Genocidal Processes During World War II


Intelligence services of the Wehrmacht.   Most of their activities were gradually taken over by the SS, being absorbed by it in 1944.

Allgemeine SS  

General body of the SS, which included all members of the organisation with the exception of the Waffen-SS

For Nuremberg materials see Schutzstaffel


Codeword for the military onslaught on the USSR, launched June 22, 1941 

'Bullet' Decree  See Kugel Decree

Capo (Kapo)

A position of authority in concentration/death camps occupied by an inmate.  Capo's carried out the instructions of their immediate SS supervisors, usually a Blockführer.  Most frequently they were selected from among those inmates who had been incarcerated because of their criminal activities.   As their own, frequently limited, albeit life-saving, privileges, depended on the whim of their SS supervisors, they more often than not treated other inmates with extreme harshness and brutality.

Commissar Order See Kommisarbefehl

Concentration and Extermination Camps

Cultural Genocide See Culturecide


See article culturecide.htm

Death's Head Detachments  See Totenkopfverbände

Deutschen Polizei

Divided by Himmler into two branches: (1) Ordnungspolizei, Ordinary Police, abbreviated to Orpo,   and (2) Sicherheitspolizei, the Security Police, abbreviated to Sipo.   Follow the links for details on each.


Translated, variously, as Special Force, Action Group, Operational Force, Task Force.  The plural is Einsatzgruppen.  These units were under the control of the Reichsführer-SS and had been formed originally to perform special operations attendant upon the invasion of Poland in September, 1939.  With the invasion of the USSR on June 22, 1941, they assumed prominence as the units whose task it was to enforce the so-called Kommissarbefehl, or Commissar Order, essentially liquidating all officials  who had been prominent in the political system of the USSR prior to the German occupation.  There role extended rapidly, however, to include the mass execution of Jewish communities in occupied areas of the USSR.  It is estimated that they were responsible for murdering approximately 1.5 million Jews. An Einsatzgruppe was subdivided into smaller units, Einsatzkommando, , who, in turn, were formed from the smallest unit, an Einsatztrupp.   For more details on the activities, structure, and significance of the Einsatzgruppen see the detailed Web article.

Einsatzgruppen key senior personnel.  The "Einsatzgruppen Case."


A subdivision of an Einsatzgruppe

Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg für die Besetzten Gebiete (ERR)

A bureau managed by Alfred Rosenberg, created July 1940, that was responsible for the appropriation of cultural and ideological materials from German occupied territories.  Rosenberg's official title in this connection was The Führer's Representative for the Supervision of the Intellectual and Ideological Instruction of the National Socialist Party. The materials in question included millions of books and manuscripts and hundreds of thousands of paintings, sculptures and other art objects.  Most of these were simply appropriated without recompense of any sort to their owners, a significant number of whom in Western European countries were, or course, Jews or Jewish organisations.   Included as well, however were the writings and collections of Free Masons, Jehovah's Witnesses, communists and socialists. 


A subdivision of an Einsatzkommando

Endlösung, die

Final solution.  Generally taken to refer to the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question", which, from August/September 1941, at the latest, was taken to imply the physical liquidation of the Jewish population of German occupied Europe.


Event Reports compiled by Heydrich's staff in Berlin concerning the operational achievements of the Einsatzgruppen. According to C R Browning, one hundred and ninety-five such were compiled between June 23, 1941, and April 24, 1942, and are the major source of evidence concerning the executions of Jews and others by shootings.

Ethnic Cleansing

See article at ethnic_cleansing.htm


See article at ethnocide.htm


Main Entry: franc-ti·reur
Pronunciation: "frän-(")tE-'r&r
Function: noun
Etymology: French, from franc free + tireur shooter
Date: 1808
: a civilian and especially a guerrilla fighter or sniper

Freikorps (Free Korps)

Created in the context of the social turmoil that engulfed Germany during 1917-18, these were "freebooters" led by former officers of right-wing disposition who were keen to suppress reforms that would infringe on entrenched social, political, and economic privileges.  Proposed originally by General Ludwig Maercker, December 12, 1918, who suggested the creation of a volunteer rifle corps to suppress social dissent given that the regular military appeared to be incapable of successfully undertaking such tasks.  

