German Einsatzgruppen operated in German-occupied territories in eastern Europe during World War II. This rare footage shows a unit during a massacre in Liepaja, Latvia. The film was taken, contrary to orders, by a German soldier. Before the war, the Jewish population of Liepaja stood at more than 7,000 residents. Einsatzgruppen shot almost the entire Jewish population of the town. When the Soviet army liberated the city in 1945, just 20 to 30 Jews remained.
Einsatzgruppen carried out various security measures, such as identifying and neutralizing potential enemies of German rule, seizing important sites and preventing sabotage, and recruiting collaborators and establishing intelligence networks. They are best known for their role in the murder of more than a million Jewish victims during the German-Soviet war (beginning in June 1941), usually in mass shootings.
We would like to thank The Crown and Goodman Family and the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation for supporting the ongoing work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia. View the list of all donors.