Gathering Point for Jewish Residents of a Bessarabian Village (September 1941)
After the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Nazi war and race policies escalated. From then on, the conquest of “living space” [Lebensraum] in the East was closely connected with the systematic liquidation of all alleged enemies of the German people, especially Jews, but also Communists and partisans. Mobile killing squads euphemistically referred to as Special Operations Units [Einsatzgruppen] and the Order Police [Ordnungspolizei] were sent in and tasked with systematically murdering members of these groups in the occupied areas. With the help of the Wehrmacht, they killed between 700,000 and 1,000,000 Jewish civilians before the end of 1941. Most of the massacres committed by these special troops followed more or less the same model. As we see in this photograph, the Jewish population of an area was gathered together, shot in operations that often lasted all day, and then buried in mass graves. According to some estimates, about two million people were murdered in this fashion. At least 1.3 million of the victims were Jewish.
© Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz