Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team
The IMT Series
The Einsatzgruppen Trials
Military Tribunal II
The "Einsatzgruppen Case" was officially designated United States of America vs. Otto Ohlendorf, et al. (Case No. 9). This trial has become known as the "Einsatzgruppen Case" because all of the defendants were charged with criminal conduct arising out of their functions as members of the Einsatzgruppen.
The German term "Einsatzgruppen" may be roughly translated "Special Task Forces". Four such special units were formed in May 1941 just before the German attack on Russia, at the direction of Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, the Reich Leader SS, and Chief of the German Police.
The units were organized by Reinhardt Heydrich, Chief of the Security Police and SD (Sicherheitsdienst or Security Service) and operated under the direct control on the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA). The personnel of the Einsatzgruppen came from the SS, the SD, the Gestapo (Secret State Police), and other police units.
The prosecution alleged that the primary purpose of the Einsatzgruppen was to accompany the German Army into the occupied East and to exterminate Jews, gypsies, Soviet officials, and other elements of the civilian population regarded as "racially" inferior or "Politically undesirable". It was charged that approximately one million human beings were victims of this program.
The Einsatzgruppen Case was tried at the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg before Military Tribunal II-A. The Tribunal convened 78 times, and the trial lasted approximately eight months, as shown by the following scheduled:
Defendants and Defense Counsel
The indictments against the defendants were declared by
Telford Taylor Brigadier General, U.S. Army, Chief of Counsel for War Crimes
Count One - Crimes Against Humanity
Between May 1941 and July 1943 all of the defendants herein committed crimes against humanity, as defined in Article II of Control Council Law No. 10, in that they were principals in, accessories to, ordered, abetted, took a consenting part in, were connected with plans and enterprises involving, and were members of organizations or groups connected with, atrocities and offenses, including but not limited to, persecutions on political racial, and religious grounds, murder, extermination, imprisonment, and other inhumane acts committed against civilian populations, including German nationals and nationals of other countries.
The acts, conduct, plans, and enterprises charged in paragraph I of this count were carried out as part of a systematic program of genocide, aimed at the destruction of foreign nationals and ethnic groups by murderous extermination.
Beginning in May 1941, on the orders of Himmler, special task forces called "Einsatzgruppen" were formed from the personnel of the SS, the SD, the Gestapo, and other police units.
The primary purpose of these groups was to accompany the German Army into the eastern territories, and exterminate Jews gypsies, Soviet officials, and other elements of the civilian population regarded as racially "inferior" or "politically undesirable."
Initially four Einsatzgruppen were formed, each of which supervised the operation of a number of subordinate units called "Einsatzkommandos" or "Sonderkommandos."
Some Einsatzgruppen had, in addition, other units for special purposes. Each Einsatzgruppe, together with its subordinate units consisted of about 500 to 800 persons. Einsatzgruppe A, operating mainly in the Baltic region, included Sonderkommandos la and lb and Einsatzkommandos 2 and 3. Einsatzgruppe B, operating mainly in the area towards Moscow, included Sonderkommandos 7a and 7b, Einsatzkommandos 8 and 9, and special units named Vorkommando Moscow (also known as Sonderkommando 7e) and Trupp Smolensk.
Einsatzgruppe C, operating mainly in the area towardi Kiev, included Sonderkommandos 4a and 4b and Einsatzkommandos 5 and 6. Einsatzgruppe D, operating mainly in the area of southern Russia, included Sonderkommandos 10a and 10b andEinsatzkommandos 11a, 11b, and 12.
Count Two - War Crimes
Between 22 June 1941 and July 1943 all of the defendants herein committed war crimes as defined in Article 11 of Control Council Law No. 10, in that they were principals in, accessories to, ordered, abetted, took a consenting part in, were connected with plans and enterprises involving, and were members of organizations or groups connected with, atrocities and offenses against persons and property constituting violations of the laws or customs of war, including, but not limited to, murder and ill- treatment of prisoners of war and civilian populations of countries and territories under the belligerent occupation of, or otherwise controlled by Germany, and wanton destruction and devastation not justified by military necessity. The particulars concerning these crimes are set forth in paragraphs 6 to 9, inclusive, of count one of this indictment and are incorporated herein by reference.
The acts and conduct of the defendants set forth in this count were committed unlawfully, willfully, and knowingly and constitute violations of international conventions, particularly of Articles 43 and 46 of the Regulations of the Hague Convention No. IV, 1907, the Prisoner-of-War Convention (Geneva, 1929), the laws and customs of war, the general principles of criminal law as derived from the criminal laws of all civilized nations, the internal penal laws of the countries in which such crimes were committed, and Article 11 of Control Council Law No.
Count Three - Members in Criminal Organizations
All the defendants herein are charged with membership, subsequent to 1 September 1939, in organizations declared to be criminal by the International Military Tribunal and paragraph I (d) of Article 11 of Control Council Law No. 10.
(A) All the defendants were members of the Schutzstaffeln der Nationalsozialistischen Deutschen Arbeiterpartei (commonly known as the "SS").
(B) The defendants Ohlendorf, Jost, Naumann, Rasch, Six Blobel, Blume, Sandberger, Seibert, Steimle, Biberstein, Braune Haensch, Ott, Strauch, Haussmann, Klingelhoefer, Fendler, voi Radetzky, Schubert, and Graf were members of offices (Aemterl) III, VI, and VII of the Reich Security Main Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt - RSHA) constituting the Reich Security Service of the Reich Leader SS (Reichssicherheitsdienst des Reichs fuehrer SS), commonly known as the "SD".
(C) The defendants Rasch, Schulz, Blume, Braune, Biberstein, Nosske, and Ruehl were members of Amt IV of the Reichs sicherheitshauptamt - RSHA constituting the Secret State Police (Geheime Staatspolizei), commonly known as the "Gestapo".
Wherefore, this indictment is filed with the Secretary General of the Military Tribunals and the charges herein made against the above-named defendants are hereby presented to the Military Tribunals.
All defendants were charged on all counts. All defendants pleaded "not guilty". The tribunal found all of them guilty on all counts, except Rühl and Graf, who were found guilty only on count 3.
Verdicts and Sentencing
Shocked and sickened by the evidence which he heard, Justice Musmanno who presided over the trial wrote:
Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10, Volume IV, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 3 - 4
Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders by Raul Hilberg
The Einsatzgruppen Reports: Selections from the Dispatches of the Nazi Death Squads' Campaign Against the Jews July 1941-January 1943 Arad & Krakowski
Copyright. CL H.E.A.R.T 2007