As K P Fischer noted, "The backbone of the Free Corps units consisted of declassed imperial officers who were frightened by the prospects of giving up their privileged positions in German society.  Having lost the war along with their warlord, they faced a bleak prospect under a Socialist regime that was known to be hostile to the old military establishment.  It is estimated that there were some 270,000 officers in 1919, many of them coming from the ranks of the nobility.  ...Stunned by the shock of defeat and the prospects of a dreary life under socialism or even Communism, they became outraged elitist reactionaries, desperately searching for a new imperial banner under which they could continue their privileges." Some of these, and the non-officer, mainly de-mobbed soldiers, who comprised the rank and file, were later recruited by extreme nationalist organisations, including the NSDAP; many volunteered later for participation in the activities of the SA. (Source: K P Fischer. Nazi Germany: A New History, p.52)


Leader.  Usually preceded by a description of what is being led, as in Reichsführer-SS (Reich leader of the SS).  Also used to refer to the supreme leader of the Nazi Party until 1933, and thereafter, until 1945, the Chancellor and supreme leader of the German people, Adolf Hitler, der Führer.


A territorial administrative political unit of the NSDAP.  Germany was divided into 42 Gaue.  The NSDAP official in charge of a Gau was known as a Gauleiter.


Leader of a Gau

Geheime Feldpolizei (Secret Field Police)

In charge of security tasks in the Wehrmacht.   Most of their functions were taken over by the RSHA in 1942.

Geheime Staatspolizei  Secret State Police, abbreviated to Gestapo. Part of Amt IV of the RSHA

Nuremberg Tribunal Indictment (Gestapo and SD) Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI


That portion of Poland occupied by the Germans prior to the invasion of the USSR on June 22, 1941, that was not administratively annexed to the Third Reich.  Its administrative headquarters was in Cracow (Krakow), in southern Poland.  The Governor-General of the Generalgovernement was Hans Frank.

General Government See Generalgouvernement

Gemeindepolizei   Local Police

Gendarmerie  Rural Police

General SS  See Allgemeine SS

Gestapo  See Geheime Staatspolizei

Höhere SS-und Polizeiführer (HSSPF)   (Higher SS and Police Leader)

Senior SS personnel who assumed responsibility for coordinating the activities of the Orpo, Sipo, SD and General SS in military administrative districts.  During the war such districts were established in the occupied areas.   The Higher SS and Police Leaders also coordinated the activities of SS with the senior military personnel in the military administrative districts. The SS, under Himmler's leadership, continuously managed to broaden its areas of responsibility relating to policing and security matters.  By the end of the war nearly all intelligence gathering, security and police matters were in the hands of the SS.  The Higher SS and Police Leaders were responsible for all these functions in specific geographical areas.  Their principal functions were to control the local police authorities, monitor and carry out tasks relating to intelligence and security matters and perform whatever other tasks that they were allocated by Himmler, or by the military authorities in the occupied territories.

"In the occupied territories, the HSSPFs continued to be personally responsible to Himmler and had constant instructions from him, but they were, for operational purposes, responsible to the senior military commander stationed in that territory. The principal functions of the HSSPFs were to control the local police authorities, handle special police and intelligence matters, and carry out other special missions of a security nature for Himmler and for the military authorities. An HSSPF usually held the rank of Gruppenfuehrer or Obergruppenfuehrer in the SS, these ranks being respectively the equivalent of a two-star and a three-star general in the United States Army." (Source, p.12)

HSSPF  See Höhere SS-und Polizeiführer

IMT  See International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg

International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg

Established by the Allied Powers at the end of World War II to try the major German war criminals. Their were 24 defendants who were charged on one or more of four counts: (1) crimes against the peace, (2) crimes against humanity, (3) war crimes, and (4) "a common plan or conspiracy to commit" the acts listed in (1)-(3).  The first session was held, symbolically, in Berlin under the chairmanship of the Soviet member, on October 18, 1945.  All subsequent sessions were held in Nuremberg, also spelt Nurenberg.  There were 216 sessions in all, the verdict being delivered on October 1, 1946.  Ten of the accused were sentenced to death.  They included Hermann Göering, who committed suicide before the sentence could be administered, Hans Frank, Julius Streicher and Alfred Rosenberg.  Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels and Heinrich Himmler had all committed suicide.

