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Mass killing during the Holocaust began 80 years ago not in
distant camps, but in victims’ hometowns, and even in their backyards.
After the German army invaded the Soviet Union, special units followed with
orders to find and kill those whom Nazi racial theory deemed unworthy of
life, particularly Jews. They were rounded up from their homes and, often
with the help of local collaborators, shot nearby.
These murders happened in broad daylight. There were many witnesses. They
were covered in the international press. And they must not be forgotten.
Photos: German troops place heavy mortar in firing position
during the German invasion of Lithuania, then under Soviet control, in June
Archives; An elderly Jewish woman wears a star in the Riga,
Latvia, ghetto. Yad
Vashem; Stills from interviews with Leonas Stonkus and Regina
(Kirvelaitytė) Prudnikova. USHMM,
Witnesses, Collaborators, and Perpetrators: The Jeff and Toby Herr
Testimony Initiative; Members of the 21st Latvian Police
Battalion assemble a group of Jewish women for execution on a beach near
Liepaja, Latvia, on December 15, 1941. Bundesarchiv
B 162 Bild-02612; Chief prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz presents
documents as evidence at the Einsatzgruppen Trial in Nuremberg, Germany,
circa 1947–48. USHMM,
courtesy of Benjamin Ferencz; German officials and Ukrainian
militia shooting a Jewish family, Miropol, Ukraine, October 13, 1941. Security Services Archive,
Historical Collection of the State Security Service (StB) Prague, archival