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The Arajs Kommando
Arajs Kommando
(also: Sonderkommando Arajs), led by SS commander and collaborator Viktors Arājs, was a unit of Latvian Auxiliary Police (German: Lettische Hilfspolizei) subordinated to the German Sicherheitsdienst
Sicherheitsdienst
(SD). It was a notorious killing unit during the Holocaust.

Contents

1 Formation 2 Activities 3 Prosecution 4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading

Formation[edit] After the entry of the Einsatzkommando
Einsatzkommando
into the Latvian capital[1] contact between Viktors Arājs and Brigadeführer
Brigadeführer
Walter Stahlecker was established on 1 July 1941. Stahlecker instructed Arājs to set up a commando that obtained an official name Latvian Auxiliary Security Police or Arajs Kommando.[2] The group was composed of students and former officers of far-right wing orientation. All of the Arajs Kommando members were volunteers, and free to leave at any time.[2] The following day on 2 July, Stahlecker revealed to Arājs that his commando had to unleash a pogrom that looked spontaneous.[3] Activities[edit] The Arajs Kommando
Arajs Kommando
unit actively participated in a variety of Nazi atrocities, including the killing of Jews, Roma, and mental patients, as well as punitive actions and massacres of civilians along Latvia's eastern border with the Soviet Union.[2] The Kommando killed around 26,000 Jews
Jews
in total.[4] Most notably, the unit took part in the mass execution of Jews
Jews
from the Riga ghetto, and several thousand Jews deported from Germany, in the Rumbula massacre
Rumbula massacre
of November 30 and December 8, 1941. Some of the commando's men also served as guards at the Salaspils concentration camp.[5] As can be seen in contemporary Nazi newsreels, part of a documentation campaign to create the image that the Holocaust in the Baltics was a local, and not Nazi-directed activity, the Arajs Kommando
Arajs Kommando
figured prominently in the burning of Riga's Great (Choral) Synagogue on 4 July 1941. Commemoration of this event has been chosen for marking Holocaust Memorial Day in present-day Latvia. The unit numbered about 300–500 men during the period that it participated in the killing of the Latvian Jewish population, and reached up to 1,500 members at its peak at the height of its involvement in anti-partisan operations in 1942. In the final phases of the war, the unit was disbanded and its personnel transferred to the Latvian Legion. Prosecution[edit]

Herberts Cukurs, wartime photo

After successfully hiding in West Germany
West Germany
for several decades after the war, Viktors Arājs was eventually arrested, tried, and imprisoned for his crimes. More recently, the governments of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia
Australia
were involved in the attempt to extradite Konrāds Kalējs, a former officer of the Arajs Kommando,[6] to Latvia for trial on charges of genocide. Kalējs died in 2001 in Australia
Australia
before the extradition could proceed, maintaining his innocence to the end, stating that he was fighting Russia on the Eastern Front or studying at university when the slaughter of Jews took place in 1941. Latvian Holocaust historian A. Ezergailis estimates about a third of the Arājs Kommando, 500 of a maximum of around 1,500 total members, actively participated in the killings of Jews, and claimed that one cannot be convicted of crimes against humanity based solely on membership in an organization.[7] See also[edit]

Herberts Cukurs, a member of the Arajs Kommado, assassinated by Mossad in 1965

References[edit]

^ Breitman, Richard (Sep 1991). "Himmler and the 'Terrible Secret' among the Executioners". Journal of Contemporary History. Sage Publications. 26 (3/4): 431–451. doi:10.1177/002200949102600305. JSTOR 260654.  ^ a b c Ruth Bettina Birn and Volker Riess. "Revising the Holocaust". The Historical Journal, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Mar., 1997), pp. 195-215. Published by: Cambridge University Press. Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3020959 ^ Angrick, Andrej; Klein, Peter (2009). The "Final Solution" in Riga: Exploitation and Annihilation, 1941-1944. Volume 14 of Studies on War and Genocide. pp. 65–70. ISBN 9781845456085.  ^ Andrew Ezergailis (1996). The Holocaust
The Holocaust
in Latvia, 1941-1944. Historical Institute of Latvia, Riga ; United States
United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum; Washington, DC. OCLC 33403580.  ^ Strods, Heinrihs (2000). "Salaspils koncentrācijas nometne (1944. gada oktobris – 1944. gada septembris". Yearbook of the Occupation Museum of Latvia (in Latvian). 2000: 87–153. ISSN 1407-6330.  ^ "Konrad Kalejs: Target for Nazi hunters". BBC News. 2000-01-03.  ^ Kalejs Not Necessarily Implicated, Reuters News Service, filed January 13, 2000, Canberra

