Posts Tagged : einsatzgruppen

Civilian Massacre during WWII

On August 20th, 2013, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor at the time, visited the Dachau concentration camp, marking the first visit of a concentration camp by a German leader. There, she offered flowers and bowed to the victims of the Second World War. This was her sincere apology to the Jewish people for the ethnic cleansing of German Nazism and the unforgivable cruelty of the Nazis.

During World War II, German Nazis confined 6 million Jews into concentration camps and slaughtered them in order to create justification for their power. In the camps and during transportation, many innocent people, including children and the disabled, were killed in inhumane ways, such as amputation of their sexual organs. Moreover, nearly 3000 people were murdered in gas chambers daily for human experimentation.

These kinds of civilian massacres do not apply only to German Nazism, however. Japan’s imperialists, also mainly responsible for World War II, performed similar acts that could be referred to as the “Asian Holocaust.” Though it is not as widely known as the German Holocaust, Japanese militarists also brutally exterminated many civilians in Asian countries. As an act of revenge against Koreans who opposed Japan’s colonization through the March 1st Movement, the Japanese government massacred people in Jeamri, indiscriminately slaughtering numerous Korean civilians. Japan’s Unit 731 conducted medical experiments on more than three thousand Asians. During the comparably well-known ‘Rape of Nanking,’ Japanese troops massacred and raped thousands of civilians in Nanking, China. As these examples show, damages caused by Japanese imperialism were devastating.


GSBC. (2013, March 13). Forgive but Never Forget – at Jeamni 3.1 Independence Movement Memorial Hall. In Gyeonggi Small Business Center. Retrieved from

Furtado, P. (2012). 1001 Days That Shaped the World. New York, NY: Barrons Educational Series.

Rosenberg, J. Auschwitz Concentration and Death Camp. In Retrieved from

Untied States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (2013, June 10). Einsatzgruppen (Mobile Killing Units). In Holocaust Encyclopedia. Retrieved from


Einsatzgruppen, the Nazi’s paramilitary death squads, played a major role in the Holocaust that killed more than 6 million Jews. Einsatzgruppen means “deployment groups” in German, and it was the unit comprised of the German SS (Schutzstaffel; protection squadrons) and police squads. They undertook assignments to murder ethnical enemies, such as Jews, and political enemy forces in German-occupied territories. The “Final Solution,” the Nazi’s attempt to kill all the Jews in Europe, was the pretext for these massacres. Germans killed all those who defied them – not only Jews but also gypsies, Russians, disabled and the mentally insane in hospitals.

The Einsatzgruppen massacred civilians in extreme and brutal ways. When Germany invaded Russia in June, 1941, they mobilized the local police to shoot all the civilians who lived in the occupied areas. Einsatzgruppen’s way of decimating the Jews was different from the Nazi’s in that they went to their homes to murder them on the spot, instead of transporting them to concentration camps. Targets of murder gradually expanded, from mostly Jewish men in the beginning to all Jews regardless of age and gender, even children and women. As the number of their targets increased, Einsatzgruppen realized the inefficiency of shooting and began to use poisonous gas for mass murder. They killed millions of Jews by putting them in gas trucks and suffocating them to death with carbon monoxide gas. Furthermore, they forced the victims into buildings and then burned or exploded the buildings as another way of mass killing. This case is similar to the Japanese imperialists’ “Jeamri Massacre” which occurred during similar time frame.


Untied States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (2013, June 10). Einsatzgruppen (Mobile Killing Units). In Holocaust Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Zen, E., & Lewis, Ken. (1998, April 17). The Einsatzgruppen. In The Nizkor Project. Retrieved from