In the summer of 1941, following Germany's attack on the Soviet Union, the Germans began to perpetrate mass shootings of Jewish men, women, and children in territory seized from Soviet forces. These murders were part of the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question,” the mass murder of Europe’s Jews. Many of these mass shootings were organized and committed by task forces or special action groups, called Einsatzgruppen in German. Units of Einsatzgruppen followed the German army as it invaded the Soviet Union and Soviet-controlled territory. In addition to the Einsatzgruppen, other German units also carried out mass shootings. These units included Order Police battalions, military units (Wehrmacht), and the Waffen SS, as well as Schutzmannschaften (collaborating auxiliary police units formed of native recruits). The Einsatzgruppen were a relatively small group. Without additional forces, the systematic mass murder of Jews in these regions would not have been possible.
This map shows some of the locations of mass killing sites in eastern Europe at the height of German expansion. The area on the map largely coincides with what today are Ukraine and parts of Belarus, Poland, and Russia. Of particular note is the Babyn Yar massacre site in the Ukrainian city of Kyiv (marked with a yellow dot). The massacre at Babyn Yar was one of the largest mass killings at a single location during World War II.
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