An extract on #puppyeyes
The Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union codenamed Operation Barbarossa, which commenced on 22 June 1941, set in motion a "war of destruction" which quickly opened the door to systematic mass murder of European Jews. For Hitler, Bolshevism was merely "the most recent and most nefarious manifestation of the eternal Jewish threat". On 3 March 1941, Wehrmacht Joint Operations Staff Chief Alfred Jodl repeated Hitler's declaration that the "Jewish-Bolshevik intelligentsia would have to be eliminated" and that the forthcoming war would be a confrontation between two completely opposing cultures. In May 1941, Gestapo leader Heinrich Mller wrote a preamble to the new law limiting the jurisdiction of military courts in prosecuting troops for criminal actions because: "this time the troops will encounter an especially dangerous element from the civilian population, therefore, have the right and obligation to secure themselves."
Himmler assembled a force of about 3,000 men from Security Police, Gestapo, Kripo, SD, and the Waffen-SS, as the so-called "special commandos of the security forces" known as the Einsatzgruppen, to eliminate both communists and Jews in occupied territories. These forces were supported by 21 battalions of Orpo Reserve Police under Kurt Daluege, adding up to 11,000 men. The explicit orders given to the Order Police varied between locations, but for Police Battalion 309 participating in the first mass murder of 5,500 Polish Jews in the Soviet-controlled Biaystok (a Polish provincial capital), Major Weiss explained to his officers that Barbarossa is a war of annihilation against Bolshevism, and that his battalions would proceed ruthlessly against all Jews, regardless of age or sex.
After crossing the Soviet demarcation line in 1941, what had been regarded as exceptional in Nazi Germany became a normal way of operating in the east. The crucial taboo against the killing of women and children was breached not only in Biaystok but also in Gargdai in late June. By July, significant numbers of women and children were being killed behind all front lines not only by the Germans but also by the local Ukrainian and Lithuanian auxiliary forces. In late August 1941, the Einsatzgruppen killed 23,600 Jews in the Kamianets-Podilskyi massacre. A month later, the largest mass shooting of Soviet Jews took place on 2930 September in the ravine of Babi Yar, near Kiev, where more than 33,000 Jewish people of all ages were systematically machine-gunned. In mid-October 1941, HSSPF South, under the command of Friedrich Jeckeln, had reported the indiscriminate killing of more than 100,000 people.
By the end of 1941, before the Wannsee Conference, between 600,000 and 800,000 Jewish people had been murdered and entire regions were reported "free of Jews". By this time, awareness of the Final Solution policy in the east was spreading. Addressing his district governors in the General Government on 16 December 1941, Governor-General Hans Frank said, "But what will happen to the Jews? Do you believe they will be lodged in settlements in Ostland? In Berlin, we were told: why all this trouble; we cannot use them in the Ostland or the Reichskommissariat either; liquidate them yourselves!" Two days later, Himmler recorded the outcome of his discussion with Hitler. The result was: "als Partisanen auszurotten" ("exterminate them as partisans"). Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer says that the remark is probably as close as historians will ever get to a definitive order from Hitler for the genocide carried out during the Holocaust.