Mass Murder in the Baltic States
15th October 1941: The SS begin to submit reports on the scale of the mass executions that became known as the 'Holocaust by Bullets'
There was an element of competition between the four different Einsatzgruppe operating on the Eastern Front. Their leaders wanted to demonstrate their enthusiasm for the task given to them by the Nazi leadership. There was especial kudos if they could declare an area, or even a country, "JudenFrei" - ‘Free of Jews’.
SS-Brigadeführer Franz Stahlecker, commander of Einsatzgruppe A, reported to Security Service Headquarters in Berlin on 15th October. This was a detailed 130 page report on the 'success' of his operations in the Baltic countries.
He began by recalling how the Einsatzgruppe had started their work by inciting the local population to commit 'pogroms' against Jews. These included the Lietukis Garage massacre.
Otherwise the report is remarkable for the way that it dealt with mass murder in the most bureaucratic terms:
General Report up to October 15, 1941
The Fight against Jewry
Particularly severe and extensive measures became necessary in Lithuania. In some places—especially in Kovno—the Jews had armed themselves and took an active part in sniping and arson. In addition, the Jews of Lithuania cooperated most closely with the Soviets.
The total number of Jews liquidated in Lithuania is 71,105.
During the pogrom 3,800 Jews were eliminated in Kovno and about 1,200 in the smaller cities.
In Latvia, too, Jews took part in acts of sabotage and arson after the entry of the German Wehrmacht. In Dünaburg [Dvinsk, Daugavpils] so many fires were started by Jews that a large part of the city was destroyed. The electric power station was burned out completely. Streets inhabited mainly by Jews remained untouched. Up to now 30,000 Jews have been executed in Latvia. The pogrom in Riga eliminated 500.
Most of the 4,5000 Jews living in Estonia at the start of the Eastern campaign fled with the retreating Red Army. About 2,000 stayed behind. In Reval [Tallinn] alone there were about 1,000 Jews.
The arrest of all male Jews over the age of sixteen is almost completed. With the exception of the doctors and the Jewish Elders appointed by the Sonderkommando they [the remaining Jews] are being executed by the Estonian Self-Defense Force under the supervision of Sonderkommando Ia. Jewesses between the ages of sixteen through sixty in Reval and Pernau, who are fit for work, were arrested and used to cut peat and for other work.
At present a camp is being built at Harku in which all the Jews in Estonia will be sent, so that in a short time Estonia will be cleared of Jews.