by Rudolf Schlossberg
Copyright 2012 Rudolf Schlossberg
During World War II, the Einsatzgruppen were SS killing squads. Operating throughout Europe, these men were the first to kill Jews and other people the Nazis considered “undesirable” in an organized manner. Their operations ranged from small-scale local shootings of a few people to huge mass shootings that went on for days. They are responsible for the deaths of roughly 1 million people.
The Einsatzgruppen (Task Forces, but also referred to as Mobile Killing squads by many historians) were formed by SS chief Heinrich Himmler’s deputy, SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich in 1938. Originally founded to secure government buildings after the annexation by Germany of Austria in 1938, their role quickly evolved into that of a dedicated death squad with the beginning of the war.