Numerous other trials were held, for which see Overview to Crimes, Trials and Laws.  Some of these were held by the Allied powers in their zones of German occupation.  Many others were held in the occupied countries where the offenses of which German and the nationals of other countries were charged were committed.  See also Charter of the International Military Tribunal.


Raul Hilberg, in his Destruction of the European Jews, argued that conceptually the destructive process can be interpreted as having proceeded through a number of distinct phases.  His approach is etiologically cumulative, each phase building on the preceding one, in line with his contention that the direct physical elimination of the Jewish population of German occupied European countries evolved, rather than this policy having been adopted as a definite programme during the early years of the Third Reich, or before.  The first stage of this process was the definitional one, in which the German bureaucratic machine defined who was a Jew.   This, of course, was critically important as far as the eventual fate of many persons in Germany and elsewhere was concerned.  The Jews of Germany were, in comparison with Jewry in Poland, the Baltic states, and the USSR, for instance, highly assimilated, the assimilation process having been underway since the latter half of the nineteenth century. 

The first attempt at a definition appeared in 1933, in connection with the promulgation of the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service. The First Regulation published for its implementation, April 11, alluded to who was a Jew by reference to Aryan status:

Article 3

A person is to be considered non-Aryan if he is descended from non-Aryan, and especially from Jewish parents or grandparents.  It is sufficient if one parent or grandparent is non-Aryan.   This is to be assumed in particular where one parent or grandparent was of the Jewish religion.

This was essentially a negative definition, that is, in terms of those who were "non-Aryan", which includes categories other than Jews.  It is important to note, as Hilberg points out, that this definition is cast in religious, and not racial terms.  The criterion is whether or not the parent or grandparent is of the Jewish religion. In racial terms, as categorised by the leading ideologues of the Nazi movement, including Hitler, if all four grandparents were Jews who had converted to Christianity, the offspring would still be a Jew, although under the above definition they quite possibly would not.  At the same time, the definition is ambiguous in that the general clause refers to descent, whereas the particulars refer to the practice of the Jewish religion. (See, R Hilberg. The Destruction of European Jews. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1985, pp.27-28)

In addition, despite the ambiguity, the net was potentially widely drawn in that a large number of persons would be subsumed under it who were not practicing Jews, particularly those who had only one grandparent who had been a practicing Jew.  As noted earlier, Jews were relatively assimilated in pre-Nazi Germany; in particular, the number of intermarriages was quite high. 

A more embracing definition was introduced in the First Supplementary Regulation published under the Reich Citizenship Law, one of the so-called Nuremberg Laws, issued November 14, 1935.


Article 2

(2) An individual of mixed Jewish blood is one who is descended from one or two grandparents who, racially, were full Jews, insofar that he is not a Jew according to Section 2 of Article 5. Full-blooded Jewish grandparents are those who belonged to the Jewish religious community.

Article 5

(1) A Jew is an individual who is descended from at least three grandparents who were, racially, full Jews... (2) A Jew is also an individual who is descended from two full-Jewish grandparents if: (a) he was a member of the Jewish religious community when this law was issued, or joined the community later; (b) when the law was issued, he was married to a person who was a Jew, or was subsequently married to a Jew; (c) he is the issue from a marriage with a Jew, in the sense of Section I, which was contracted after the coming into effect of the Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor of September 15, 1935; (d) he is the issue of an extramarital relationship with a Jew, in the sense of Section I, and was born out of wedlock after July 31, 1936.