Further reading[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Holocaust
The Holocaust
in Latvia.

Lumans, Valdis O. (2006). Latvia in World War II. World War II—The Global, Human, and Ethical Dimension 11. New York: Fordham University Press. ISBN 978-0-8232-2627-6. OCLC 64595899.  Angrick, Andrej; Klein, Peter (2006). Die "Endlösung" in Riga: Ausbeutung und Vernichtung 1941–1944 (in German). Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft. ISBN 3-534-19149-8. OCLC 69983159.  Foreign Ministry of Latvia: The Holocaust
The Holocaust
in German-Occupied Latvia

v t e

The Holocaust
The Holocaust
in Latvia

Main article The Holocaust Related articles by country Belarus Estonia Lithuania Norway Poland Russia Ukraine

Crimes

Burning of the Riga synagogues Dünamünde Action Jelgava Pogulianski Rumbula Liepāja (Šķēde)

Victims

Jewish people of Latvia Gypsies Joseph Carlebach Simon Dubnow Else Hirsch

Perpetrators

Alois Brunner Rudolf Batz Fritz Dietrich Otto-Heinrich Drechsler Erich Ehrlinger Karl Jäger Friedrich Jeckeln Heinz Jost Konrāds Kalējs Ernst Kaltenbrunner Wolfgang Kügler Rudolf Lange Hinrich Lohse Friedrich Panzinger Hans-Adolf Prützmann Eduard Roschmann Alfred Rosenberg Martin Sandberger Albert Sauer Rudolf Joachim Seck Franz Walter Stahlecker Eduard Strauch

Nazi occupation and organizations

Einsatzgruppen Reichskommissariat Ostland Rollkommando Hamann

Collaborators

Individuals Viktors Arājs Herberts Cukurs Kārlis Lobe

Organizations Arajs Kommando Latvian Auxiliary Police Schutzmannschaft

Ghettos and camps

Daugavpils Ghetto Jungfernhof concentration camp Kaiserwald concentration camp Riga Ghetto Salaspils concentration camp

Documentation

Generalplan Ost Jäger Report

Concealment

Sonderaktion 1005

War crimes investigations and trials

Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
trial Extraordinary (Soviet) State Commission

Righteous Among the Nations

Jānis Lipke Roberts Sedols

Memorials

Bikernieki Memorial

Related articles

The Holocaust Occupation of Latvia by Nazi Germany

v t e

Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
and Einsatzkommandos

People

Director

Reinhard Heydrich Ernst Kaltenbrunner

Commanders of Einsatzgruppen

Humbert Achamer-Pifrader Walther Bierkamp Horst Böhme Erich Ehrlinger Wilhelm Fuchs Heinz Jost Erich Naumann Arthur Nebe Otto Ohlendorf Friedrich Panzinger Otto Rasch Heinrich Seetzen Franz Walter Stahlecker Bruno Streckenbach

Commanders of Einsatzkommandos, Sonderkommandos

Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski Rudolf Batz Ernst Biberstein Wolfgang Birkner Helmut Bischoff Paul Blobel Walter Blume Friedrich-Wilhelm Bock Otto Bradfisch Werner Braune Friedrich Buchardt Fritz Dietrich Karl Jäger Friedrich Jeckeln Waldemar Klingelhöfer Wolfgang Kügler Walter Kutschmann Rudolf Lange Gustav Adolf Nosske Hans-Adolf Prützmann Walter Rauff Martin Sandberger Hermann Schaper Karl Eberhard Schöngarth Erwin Schulz Franz Six Eugen Steimle Eduard Strauch Martin Weiss Udo von Woyrsch

