Review published on August 9, 2018.
Gerry Van Tonder has written and researched a comprehensive but short history of the Einsatzgruppen, the Nazi Death Squads. While it may say 1939–1945, this book also gives a timeline that covers the period when the Gestapo were established and placed above the law to the final actions.
In Eastern Europe, between 1941 and 1945, just the mention of the Einsatzgruppen sent chills down the spine. In that period, they murdered more than 2 million people at a conservative estimate, they killed Jews and Slavs alike. It is said they killed 1.3 million Jews, personally I think that it may be a higher number than that.
When people think of the holocaust, they think of Auschwitz and the death chambers and the showers of death. The Einsatzgruppen were up close and personal, their tools of death were the rifle, pistol and machine gun. It is the only time I can honestly say I am glad my great-grandmother was arrested and exiled by the Soviets in 1940. I say this as she lived in Eastern Poland, between Lwow and Tarnopol, which were two major massacre sites of the Einsatzgruppen.
This is an excellent book, Van Tonder has been able to use recently declassified wartime memoirs as well as the many sources that have been in the ‘public’ sphere since 1945. This is an incredibly well-researched book and adds to the history of the Second World War.
Paul Diggett 5/5
SS Einsatzgruppen by Gerry Van Tonder
Pen & Sword Military 9781526729095 pbk Apr 2018
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