Accordingly, a person who is defined as not a Jew, but a person of mixed Jewish blood, is:

(1) any person who descended from two Jewish grandparents (half Jewish), but who (a) did not adhere (or adhered no longer) to the Jewish religion on September 15, 1935, and who did not joint it at any subsequent time, and (b) was not married (or was married no longer) to a Jewish person on September 15, 1935, and  who did not marry such a person at any subsequent time (such half-Jews were called Mischlinge of the first degree), and (2) any person descended from one Jewish grandparent (Mischling of the second degree).  The designations "Mischling of the first degree" and "Mischling of the second degree" were not contained in the decree of November 14, 1935, but were added in a later ruling by the Ministry of the Interior. [Source: R Hilberg.  The Destruction of the European Jews. New York: New Viewpoints, 1973, p.48]

Kapo  See Capo

Kommisarbefehl   The Commissar Order

Issued June 6, 1941.  Instructions on the liquidation of Bolshevik officials captured by the German forces invading the USSR. The order and further details.


Concentration camp

Kriminalpolizei   The Criminal Police.

The Kriminalpolizei and the Geheime Staatspolizei together constituted the Security Police, Sipo, the Sicherheitspolizei

Kripo See Kriminalpolizei

KZ  See Konzentrationslager

Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass)

Kugel [bullet] Decree

A decree that "directed that every escaped officer and NC0 prisoner of war who had not been put to work, with the exception of British and American prisoners of war, should on recapture be handed over to the SIP0 and SD. ...These escaped officers and NCOs were to be sent to the concentration camp at Mauthausen, to be executed upon arrival, by means of a bullet shot in the neck.

" In March, 1944, fifty officers of the British Royal Air Force, who escaped from the camp at Sagan where they were confined as prisoners, were shot on recapture, on the direct orders of Hitler." [Source: Military High Command Trial]

Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party

Under the terms of Article 9 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal "At the trial of any group or organisation the Tribunal may declare (in connection with any act of which the individual may be convicted) that the group or organisation of which the individual was a member was a criminal organisation."  One of the groups so designated was the Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party. 

"The Leadership Corps of the Nazi Party consisted, in effect, of the official organisation of the Nazi Party, with Hitler as Fuehrer as its head.  The actual work of running the Leadership Corps was carried out by the Chief of the Party Chancellery (Hess, succeeded by Bormann) assisted by the Party Reich Directorate, or Reichsleitung, which was composed of the Reichsleiters, the heads of the functional organisations of the Party, as well as of heads of the various main departments and offices which were attached to the Party Reich Directorate.  Under the Chief of the Party Chancellery were the Gauleiters, with territorial jurisdiction over the main administrative regions of the Party, the Gaus.  The Gauleiters were assisted by a Party Gau Directorate or Gauleitung, similar in composition and function to the Part Reich Directorate.  Under the Gauleiters in the Party hierarchy were the Kreisleiters with territorial jurisdiction over a Kreis, usually consisting of a single country, and assisted by a Party of (sic) Kreis Directorate, or Kreisleitung.  The Kreisleiters were the lowest members of the Party hierarchy who were full time paid employees.   Directly under the Kreisleiters were the Ortsgruppenleiters, then the Zellenleiters and then the Blockleiters.  Directives and instructions were received from the Party Reich Directorate." [Source: Judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Trial of German Major War Criminals. Nuremberg, 30th September and 1st October, 1946.   London: HMSO, 1966, pp.67-68]

Lebensborn e.V

"The Fountain of Life.  An SS society founded in 1936. ...  Its main functions were to adopt suitable children for childless SS families, to succour racially sound pregnant women and their offspring, and in general to promote the racial policy of the SS." (H Krausnick, M Broszat. Anatomy of the SS State. London: Paladin, 1973)

lebensraum Living space

Leibstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler

One of the most famous and esteemed units of the SS, being the personal bodyguard of der Führer.  Formed in 1933, it was commanded by SS-Gruppenführer Josef (Sepp) Dietrich, initially with a complement of 120 men.


