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The Einsatzgruppen and the Holocaust by Joseph Bishop

One of the most important witnesses regarding the Einsatzgruppen was a man named Otto Ohlendorf, the commander of Einsatzgruppe D which had operated in southern Russia. Ohlendorf testified for the prosecution at the Nuremberg trial that his unit was responsible for the killing of 90,000 Jews in southern Russia during the year that he was the commander. These figures essentially matched the figures given in the reports of the Einsatzgruppen. Ohlendorf, said Weber, tried very hard to co-operate with the Allies in the hope of trying to save his own skin. To his surprise, however, the Allies put him on trial for his activities in the Einsatzgruppen after he testified for them. During his own trial, Ohlendorf changed his testimony and stated that the figures of Jews killed were greatly exaggerated and that there was no policy to exterminate the Jews simply because they were Jews. He was executed by the Allies. (23-5687 to 5689) The contradictions between Ohlendorf's two testimonies was not widely known. Usually, only the initial Ohlendorf testimony and the figures given therein were quoted. (23-5688) [Mark Weber] The 'False News' Trial of Ernst ZŁndel -- 1988 

With respect to the Einsatzgruppen, Weber had studied the work of Reginald Paget, a member of the British House of Commons and a historian. He was the person who investigated the Einsatzgruppen reports in the context of a trial of a German general. Paget found that the Einsatzgruppen figures were enormously exaggerated. Specifically, he investigated the claim that 10,000 Jews were shot at Simferopol in the Crimea in November 1941. He found that instead of 10,000 Jews, probably about 300 persons were shot, most of whom were not Jews. In that particular case, the Einsatzgruppen report figures were exaggerated from 300 persons to 10,000 persons. Paget subsequently concluded that the Einsatzgruppen reports were exaggerated on an order of about ten to one. (23-5691) [Mark Weber] The 'False News' Trial of Ernst ZŁndel -- 1988 

Weber repeated that the Einsatzgruppen reports did not evidence any plan to exterminate the Jews. The Jews were shot for security reasons, as alleged spies, and for reprisals. If a German soldier was shot by a sniper or killed in a village somewhere, the normal policy of the German forces was to shoot hostages or shoot people in the village as a reprisal. This was a very grim policy but a policy which had been carried out by almost all governments faced with any kind of guerrilla or partisan warfare. The United States carried out such a policy in Vietnam and the French in Algeria. (23-5696) [Mark Weber] The 'False News' Trial of Ernst ZŁndel -- 1988 

Weber returned to the subject of the Einsatzgruppen. There were four Einsatzgruppen altogether with a total number of personnel of about 3,000. The Einsatzgruppen varied in size from about 990 in the largest to 500 in the smallest. Their official title was Task Forces of the Security Police and Security Service. Their purpose was to bring about a 'rough and ready' form of order and security to the occupied Soviet territories behind the areas where the German armies went forward and before the establishment of regular civil administration in the occupied territories. Less than half of the members of the Einsatzgruppen were SS men and a very large percentage were completely non-military personnel including interpreters, secretaries, teletype operators, truck drivers and other various support staff. Weber obtained this information from the Einsatzgruppen reports themselves, published in the official record of the International Military Tribunal. These figures were essentially accepted by all historians no matter what their views might be. (23 5745, 5746)
    There were numerous estimates of the numbers of Jews supposedly killed by the Einsatzgruppen, ranging from about 3 million by a historian named Schwarz to 1 million by Gerald Reitlinger. Weber's own opinion was that from 200,000 to 800,000 Jews at the most were shot by the Einsatzgruppen although it was very difficult to say. The total pre-war Jewish population of the occupied Soviet territories was about 4.7 million Jews. The great majority of these Jews fled or were evacuated by the Soviet government in 1941 when the German army moved into the Soviet Union. Based on that, Weber believed that no more than 1 million to 1.5 million Jews came under German control in the occupied territories. Yet it was commonly alleged that 2 million or 3 million Jews were shot by the Einsatzgruppen. (23-5747, 5748)
    Paul Blobel, who was the commander of one of the Einsatzkommandos (a sub-unit of the Einsatzgruppen), was put on trial after the war and testified emphatically that the figures of dead given in the Einsatzgruppen reports were grossly exaggerated. Gustav Nosske was another Einsatzkommando leader who was put on trial and testified that the Einsatzgruppen report figures were grossly exaggerated. The fact that the reports were exaggerated, said Weber, was accepted by many historians. These included Gerald Reitlinger, who wrote The Final Solution, the historians Helmut Krausnick and Hans-Heinrich Wilhelm who wrote Die Truppe des Weltanschaungskrieges, William Shirer who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, British historian Tom Bower and German historian Werner Maser. Even Raul Hilberg, in The Destruction of the European Jews, stated that an affidavit made by Otto Ohlendorf was exaggerated. Weber noted that in October of 1943, Himmler gave a speech in which he complained that 95 out of 100 official reports he received were greatly exaggerated, unreliable or false. (23-5748 to 5756)
    Weber had done a comparison of the figures of alleged Jewish dead in the Einsatzgruppen reports with the Korherr report. The Korherr report was an important SS statistical report on the movement and placement of Jews in Europe prepared at the request of Himmler by Richard Korherr, the official statistician with the SS. Korherr referred to about 636,000 Jews in the Soviet areas as being "resettled." This had been interpreted to refer to Jews who were shot by the Einsatzgruppen. In Weber's opinion, that interpretation was not necessarily true at all, but even if it was, the figure of 636,000 was incompatible with the figures given in most standard books about the number of Jews supposedly shot by the Einsatzgruppen, which varied from 1 million to 3 million. (23-5751, 5752)
    The best remembered case of shootings of Jews in the occupied territories, said Weber, was that of Babi Yar. Babi Yar was a ravine outside of Kiev in the Ukraine. The Einsatzgruppen reports themselves stated that on September 29 and 30, 1941, 33,000 Jews were shot and killed at Babi Yar. Weber did not believe this for several reasons. Firstly, given the general exaggerations of the Einsatzgruppen reports, it was reasonable to believe that this figure was likewise exaggerated. Secondly, Paul Blobel, who was the commandant of the unit which allegedly carried out the shootings, testified after the war that the figure could not have been more than 16,000. In his book Hitler's War, historian David Irving quoted a Soviet major who had defected to the Germans complaining to his German superiors that a year after Babi Yar Kiev was again overrun with Jews. Gerald Reitlinger, in his book The Final Solution, reported that in August of 1946, 100,000 Jews were living in Kiev. Weber pointed out that this was before the major rush of Jews from areas of the Soviet Union which had remained under Soviet control back to the areas which had been occupied by the Germans. (23-5753, 5754) [Mark Weber] The 'False News' Trial of Ernst ZŁndel -- 1988 
    In the last several years, an important document on the Einsatzgruppen had come to light whose authenticity was accepted by Yad Vashem (and published in the book Documents on the Holocaust). The document was from Heydrich to the SS heads in the occupied Soviet territories and laid out explicitly that the task of the Einsatzgruppen was to shoot people who were dangerous to security such as snipers and saboteurs. Heydrich specifically stated that the only Jews to be shot immediately as Jews were those who were officials in the Communist Party and the Soviet government. (23-5755, 5756)