D O C U M E N T S
by Rafael Katz
The Stahlecker Reports offer a rare glimpse into the inner workings of what was the onset the Final Solution: the Baltic invasion within Operation Barbarossa. Naturally, Most wartime documents deal with the effect and aftermath of the war. In the sea of war documents, the Stahlecker Reports are pivotal, in that in that they shed some light on the backdrop and the motives behind the war’s operations.
A small part of the First Stahlecker Report was translated to English for use in the Nuremberg War Trials. Incidentally, this sparse Nuremberg translation is the only section of the two reports that has appeared in historical publications.
We are here making available that short Nuremberg English translation along with the full two documents, in German.
The two classified reports were uncovered by mere coincidence during the Russian counter advance on the Third Reich. In them, Franz Walter Stahlecker, commander of Einsatzgruppe A, delivers a summary to his superior Reinhard Heydrich, of the week-to-week implementation of the final solution in the Baltics, as it corresponded with the original orders sent by Heydrich and fellow Nazi officials. The first report covers the period from the invasion of Lithuania in June 1941, to October 15th of the same year. The second report, from October 16th, to January 31, 1942.
Einsatzgruppen were mobile killing units, subordinated to SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich and directed by Heinrich Himmler. Accompanying the Wermacht operations, the Einsatzgruppe units were set with the task of removing “undesirable elements,” including Jews, Roma, Soviet commissars, intelligentsia. By the war’s end, they had killed an estimated two million people. Of them 1.3 million were Jews.
With the beginning of Operation Barbarossa (June 1941), Einsatzgruppe A — led by Stahlecker — initiated these operations; coordinating and leading attacks against the civilian Jewish population in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
The Einsatzgruppe attack against the Lithuanian Jews was to be the first major implementation of “The Final Solution.” As is evident from the minimal Nuremberg translation of the reports, some of the events which seemed incidental to the Jewish populace at the time, were in fact strenuously planned.
This includes the German inducing of “spontaneous” local pogroms preceding the actual German advance, and a general effort to incite elements of the Baltic population against Jews and Bolsheviks:
“It was the duty of the Security Police to set in motion these self-cleansing movements and to direct them into the correct channels in order to accomplish the purpose of the cleansing operations as quickly as possible. It was no less important in view of the future to establish the unshakable and provable fact that the liberated population themselves took the most severe measures against the Bolshevist and Jewish enemy quite on their own, so that the direction by German authorities could not be found out [….]
“In Lithuania this was achieved for the first time by partisan activities in Kovno. To our surprise it was not easy at first to set in motion an extensive pogrom against Jews. Klimaitis, the leader of the partisan unit, mentioned above, who was used for this purpose primarily, succeeded in starting a pogrom on the basis of advice given to him by a small advanced detachment acting in Kovno, and in such a way that no German order or German instigation was noticed from the outside.”
In time, these efforts were met with greater success in Lithuania, though lagging in Latvia and Estonia.
“It proved much more difficult to set in motion similar cleansing actions in Latvia. Essentially the reason was that the whole of the national stratum of leaders had been assassinated or destroyed by the Soviets, especially in Riga [….]
“The active anti-Semitism which flared up quickly after the German occupation did not falter. Lithuanians are voluntarily and untiringly at our disposal for all measures against Jews, sometimes they even execute such measures on their own.”
As later described, these local acts of violence toward Jews, were then utilized by the conspirators to spur the Jewish population to willingly confine themselves to the newly created ghettos:
“Therefore, at the end of the first pogrom a Jewish Committee was summoned who were informed that the German authorities so far had not seen any reason to interfere in the quarrels between Lithuanians and Jews. The sole basis for creating a normal situation would be to construct a Jewish Ghetto. Against remonstrations made by the Jewish Committee, it was declared that there was no other possibility to prevent further pogroms.”
The above is by no means a summary of the Stahlecker Reports, as it is based solely on the short translated Nuremberg excerpt of the first report.
I have copied and uploaded the full first and second Stahlecker Reports, with the hope that able readers of German will look through the contents and share their impressions, and with the hope that the long overdue project of producing full and accurate translations will be undertaken by appropriate research institutions.
First Stahlecker Report
Folder 93 (RG-11.001M.0014.00002241 to: RG-11.001M.0014.00002350)
Folder 93 (RG-11.001M.0015.00000006 to: RG-11.001M.0015.00000151)
Second Stahlecker Report
Folder 91 (RG-11.001M.0014.00001987 to: RG-11.001M.0014.00002240)
Folder 99 (RG-11.001M.0185.00001009 to: RG-11.001M.0185.00001019)
Nuremberg Partial English Translation
From NCA Volume VII, page 978
PARTIAL TRANSLATION OF DOCUMENT L-180 ACTION-GROUP A
[Penciled] Personal property of SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Wv.31.1.1942
[Rubber-stamp] Secret matter of the Reich
40 copies copy no. 23.
Comprehensive Report up to 15 October 1941
Rafael Katz is a graduate of Tel Aviv University where he majored in Jewish history. He is an author, illustrator and musician resident in Tel Aviv. He recently translated Live, My Child, from Yiddish into Hebrew.