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1941: Mass Murder
 pg. 251 
These young women were members of a small but important Resistance movement that existed within the occupied territories of the Soviet Union. Comprised of Soviet Army officers and political commissars whose units had disbanded--as well as Jews who had escaped the marauding Einsatzgruppen--partisan groups worked tirelessly to harass the German Army. Most Resistance groups operated in the forests and other remote areas of the Soviet Union.
Photo: State Archives of the Russian Federation / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive
Partisans with the 26th Division from Baku, Russia, prepare to execute two captured German policemen. After Germany invaded the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin established partisan units to harass the German Army that remained in Soviet territory. The partisans were not kind to prisoners of war, and summary executions--like the one in this photo--were not uncommon.
Photo: State Archives of the Russian Federation / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive
The Riga Massacres

In the first six months of their occupation of Latvia, the Germans and their local collaborators annihilated 90 percent of the country's 95,000 Jews. Of the 40,000 Jews living in Riga when the Germans invaded in July 1941, only 4800 were still alive by year's end.

During the first days of the occupation, Latvian "civilian" nationalists initiated savage attacks on Riga's Jews, arresting, beating, torturing, and raping Jews while burning synagogues with people inside. Thousands more were driven toward beaches or nearby woods and shot to death. The Germans then forced the remaining 32,000 into an overcrowded, dilapidated ghetto. In November they sorted "productive" workers from the rest, setting up two separate ghettos. Throwing all available German and Latvian manpower into the "action," the SS transported over 27,000 "unproductive" Jews in modern, blue buses to the Rumbula Forest, where they shot them.

Having wiped out the entire population of the larger ghetto, the Germans brought in 16,000 Jews from the Reich, most of whom they also killed. By late 1943 almost all Latvian Jews had either perished in further SS "actions," been murdered in gas vans, or been worked to death in Latvia's infamous Salaspils camp.
Photo: Yad Vashem

 July 29, 1941: Forty mental patients from Lódz, Poland, are taken from a hospital and executed in a nearby forest.
 July 31, 1941: Hermann Göring instructs SS Reich Security Service chief Reinhard Heydrich by letter to evacuate and eliminate all European Jews presently in German-held territory. The letter mentions a "complete solution" to European Jewry.
 Late July 1941: Germans establish a Jewish ghetto at Dvinsk, Latvia.
 July-August 1941: Tens of thousands of Jews are murdered throughout the western Soviet Union, Lithuania, Romania, and Latvia. The killers are German Einsatzgruppen, Romanian troops and militia, Ukrainian peasants, and Lithuanian civilians.
 August 1941: Following the German slaughter of Jews at Cesis, Latvia, German troops and security police celebrate with a Totenmahl ("death banquet").
 August 1941: In Belgium, a collaborationist military organization, Legion Wallonie (Wallonian Legion), is established.
1941: Mass Murder
 pg. 251 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.