MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

AUSCHWITZ-BIRKENAU

FORMER GERMAN NAZI
CONCENTRATION AND EXTERMINATION CAMP

The Einsatzgruppen

Even before the start of the war in the east, Hitler decided to kill Soviet political commissars and communist party activists. However, it was mostly Jews, regardless of gender and age, who fell victim to the mass executions carried out, beginning in June 1941, by special SS units (Einsatzgruppen), which murdered hundreds of thousands of people in massacres at Babi Yar near Kiev, and in Odessa, Kaunas, Charkiv, and many other places. Since shooting women and small children proved too great a psychological hardship for some SS men and German policemen, the Nazis began using mobile gas chambers in the form of modified trucks that asphyxiated the victims with exhaust fumes.