Oral History

Historian Peter Black describes researching evidence for an OSI case

In the 1980s and 1990s, historian Peter Black worked for the US Department of Justice Office of Special Investigations, as part of a team tracking and prosecuting suspected war criminals. Black later served as the Senior Historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Transcript

They didn’t really know what to ask me to do. They asked me to find evidence about this case. And I wasn’t quite sure what they wanted me to do either, so I did, what I did know how to do was to go to the published records, the Nuremberg trial records, and put together I think it was about a 10 or 15 or 20 page essay on the Latvian auxiliary police in -- under German occupation in 1941. [Boleslavs] Maikovskis was accused of having been a precinct chief in an eastern region of Latvia around Rezekne, Rositten in German. And he had been accused of participating in killings of local Jews in the summer and autumn of 1941. And I went to some of the basic sources – there’s a lengthy Nuremberg document which was written by the commander of the Security Police in (SD) in the Baltic states, the former Einsatzgruppen chief Walter Stahlecker, which was a lengthy report of about 250 pages dealing with the German occupation of the Baltic states and operations of the police, in particular the auxiliary police. We also had in New York copies of the Einsatzgruppen reports, which were on microfilm at the time, and I reviewed those and gathered the material that were relevant to Latvian auxiliary police killings of Jews and others in Latvia in the summer of 1941 … and I put it together in a basic historical essay that I would write as a college paper at that time. This was before I had the PhD and in fact it was at the time when I was writing the PhD. And the attorney was pleasantly surprised and particularly by the speed in which it was gathered. It wasn’t such a big thing to a historian but it was obviously something that was very helpful to the attorney.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum
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