Video Testimony from Zvi Michaeli

Slideshow Mobile Killing Units

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  • Mobile Killing Units

    Mobile Killing Units accompanied the German invasion of the Soviet Union, murdering their victims bullet by bullet, person by person. They did not operate alone: they were assisted by the Wehrmacht (the German army), local gendarmerie, native antisemites, and local townsmen.

    Killing of Jews at Ivanhorod, Ukraine, 1942

  • Map of Murders

    Stamped a "secret Reich matter," this map shows the number of Jews killed in different regions of the Soviet Union. The coffin icon indicates Jewish dead. At the bottom, the number of Jews still alive in these lands is estimated at 128,000.

    Jewish Executions Carried Out by Einsatzgruppen A

  • Instruction for the Killers

    This Nazi document outlines the killing process: (D)The killer shoots; the momentum of his bullet forces (C) the Jew to fall into the (B) mass grave on top of other bodies. (A) Earth is readily on hand to fill in the grave and erase evidence of the crime.

    The Aktion at Zhitomir, Ukraine

Timeline 1940-1945

  • War in Western Europe

    Germany invades Belgium, France, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, and begins its aerial bombardment of England.

    Smoke rising from fires at London's Surrey docks, following bombing on 7 September, 1940

  • Eastern Expansion

    Germany invades Greece and Yugoslavia. In June, Germany invades the Soviet Union and Soviet-held territories. Mobile Killing Units (Einsatzgruppen) follow, murdering Jews, Soviet Commissars, and Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) town by town, village by village.

    Soviet forces leaving Moscow for the western front, 1941 / RIA Novosti

  • First Death Camp

    The murder of Jews begins in December 1941. Jews are gassed to death at the Chelmno camp, near Lodz, in German-occupied Poland. Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka death camps open the following year, where some 2 million Jews are ultimately murdered.

    Jews on their way to the death camp at Chełmno

  • Wannsee Conference

    On January 20, 1942, at a villa outside Berlin, 15 high-ranking German government, army, and Nazi party officials are informed of the Final Solution-the plan to kill all of Europe’s remaining Jews. Their task was to make it happen quickly, efficiently, effectively. Within 16 months, 80% of the Jews who would be killed by the Nazis were dead.

    The villa where the Wannsee Conference was held / A. Savin

  • Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

    In April, the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto rise in open resistance to the Germans. The Germans are forced to burn the entire ghetto building by building, block by block.

    An SS patrol in the Warsaw Ghetto, May 1943

  • Danish Rescue

    In October, Danish Jews, assisted by the Danish resistance, are ferried to freedom in Sweden. More than 8,000 Danish Jews escape; fewer than 500 are shipped to death camps.

    King Christian X, 1940. The Danish ruler’s opposition to Nazi discrimination set an example for his subjects.

  • Deportation of Hungarian Jews

    Germany invades Hungary. Between May 15 and July 8, 1944, a total of 437,402 Jews are shipped on 147 trains primarily to Auschwitz, where 8 in 10 are murdered within hours of their arrival.

    Hungarian women and children on the way to the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, 1944 / German Federal Archives

  • Liberation

    As Allied troops push toward Germany in 1944 and 1945,the camps are forcibly evacuated in what survivors called death marches. As the Allies continue their advance, they happen upon the Nazi camps. There, they encounter evidence of the Nazis’ murderous efforts and the few survivors who remained to tell the story and grapple with what had been lost.

    Children behind barbed wire at Auschwitz, just after liberation by the Soviet Army, 1945