Mischling See Jew, definition of.

Nacht [Night]  und Nebel [Fog] Decrees

A series of related decrees introduced in late 1941 that provided that in German occupied territories in the west, civilians would be tried for offenses against the German state only if it was likely that the verdict would be one of execution, and that this would be carried out a few days after their apprehension.  If this was unlikely, the "offender" would be tranported for to concentration camps in Germany, all requests for information about their whereabout from relatives or others to be denied. In the event of trials in Germany, alien witnesses would only be allowed to be heard with the consent of the High Command of the armed forces, the public being denied access to the proceedings.

NMT  See Nuremberg Military Tribunal

NSDAP Nationalsozialistiche Deutsche Arbeiter Partei [National Socialist German Workers' Party], abbreviated to Nazi Party.

Nuremberg Military Tribunal  (NMT)

Tribunal(s) set up by the United States in its zone of occupation to try those who were guilty of major war crimes, under the authority of Control Council Law No.10. Twelve trials were conducted between 1946 and 1949.  These included the trial of those who had participated in and commanded the Einsatzgruppen, members of the RuSHA, and the I G Farben, Krupp and High Command trials.  For more detailed information see Trials, Crimes and Laws: Overview, and the Statistical Table of the Nuremberg Trials.

OKH Oberkommando des Heeres [Army High Command]

Both numerically and operationally, the Army was the most important of the armed services.  Field-Marshall Walter von Brauchitsch was its Commander-in-Chief between 1938 and December 1941.  This position was then assumed by Hitler.  As Hitler was also Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht, this meant that there was considerable overlap in practice between the OKH and the OKW.

For further information see The German Military System (Source)

OKL Oberkommando der Luftwaffe-[Supreme Command of the Air Force]

OKM Oberkommando der Kriegsmarine [Navy High Command]

"The Navy was the smallest of the services, and its personnel and units were numerically the smallest within the German Armed Forces. From 1928 until 1943 the OKM was headed by Fleet Admiral Erich Raeder. From 1943 to the end of the war in May, 1945, Fleet Admiral Doenitz, succeeding Raeder, was Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy, having previously been in charge of its most important weapon, the submarine." (Source)

OKW  Oberkommando der Wehrmacht [Armed Forces High Command]

The OKW was established in February 1938 and controlled all matters of inter-service policy.  It was directly responsible for the overall conduct of operations during the war. Its most senior officer was Wilhelm Keitel, Field Marshal and Chief of Staff for the whole of the period from 1938 to 1945.  The most important section of the OKW, which was directly concerned with field operations, was the Armed Forces Operations Staff (Wehrmachtsfuehrungsstab, WFST).  During the war this was commanded by General Alfred Jodl. The decree promulgated by Hitler  that established the OKW also specified that "Command authority over the entire Armed Forces is from now on exercised directly by me personally."

One of the principal agencies of the OKW was the General Armed Forces Office (Allgemeines Wehrmachtamt, AWA), which was concerned primarily with administrative matters.  An important subdivision of the AWA was the Office of the Chief of Prisoner-of-War Affairs (Chef des Kriegsgefangenwesens, Chef Kriegs-Gef).

For further information see The German Military System (Source)


The Order Police, abbreviated to Orpo.   These were the uniformed police who consisted of the Schutzpolizei (National Police), the Gendarmerie (Rural Police) and the Gemeindepolizei (Local Police)

Protocols of the Elders of Zion

Anti-Semitic tract that was first printed and circulated in Russia during the first decade of the twentieth century.  Its subject matter was purported meetings held during the Zionist Congress held in Basle, Switzerland, in 1897.   Jews and Freemasons were alleged to have held discussions directed at ensuring a world government controlled by them that would dominate and exploit Christendom.  The Protocols purport to reproduce the substance of these deliberations.  They were translated into the main European languages and  circulated in most European countries, as well as further afield.. 

