Action in Yad Vashem Studies, Volume IV

Nachman Blumental



Before the war the word ‘action,’ Aktion in German, connoted disciplinary action for those who opposed the Nazi regime; during the war it meant extermination. Before the war all demonstrations, attacks, and roundups were organized by the Nazi Party to suit its purposes, not only against Jews but also to include all “criminals.” Actions included terror, looting, destruction of property, detention in camps, and even killing such as occurred on Kristallnacht. During the 1941–1945 period, action meant murder, initiated by the highest government offices, in order to bring about the Final Solution to the Jewish problem, in accordance to Heydrich’s instructions. From the day of the outbreak of the war against Russia, Einsatzgruppen (special action groups) were formed to kill Jews in each new occupied area. Most deportations were associated with actions. Anyone resisting roundup or deportation orders was killed on the spot — 10,000 persons in Warsaw alone. Often the intelligentsia was the first to go in order to weaken leadership and resistance. Old people, invalids, and children were often amongst the first, as well. Special units of the SS were set up to carry out these planned actions. German soldiers and Ukrainian militia participated willingly. Concomitantly, lying propaganda stirred up the local population and deception (early on) calmed the Jews. The mass killings were performed by lining up rows of Jews on the edge of a pit and shooting them so that their bodies fell into the pit. Babies had their heads smashed in. Mobile gas vans and the setting alight of houses and institutions with their inhabitants inside were other death-dealing methods used. Jewish property and goods were either confiscated or sold to Germans.

Products specifications
Year 1960
Catalog No. 196003
No. of Pages 40 pp.
Format Electronic article in Yad Vashem Studies, Volume IV, pp. 57-96, Edited by Shaul Esh
Publisher Yad Vashem