Mass shootings

Sabac (Military Museum, Belgrad)

Hitler's forces attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941. The war against Russia was conducted as an ideological war of extermination from the outset. Complete villages and small towns went up in flames. Heinrich Himmler had the task of putting the extermination plans into practice. Death squads of the SS, so-called Einsatzgruppen, systematically combed the areas behind the front for Roma, Sinti and Jews, who were killed on the spot. Specially developed gas vans were also used to carry out the murders.

Six weeks after the beginning of the occupation, the commander of the Wehrmacht in Serbia, General Ludwig von Schröder, ordered the registration of all Jews and "gypsies" and their marking with yellow armbands. In addition, he ordered their removal from all public offices and private businesses, the expropriation of their land and the introduction of forced labour.

"In the interests of peace ... the Jewish question and the gypsy question have been completely settled by the German administration (Serbia the only country in which Jewish question and gypsy question resolved.)" (Harald Turner, head of the administrative staff of the military administration in Serbia, on 29.8.1942)

Sabac (Military Museum, Belgrad)

The Serbian Roma and Jews were deported to concentration camps from autumn 1941. The German occupation authorities carried out their systematic extermination under the guise of "sanctions". Firing squads of the Wehrmacht also carried out mass shootings. As recorded accounts show, they proceeded in the same way as the "Einsatzgruppen" in the Soviet Union. Sinti and Roma were also systematically killed by militia of the Ustashi in Croatia, a satellite state of Hitler. They bestially murdered tens of thousands of members of the minority in the Jasenovac concentration camp alone.

"First the girl had to dig out a hole in the field, while her mother, who was 7 months pregnant, had to watch while tied to a tree. They [Ustashi militia] slit open the stomach of the pregnant woman, ripped out the unborn child and threw it into the hole in the ground. They then threw the woman in as well and the small girl too, after they had raped her first. She was still alive when they covered the hole." (Angela Hudorovic)

(Institute of National Remembrance, Warsaw)

Around 180 locations are known in occupied Poland, in which Sinti and Roma were murdered by firing squads of the SS, the police and the Wehrmacht. One of these places is the village of Szczurowa. The Roma families were taken to the cemetery on the morning of the 3rd July 1943 and shot. The perpetrators subsequently burnt down their houses.

Mass murder was an integral component of the German occupation policy in the east in which large parts of the military and civil authorities were involved. In addition to the police, the Wehrmacht participated in the "racial" extermination policy and worked closely together with the SS. They also used local auxiliary units in the process.

The local Sinti and Roma population was systematically murdered in all the occupied territories of eastern and southeastern Europe. Men, women and children were killed without exception and subsequently buried in mass graves. Nobody knows the exact number. Thousands more Sinti and Roma died in the ghettos and the concentration and extermination camps in occupied Poland.

Nuremberg Trials, cross-examination of Otto Ohlendorf

US prosecutor J. Heath: ... And what about the gypsies? I take it you have no idea how many gypsies were killed by your squad.
Ohlendorf: No, I don't know.
Heath: For what reason did you kill the gypsies? Simply because they were gypsies? Were they a danger to the security of the Wehrmacht?
Ohlendorf: It was just like with the Jews.
Heath: Blood? ...
Ohlendorf: There was no difference between the gypsies and the Jews. The same order applied to both.