Rear Areas

"During war time the operational area of the Army (Heeres) was divided into various segments.  The operational areas of an army (Armee) consisted of the combat zone and an army rear area.  The operational area of an army group consisted of the operational areas of the armies under it and an army group rear area.   The boundaries of the army group rear area coincided with the boundaries of the army rear areas and extended to the territory under civil administration of the Reich, such as the Commissariat Ostland in the east.

The army group and army rear areas were commanded by general officers who were directly responsible to the commander-in-chief of the army group, or army, respectively.  The missions with which these commanders were charged can be summarized as follows:

  1. Administration of the occupied area;

  2. The maintenance of peace and order in these areas;

  3. Responsibility for the security of railroads and main supply routes leading to the front line, as well as for all supply agencies engaged on behalf of the front-line troops."

[Source: United Nations War Crimes Commission. Law Reports of the Trials of War Criminals: The German High Command Trial. New York: Howard Fertig, 1994, p. 11.  First published in 1949 as Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals, Vol.12]


Reich Leader of the SS.  Throughout the history of the Third Reich, this position was occupied by Heinrich Himmler, who, for most of the period, was also Chief of the German Police.

Reichskommissar für die Festingung des deutschen Volkstums

Commissioner for the Consolidation of German Nationhood.  This office was established by Hitler in 1939 in the context of the plan to reconstitute the demographic structure of German occupied Poland.  Persons of German origin settled in Poland and further east were to be settled in that part of Poland that was annexed to the Third Reich.  Jews and Poles resident in these areas were to be moved to eastern Poland, the area known as the Generalgouvernement.

Reichskommissariat für das Ostland

The name for the German civil administration in the eastern occupied territories of the USSR.  There was a separate Reichskommissariat for the Ukraine.  The Reichskommissariat was subdivided into smaller administrative units.

Reichssicherheithauptampt (Main/head Office of Reich Security)

Formed in 1939 by Himmler to coordinate and manage the activities of the Gestapo, Kripo and SD, a subdivision of the SS.  This agency was headed by Reinhard Heydrich until his assassination in 1942 near the village of Lidice, in Czechoslovakia, whilst serving in the office of Protector of Bohemia and Moravia.


Name of the German parliamentary legislative chamber.

RSHA  See Reichssicherheithauptampt

SA  See Sturmabteilungen

Schutzpolizie National Police


Protection or guard detachment.  Formed in 1925 as Hitler's praetorian guard.  Heinrich Himmler became its leader, Reichsführer-SS in 1929. 

Nuremberg Tribunal Indictment, Gestapo and SD:  Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V

SD  See Sicherheitsdienst des RfSS

Sicherheitsdienst des RfSS

The security service of the SS [RfSS refers to Reichsführer-SS], established in 1932. Its head was Reinhard Heydrich.  It was the intelligence agency of the NSDAP.  In 1944 it absorbed the Abwehr, the intelligence agency of the OKW, the Armed Forces High Command.

Nuremberg Tribunal Indictment, Gestapo and SD:  Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V


The Security Police, which included the Kripo and the Gestapo

Sipo  See Sicherheitspolizei

SKL Seekriegsleitung [Naval War Staff ]

Sturmabteilungen   Storm Troopers

Founded in 1921, these were the political soldiers of the NSDAP, its most active supporters and those who marched in demonstrations, kept control at political meetings, and were quite prepared to engage in active combat with supporters of opposing political parties.  Most of the more serious conflicts were with members of the socialist and communist parties.  From 1939 they became responsible for pre-military training of able-bodied males.

SS See Schutzstaffel

Totenkopfverbände Death's Head units or detachments

Originally members of these units guarded the concentration camps.  In 1938 they participated, alongside the Verfügunstruppen, in the occupation of Austria, the Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia.  In 1939, 6,500 of their most experienced members, under the command of the former commandant of the concentration camp Dachau, and Inspector of Concentration Camps 1933-1939, Theodore Eicke, formed the first Waffen SS unit, the Totenkopfdivision. Until mid-1941 its units were employed in policing occupied territories, and the supervision and implementation of deportations and executions.  Immediately prior to the assault on the USSR, the Totenkopfverbände were incorporated in units of the Waffen SS.

