-PS). Under adverse war conditions, however, the program of extermination was to a large extent changed to one of rounding up slave labor for Germany. A letter written on 19 March 1943 from the headquarters of a Sonderkommando (section of Einsatz Group C) states as follows:

"It is the task of the Security Police and of the Security Service (SD) to discover all enemies of the Reich and fight against them in the interest of security, and in the zone of operations especially to guarantee the security of the army. Besides the annihilation of active opponents all other elements who, by virtue of their opinions or their past, may appear active as enemies under favorable conditions, are to be eliminated sind * * * auszumerzen] through preventive measures. The Security Police carries out this task according to the general directives of the Fuehrer with all the required toughness. Energetic measures are especially necessary in territories endangered by the activity of hostile gangs. The competence of the Security Police within the zone of operations is based on the Barbarossa decrees. I deem the measures of the Security Police, carried out on a considerable scale during recent times, necessary for the two following reasons:

"1. The situation at the front in my sector had become so serious that the population, partly influenced by Hungarians and Italians, who streamed back in chaotic condition, took openly position against us.

"2. The strong expeditions of hostile gangs, who came especially from the forest of Bryansk, were another reason. Besides that, other revolutionary groups, formed by the popu-lation, appeared suddenly in all districts. The providing of arms evidently provided no difficulties at all. It would have been irresponsible, if we had observed this whole activity without acting against it. It is obvious that all such measures bring about some harshness. I want to take up the significant points of harsh measures:

"1. The shooting of Hungarian Jews.
"2. The shooting of directors of collective farms.
"3. The shooting of children.
"4. The total burning down of villages.
"5. The "shooting: while trying to escape" of Security Service (SD) prisoners.

"Chief of Einsatz Group C confirmed once more the correctness of the measures taken, and expressed his recognition for the energetic actions.

"With regard to the current political situation, especially in the armament industry in the fatherland, the measures of the Security Police have to be subordinated to the greatest extent to the recruiting of labor for Germany. In the shortest possible time, the Ukraine has to put at the disposal of the armament industry 1 million workers, 500 of whom have to be sent from our territory daily.

"The work of the field groups has therefore to be changed as of now. The following orders are given:

"1. Special treatment is to be limited to a minimum.
"2. The listing of communist functionaries, activists and so on, is to take place by roster only for the time being, without arresting anybody. It is, for instance, no longer feasible to arrest all the close relatives of a member of the communist party. Although, members of the Komsomolz are to be arrested only if they were active in a leading position.
"3. The activity of the labor offices, respective of recruiting commissions, is to be supported to the greatest extent possible. It will not be possible always to refrain from using force. During a conference with the Chief. of the Labor Commitment Staffs, an agreement was reached stating that wherever prisoners can be released, they should be put at the disposal of the Commissioner of the Labor Office. When searching [Uberholung] villages, resp., when it has become necessary to burn down a village, the whole population will be put at the disposal of the Commissioner by force,
"4. As a rule, no more children will be shot.
"5. The reporting of hostile gangs as well as drives against them is not affected hereby. All drives against these hostile gangs can only take place after my approval has been obtained.
"6. The prisons have to be kept empty, as ,a rule. We have to be aware of the fact that the Slavs will interpret all soft treatment on our part as weakness and that they will act accordingly right away. If we limit our harsh measures of security police through above orders for the time being, that is only done for the following reason. The most important thing is the recruiting of workers. No check of persons to be sent into the Reich will be made. No written certificates of political reliability check or similar things will be issued.

"( signed) Christiansen."

The head of the Jewish section in the GESTAPO, and the man directly responsible for carrying out the mass extermination program against the Jews by the GESTAPO, Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann, estimated in his report to Himmler on the matter, that 2,000,000 Jews had been killed by shooting, mainly by the Einsatz Groups of the SIPO and SD during the campaign in the East. This did not include the estimated 4,000,000 sent by the GESTAPO for extermination in annihilation camps.(2615-PS)

(2)The GESTAPO and SD stationed special units in prisoner of war camps for the purpose of screening out racial and political undesirables and executing them.

The program of mass murder of political and racial undesirables carried on against civilians was also applied to prisoners of war captured on the Eastern front. Warlimont, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Wehrmacht Fuehrungs Stab, states:

"* * * Shortly before the beginning of this campaign [with U. S. S. R.] I was present in a group composed of the Commanders in Chief (with their Chiefs of Staff) of the three Armed Forces, o f the Army groups, of Armies, and of the corresponding groups in the Air Forces and Navy. Hitler made an announcement to this group that special measures would have to be taken against political functionaries and commissars of the Soviet army. He said that this would not be an ordinary campaign but would be the clash of conflicting ideologies. He further said that the political functionaries and commissars were not to be considered as prisoners of war but were to be segregated from other prisoners immediately after their capture and were to be turned over to special detachments of the SD which were to accompany the German troops to Russia. He further said that when it was not possible to turn over the political functionaries and commissars to the SD, they were to be eliminated by the German troops." (2884-PS)

The Chief of the SD, Otto Ohlendorf, describes this action in thefollowing words:

"In 1941, shortly after the start of the campaign against Russia, an agreement was entered into between the Chief of the Security Police and SD and the OKW and OKH to the effect that the prisoner of war camps on the Eastern front should be opened to Ein'satzkommandos of the SIPO and SD so that the prisoners could be screened. All Jews and Communist functionaries were to be taken from the prisoner of war camps by the Einsatzkommandos and executed outside the camps. To my knowledge, this action was carried on throughout the entire Russian campaign. In the other occupied territories and within the Reich-to my knowledge-the GESTAPO had been made responsible for this program in the Russian prisoner of war camps. It was, to my knowledge, carried on throughout the greater part of the war." (2622-PS)

Lahousen, chief of a division in the office of foreign intelligence in the Wehrmacht, states:

"* * * From the start of the campaign against the U. S. S. R. the higher German political and military leadership followed the policy of eliminating Russian commissars and various other types of Russian prisoners of war captured by the Wehrmacht. In June and July 1941 I participated in a conference which concerned itself with the treatment of Russian commissars. * * * Obergruppenfuehrer Mueller was present as representative of the RSHA, and he participated in this matter because, as Chief of Section IV, he was responsible for the carrying out of these measures. Jointly with the SD and the GESTAPO he had the task of instituting the necessary measures for the execution of commissars. * * * In the discussion that followed, Mueller promised in a peculiarly cynical manner that these executions would take place in the future outside the camp, so that the troops would not be obliged to watch them. He promised further a certain limitation in the concept of 'Bolshevistically infected.' This concept and its interpretation had been hitherto left to the discretion of the SD Sonderkommandos. * * * An agreement was concluded between the OKW, the GESTAPO and the SD. Pursuant to this agreement Russian prisoners of war under the control of the OKW were delivered to the GESTAPO and SD for execution. The term 'Sonderbehandlung' in the official documents and way of speaking of the SD was equivalent to 'condemned to death'." (2846-PS)

Gestapo and SD Nuremberg Charges, Part V
Gestapo and SD Nuremberg Charges, Part III

Document compiled by Dr S D Stein
Last update 18/01/99
ęS D Stein

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