Other members

August Becker Lothar Fendler Joachim Hamann Emil Haussmann Felix Landau Albert Widmann

Collaborators

Viktors Arājs Herberts Cukurs Antanas Impulevičius Konrāds Kalējs Algirdas Klimaitis

Groups

German

SS RSHA SD Orpo 8th SS Cavalry Division Florian Geyer Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz Sonderdienst

Non-German

Schutzmannschaft
Schutzmannschaft
(Belarusian, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian) Arajs Kommando Lithuanian Security Police Rollkommando Hamann TDA Ypatingasis būrys

Crimes

Belarus

Łachwa Ghetto Minsk Ghetto Slutsk Affair

Estonia

Kalevi-Liiva

Latvia

Burning of the Riga synagogues Dünamünde Action Jelgava Pogulianski Rumbula Liepāja (Šķēde)

Lithuania

Ninth Fort Kaunas June 1941 Kaunas 29 October 1941 Ninth Fort
Ninth Fort
November 1941 Ponary

Poland

Operation Tannenberg Intelligenzaktion AB-Aktion Operation Reinhard

Russia

Gully of Petrushino Zmievskaya Balka Lokot Autonomy

Ukraine

Babi Yar Drobytsky Yar Drohobycz Kamianets-Podilskyi Lviv pogroms Mizocz Ghetto Odessa

Records

The Black Book Commissar Order Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
trial Generalplan Ost Jäger Report Korherr Report Special
Special
Prosecution Book-Poland (Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen) Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
reports

v t e

Schutzstaffel
Schutzstaffel
(SS)

Branches

Allgemeine SS Totenkopfverbände (SS-TV) Waffen-SS

Leadership

Reichsführer-SS SS and police leader SS personnel SS commands

Leaders

Julius Schreck Joseph Berchtold Erhard Heiden Heinrich Himmler Karl Hanke

Main departments

Personal Staff Reichsführer-SS SS Main Office Head Operational Office Reich Main Security Office
Reich Main Security Office
(RSHA) Economics and Administration Office Office of Race and Settlement (RuSHA) Main Office for Ethnic Germans (VOMI) Office of the Reich Commissioner for Germanic Resettlement (RKFDV) Courts Office Personnel Office Education Office

Ideological institutions

Ahnenerbe Das Schwarze Korps SS-Junkerschule Bad Tölz Lebensborn

Police and security services

Regular uniform police (Orpo) Schutzpolizei (Schupo) Criminal police (Kripo) Secret State police (Gestapo) State Security police (SiPo) SS Security Service (SD)

Führer protection

SS-Begleitkommando des Führers Reichssicherheitsdienst

Paramilitary units

Einsatzgruppen Schutzmannschaft Belarusian Auxiliary Police Latvian Police Battalions Ypatingasis būrys Lithuanian Security Police Lithuanian Auxiliary Police Battalions Rollkommando Hamann Arajs Kommando Ukrainian Auxiliary Police Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz Trawnikis Estonian Auxiliary Police Police Regiment Centre

Waffen-SS
Waffen-SS
divisions

Verfügungstruppe (SS-VT) Leibstandarte (LSSAH) SS Division Das Reich SS Division Totenkopf SS Polizei Division SS Division Wiking

Foreign SS units

Germanic-SS Germaansche SS in Nederland Germaansche SS in Vlaanderen Germanske SS Norge Schalburg Corps Britisches Freikorps S.S. Sturmbrigade R.O.N.A. Finnish Volunteer Battalion of the Waffen-SS

SS-controlled enterprises

Ostindustrie Deutsche Wirtschaftsbetriebe Deutsche Ausrüstungswerke DEST Allach porcelain Apollinaris Mattoni Sudetenquell Anton Loibl

SS awards

SS Sword of Honour SS Honour Ring SS Honor Dagger

Ranks, uniforms and insignia

Uniforms and insignia of the SS Ranks and insignia of the Waffen-SS Ranks and insignia of the Orpo Corps colour

.