Totenkopfwachsturbanne (Death's Head Guard Battalions)

These were the units of the SS which guarded the concentration camps during the war, whose members were drawn from the Allgemeine SS.  As the military situation worsened in 1942/43, their more able-bodied members were transferred to the Waffen SS.  The place of these was taken by older members of the SA, soldiers from the armed services who had been wounded and were no longer fit for active duty, and members of the Waffen SS who were not fit for field duties.

United Nations War Crimes Commission  

The Commission was established following discussions between representatives of the Allied powers in London, on October 20, 1943, and first met in January 1944. 

Its primary task was to collect, investigate, and record evidence of war crimes, and to report to the governments concerned all instances in which a prima facie case existed.  ...[it] was assisted by various national offices established by the member nations, offices which immediately began searching for war criminals.  The national offices submitted to the Commission formal charges against suspected war crimnals and a description of available evidence to substantiate the charges.  After these charges were received, the Commission had to determine whether the accused should be arrested and prosecuted by the member governments.  This made it necessary to identify and locate the accused and to plan for their later prosecution.  ... The Commission itself took no part in these arrests and prosecutions; in fact, most of the accused were never brought to trial. [Source: N.E Tutorow. War Crimes, War Criminals and War Crimes Trials.  New York: Greenwood Press, 1986]

UNWCC   See United Nations War Crimes Commission

Waffen SS

Originally designated Verfügunstruppen, and established by Hitler in 1938, as an armed force entirely separate from the military,  under the control of the Reichsführer-SS.  In the Second World War these units fought alongside those of the Wehrmacht in all the main European sectors.   Their contribution was especially noteworthy, often infamous, in the blitzkreig campaign against France and on the Eastern Front throughout the years 1941-45.  By the end of the war the Waffen SS had 38 divisions, including nationals from many occupied European countries.  As George Stein noted, throughout their history of military engagements these units "established an unrivalled reputation for toughness in battle."

Wehrmacht  German Armed Forces

Organizational Chart: Upper Echelon Command

WFSt Wehrmachtfuehrungsstab (Operational Staff of Armed Forces)

Wirtschafts-und Verwaltungshauptamt

The Economic and Administrative Office of the SS.   Created in 1942 it controlled the vast economic interests of the SS.  These were tied up with concentration camp and extermination programme through the administration of slave labour and the saleable outputs from the Jewish ghettoes and concentration and extermination camps.  The SS official in charge was Obergruppenführer Oswald Pohl.

WVHA   See Wirtschafts-und Verwaltungshauptamt

Zigeuner  Roma and Sinti (Gypsies)

Zigeunerlager  Roma and Sinti (Gypsy) Camps

Municipal camps for the confinement of German Roma and Sinti, established post-1935.  Roma and Sinti who were stateless, or held other nationalities, had already mostly been expelled from German soil: "These gypsy camps were in essence SS-Sonderlager: special internment camps combining elements of protective custody, concentration camps and embryonic ghettoes. Usually located on the outskirts of cities, these Zigeunerlager were guarded by the SS, the gendarmerie, or the uniformed city police.  After 1935 these camps became reserve depots for forced labor, genealogical registration, and compulsory sterilization. Between 1933 and 1939, Zigeunerlager were created in Cologne, Düsseldorf, Essen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and other German cities.  These camps evolved from municipal internment camps into assembly centres for systematic deporation to concentration camps after 1939." [Source: "Holocaust: The Gypsies."  Sybil Milton. In S Totten, W S Parsons, I W Charny (eds.) Century of Genocide. Eyewitness Accounts and Critical Reviews. New York: Garland, 1997]

Document compiled by Dr S D Stein
Last update 18/09/02 11:58:44
©S D Stein

Faculty of Economics and Social Science Home Page